The so-called Ground Zero mosque is actually blocks from Ground Zero and blocked from view at Ground Zero by larger buildings. But never mind. Herderite Republicans like Newt Gingrich smell blood in the water and are earnestly rallying their Tea Party Brown Shirts patriots for the Clash of Civilizations. This appeared on Friday at Politico:
“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia,” Gingrich wrote on his website. “The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.”
Are you absorbing Newt Gingrich’s tit-for-tat here, and what it means? Newt Gingrich is saying that individual Muslim Americans bear collective guilt for the behavior of Muslims across the globe, and as such their rights are not guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, but held hostage to international politics: “There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”
In other words, if the Saudis do something bad to Americans over there, we will do something bad to Americans over here: we’ll materially harm and violate the rights of Muslim Americans. It’s hard to think of a more grotesquely un-American formulation of an American citizen’s rights, and it is exactly the formulation that Germans used to justify Kristallnacht (“the night of the broken glass”) against German Jews. In Paris, a Polish Jew murdered a German Embassy attaché and German Jews were the objects of retaliation. Here’s how Ed Beattie of the United Press (UP), in November of 1938, opened his report on what came to be called Kristallnacht. This is what a gesture of retaliation for collective guilt looks like:
BERLIN (UP) – The government called a halt to a Nazi campaign of violence against Jews throughout Germany today after synagogues everywhere had been burned, shops and their contents wrecked and thousands of Jews arrested.
Fourteen hours after the violence began, at an hour apparently set by Nazi officialdom, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, ordered the destruction stopped. He indicated new official measures were planned against Jews in retaliation for the assassination of a German Embassy attaché in Paris by a young Polish-German Jew.
Germany’s “further answer to Jewry” would be given through laws and decrees, Dr. Goebbels stated.
Nazi mobs surged through the streets of cities and towns throughout the Reich and Austria, beginning at mid-night and lasting until mid-afternoon, in a systematic campaign of destruction.
The Nazi mobsters were instructed by party officials not to start until midnight so as not to interfere with the celebration of the anniversary of the 1923 Munich beer cellar putsch.
Police made no effort to interfere as the crowds set fire to synagogues, smashed shop windows, demolished furniture and stocks of goods and manhandled Jews. Persons who expressed sympathy for the Jews were maltreated, and some were arrested.
Does anybody see what’s coming? Republicans like Gingrich, in demagoging the Ground Zero mosque issue, are setting the stage, when a serious international crisis emerges, for an American version of Krisallnacht, a rampage against Muslim Americans for their collective guilt.
The bedrock American principle of treating citizens as individuals, not as members of collectives on whom we apportion guilt or praise, is at stake here. The Ground Zero mosque is a historic test of our Bill of Rights and our nation’s Enlightenment character. I’m relieved that Barack Obama has gotten on the right side of this. He’s done the right thing. But he needs every person of conscience to speak and stand with him.
Will we be a nation of Herderites or Jeffersonians?
The choice is before us.
Here’s an image of the main synagogue in Berlin after Kristallnacht: