Fair enough, I guess. The building is not, in fact, at Ground Zero — although I’m not sure why not, given the various leftist arguments that putting up a mosque/Islamic community center as close as possible to the site of the attack is the greatest, most quintessentially patriotic thing ever. Rather, the building is two blocks north, which was close enough to have the landing gear from one of the jets crash into it on 9/11. (Jim Treacher suggests “Debris Field Mosque” instead.) But if we’re going to be sticklers, let’s be sticklers:

Here is some guidance on covering the NYC mosque story, with assists from Chad Roedemeier in the NYC bureau and Terry Hunt in Washington:

1. We should continue to avoid the phrase “ground zero mosque” or “mosque at ground zero” on all platforms. (We’ve very rarely used this wording, except in slugs, though we sometimes see other news sources using the term.) The site of the proposed Islamic center and mosque is not at ground zero, but two blocks away in a busy commercial area. We should continue to say it’s “near” ground zero, or two blocks away…

In short headlines, some ways to refer to the project include:

_ mosque 2 blocks from WTC site
_ Muslim (or Islamic) center near WTC site
_ mosque near ground zero
_ mosque near WTC site

Serious question: Why would the AP or the owners of the property object to it being thought of as the “Ground Zero mosque,” or at least the Ground Zero community center? Red State compiled a list of statements from the Park51 brain trust a few weeks ago emphasizing how important it was to them that the building had taken damage on 9/11. That’s what supposedly made the site so significant to “bridge-building” and “dialogue” about the attack, etc.

# A December 8th, 2009, New York Times article stated, “The location [next to Ground Zero] was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims,” and quoted Rauf as noting that they got a property “where a piece of the [9/11] wreckage fell.” ASMA then touted the piece in its 2009 Year End Report.
# A simple Google search of the Cordoba Initiative’s website reveals the phrase “Ground Zero” to be seeded throughout as a rather inept 1999-era SEO tactic to bring people looking for information about Ground Zero to the mosque promoters’ website.
# On May 5th and 6th, ASMA’s Daisy Khan was on her Twitter account, boasting first that the “new muslim center near ground zero gets unaminous vote of approval from community board one in downtown nyc,” and then that she had a “Media blitz day for ASMA / Cordoba [on the] muslim commuity center near ground zero.”
# On June 15th, Daisy Khan told the Washington Post’s Sally Quinn that “a divine hand” led to the Ground Zero proximity.

“Ground Zero mosque” versus “mosque near Ground Zero” seems an awfully fine hair to split when, presumably, there would be no more objection by mosque supporters to the former than there is to the latter. If tolerance is the name of the game, then a mosque at Ground Zero itself (next to the Freedom Tower if you like) is that much more stirring a statement of inclusion than one two blocks away. And as John Podhoretz notes, to America’s lasting shame, it’s not like there’s much happening at Ground Zero at the moment anyway. If the AP wants to spin on the owners’ behalf, presumably the progressive way to do it would be to insist that you’re damn right it’s a “Ground Zero mosque” and anyone who has a problem with that is a Skinwich-eating bigot who deserves to be investigated by Nancy Pelosi and Peter Beinart.

Speaking of intolerant neo-fascist wingnuts, here’s Howard Dean’s new piece at Salon imploring the left to mellow out already about his exceedingly mild point about respecting the feelings of victims. Pandering exit quotation: “No doubt the Republic will survive if this center is built on its current site or not. But I think this is a missed opportunity to try to have an open discussion about why this is a big deal, because it is a big deal to a lot of Americans who are not just right-wing politicians pushing the hate button again. I think those people need to be heard respectfully, whether they are right or whether they are wrong.”