The View from Tribeca
A small slice of what people at the epicenter of the Park51 controversy have to say.
The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC had a call-in segment from people working and living in Tribeca regarding Park51. It is a twelve minute segment and be heard here: click.
It is, at a minimum, interesting to some opinions from persons at the center of the discussion, even if it is just a handful thereof.
Now, the segment proves nothing, as there is the issue of self-selection in terms of likely listeners to a local NPR affiliate and then the self-selection issue of who chooses to call. As Lehrer himself notes in the segment, the process is far from scientific. Still, it is interesting to note that they received no calls in opposition (although the wife of one of the callers was opposed).
This is anecdotal evidence, yet, but it still of use for a couple of reasons.
1) First, it runs counter to the “sensitivity argument” which states that we must be sensitive to the victims of 9/11. Of those who called in, several were present at the time of the attacks, making them victims. Granted, we have no way of knowing how representative these callers of the 9/11 victim community, but if 9/11 was as touchy a subject to the neighborhood as people like Gingrich are making it out to be, one would expect a bit more negativity. It at least says that we do not have the monolith of opposition from victims of the attacks the way some seem to be suggesting.
2) For similar reasons, these calls call into question the “hallowed ground” thesis insofar as it doesn’t sound like at least these particular residents feel the former Burlington Coat Factory in question sits upon “hallowed ground.”
3) The calls do comport, it should be noted, with actual empirical evidence that shows the one place in America (to my knowledge that has been polled) that has majority support (53%) for the project is the Borough of Manhattan: click.
I still find it rather remarkable that the closer we get to the epicenter of the controversy, the less controversial it appears to be to the people located there.