The picture above, taken from up high, shows the Unity
& Solidarity Rally march stretching back three blocks, disappearing into
By any estimate, the people who came out against racism and bigotry far
outnumbered the Tea Party
Forced into action by a vicious anti-Muslim rally meant to stop construction
of a downtown Islamic Center, on September 11 thousands of people took to the
streets of New York to say
no to racism.
What organizers of the anti-racist march found most striking was how their
experience invalidated the poll reporting 70% in favor of moving the Islamic
The group organizing the anti-Center rally had considerable resources to
organize with – enough money to buy bus ads from the MTA and feature a
huge jumbotron screen at the rally. The Tea Party itself is
bankrolled by the oil-billionaire Koch brothers.
In addition, the racists’ rally received free daily nonstop media
coverage, as every politician from the New
York governor to electoral candidates weighed in,
most unable to stand up against the anti-Muslim campaign.
The New York Times and
other media regularly published the names of speakers who would attend the
anti-mosque rally -- right-wing, big-name media personalities who were chosen
specifically to draw attention to the demonstration.
By contrast, press conferences by the Unity & Soldarity
Rally held to publicize its September 11 rally were attended by dozens of
media; but coverage of those same press conferences were pushed
out of the airwaves as the corporate-owned media focused on the circus in
The issue became an outrageous drama in the days leading up to September 11.
The racists got all the free publicity they could want. Every time the bigoted
Florida pastor uttered a word, the media covered it. Billionaire Donald Trump
inserted himself into the fray. Every online news site featured a poll on the
issue. Talk about a recruitment bonanza!
With promotion like this, the 70% of citizens who supposedly wanted the center
moved should have been doubly and triply galvanized to get into the streets and
But this phenomenon never materialized – at least not like the right
wing claimed it would.
The point is not that the anti-Muslim and Tea Party
movements aren’t dangerous. The cab driver
whose neck was slashed and all the other hate crimes nationwide showed
The point is that the movement against racism was more easily organized into
the streets – with no budget, less time to organize and far less media
And the progressive rally gained support not only against an anti-Muslim
drumbeat. It grew against a related media campaign insisting that any protest
held on September 11 would be disrespectful.
All of this shows potential for building the kind of movement that the
scapegoating campaign was trying to deflect, especially if we act now and
capitalize on the momentum.
“We brought out the real New
York City — a city of workers and
peoples of color from all around the world,” Larry Holmes of the Bail Out
the People Movement said on
Saturday. “This mobilization started because we were forced
to defend our Muslim sisters and brothers. It will continue because we have to
open up the struggle against war, against racism, and for jobs, education and
health care. There is much more to fight for and now we all know who we can
Channel 5 New York: http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/local_news/manhattan/pro-and-anti-mosque-rallies-near-ground-zero-20100911-ac
New York 1: http://www.ny1.com/content/125293/rallies-concerning-islamic-center-bring-controversy-to-lower-manhattan?ap=1&MP4
More YouTube: http://videos.apnicommunity.com/Video,Item,1203545800.html
German News Agency: http://dailyme.com/story/2010091100003562/large-rally-york-supports-religion-jobs.html