Poll reveals local support for Manhattan Islamic center

“New Yorkers Divided Over Islamic Center, Poll Finds,” says the New York Times in one of its headlines. Another says “New York Poll Finds Wariness About Muslim Center.”

Neither headline suggests a careful reading of the poll results — a poll conducted by the New York Times itself.

This is how the newspaper of record characterizes the results:

Two-thirds of New York City residents want a planned Muslim community center and mosque to be relocated to a less controversial site farther away from ground zero in Lower Manhattan, including many who describe themselves as supporters of the project, according to a New York Times poll.

The poll indicates that support for the 13-story complex, which organizers said would promote moderate Islam and interfaith dialogue, is tepid in its hometown.

Nearly nine years after the Sept. 11 attacks ignited a wave of anxiety about Muslims, many in the country’s biggest and arguably most cosmopolitan city still have an uneasy relationship with Islam. One-fifth of New Yorkers acknowledged animosity toward Muslims. Thirty-three percent said that compared with other American citizens, Muslims were more sympathetic to terrorists. And nearly 60 percent said people they know had negative feelings toward Muslims because of 9/11.

Over all, 50 percent of those surveyed oppose building the project two blocks north of the World Trade Center site, even though a majority believe that the developers have the right to do so. Thirty-five percent favor it.

Opposition is more intense in the boroughs outside Manhattan — for example, 54 percent in the Bronx — but it is even strong in Manhattan, considered a bastion of religious tolerance, where 41 percent are against it.

OK. Let’s back up. Opposition is “even strong in Manhattan,” or if we take away that particular slant in reading the numbers, we discover that by a 10% margin the majority of Manhattan residents polled favor the construction of the center. This almost exactly mirrors the size of the opposition in the boroughs.

Just as interesting is the fact that whether someone favors or opposes the construction closely correlates with whether they count Muslims among their close friends.

So what’s the conclusion?

Move to Manhattan, make friends with a Muslim and you’ll probably decide Park51 has a place in the neighborhood.

The problem turns out not to be the impending Islamization of America — it’s that not enough Americans have Muslim friends.

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4 thoughts on “Poll reveals local support for Manhattan Islamic center

  1. Christopher Hoare

    Wow, there are still better than 50% of the good hearted, level headed, Americans hiding in New York. But don’t expect the NY Times to speak for them — it’s too busy trying to hide them.

  2. scott

    As a sort of member of the Muslim community I find them to be cowards. They are afraid, and with reason. I am able to defend Muslims at will and to keep silent. There was a story a month back about an Irish mass grave in Penn. dating back 150yrs. I have to say, as an Irishman, I AM more tolerant of the IRA. As a Muslim sympathizer I AM more tolerant of Muslim terror, though “I don’t wish to comment on the wisdom” of such activities–to crib our President.

    When the Muslims that have come here seeking opportunity, when their children grow up here, they will be able to dispel much of this suspicion rooted in ignorance. What is more disturbing is France where generations poor refugees have created real racism. (My grandfather who grew up in OK, grew up with more prejudice against “Indians” than Blacks, though his father, who I barely knew couldn’t stand to see them on TV. His grandparents were literally in the land race and booted Sooners off the land they got from the Gov’t. He prefers Mexicans to Blacks, but for him it’s all about commerce, and since moving to Dallas he doesn’t have any interaction with Native Americans anyway.) I suspect much of French/European anti-Muslim hatred is similarly economically based. North Africans are the Mexicans of Europe.

    I met a customer and we got to talking about other issues, he threw out the epithet “Sand Nigger” and shortly there after he mentioned his wife was Chinese. (Do I need to stipulate that he was a 60 something white male) I responded that my wife was Algerian, and laughed, in sympathy for I felt I had trapped him. I was trying to make money off him, though I didn’t feel any anger toward his bigoted comment.

    He told a funny story, to diffuse his discomfort about a dining experience he had in the Cayman Islands. Some old Nazi had hidden there with his two sons. He said everyone knew the man’s past. His sons were both married to ugly fat black women, he said, as no one else would date them.

    I guess my point is that even racists understand they’re holding on to something that is in fraying like a soiled thread bare security blanket. It’s a sign of progress, even though they cling to it, they are self conscious of it. But, perhaps too, we make too much of this. My father (not related to my grandfather) had always been quick with epithets, (pepper belly was a fairly innocuous one for Mexicans) though I think we may mistake this for racism. I don’t think he really cares about race, though you cut him off in traffic, they’ll fly. Perhaps the most venomous epithet he’d spew out, usually while blocked by someone who was waiting for someone loading their car for a good parking space was, “goddamned North Dallas housewife.”

  3. scott

    I have to say, all this exposure to generational racism has had it’s effect on me. I have sympathy for the plight of Black, Mexicans and Native Americans, but my contempt for White Americans grows daily.

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