|In an excellent piece in The Guardian, Charlie Brooker comments on the hysteria being whipped up by right-wing media elements in the US on the proposed plans for the so-called “Ground Zero mosque”. The facts on the ground are less exciting and far less controversial than the myths being concocted around the building.|
"For one thing, it's not at Ground Zero. Also, it isn't a mosque."
"Wait, it gets duller. It's not being built by extremists either. Cordoba House, as it's known, is a proposed Islamic cultural centre, which, in addition to a prayer room, will include a basketball court, restaurant, and swimming pool. Its aim is to improve inter-faith relations. It'll probably also have comfy chairs and people who smile at you when you walk in, the monsters.
To get to the Cordoba Centre from Ground Zero, you'd have to walk in the opposite direction for two blocks, before turning a corner and walking a bit more. The journey should take roughly two minutes, or possibly slightly longer if you're heading an angry mob who can't hear your directions over the sound of their own enraged bellowing.
Perhaps spatial reality functions differently on the other side of the Atlantic, but here in London, something that is "two minutes' walk and round a corner" from something else isn't actually "in" the same place at all. I once had a poo in a pub about two minutes' walk from Buckingham Palace. I was not subsequently arrested and charged with crapping directly onto the Queen's pillow. That's how "distance" works in Britain. It's also how distance works in America, of course, but some people are currently pretending it doesn't, for daft political ends.”
If sensitivities over “hallowed ground” are really at stake, where would the best place be for such a centre to be built? Is it really sensitivities over the location or is it more to do with the growing anti-Islamic sentiments of the media and political elites in America? If the former is the case, Brooker comments that “frustratingly, they haven't produced a map pinpointing precisely how close is OK.”
The role of the media is particularly highlighted in his piece.
“According to a recent poll, one in five Americans believes Barack Obama is a Muslim, even though he isn't. A quarter of those who believe he's a Muslim also claimed he talks about his faith too much. Americans aren't dumb. Clearly these particular Americans have either gone insane or been seriously misled. Where are they getting their information?
Sixty per cent said they learned it from the media. Which means it's time for the media to give up.
Seriously, broadcasters, journalists: just give up now. Because either you're making things worse, or no one's paying attention anyway. May as well knock back a few Jagermeisters, unplug the autocue, and just sit there dumbly repeating whichever reality-warping meme the far right wants to go viral this week."
For some elements of the media, when it comes to Muslims, facts, it seems, are an inconvenience that get in the way of a good scare story. We eagerly await the next shocking expose.
"What's that? Obama is Gargamel and he's killing all the Smurfs? Sod it. Whatever. Roll titles.”
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