The Anti-Defamation League caused a firestorm when it came out in opposition to the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. It claimed, with a rationale that has become common among critics, that while the developers had the right to build there, it was not right to build there. Many people in the interfaith community felt ADL had betrayed its core values.
Last week, the ADL surprised a few more people by announcing creation of an Interfaith Coalition on Mosques. From the release:
I've only recently started eating at Shake Shack, and have fallen hard for their frozen custard (the blueberry, so very creamy). And after generally avoiding beef for years, I've made return trips for their cheeseburgers, which I've concluded are superior to those of Five Guys — certainly less unwieldy.
On a clear, warm September Saturday, the mall at Lincoln Center was buzzing with fashion industry insiders scurrying to get to or from the latest shows and the curious onlookers who showed up to watch them. In simple terms, Lincoln Center was bumpin’.
At about 11:05 this lazy Sunday morning, I had a sudden, seizing revelation: Fall for Dance tickets had gone on sale, just 5 minutes earlier. I tossed my almond croissant down on the table and ran to my computer. A few seconds later, I was on New York City Center's Web site, only to discover that I was Number 2,578 on the waiting list.
Who had the bigger turnout?
That's the issue I'm grappling with right now -- whether there were more people at the rally and march supporting Park 51, or the rally just a couple blocks away opposing it. A few weeks ago, there was no question that opponents outnumbered supporters, perhaps two (or even three) to one, and had a far more sophisticated setup: a proper stage and soundsystem from which rock music blared, and a crowd armed with eye-catching signs. The supporters, on the other hand, had just a handheld megaphone and a stool that speakers stood on, to address the crowd.
With preparations going on in lower Manhattan for the 9/11 memorial services and protests of the proposed mosque and cultural center just blocks away, Fashion's Night Out still lured shoppers to their favorite stores in TriBeCa.
Just in case you missed it, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf emerged from his two-month silence on Park 51 with this op-ed in the NYT:
We are proceeding with the community center, Cordoba House. More important, we are doing so with the support of the downtown community, government at all levels and leaders from across the religious spectrum, who will be our partners. I am convinced that it is the right thing to do for many reasons.
Regardless of one's politics, among the most arresting images from the whole Park51 furor was the sign that proclaimed "SHARIA." Waved about by many opponents of Park51, its dripping, blood red letters made clear that for some, this controversy has little to do with real estate or proximity to Ground Zero. The larger fear is that radical Islam is plotting a stealth invasion of this country.
But this time, signs are a no-no.
A group known as the Majlis Ash-Shura of Metropolitan New York, aka the Islamic Leadership Council, braved the furious heat (remember, observant Muslims aren't even drinking water these days) and the questions of a sizable press contingent as they tried to reframe the story of the planned Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero.
I'm not sure whether the author of this piece -- on the lack of American Muslim leadership over Park 51 -- was going for irony, but I must admit, it amused. From The American Muslim magazine:
Who speaks for American Muslims? So far, the bravest and strongest and most regularly heard voices on behalf of Muslims in this crisis have been Mayor Bloomberg and Jon Stewart who are both Jewish.
At this weekend's dueling rallies over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero, this much was clear: The opposition to the project is larger and much better organized. In addition to having at least double the turnout of supporters, opponents had a stage and soundsystem and proper, printed signs that conveyed something to people watching on their TV sets, anywhere in the world.
Most of the coverage of today's Siena poll has focused on the large majority of New York voters -- 63%-- that opposes the mosque near Ground Zero. That's even higher than last week's Marist poll, which showed 53% opposition.
But even more interesting than that first question is the follow-up, focusing on constitutionality.
Regardless of whether you personally support or oppose the proposal to build the Cordoba House, do you believe the developers of the Cordoba House have a Constitutional right to proceed with the construction of the mosque and Muslim cultural center or not?
The answers to that question were eye-opening: 64% of voters overall said the developers have the right to build there. That includes 67% of Dems and 56% of Republicans.
When I asked him to reconcile that dichotomy, Steve Greenberg, the Siena pollster, said, "The majority of New Yorkers are saying 'I don't want to see it built there, but they have the right to build it there.' I sort of think it's analogous to the old saying, 'I don't like what you're saying, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.'"
I caught Fareed Zakaria on Charlie Rose Tuesday night.
CHARLIE ROSE: Your parents are Muslim?
FAREED ZAKARIA: Yes, and I was brought up that way. I am just not a particularly religious person. I think I sealed my fate when I became the wine critic for "Slate" magazine.
CHARLIE ROSE: That will do it.
I found that exchange pretty funny, but also illuminating, given that Zakaria could be considered one of the most famous Muslims in America, and by his own account, he's a MINO: Muslim in Name Only.
If you owned a Brooklyn basketball team, what wouldja call 'em? According to the Daily News, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has filed the necessary paperwork to officially change the team's name. The league requires a 25-month notice before a team's name is changed in any way, so the move could just be a way to make sure the team becomes the Brooklyn Nets or New York Nets in time for its move and the 2012/13 season.
In February I covered the legislative movement to legalize medical marijuana in New York. Given how little grassroots opposition there was, I figured passage wasn't too far in the future and I'd soon be getting triumphant emails from the pot lobby and evites to smokey, bong-filled celebrations (which I'd naturally decline).
Well, it's August, and Albany is still Albany, so maybe it's no surprise that medical marijuana is still not legal. But here's an entertaining -- and rather apocalyptic -- animation made by Brooklyn-based Haik Hoisington, who's smoked pot for 15 years and wanted to articulate his opposition to the "policing of pleasure in the United States."
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 9-0 vote denying landmark status to 45 Park Place means that construction of an Islamic cultural center can now move forward. Judging by the pretty weak showing of opponents at the meeting, a few of whom shouted “Shame!” and other comments at the fast-departing commissioners at the end of the meeting, you didn’t sense there’s much steam left in the stop-the-mega-mosque crowd, cable news notwithstanding. That made things especially hard on the hordes of reporters who were looking for quotes, and were willing to mob someone — anyone – who looked like they had an opinion of any kind.
Has the Muslim community been too slow to condemn terrorism? Or is it simply incapable of being heard when it does issue condemnations? Last year, Kamran Pasha, a novelist and screenwriter who’s worked for NBC and Showtime, and who is Muslim, vented about the subject in a blog post, “The Big Lie About Muslim Silence on Terrorism.”