Michelle Kraus: Only a Few Blocks Could Make a Big Difference for the Ground Zero Mosque
In New York City everything changes within only a few blocks. For those that don’t know the City, whole neighborhoods shift from block to block. It seems to this girl who grew up in the shadow of the twin towers that we’ve all been hoodwinked. Yet again the insidious spin doctors of the Right have stirred up “Islamophobia” around the world — coined by Frank Rich in his New York Times Op-Ed when he attempted to debunk all of the hoopla with the facts.
You’d think we might have figured this out a little sooner because once again we are ill prepared for the stealth swift boat attacks before an important election during the dog days of August. Yes, we know what the facts are or we could read Frank Rich’s article that is exemplary among many in the ensuing media circus. The mosque is not a mosque, rather it is a community center modeled on the Jewish community centers throughout the nation. It is scheduled to be built not on sacred ground, but rather a vacant Burlington Coat Factory two blocks away. And the organizers are not partisan or violent religious zealots. They are esteemed members of the Muslim American community respected by all.
We also know that it is August before a major November election; the stakes are high; and fear, racism and hatred always work to distract from the “real” issues at hand (the economy stupid). It is not our first rodeo so how could we have forgotten the carnage of the swift boaters in August 2004? The same Republicans spin doctors, and their grassroots minions made sure that the decorated war hero, Senator John Kerry, was marginalized, trivialized and ultimately discredited for his war service even after receiving a Purple Heart for bravery by a man – former President George W. Bush who did not even serve in the Vietnam War.
Ironically, it is Senator Kerry that is doing a good deal of the heavy lifting in Afghanistan by calling their President Hamid Karzai on the carpet last week — as the winds of the swift boaters whip up a frenzy of hatred and fear in lower Manhattan, and consequently around the world. We know that we are in the midst of a tremendous PR crisis in this country with a President of great words who has become the President of little words. Here we are again with “them” playing the same military, national security, hate mongering card.
Boy oh boy, this was ripe for the picking by the swift boaters, or whatever they call themselves now. Is it coffee grounds or tea bags? It is always about timing as we continue to engage in Afghanistan despite diminishing public support; consider leading international relief efforts into flood ravaged Pakistan; and have a President that is accused of being a Muslim.
We live in a world that is easily manipulated by messages of hate and discrimination, particularly doing times of scarcity and financial hardship. They’d like us to believe that all turbans are alike, but they are not. We should have known better and had our media machine ready and waiting. How many more elections do we need to lose before we get smart? Those message masters from our Party need to be paid less and challenged more. And folks, couldn’t we have moved the proposed site just a few blocks to some other vacated building in another neighborhood in lower Manhattan and avoided this whole fiasco.