You have to keep in mind that I don’t believe discrimination ever really goes away. We fool ourselves into thinking we’ve made progress creating a more enlightened populous, but in truth, discrimination has just been forced underground by societal or economic pressure. To rear its ugly head, all it needs is an excuse. Not a reason, an excuse. Something that is completely irrational but can be used to stoke the fires and bring the beast back to life.
Today, I’m driving home from work, and I’m wondering something. Is it just me, or does it seem like hatred of Muslims is higher than ever right now?
I mean, I don’t recall it being this bad, even in the days after 9/11. In the Chicago area a few days after those horrible events, a group of Christians formed a human barricade around a mosque that was surrounded by racist assholes looking for Muslims to pick on. The message was clear – Islam didn’t make 9/11 happen, terrorists did, there's a difference. (Proof -- the rules for jihad are explicitly laid out, and states you cannot make war on women or children. The terrorists ignore what they want so that they have an excuse for their bloodshed. The problem isn't Islam, it's the people using it to validate their hate.)
Now, every religion has its stupidity. In the days after 9/11, an interfaith service was held in New York at a sports stadium. The Methodist church used the fact that pagans were in attendance to strip a Methodist minister who helped officiate of his holy orders. Christianity has its own group of crazies, killing abortion doctors or blowing up federal buildings. Tell people you are building a church in their neighborhood, they'll ask when the first service is. But build a mosque? Suddenly, you're in league with the Taliban or whatever. In fact, people show more acceptance of dangerous militaristic cults like Scientology than a peaceful religion like Islam.
New York, New York, that toddlin' town, is in the news again for 9/11 stuff. A group of Muslims want to build a "cultural center" (a.k.a. a mosque). The site is six blocks away from Ground Zero. Many people don't want it being built. Among the detractors is Meyer May, who told Crain's New York Business that "Religious freedom does not mean being insensitive...or an idiot." "Religion is supposed to be beautiful" -- a postive experience. "Why create pain in the name of religion?"
So, who exactly is this this guy? Hold on to your irony, he's a rabbi and the executive director of the Wiesenthal Center, the group that gave us the Museums Of Tolerance. They just opened on in Manhattan last week, in fact. He's not the only one missing the big picture. Rabbi Marvin Hier is the founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, and he told Faux News, "It's a great idea, it's the wrong location. It's very insensitive. For 3,000 families, the 9/11 site is the site of one of the greatest atrocities ever committed in the United States, and it's a cemetery. And the opinion of the families should be paramount as to what should go near that site. Now having a fifteen-story mosque within 1600 feet of the site is at the very least insensitive."
(Bonus stupidity in that last quote: the Wiesenthal Center is building a Museum Of Tolerance in Jerusalem on top of a Muslim burial ground. "The building of that museum has 'resulted in digging up the remains of people who had been buried in a Muslim cemetery for generations,' according to City University professor Marnia Lazreg. Indeed, in 2006, workers dug up bones, and an Arab group sued to stop the project from going forward.")
In the last few weeks, I've been hearing more Muslim detractors saying that, "Just like with Jesus, there is no proof that Mohamed really existed." I won't argue that point, but I question the intent. The statement is meant to make Islam look as phony and manufactured as the Church Of The Subgenius. Never mind the statement self-destructs -- if it's okay for Christians to worship and follow the teachings of a man who may not have existed, why not the Muslims?
My dad (lapsed Lutheran) recently talked religion with me, and mentioned that he thought Islam was a peaceful religion. Well, so much for progress. He told me the other night that they should let the mosque be built, and then bomb it in the middle of a service. Not everyone in there is a terrorist, but there'd have to be one or two. THIS is why I don't discuss my faith with my dad.
Like I said, I don't recall this in the days after 9/11. The news couldn't wait to put Muslims on talk shows show that your average everyday Muslim isn't plotting the violent overthrow of the government. Now, I'm not seeing any. This ugliness, this tendency to assume everyone is a threat just because they worship differently, is festering and growing like a cancer in society. And the very people who should know better like the Museum Of Tolerance are speeding it up.
Is there any hope for those of us who do respect each other to combat this?