16 Aug 2010 8:00 am   //   Filed under: New York is different

“Hallowed Ground”

A few photos of stuff the same distance from the World Trade Center as the “Ground Zero Mosque”:

New York Dolls Gentleman's Club strip club

Off track betting

McDonald's

Abandoned store

Vitamin Shoppe

Irish pub

Burger King

Kosher Halal restaurant

Dunkin donuts

Souvenir store

Souvenir store

NYC Souvenir table

What’s my point? A month ago, I wrote about my support for a group of Muslim New Yorkers—whom I consider my neighbors—and their right to put a religious building on a piece of private property in Lower Manhattan. Since then, the debate over the Park51 community center, inaccurately nicknamed the “Ground Zero Mosque,” has jumped from talk radio to mainstream conversation, and turned nasty in the process. Sarah Palin wrote that, “it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project sponsored by such an individual to go forward on such hallowed ground.”

Look at the photos. This neighborhood is not hallowed. The people who live and work here are not obsessed with 9/11. The blocks around Ground Zero are like every other hard-working neighborhood in New York, where Muslims are just another thread of the city fabric.

At this point the only argument against this project is fear, specifically fear of Muslims, and that’s a bigoted, cowardly and completely indefensible position.

Update: Read some samples of reader feedback on this post.