Tuesday, August 31, 2010


A lot has been made of the manufactured controversy surrounding the "Ground Zero Mosque;" the name given to the Cordoba Initiative Mosque and Cultural Center by the Right end of the American blogosphere and other critics of the project. For a while it was news that while any number of Americans had gotten themselves into a tizzy over the project, people throughout the rest of the world really didn't seem to know or care about what was going on, and that included the Islamic world. Well, that's no longer the case. People from around the world have now started to sit up an take notice.

It's a truism that when your local area makes the national news, it's never anything good. Well, the same is true on an international level. Mainly because of the nature of the news media. Very few people pick up a newspaper simply to read that everybody had a party and sang Kumbaya.

So when I read an opinion piece in Al-Jazeera that asked: "What if Cordoba House in Lower Manhattan (ground-zero mosque) was given the green light? Would not that ‘single building’ have done wonders to the repair of seemingly irreparable US-Islam relations and to the US’s own image in the Muslim World?" I immediately knew the answer. No.

Mainly because of the simple fact that if a conservative blogger in New York hadn't managed to get their one-person hate train out of the station, no one else would have cared one whit about this place. Despite Fox News now officially being in a lather about the project, when they initally covered it back in December, they apparently thought that it wasn't a half bad idea. Didn't catch that December interview? Well, no one else did, either. It just wasn't a big deal at the time.

And if the cultural center had sailed through to completion, with the only voices against it being a couple of random cranks, it would have never have become a big deal. Especially not a big enough deal to change opinions towards the United States in the rest of the world. Given that, it seems logical that the only way that the proposed center could have had ANY effect on the way Muslims see the United States is through what actually happened - a huge controversy erupted, and stayed on the front pages long enough that people in the rest of the world had time to ramp up on what was going on. And that only way for that to have happened was for the opposition to be strong enough, vocal enough and well-connected enough to keep the issue alive.

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