A new survey from the Democratic-affiliated firm Public Policy Polling finds that more Republicans support constructing a strip club than a mosque near Ground Zero.
Just four percent of Republican respondents said they support building a mosque two blocks from the site, whereas 21 percent said they would be fine with a strip club. Forty-nine percent of Democrats said they supported the mosque and 33 for the strip club. Among Independents, it was 34 percent for the mosque and 28 percent for the strip club.
“This shows the extent and impact of the recent rise in anti-Islam rhetoric in our society that people would rather have some kind of establishment perpetuating immoral behavior over a house of worship [run] by people who are trying to promote morality and ethics and righteous behavior,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for Council on American-Islamic Relations.
During the debate over whether to build a planned Islamic cultural center near the memorial site, many media outlets noted that the “sacred” ground surrounding the area is home to all sorts of less-than sacred outlets.
“In a walk of the streets within three blocks of Ground Zero, the Daily Newscounted 17 pizza shops, 18 bank branches, 11 bars, 10 shoe stores and 17 separate salons where a girl can get her lady parts groomed,” reported the paper in August. It also pointed to a strip club called “Pussycat Lounge” just two blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood, as well as a place called “Thunder Lingerie.”
Our Ramadan road trip this year drew much interest from big media, thanks to the “Ground Zero Mosque controversy” and Terry Jones’ Quran-burning fiasco. It was unsettling to sit through interview after interview, fielding questions about mosque construction and the state of the American Muslim community. Every TV interview eventually veered into “Islam on trial” territory, and we were the ones defending it. Aman and I became Ambassador Muslim. It sucked.
But I’ll miss every other part of our 30-day adventure. It’s been two weeks since we’ve been back and already I miss the road, the people we met, and the America I experienced.
The following photos come from our month-long road trip through Muslim America. I’ve selected a special assortment of images for Boing Boing, and am honored to share these photos with you.
Many Americans have suggested that more moderate Muslims should stand up to extremists, speak out for tolerance, and apologize for sins committed by their brethren.
That’s reasonable advice, and as a moderate myself, I’m going to take it. (Throat clearing.) I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you. The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you. Muslims are one of the last minorities in the United States that it is still possible to demean openly, and I apologize for the slurs.
I’m inspired by another journalistic apology. The Portland Press Herald in Maine published an innocuous front-page article and photo a week ago about 3,000 local Muslims praying together to mark the end of Ramadan. Readers were upset, because publication coincided with the ninth anniversary of 9/11, and they deluged the paper with protests.
So the newspaper published a groveling front-page apology for being too respectful of Muslims. “We sincerely apologize,” wrote the editor and publisher, Richard Connor, and he added: “we erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.” As a blog by James Poniewozik of Time paraphrased it: “Sorry for Portraying Muslims as Human.”
I called Mr. Connor, and he seems like a nice guy. Surely his front page isn’t reserved for stories about Bad Muslims, with articles about Good Muslims going inside. Must coverage of law-abiding Muslims be “balanced” by a discussion of Muslim terrorists?
Ah, balance — who can be against that? But should reporting of Pope Benedict’s trip to Britain be “balanced” by a discussion of Catholic terrorists in Ireland? And what about journalism itself?
I interrupt this discussion of peaceful journalism in Maine to provide some “balance.” Journalists can also be terrorists, murderers and rapists. For example, radio journalists in Rwanda promoted genocide.
I apologize to Muslims for another reason. This isn’t about them, but about us. I want to defend Muslims from intolerance, but I also want to defend America against extremists engineering a spasm of religious hatred.
This time of year is always very hard for me. The rapid drop in humidity, the crispness of the air and clear blue of the sky that prior to September 11, 2001 could only be described as deliciously divine now catapult many 9/11 victims and family members, such as myself, immediately back to the sheer horror of that day nine years ago, and the weeks, months and years following. The actual anniversary day is the most harrowing for many. I say “for many,” because unlike the leaders of the organizations protesting what they’ve coined the “Ground Zero mosque,” I don’t claim to speak for all 9/11 family members. We are an enormous and diverse group, with varied opinions. But for many, the anniversary can be a day of sacred remembrance, of relived visceral terror (not helped by the bombardment of crass media coverage), and of many, many other private rituals and feelings 9/11 family members have.
Now, if the likes of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, conservative bloggers and founders of an organization called Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), have their way, the anniversary will also be a day for their anti-‘mosque’ rally near Ground Zero. (Notice I say “near” and not “at” because little details like the truth actually matter to me.) SIOA, the organization largely responsible for making the “Ground Zero mosque” a national issue, will seize upon the opportunity to exploit our devastating losses to promote their agenda of hate. Continue reading…
When the ceremonies conclude in New York City today for the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, some of the commemorators will break off to attend a different kind of rally — one that brings the Islamophobic fervor of the past few weeks to a head.
Today at 3 p.m. ET, at the proposed site for Park51 on Park Place and West Broadway in downtown Manhattan, people will gather for the “FDI/SIOA 9/11 Rally of Remembrance: Yes to Freedom, No to Ground Zero Mosque,” a rally in opposition to the planned Islamic center.
SIOA calls itself a “a human rights organization dedicated to freedom of speech, religious liberty, and individual rights; no special rights for special classes.” The FDI aims to act “against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”
And several politicians — some from New York, some from as far away as The Netherlands — are scheduled to speak to the crowd.
Among them is former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who is rumored to be mulling a run for president in 2012, and who will make his speech via video message. Big Government’s Andrew Breitbart will also be videoing it in.
According to the SIOA site, some 9/11 family members will be on the scene to speak, as will “Dutch Parliamentarian and freedom fighter Geert Wilders.” Wilders told The Guardian in 2008 that “Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology.” The “ideology of a retarded culture.” Continue reading…
President Obama concluded his press conference today with a statement on the importance of protecting the rights of American Muslims. “We don’t differentiate between them and us,” he said. “It’s just us. And that is a principle that I think is going to be very important for us to sustain.”
Obama was asked about the controversial Park51 Islamic center, and said: “I think I’ve been pretty clear on my position here. And that is: This country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights, and one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely.”
“What that means,” he continued, “is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.”
“We’ve got millions of Muslim Americans, our fellow citizens in this country,” Obama said. “They’re going to school with our kids. They’re our neighbors. They’re our friends. They’re our coworkers. And when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?”
He continued that there are also Muslims fighting in Afghanistan: “They’re out there putting their lives on the line for us, and we’ve got to make sure that we are crystal clear for our sakes and their sakes — they are Americans, and we honor their service.”
As Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center gets ready to burn copies of the Koran at his Gainesville, Florida church this Saturday (September 11), many national voices are calling for him to change his plans. House Minority Leader John Boehner, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and RGA Chairman Haley Barbour have all criticized the planned Koran burning. And Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander of the Afghanistan War, has gone as far as to say that the plan could put American troops in danger.
But as Jones forges full-speed ahead with his incendiary event, some of the nation’s most prominent Islamophobic voices have expressed their opposition (though usually with caveats), to Jones’ idea….
Pamela Geller is one of the most prominent opponents of Park51, the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero. She’s called the plans akin to “stab[bing] Americans in the eye,” and railed against a plan by the credit company MasterCard to offer a special card for Muslims: “If they don’t want to live under the most advanced humane civilization in the history of man, let them go back to those barbaric countries that live under sharia. I am cutting up my mastercard tonight. Master, my ass. Bloody slaves. Financing jihad and anti-western economics.” She also told TPM last month that “it is very dangerous to want to leave Islam. It’s not all of them, not the majority. The majority are secular Muslims.” Continue reading…
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, one of the ostensibly mainstream politicians who has come out vocally against building an Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan, today spoke out against a Florida church’s plan to burn Korans on Sept. 11.
“People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation — much like building a mosque at Ground Zero,” Palin wrote in a press release. “Book burning is antithetical to American ideals.”
Many of the most vehemently anti-Muslim and anti-mosque voices — including Pamela Geller and Bill Keller — have spoken out against the Koran burning. There has not been as much vocal outcry from the politicians who have urged protests against the Cordoba House, which they call the “Ground Zero mosque.”
Palin used her repudiation to speak out, again, against Cordoba.
“Freedom of religion is integral to our charters of liberty. We don’t need to agree with each other on theological matters, but tolerating each other without unnecessarily provoking strife is how we ensure a civil society,” she wrote. “In this as in all things, we should remember the Golden Rule. Isn’t that what the Ground Zero mosque debate has been about?”
House Minority Leader John Boehner today also drew a parallel between burning a holy book and building a community center and prayer space near Ground Zero.
She said that it was not possible to tie the incidents together in any concrete pattern, but speculated that the fierce opposition to the center near Ground Zero may have unleashed a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment across the country:
“Maybe the tie between them is the opponents, who claim to be against the Park51 center near the World Trade Center site solely as a matter of real estate…maybe the thing that ties them altogether is them…if it’s only about the specific location of that one Islamic center, then how come we’re not hearing anything from them at all about all about the other mosques being shot up and protested? Are Temecula and Fresno also just too darn close to Ground Zero?”
Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the Daily Showlast night to speak with host Jon Stewart about the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero.
Bloomberg has been arguably the most outspoken New York politician in favor of the center.
“People say well, in Saudi Arabia you can’t build a church,” Bloomberg said. “Yes. That’s the difference between Saudi Arabia and America.”
He also made the argument that all the fear-mongering surrounding the Park51 project is largely due to politicians trying to score points in an election year.
“This is plain and simple people trying to stir up things to get publicity and trying to polarize people so that they can get some votes,” Bloomberg said. “And I don’t think that most of these people who are yelling and screaming really care one way or another.” Watch the entire interview below: