Posted tagged ‘Park51’

More on “Ground Zero” Mosque – CBS/New York Times Poll, Goldman Sachs building, that guy with the flag draped on his car, Cherries!

September 3, 2010

More on Park51, the mosque and Islamic Center proposed to be built two blocks from Ground Zero:  a CBS/New York Times poll says that a substantial majority of New Yorkers feel that the statement: “it should not be built because, while Muslims have the right to do it, they should find a less controversial location” comes closer to their views than the statement ”it should be built because moving it would compromise American values.”

The poll also finds that many New Yorkers (of the whopping 892 randomly asked) oppose (rather than favor) the construction of the mosque near Ground Zero.

Boy, do I hate polls.  They carry the aura of science–black and white data–when in fact they are often reductive, self-fulfilling, and manipulable.

I’m not saying that the findings of the poll are inaccurate–I’m quite sure that many New Yorkers would just as soon (i) that the controversy would go away, and (ii) that if Muslims have to build a mosque, they budge it over a bit.

But one problem with the poll – despite the self-fullfilling terminology- is the fact that the questions had no control, no placebo, as it were–no context.  (No one was asked, for example, if they were actually familiar with the topography of Ground Zero.)

Here are some other questions that were not asked:

Which of the statements below reflects your opinion about construction at Ground Zero?

1.  Yes, Burger King has a right to have a franchise at the corner of the site, but they should move large outdoor pictures of Twilight’s vampires, such as Robert Pattinson, to a less morbid location.

2.  Yes, shoppers have a right to get great discounts on designer goods at Ground Zero,  but the huge “SALE” banners should be draped more decorously.

3.  Yes, N.Y. Dolls can have a strip club two blocks away, but they should drape some banners (maybe from Century 21–oops, maybe not) over the outlines of naked women.

4.  Yes, that guy with the big U.S. flag with all the stenciled names of victims can hang out, but he should not scam tourists on Sundays.  Ditto the people with all the burning WTC postcards.

5.  I don’t love Jeff Koons, but his balloon-flower sculpture looks like cherries.  (Who can can argue with cherries?)

6.  Okay, Silverstein has a right to some bucks, but should he really construct an office tower on a de facto burial ground?

7.  Yes, Goldman Sachs can (even perhaps should)  build its $2.1. billion headquarters just across West Street, but perhaps, after getting over $115 million in NYS and local tax breaks PLUS the use of $1.65 billiion in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds, it should not have been so active in the collapse of the U.S. financial system.

8.  Yes, the 9/11 attackers were Muslims, but they do not represent all Islam.

Overly Cute Depictions of Fox (both as in News and Tails)

August 25, 2010

Unfortunately, it sometimes feels like Comedy Central, through the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report, provides the most probing commentary on TV.   In the August 23rd episode, Stewart examines Fox News’ allegations of possible nefarious ties between Park51, the organization trying to build the Islamic Center near Ground Zero, and the Kingdom Foundation run, as the Fox morning show casts it, by a shadowy “guy”, vaguely brought up next to the words Iran, ” who tried to give Rudy Giuliani 10 million after 9/11 and they had to give it back, a guy who funds radical madrassas all over the world.”  This “guy”, never actually named by Fox, is then revealed by Stewart to be Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, head of Kingdom Foundation, also a major shareholder in News Corporation, parent corp of  Fox News.

The Daily Show goes on with a rif on whether Fox’s  failure to properly identify Bin Talal arose from evil or stupidity (Wyatt Cenac taking the part of evil, John Oliver siding with stupid).

I was inspired.  Unfortunately, I can’t draw mordant, only cute.  Still, after doing the drawings, I noticed a suprising, if vague, resemblance—

Sly Fox


Dazed/ Dizzy  (I won’t say Stupid) Fox


(Note that the above images are subject to copyright.)

Apology re Misplacement of Park51 (Park Place Not Park Row – Same Difference)

August 11, 2010

Apologies, apologies!  In yesterday’s post, I said that Park51, the proposed mosque in downtown Manhattan was to be located on Park Row (two blocks east of the World Trade Center site);  in fact , the proposed location is Park PLACE, which is two blocks north of the site.

So sorry to add to the misinformation about this issue, especially since misinformation was what I was complaining about. (My cheeks are burning.)

I live in downtown Manhattan and should definitely better.  The problem is that Park Place is an undistinguished street which, frankly, I often overlook even when I am walking around.  It houses a jumble of junky little stores (other than the wonderful Tent & Trails- a camping equipment store).  Park Row, in contrast, a slightly more prominent street, mainly houses all the arms of J&R music.

My basic argument from yesterday is the same;  downtown Manhattan is relatively small; Ground Zero is relatively large within it.  This means that virtually everything downtown is “near” to Ground Zero.  And yet, at the same time, the spaces are big enough, the crowding of buildings within those spaces is intense enough, that the differentials between blocks feel immense.   Immense enough that, even putting arguments of religious tolerance and what the country and city stand for aside, the claim that the mosque would somehow be a shadow on Ground Zero doesn’t make much sense, especially given the invasive, and sometimes ghoulish, commercialism that currently haunts parts of the site.

Mosque Near Ground Zero – Really? (Park51)

August 10, 2010

What's Going On Now at WTC Site

I’m not a huge fan of Islam–I don’t know enough about it to have a position of any substance.  I admit that I am suspicious of any faith which seems to keep women in a subordinate position (but that makes me suspicious of many orthodox faiths).

As a result, perhaps, I haven’t much followed the “Ground Zero Mosque” debate, even though I live in downtown Manhattan.  Based on the extent of emotion stirred up, I thought the mosque was planned for the actual Ground Zero site; that it was somehow, with other shrines, to be on one of the memorial “footprints” of the two towers.   Despite my own strong bed towards religious tolerance, I could understand why this might upset some.

After actually reading more, however, I’ve realized how misguided I’ve been; that the whole issue is another tempest based on stewpot of misrepresentation.  The planned Mosque isn’t to be at the Ground Zero site at all; but on Park Place (Park51) , a couple of blocks away.

Okay, Park Place is near Ground Zero in the same way that anything in downtown Manhattan is near Ground Zero.  Downtown Manhattan is the thinnest part of the island; the World Trade Center site is large.

If you live down here, you quickly realize that everything (especially the subway stations) is both close and far – that is, technically, just a few blocks away, but a long frigging walk.  Blocks are big, and the differentials in blocks–in cityscape, tenor, view, even in weather (wind shear)– are consequential.

The news accounts highlight factors such as “500 yards” and “13 stories” in a way that gives one the  vision of a face-off–  Ground Zero on one side, the Mosque (whose visitors will surely be tittering inside) on the other.   These terms are just ridiculous in the context of downtown Manhattan.  500 yards = if that’s even accurate–is many buildings away;   13 stories is a shrimp.

What makes the debate stranger – setting aside the whole issue of what this country and city stand for – are the facts of what is currently happening at Ground Zero:

Hawking.  People selling ghoulish photo albums and NYFD hats and cheap American flags with the names of victims stenciled in.


Shopping.  Right opposite the site stands a true world trade center – Century 21.

And, on the site itself,  which, as some 9/11 families have pointed out, is a de facto burial ground due to the impossibility of recovering ashen remains, a large building is rapidly rising, destined to lease commercial and office space.

(THIS POST HAS BEEN CORRECTED; An earlier version mistakenly referred to the location of the proposed mosque as Park Row – a couple of blocks east of the WTC, rather than Park Place, a couple of blocks north.)