The dispute over the Islamic center has tripped some deep national lunacy. The unbottled anger and suspicion concerning ground zero show that many Americans haven’t flushed the trauma of 9/11 out of their systems — making them easy prey for fearmongers.
Many people still have a confused view of Muslims, and the president seems unable to help navigate the country through its Islamophobia.
It is a prejudice stoked by Rush Limbaugh, who mocks “Imam Obama” as “America’s first Muslim president,” and by the evangelist Franklin Graham, who bizarrely told CNN’s John King: “I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim. His father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father, like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother.”
Graham added: “The teaching of Islam is to hate the Jew, to hate the Christian, to kill them. Their goal is world domination.”
The way that Rush Limbaugh and Franklin Graham talk about President Obama and Islam is so cartoonish and absurd as to border on the hilarious: surely, as mature men, they can’t possibly mean what they are saying, right?
Actually, they do mean what they say, and they have followers.
A lot of them.
We live in idiotic, dangerous, and anti-Jeffersonian times.
In the below video clip, here’s a bit of the crowd dynamics at play during a ground zero mosque protest. A man passing through the protesters, though not a Muslim, is mistaken for being a Muslim, and this is enough to arouse the crowd. Soon, a large man in a blue hard hat steps forward with the obvious intent of picking a fight with the man. One has to pinch oneself to remember that this is a crowd of Americans in 2010, and not a group of Austrian fascists accosting a passing Jew in 1930s Vienna:
And here’s a copy of a flyer recently distributed on cars in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. The flyer is fighting the building of a mosque in Brooklyn: