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8/22/10

Hatred in America

The Un-American "Mosque" Controversy
Yesterday a section of my city turned ugly. Spurred on by that wing of the GOP that calls itself Fox News, hate mongers like Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Sarah Palin, and cowardly Democrats like Harry Reid and all who have spoken with their silence. They came to lower Manhattan and, in a sense, that is what they did. There was a much smaller, disorganized chorus of decent people there, too—they had come to counter the ugliness, but were outnumbered and their words drowned out by amplifiers and music. The latter included Sousa, for these misguided anti-Americans delude themselves into thinking that their intolerance and venom is patriotic. They also played Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA, which I am sure did not sit well with Mr. Springsteen.

As might be expected, the TV coverage bared an equally misguided press—not that these pretend journalists necessarily sympathized with the bigots, but he who shouts the loudest gets the attention. So, we saw much footage of ugliness, people who never stopped to think, people who seemed unaware of the facts: The proposed community center will not be a mosque any more than a "Y" with a chapel is a church; if "Ground Zero" is "hallowed ground," it is also so to the many innocent Muslims who were victims of the 9/11 attacks; if a building containing an area for religious worship is a sacrilege, why is there no protests in the area over the presence of a strip club, which seems to be doing rather well?

As I viewed the TV footage—that sea of human ugliness waving racist, hateful signs at the cameras—a much earlier picture came to mind, one that showed black bodies at the end of a rope and a milling crowd of smiling white faces taking obvious pleasure from an unspeakably inhuman act. Time has not blurred that despicable image, nor should it, but we saw a reenactment of sorts in downtown Manhattan on a rainy Sunday. Physically, the still warm bodies were not there, but you knew that they were in the minds of many—you could see that in their faces.

Harry Reid, Archbishop Dolan, Howard Dean and other well-meaning "good guys" have stepped forward to suggest that the Islam community center be built elsewhere, but they are  also guilty of fomenting the ugliness that we are seeing all over the country. Yes, this protest against building a "mosque" was launched under the pretense of "protecting sacred ground," but why, then, are these screams of bigotry and religious intolerance being raised in many other parts of the country? Why do the Ugly Americans not want to see any mosques, anywhere? That's because the "Ground Zero" protest movement was just an excuse—the object of all this hatred is not a building, it is a people and its beliefs. It is also, in many ways, the outrage over having a man of color at the country's helm.

I was going to relegate Keith Olbermann's commentary to the blog archive today, but what I saw on my TV screen yesterday tells me that it needs to stay here longer. In fact, I will add to this post a link to Frank Rich's op-ed from Sunday's NY Times, How Fox Betrayed Petraeus—it is characteristically perceptive.


2 comments:

  1. Bravo, Chris; you called it right. Where is their outrage over the fact that, almost 10 years later, the WTC is still a gaping hole in the ground?

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  2. As awful as all this jingoistic noise has become, as seemingly disconnected from fact these people are, I believe that, like Joe McCarthy, they will go too far, crossing a line that ultimately will result in the majority of Americans realizing the moral bankruptcy of the far right's fear-based views, and, inevitably, the pendulum will shift towards a more compassionate and, hopefully, more enlightened attitude. I do have hope, but how much damage will these people do in the mean time? God help us.

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