America

Dueling NYC Mosque Protests: Good Amid Bad, Ugly

Activists Hold Protest At Ground Zero Mosque Site

hide captionOpponents of an Islamic cultural center and mosque planned to be built near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan gather during a demonstration on August 22, 2010.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images North America

There apparently were some ugly moments during Sunday's dueling protests in New York City over the plan to build an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero.

Salon.com and John Cole on BalloonJuice.com pointed out the nasty moment that occurred when a black man wearing a skull cap like those many football players use under their helmets, walked through the crowd of anti-mosque protesters and became the target of the bile of some in the crowd who thought he was Muslim.

Turns out, he wasn't. Watching the video, it isn't hard to imagine how badly the situation could've turned out if cooler heads hadn't prevailed.

But while some who protested the mosque clearly weren't the best role models of how to behave in crowds, it would be unfair to suggest that they all were, as John Cole puts it, "mouth-breathers."

In the very same video, there's a man who appears to be with the anti-mosque protesters, who puts himself between the black man and a beefy guy in a construction hat who seems to want to escalate the confrontation.

The New York Times also describes another redemptive scene. When a pro-mosque protester carrying a sign that said religious freedom is what made the U.S. great, confronted the antis, a man got in his face and said if the police weren't around, he'd be in trouble.

Fortunately, the police escorted the pro-mosque man, medical student Michael Rose, away.

But the anti-mosque protester who had gotten in his face followed and caught up to Rose after a few blocks .

The NYT goes on to report:

Then the man stuck out a hand and, in a terse voice, said, “I’m sorry.”

“You have a right,” he told Mr. Rose. (He would not give his name.) “I am sorry for what I said to you. I disagree with you completely, but you have a right.”

Maybe the unbuilt Islamic center which is, in fact, fairly far from getting off the ground, is having a positive impact as it generates such scenes of random kindness amid the furor.

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