How can I support the Ground Zero Mosque?
August 19, 2010 10:21 AM   Subscribe

How can I help support the "Ground Zero" Mosque?

I am a resident of New York City and strongly support the Park51 plan to build a Muslim-oriented community center in Lower Manhattan. I'm outraged by the fact that outsiders are meddling in our local affairs, and by what I perceive to be general intolerance towards a minority religious group that violates our country's best ideas and principles.

What can I do to help support the mosque? It seems easy to find anti-mosque rallies, websites, etc., but I don't find the opposite to be true. How can I express solidarity and lend substantive support to the project and to religious freedom for American Muslims?
posted by j1950 to Law & Government (33 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I was thinking of asking this same question -- I'll be interested to read the answers.

The best I could think of was writing Major Bloomberg, but there has to be a more effective/direct route, surely.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:24 AM on August 19, 2010

You can stop calling it a mosque, and get others to as well. It's a community/civic center and should be publicly recognized as such.
posted by griphus at 10:25 AM on August 19, 2010 [19 favorites]

The page you linked to has a big "Donate" button on it...
posted by mdn at 10:27 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

There is a donate button on the website you linked
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 10:27 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry--should have said "other than donating." Thanks for pointing that out.
posted by j1950 at 10:31 AM on August 19, 2010

Regarding the "Donate" button -- there's the issue of supporting the community center directly, which donations will do, and the issue of voicing support in public to push back against the "outcry" over this issue. It seems like the OP is asking in particular about the latter....?
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:33 AM on August 19, 2010

Or if you aren't in a position to be generous with your financials, you might consider writing the foundation and people involved in the project to let them know that the bigotry and hate they've been facing is not reflective of the city or its people. Might be nice for the poor intern that has to wade through all the hate mail that the spam filter doesn't catch.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 10:35 AM on August 19, 2010

Yes, it is neither at Ground Zero, nor is it a mosque. The current name for the project is "Park51". So, perhaps calling it the "Park51 Community Center" might be the way to go?
posted by Citrus at 10:35 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

To express solidarity, if the matter comes up in discussion with friends or others, don't be afraid or reluctant to call it a mosque and community center. The House is, among other things, a house of worship, so by calling things what they are, you underscore your support of basic Constitutional freedoms. Allowing the opposition to control the language through self-imposed fear and deception unnecessarily grants their anti-Constitutional position legitimacy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:40 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

It seems easy to find anti-mosque rallies, websites, etc., but I don't find the opposite to be true.

Maybe organize one?
posted by nomadicink at 10:44 AM on August 19, 2010

Write letters to the editor, especially of national (or nationally-read) publications. Write, call, or email the politicians who represent you both in Albany and in Washington. Send some love (in the form of letters or, better yet, money for their political campaigns) to politicians who have spoken out in favor of the project or against the bigotry and intolerance that fuels its opposition.
posted by DrGail at 10:51 AM on August 19, 2010

Maybe you can call Park51 and ask?
A "we are New Yorkers and we support this Center" demonstration does seem like something that could happen, and if there are any plans to organize one, or reasons not to, Park51 would probably know.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 10:58 AM on August 19, 2010

Yeah, first off you can support it by not calling it "the Ground Zero mosque."
posted by Brittanie at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can start by not calling it the "Ground Zero" mosque and correcting that presumption everywhere you hear or see it.
posted by micawber at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

On preview - I sent a letter to the Mayor via the City of New York web site noting that while I have rarely ever agreed with him or his policies, I did agree with his stance on the Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan and applauded his stance on it. He's getting a lot of hate mail. People in support are not making themselves known while people in, say, Tennessee are suddenly trying to tell us what to do with our land in our city.
posted by micawber at 11:06 AM on August 19, 2010

Yeah, seconding refusing to call it the "Ground Zero Mosque", as opposed to the more accurate Park 51 community center.
posted by electroboy at 11:15 AM on August 19, 2010

To underline what BP said: The fact that it is neither a Mosque nor at Ground Zero are valid points, and bringing them up can help address the fact that the movement organizing against the center are engaging in misinformation. But that aside, I think that the whole "It's not a Mosque" line of argument misses the point by implicitly acknowledging that it be a different matter if it was a Mosque.

In terms of engaging in conversation with people who are against or indecisive on the subject, I would say something like: "You know, I can't think of anything that would be a more powerful and fitting testament to America's commitment to her values in the face of attack than building a Mosque at Ground Zero."
posted by 256 at 11:23 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

The key thing is framing the issue, and then generating enough volume around the "correct" framing of the issue.

For example, the anti-position is that this is A MOSQUE at GROUND ZERO. You yourself have used these terms even though you disagree with them.

The message needs to be simple, and not get into a he-said she said or a defensive position.

In short, the facts that you want to promulgate widely are:

- It's a community center
- If anyone should get a say whether it stays or goes it's New Yorkers
- New Yorkers consistently poll in favor.

Debates about how close it is to Ground Zero, it's a free country, not all muslims are terrorists and so forth are beside the point. These arguments are either too complex, or framed in a way that is distracting the issue (e.g. let's challenge whether all muslims *are* terrorists).

The next thing you can do is work out how to get this message promulgated efficiently. This is a distribution issue. Organising letter writing efforts to each and every senator, coordinating responses to radio phone-ins, writing to newspapers etc, starting facebook groups all feature. The key is to keep the focus on *your* message watertight.

People who oppose the center want to open up as many fronts as possible because it is fragmenting, distracting and creates lots of opportunities for people to box themselves into corners.

As a supporter, you don't. At base, the emotional issue - and this is an emotional issue because even anti-Cordoba House protesters are tending to recognise that the argument is around sensitivity to the victims and not legality - is simple: it's a not a mosque; we're a democracy; New Yorkers are in favor. End of.

*Actually, not end of: it wouldn't hurt to point out that for people like Sarah Palin who are so fond of small government and liberty, she's pretty keen to other people how to go about their business.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:31 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

See, I disagree with that, 256. I think the "Ground Zero" part should be treated as incidental. It doesn't matter where the damn thing should be built or why. The commitment to our values comes in the form that it doesn't matter where it is being built, and that there should not exist a reason to built it. Their mission doesn't mention WTC and there's no reason it needs to be brought up outside of making a distinction between its establishment and 9/11.
posted by griphus at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2010

...or, what MuffinMan said.
posted by griphus at 11:33 AM on August 19, 2010

Here's the link to write Mayor Bloomberg. Here's the link to contact Cordoba House (the organization behind Park51). Here's the link to write President Obama.

Here's a message I sent to Bloomberg, which you should feel free to riff on, crib from, or use as a point of departure. Hope it's helpful.

"Dear Mayor Bloomberg ,

I rarely write letters to politicians, but I wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation for your staunch defense of constitutional rights in your recent speech on the Park51 community center here in New York.

Opposition to the project is so wrong for so many reasons -- for its opportunistic and distorted portrayal of the tragedy and legacy of 9/11, for its bigotry in conflating all Muslims into members of the same terrorist conspiracy, for its disregard for the legitimate channels of local approval for development, and for its blatant disregard for property rights. Your speech drove all of this home, and was a welcome departure for the cowardice and cravenness of so many politicians who have weighed in on this issue.

Please count me among one of many New Yorkers who is proud that you're my mayor, and proud to live in a city that is committed to tolerance and coexistence as both an embodiment of American values and a model for what America can and should be."
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 11:37 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's inconsistent to make these two arguments simultaneously:

1) "it's just the Park51 community center", and
2) opponents are bigots who don't support religious freedom.

What's at issue here is the mosque (which is part of the community center) and its proximity to Ground Zero, so don't skirt or dodge the issue. Acknowledge that the mosque is part of the project and put it into proper context.

I also think you'd be well served by not treating all opponents of the project as narrow-minded bigots. Aren't they the very people who are supposed to be at the other end of the bridge Cordoba is building? Talk to them and try to understand their views and convince them of yours. Don't assume that Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Howard Dean represent the views of all opponents of the project.

Unless, that is, you would prefer to preach to the converted and shout down the opponents.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:47 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

A couple of ideas:

-Organize a rally in support of the community center
-Go door to door with flyers or pamphlets
-Create a website or blog in support of the project
-Order and distribute stickers that convey a positive feeling towards the project
posted by mungaman at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the ideas--really appreciate them. If anyone hears of anything more organized please let me know.
posted by j1950 at 12:11 PM on August 19, 2010

Mod note: folks - this thread is not going to be where we make these arguments, this is where we help the OP do what they want to do. There are four (4) open MeFi threads about this topic and one (1) open MeTa thread, do not make this about arguing with other posters. All comments need to be directly addressed to the main and narrow question. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:31 PM on August 19, 2010

I tried sending out a couple of letters to the editors on this topic - the editors seem to be over publishing more stuff on this. I had no luck - but maybe others will...just wanted to share, not discourage!
posted by quodlibet at 1:27 PM on August 19, 2010

Mod note: comments removed - the place for arguing with mod decsions is metatalk or the contact form, not here. please respect the other people in this thread and stop commenting here if you can't do it in line with the site guidelines, thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:34 PM on August 19, 2010

You can stop calling it a mosque, and get others to as well. It's a community/civic center and should be publicly recognized as such.

Rather than trying to come up with some euphemism to replace the perfectly normal word "mosque," I recommend regularly checking Park51's official Twitter feed for better talking points. (You don't need to be logged in to Twitter.) Notice that they regularly call the mosque a mosque, because a mosque is what it is. You're not doing them any favors by avoiding the word "mosque" or trying to get people to stop calling the mosque a "mosque." That only contributes to the sense that "mosque" is a dirty or scary word. It's not. It's simply the Islamic equivalent of words like "church," "chapel," "synogague," and "temple." There are already churches within two blocks of Ground Zero, so if you like the idea of a mosque within two blocks of Ground Zero (or just support their freedom to have it there), go ahead and call it what it is: a mosque.

WaPo has a good article with lots of quotes from Muslims-on-the-street about how beneficial they expect Park51 to be for their lives.

Notice that WaPo doesn't say it's not a mosque, but it's "more than a mosque." The New York Times also calls it a mosque, as do the actual promoters/planners of Park51.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

The only references to the mosque on the website are to be found here, between "childcare services" and "9/11" memorial:
a mosque, intended to be run separately from Park51 but open to and accessible to all members, visitors and our New York community
posted by griphus at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2010

Mod note: comments removed - there are five open other threads, argue this elsewhere, thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2010

Express your opinion or reply to other comments in the comment sections of Park51 related articles in your favorite right of center newspaper. Left of center media already share your point of view, with plenty of supporting comments, not much incremental benefit there.

I am thinking specifically of the Wall Street Journal, and articles like this for example:"Obama's Mosque Remarks Reverberate". Select the "comments" tab and see when the most recent comment was posted; in the wsj the thread typically becomes dormant after a couple of days or so.

Full access to the wsj requires a subscription. But free registration lets you make comments and read some of the articles.
posted by Kevin S at 7:55 PM on August 19, 2010

Remind people why the pilgrims left England to come here in the first place (unless you're talking to a Protestant, of course). Funny how it isn't a bunch of Protestants fighting to stop this building. Go figure.

Also, it isn't a mosque. People are calling it a mosque because ooooooh, that's a scary word. We're talking about what, a 13 story building here? Think about how many buildings have churches in them, or "chapels" yet we refer to those buildings as what they are.

Whatever you do, don't fight religious extremism, bigotry and zealotry with more of the same.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:07 PM on August 19, 2010

Okay, I'm glad I found this -- I was just coming over here to post a "how to" myself. I went past the mosque/not-mosque today, and talked to one of the folks who have been outside, supporting it for a couple of days now. I asked her, basically, what she needed and if she had concerns about being badly outgunned come the 9/11 rally and so on. She was just a pro-mosque demonstrator, and not an official mosque representative, but she directed me to -- it's essentially a Facebook page right now, but it also gives an e-mail address to contact if you want to volunteer to counter-protest or whatnot. Aside from 9/11, I think there's an anti-mosque rally planned for this Sunday, so if anybody local is available, I think the pro-Park51 people could use the bodies to stand with them.

Sorry for wall of text -- sense of social justice competing with sense of "do your job so you don't get fired" makes me rambly.
posted by Amanojaku at 12:19 PM on August 20, 2010

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