Putting things into perspective and taking a few moments to reflect on the sadness of loss of life and limb is about all that can be taken from this by us ordinary civilians, though I suppose panic, frustration and absolute assertions make for better entertainment on a night of armchair politics.
Every time I give talks, people ask, "Are girls really allowed to attend school in Iran?" Some have even said, "Who teaches them?" Perhaps the right question is, who is teaching Americans to think this?
The conservative mainstream still calls the president's religious beliefs into question, but they stop just short of accusing him of apostasy and concealment. What they consider safe is the assertion that Obama is acting as if he were Muslim.
The truth is that intelligence experts with far more integrity than Gingrich or others who have specialized in demonizing Muslims agree that homegrown jihadists now pose more of a direct threat to America than al Qaeda.
Sharia has become a convenient way to harp on nonexistent, yet anxiety-producing, "threats." Since no one knows what you're talking about when you decry Sharia, it's even easier than usual to say anything, no matter how bizarre or duplicitous.
Like a wayward boyfriend who just can't stop playing the field, mainstream media outlets often wind up begging the audience for forgiveness when a particularly savvy or lucky charlatan turns their chase for attention-seeking stories against them.
The Muslim American storytellers of the twenty-first century need to simultaneously mine our rich Islamic and American identity and history to discover our own Rumis, whose stories will bestow endless rewards.
Singling out Muslim Americans, much as with prejudice against Jewish Americans and Catholic Americans before them, will prove to be wrong. The question is how much damage will be done before the fear subsides.
The proliferating nature of these anti-mosque demonstrations and their shifting tenor to panicked claims about the imminent threats of "Islamization" and "Shariazation" begs a moment of national introspection.