Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Geography

Aside from watching the ADL put its organizational foot in its mouth, and noticing a group of Real American protesters a few months ago debriefing or organizing or something near Century 21, I haven't much been following the "Ground Zero Mosque" debacle. Part of why I'm not (italicized to prevent enraged commenters from raging) opposed to the project is the usual - religious tolerance, etc., etc. But it also comes from knowing that part of town very well. I went to high school just north of what were then the Twin Towers, and just spent a year living on the southern tip of Manhattan. I'm as familiar as anyone with lower Manhattan both pre- and post-. And... Park Place is not Ground Zero. It doesn't face Ground Zero, and it isn't part of the fuzzy border of what was, last I checked, the pit, the place where tourists smile for photographs. Once you reach Park Place going north, you're in that Fulton Street, J&R, vendors-selling-random-crap-from-storefronts-they-can-for-some-mysterious-reason-afford neighborhood, just as it begins transitioning into the new-ish south-of-Chambers Tribeca extension, with its "Kaffe," its Whole Foods mall, and its cellulite-free power-moms. It's a city of microneighborhoods, and while the 9/11 attacks physically impacted a greater geographical area than is currently fenced off (I remember a thick cloud of dust and bizarre smell even uptown), the space that's currently understood by tourists and locals alike as Ground Zero is the border surrounding the fenced-off area. Outside that space, and I mean right outside that space, life goes on. Century 21 marks down Calvin Klein bras, Whole Foods marks up organic moisturizer. All of lower Manhattan is not in a permanent state of mourning. It would be fine by me if people were more respectful of the site itself - again, by not grinning for photos in front of the pit - but it is in no one's interest - and on no one's agenda - to shut down the island south of Chambers. I can't help but think that much of the rabble-rousing about the proposed mosque is coming from people with an entirely different conception of space, who aren't picturing the density of activity in the relevant area. I somehow picture Abe Foxman not having too much trouble with this, but Sarah Palin? If her on-the-ground knowledge of lower Manhattan is what mine is of Wasilla (and no, sitcoms about NY don't get the point across), then there's a good chance anything she's heard in terms of yards or blocks doesn't add up to how the area is actually experienced.

2 comments:

Petey said...

Nice to see you are sane on religious tolerance issues in the USA. Who'd have thunk that Phoebe would ever say anything negative about the ADL?

But it's too bad you have endless tolerance for the 4 decade plus of the brutal Israeli occupation of several million un-persons.

I guess your moral compass in political and human rights matters extends only to countries that aren't named "Israel".

Can't you bring your mindless tribalism back home and form an unholy alliance with Sarah Palin? She's good for the Jews, just like Bibi and the Israeli political power structure is good for the Jews...

Phoebe said...

Petey,

Until you can respond to the posts, and not launch rants not even responding to anything I've ever written (when was I ever head over heels for the ADL?), let alone the post at hand, how does this sound: stop commenting here on this topic. There are more than enough venues for STOP THE OCCUPATION messages, and with these nifty new tools that allow anyone to start his or her own blog for free, you can even make a new one.

Ah, but your mission is for some reason converting me in particular? If this convinces you, consider that if they had any impact on my politics whatsoever, which rest assured they don't, your comments at this point would push me to make Aliyah and vote Likud.