If nothing else, New York City is a place to reinvent yourself. Apparently that’s exactly what the folks of Park 51 are doing. You may better recognize the name Park 51 as the Ground Zero Mosque or Cordoba House, which garnered the attention of Americans nationwide and even moose-shootin’ Sarah Palin a few months back. After much silence, the mosque is pressing forward under a new name: the Cordoba Movement.
The Cordoba Movement is chalking up all the protesting this summer to extreme Islamaphobia that was enhanced before the November elections. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife have begun a helluva PR campaign to regain support for the project. He has tapping the educational circuit by hitting universities like Harvard, Yale and UNC while she reaches out to Rabbis for Human Rights. Celebrity endorsements continue to roll in for the project like Mayor Bloomberg, John Cusack, Stephen Colbert, and, swaying the hearts of all teens in America, Justin Bieber.
It is my belief that the Cordoba Movement is creating a new paradigm. From my perspective, the global battle isn’t between America and Islam. Instead, it is a battle between the 95 percent of people in the world who want peace and the extremists on all sides who benefit from hatred and violence. For too long, the 95 percent of people in the world who want peace have sat in the stands watching the extremists battle it out in the arena. We must enter the arena ourselves and retake control of this important global discussion.
So, have we progressed, New York? I stand by my earlier comments in support of this community center. I guess we’ll find out if protesting the Cordoba Movement was merely a summer sport and pre-election fanfare, or if if the “Islamaphobia” can withstand protesting throughout the cold weather (a tall order for any protester, to be sure). Despite sentiments on the project, it will need to be funded in a large capacity ($100 million range) and the money trail seems hard to track at this point. The group hopes to raise $8 million by June and these fundraising efforts should be easily traceable due to the project’s non-profit status. It seems the best barometer for support at this point should be the funds raised—and right now those seem minimal.