Hip Meets Square
What the Cordoba Initiative wasn’t ready for
One article you should read today is Capital’s profile of Oz Sultan, the Cordoba Initiative’s social media strategist. It is a great illustration of how the Initiative was unprepared—in ways that I think alternately reflect well and poorly on it—for the onslaught of opposition it has faced over the past month. Sultan came under special scrutiny because of Park51′s irreverent Twitter feed.
A native of the New York social media scene, Sultan treated Park51’s tweetstream as a means of communication with the natives on Twitter, who’d have been able to get the “snark” without blinking, notwithstanding the fact that the tweeting was being done in the name of an institution in the thick of a overheated, international public-relations crisis.
But the positioning of these tweets also reflects the general, easy multiculturalism of Manhattan elites. Just as many private school students of the Upper East Side are already familiar with the Cordoba Initiative from any number of interfaith school field-trips, so Jews, Muslims, Christians and ethnic majorities and minorities trade an easy banter about cultural difference that might be hard for a blogger from Omaha to relate to.
Whichever intern posted the “fables” tweet returned to the well to explain that a Jewish aunt had told a lot of these sorts of parables in his or her youth; true or not, relevant or not, the explanation would likely have been unnecessary for a tweetstream with an exclusively New York audience.
And a local, hip audience is exactly what Sultan thought he was dealing with when he took the job.
Do read the whole thing.