Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jillian C. York: Deconstructing Media Coverage of the “Ground Zero Mosque”

Deconstructing Media Coverage of the “Ground Zero Mosque”
by Jillian C. York
Global Voices Online

For the past several months, one story has consistently held media attention in the United States. The story is of a planned Islamic community center a few blocks away from the site of the attacks of September 11, 2001–a site dubbed “Ground Zero”–and has polarized opinion across the media spectrum. The community center, to be called Park51 for its location, has been called controversial by some pundits and politicians, such as Sarah Palin, because of its proximity to “Ground Zero,” and has caused some to call for the center to be moved. At the same time, numerous groups and individuals–including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg–have spoken out in support of Park51, reminding Americans of the history of Muslims in the U.S. and invoking the first amendment, which calls for the free exercise of religion.

Beyond the actual situation of the community center is the issue of media coverage. For months, much of the American mainstream media have referred to Park51 as “the Ground Zero mosque,” implying implicitly that the project is to be built on the actual ground (it isn't) and that the center's sole purpose is as a mosque (also false–the center will include a mosque, along with a swimming pool, theatre, childcare center, and numerous other facets).

Bloggers have jumped in to comment on a number of aspects of the story, from the history of Muslims in New York to the Islamophobia inherent in many arguments against Park51.

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