Friday, August 20, 2010

Gang Raping The American Diaspora

I suppose that if you live long enough you get around to seeing almost everything, but I would not have thought that I would be shopping in a grocery store in the smallish town in which I live that would have a Ramadan sale.

I should explain that the grocery is run by a family of immigrants from India and the town is home to a university with a diverse faculty and student body. This means that most of my fellow citizens would not bat an eye at a Ramadan sale or the occasional student wearing a burka on Main Street or at a football game.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the Not Ground Zero But Nearby Ground Zero Mosque controversy has pretty much passed us by, which to an extent tempers my jaw-dropping amazement over how the controversy has superseded Arizona's draconian immigration law as the third rail of American politics.

I supposed that I should be shocked that a mosque and community center in another diverse area -- Lower Manhattan -- has the hair of so many self-righteous people on fire, but I am not.

This is because as my good friend Will Bunch notes
, the controversy is not an anomaly. It is the culmination -- or perhaps accumulation -- of a deeply sour American mood exacerbated by high unemployment, record home foreclosures, two unpopular wars, a president with a funny name who has spearheaded health-care reform among other extraordinary initiatives but grows more unpopular by the day, and a right-wing noise machine led by xenophobes and amplified by Fox News that is gang raping that most treasured of American virtues -- religious and political tolerance.

And be perfectly clear that this is not a war against one mosque, as many people would have it, but a war against Muslims and others who are not kith and kin to America's shrinking white majority.

Cartoon by Ben Sargent/Universal Press Syndicate

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