17 Aug 2010 8:02 am   //   Filed under: New York is different

The uplifting response to my Ground Zero post

There’s a scene in “Twelve Angry Men” where Juror #10, having exhausted all his other arguments, starts to use ethnic stereotypes to argue why the accused is guilty. The other jurors, one by one, stand up silently and turn their backs to him.

That’s what I was hoping to do with yesterday’s post, “Hallowed Ground,” showing photos of things as close to the World Trade Center site as the proposed Park51 Islamic community center. One by one, all the arguments against the center are falling away, so the only argument left is anti-Muslim bigotry. People who want to make that argument are free to keep talking, like Juror #10, until it becomes apparent what their true motivations are.

Since my post went live yesterday morning, I have received countless messages of support on Twitter and Facebook, and nice write-ups on several blogs, including The Daily Wh.at, Daring FireballGothamist, Gawker and The Village Voice.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. As of this morning I’ve received 31 e-mails that were clearly in support of the post and the community center, 17 against it, and 10 that were neutral or offered varying opinions or asked questions.

Some examples of positive feedback:

“Excellent post. I’ve been telling folks they haven’t a clue and this is the best proof.”

“Love this. Fast food joints and bars have killed way more than any terrorist attack. Besides, religious tolerance is one of the reasons I love this country. It’s one of the reasons why others hate it.”

“Mr. Lang you are right on point. I have spoken in support of the mosque. I believe I am qualified because I survived the collapse of both towers as a paramedic and I have lost my health due to my exposure to what happen on 9/11. As a black man I know what it is like to be discriminated against and I feel the Muslim religion is being discriminated against. My name is Marvin Bethea www.unsunghhh.us and thank you for your pictures.”

“I’m writing you from Germany and I want to let you know that your statement is heartwarming for me because from where I stand it is sometimes hard to hear the moderate and reasonable voices in the USA through all the hate and ignorance of the so-called conservatives in your country. I wish that the Obama era lasts long enough to bring your country rel change inside the heads and the hearts of its citizens. Less hate, more understanding. A true sense of America’s responsibility as the only remaining super power. Stay strong, we look at you!”

“Thank you for your wonderful pieces supporting the Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan. I just read your ‘Hallowed Ground’ piece, and was utterly grateful to you and impressed by your courage. (Not to mention your common sense.) If only others in this country were as thoughtful and interested in the facts, we’d have a lot less vitriol. Somehow, they just can’t seem to de-link mainstream Muslims from murderers who claimed to be Muslim; they have no trouble distancing the Hutari from mainstream Christianity, as they should…but it’s too easy to scapegoat Muslims as the other. Thank you so much for taking a stand for pluralism and for supporting the progressive Muslim voices like the ones wanting to build the ICC. That’s the best way to drown out the voices of the extremists.
Best wishes,
Sumbul Ali-Karamali, JD, LLM (Islamic Law), www.muslimnextdoor.com

Some examples of the negative feedback:

“Dear author, New york dolls, otb, mcdonalds, express bbq, vitamin shop,obriens, burger, Broadway cafe health bar, dunkin doughnuts, jewelry, t-shirt /hat tourist traps sellers, atheist, christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish radicals did not kill 3,000 people-Muslim radicals did. FYI-I’m Atheist- If you actually did your research you’ll find that new york has been on a slow downward spiral since Sept 11 2001. I AM A RESIDENT of LOWER MANHATTAN too, my neighborhood has been completely altered, people who lived here for generations moved, businesses perished replaced with generic tourist shops and crappy restaurants.Look into the first amendment and what kind of rights go along with freedom of religion (speech and PETITION)- and the Law Of Abrogation which annuls any peaceful transcript in the koran replacing it with violent texts to appease their god. On United flight 93 you hear their WAR CRY. You are seriously misinformed.”

“I agree that there shouldn’t be an arbitrary 2 or 3 block limit away from ground zero for any new mosques in NYC. There should simply be a 1-ocean away limit, to be strictly enforced until that distant day in the future when Islam around the world becomes merely a friendly and peaceful religion, instead of the current murdering, slavetrading, woman-hating, black-hating, gay-hating, West-hating, Christian-hating, Jew-hating, unassimilating reactionary political theocracy which sees itself as conquering and dominating and ruling over every country and culture it encounters. You appear to be extremely bigoted against the very culture you are lucky to be living in, and your position on this matter is cowardly and indefensible. And suicidal, by the way.”

“You ignore the idea that the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ risks becoming a shrine to extremists, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. In the former case it would inspire the next band of terrorists, and it would stir the latter into attempting its destruction as an act of ‘revenge’. The Gentlemen’s Club is only at risk in the same way if Manhattan comes under Sharia Law.”

Several people asked for a photo of the actual site where Park51 is planned, and a map of the area where I took the photos. Here you go:


The proposed building will be just beyond the “Dakota Roadhouse” sign, in a retail space that used to be a clothing store. And here’s a quick map showing where I took my photos of the area around Ground Zero: