‘Ground Zero mosque’? The reality is less provocative

Charlie Brooker:

To get to the Cordoba Centre from Ground Zero, you’d have to walk in the opposite direction for two blocks, before turning a corner and walking a bit more. The journey should take roughly two minutes, or possibly slightly longer if you’re heading an angry mob who can’t hear your directions over the sound of their own enraged bellowing.

Perhaps spatial reality functions differently on the other side of the Atlantic, but here in London, something that is “two minutes’ walk and round a corner” from something else isn’t actually “in” the same place at all. I once had a poo in a pub about two minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace. I was not subsequently arrested and charged with crapping directly onto the Queen’s pillow. That’s how “distance” works in Britain. It’s also how distance works in America, of course, but some people are currently pretending it doesn’t, for daft political ends.

New York being a densely populated city, there are lots of other buildings and businesses within two blocks of Ground Zero, including a McDonald’s and a Burger King, neither of which has yet been accused of serving milkshakes and fries on hallowed ground. Regardless, for the opponents of Cordoba House, two blocks is too close, period. Frustratingly, they haven’t produced a map pinpointing precisely how close is OK.

That’s literally all I’d ask them in an interview. I’d stand there pointing at a map of the city. Would it be offensive here? What about here? Or how about way over there? And when they finally picked a suitable spot, I’d ask them to draw it on the map, sketching out roughly how big it should be, and how many windows it’s allowed to have. Then I’d hand them a colour swatch and ask them to decide on a colour for the lobby carpet. And the conversation would continue in this vein until everyone in the room was in tears. Myself included.

That hasn’t happened. Instead, 70% of Americans are opposed to the “Ground Zero mosque”, doubtless in many cases because they’ve been led to believe it literally is a mosque at Ground Zero. And if not . . . well, it must be something significant. Otherwise why would all these pundits be so angry about it? And why would anyone in the media listen to them with a straight face?


  1. I am so disappointed at the ignorance of this country. They are like sheep that follow whatever the media spins without looking at what the facts are. I was there during the attack – I still work there and pass the site every work day. The mosque site is 2 blocks away – no where near where the towers stood. If the ground is so sacred why is it littered with fast food joints and vendors making a fast buck off of trinkets and 9/11 images.

  2. funny things I would add to this:
    – in order to try and get around the “It’s actually over two blocks away” point as well as justify their “It should be historically preserved” argument (as someone who works on NYC History I can promise these people have never been interested in historic preservation before this), the anti-Park51 jerkholes claim that because pieces of debris fell ONTO this building it is thus sacred ground. Hmmm, I breathed in a bunch of debris from that day, now wondering if I am sacred ground too.
    – 70% of Americans seem to be against it, but as has been shown the closer you get to the actual space, the more approval you find for it. So, though 70% of all America is against the project, a much smaller majority of “all new york state” is against it. If you poll just New York City then the project is FAVORED by a slight majority and, as you’ve pointed out, the project went through an approval process and was inspired by local demand so obviously it is favored by a very large neighborhood majority.

  3. ‘Religious’ tolerance?

    The privileges of being classed as religion should be withdrawn from Islam.

    If Hitler had claimed that ‘Mein Kampf’ was dictated by God, would we be forced to tolerate the Nazi Party as a religion? Islam is first and foremost a mind-destroying, totalitarian political ideology that spreads through the Body Politic like a virus.

    Winston Churchill gave the correct diagnosis over a century ago, when he compared Islam to a contagious virus or meme – ‘as dangerous in a man as rabies in a dog’ http://crombouke.blogspot.com/2010/01/islam-murder-meme-and-rabies-of.html

    Consequently, Islam should be reclassified from ‘RELIGION’ to ‘PUBLIC MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM’ – a virulent contagious mental illness. It could then be contained by the methods used to prevent the spread of typhoid and other lethal epidemics: enforced exclusion and quarantine of carriers, eradication of foci of infection, immunization of the susceptible population etc.

    1. Hitler was a catholic and did believe he was doing the Lord’s work.

      “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord..” -Mein Kampf

      Islam is no more a disease than any other delusion where preserving belief is more important than studying evidence.

  4. From the comments section –

    This manufactured controversy might be to do with distracting people from the 9/11 First Responders healthcare bill the Republicans voted down in the senate.

    Lots of the 9/11 first responders are coming down with cancer and respiratory disease, but in order to prevent things like extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent of the population being tacked onto it the Democrats sent it out as a straight yea or nay bill. The Republicans voted nay, and were starting to catch some heat about it, and then this drama bomb exploded.

    It also skips the fact that when the freedom tower is built there will be muslims working there and some of them will pray, likely in a prayer room, at some point during the day. Using the same logic (having a prayer room = a mosque) then the Freedom Tower will actually be the worlds largest mosque built directly on top of Ground Zero.

  5. I’ve always thought that people overreacted to 911 anyway. I’m not downplaying the tragedy of it, but after a while I was just like, “get over it already!” People act like that event symbolizes the strength of the American Spirit or something. Then it should symbolize diversity too. Freedom of religion… ‘less yer one o’ those towelheads.

    It’s backwards thinking, like the way all the “Swift boaters” were criticizing John Kerry for protesting a war that he just served in, ignoring the fact that their own “G-Dubyah” used his connections to all but dodge the draft.

    1. Yes! Really, get a grip on yourselves. Terrorists have been blowing sh*t up in Britain, Germany, Israel, and all over the world for the last 50 years. The appropriate response is increased undercover police intelligence. Not confiscating shampoo.

  6. new yorkers in the city don’t care about it, we’re not still effected by 9/11 as much as the rest of the country seems to be – probably because we live here and have not turned it into a socio-religious cause.

  7. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    That is congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. No where in the government do we have to respect any religion. Doesn’t mean it can’t be exempt from taxes either for that would be promoting all religion. I get so tired of these believers that get a free ride. If they are exempt then so am I god damn it.

  8. I just want to know why public opinion is recently being held in such high regard? I would like to point out to people that just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s right- I think our parents were pretty clear on that point. This kind of “truth by polling” thing has gotten way out of hand (see: prop 8). Moreover, I think a greater issue of concern is the mockery of truth being paraded around by pundits. I will say that when I first heard of the plan, I was under the impression that they were building a mosque directly on top of the WTC site, and I was offended by that. However, 2 seconds and a google search later, and I was perfectly fine with a mosque being 2 Manhattan blocks from the site.

  9. it all comes down to the “do guns kill people or do people kill people with guns” kind of argument. Islam like any other religion or philosophy is only as dangerous as a gun in a person’s hand. Some people will pull the trigger, some won’t. The mosque may actually take some “guns” out of some people’s hands (ones that would have dropped the “gun” anyway) and put some in others – just like the Scientologist bunch in the subways, the Catholics and their “pro-life” campaigns in how many churches, the Presbyterian churches that teach their girls they’re sluts, all within a few blocks of the site.

    A site of destruction and hatred and death IS NOT SACRED and anyone who was here when 9/11 happened understood that. It was a tragic failure of humanity no matter the religious origin. Islam is just the one that happened to belong to that group. Wait? What religion was McVeigh?

    Protesting the mosque is insane. But it keeps the oxygen thieves busy!

    Okay that was “cynical”. I was up late and I’m cranky. Thanks for letting me spout my two cents – now I’m going to go get a coffee…

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