August 18, 2010

The Shocking Things You'll Find At Ground Zero

There has been a furious debate lately over the "mosque at Ground Zero." First of all, it's not a mosque they are planning, it's an Islamic community center and secondly, it's not "at" Ground Zero, but roughly 2 1/2 blocks away.  From the street, you can not see Ground Zero from the community center and vice versa. 

The thing that infuriates me the most about this inane debate is that the majority of the uproar is coming from people who don't live in New York City and thus don't understand how this city operates.  Given the limited amount of real estate, the sacred and the profane are often forced to live side by side in NYC. That has always been the nature of this particular urban beast and always will be....even when it comes to Ground Zero.   

To illustrate this fact, Daryl Lang's excellent NYC blog History Eraser Button showed a number of businesses that are within the same 2.5 block radius from the former Trade Center site.  He found a strip joint, a betting parlor and a Burger King.  Notably, this BK served as a makeshift morgue and then police HQ in the weeks after 9/11, as it was directly across from the site. 

My kudos to Daryl for defusing the debate by pointing out the realities of city life. Hopefully, as this controversy continues, people will look start to look beyond the headlines and consider the actual facts involved. Not to mention the merits of the First Amendment.