If Pastor Jones carries out his plan to publicly burn Korans and the media continues to give him and the occasion unlimited publicity, pogroms against Muslims throughout the country are not unlikely. The current disparagement and discrimination against Muslims and desecration of their property has not reached the horrendous level of other pogroms in history -- not yet. Nor are the attacks against Muslims government-sponsored, although numerous elected officials have added fuel to the fire. Rather than standing for principle, they have raised their fingers to test the wind and have gone with the popular flow. There has been growing opposition to new mosques, protest signs, graffiti, insults, destruction of property, possible arson, theft, desecration, discrimination and harassment. A teenager involved with others in an incident directed at a mosque in Watertown, N.Y., said he heard "it was a cult house where people drank blood." (New York Times, 9/4/10) Where have we heard that before?
Many on talk radio lend encouragement to the protesters. Some in the media seem to suggest that this is just some charming old American tradition of mistreating and discriminating against various groups -- like we did with the Irish, the Catholics, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and the blacks. They make it sound like some fraternity hazing that minorities must endure and get over. Worst to me is the airtime given to outright bigots like the pastor who intends to have the mass book burning of the Koran. Talk about finding a way to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world! General Petraeus today has warned that this incident will inflame Muslims everywhere and endanger our troops abroad. But the pastor continues to be a frequent guest on mainstream media and, rather than boycott the event, no doubt his hate stunt will receive widespread coverage.
If we are unwilling to stop these practices in the name of religious freedom and tolerance, we, at least, should recognize the propaganda, recruitment and consequences that result from our bigotry. If the Constitution does not carry the day, maybe national security and concern for our armed forces will. The only justification for this treatment of Muslims is imputing to all the acts of a few. The New York "mosque" is at the center of this controversy. It is claimed that a community center (not a mosque) near (not at) Ground Zero is an insult and a symbol of terrorist victory. All bigotry parades out justifications -- "they" will injure or change our children, our traditions, our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods -- our house values. Condemning an entire religion for the acts of a few is bigotry no matter how high-sounding the justification may be.
In addition to Mayor Bloomberg, one of the strong voices for tolerance of Muslims after 9/11 was President George W. Bush. Sarah Palin may not have known what the Bush Doctrine was, but this is certainly one of his doctrines that all America should know and heed. All of our fallen and wounded (including Muslims) did not sacrifice so that those of us back home could choose when and what of the Constitution we wished to abide by. We mourn the victims of 9/11 and celebrate the Constitution's anniversary (9/17) in the same week. Let's do both with class and dignity.
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