TLP: Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?
In the midst of the continuing and growing smackdown over a proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site in New York, the Wall Street Journal took a strictly business approach to the story and wandered the neighborhood. What the paper found may not qualify for the "hallowed ground" category.
After the World Trade Center towers fell, a stripper named Chris went to volunteer in the recovery effort for the Red Cross. Nearly 10 years later, she dances just down the street from Ground Zero at the Pussycat Lounge.Kind of charming and heart-warming. And kind of a good thing that it took nine years for the self-appointed zoning officers of lower Manhattan to start deciding who fits and who doesn't.
Thousands of workers spend their days toiling in the neighborhood around the World Trade Center site, a space that had gained renewed national attention amid controversial plans to build an Islamic center there.
The project, known as Park51, is opposed by a majority of New York residents in recent opinion polls. Politicians both local and national argue that the plan is insensitive to families touched by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, among others, has referred to the area around Ground Zero as “hallowed ground.”
But for Chris, who declined to give her last name, and other dancers at the two strip clubs within three blocks of the World Trade Center site, the neighborhood is just where they go to work.
As supporters held signs extolling religious freedom at the site of the proposed Islamic center Wednesday, a stripper who gave her name as Cassandra was working the afternoon shift at New York Dolls on Murray Street — just around the corner. She worried that calls to prayer from the mosque at Park51 might wake up neighbors. But when she was told that the organizers aren’t planning loudspeakers, she said she didn’t have a problem with the project.
“I don’t know what the big deal is,” Cassandra said. “It’s freedom of religion, you know?”
Down on Church Street, one block east of the proposed Islamic center and two blocks from Ground Zero, men placed bets on horse racing at an Off-Track Betting facility. One bettor said he could see why the families of victims might get upset about the mosque and community center, but scoffed at the notion that the area around the betting parlor was hallowed ground.
“The bums used to sit right in front of it,” he said of the Park51 location, which would replace a former Burlington Coat Factory store damaged in the terrorist attack.