|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
A long time ago I had a guy threaten to stalk me because he was upset over me breaking up with him. It was scary and hurtful and I was very angry. So to deal with it I decided I would not longer let any men ever come within 15 feet of me because all men are crazy stalkers. Wait? That's not what I did. Because every man is different and are not that one douche who threatened to make me miserable. It would be unfair to label all men as stalkers because of the actions of one crazy person.
When it comes to the planned Islamic community center near Ground Zero, it's unfair to label all Muslims as al-Qaeda supporters.
The Park51 project community center in New York is supposed to be built two blocks from where the World Trade Center fell, and this is offensive to some people because the community center is being founded and run by a Mosque.
And apparently some Americans agree with al-Qaeda and think we're in a religious holy war against all Muslims when I could have swore, we were at war with terrorists, not all people named Muhammad. And definitely not the Muslims who are U.S. citizens and are not on no-fly lists, are not considered to be terrorists and have committed no crimes.
The common critique is that this Islamic community center is offensive because a place with a McDonald's and a strip club is "hallowed ground," but it's only offensive if you confuse all Muslims with terrorists. This would be like me confusing all Christians with Klans members (the KKK "claims to love Jesus!) Or confusing all Catholics with child molesters. Or equating all of Judaism with Israel and its policies. As opposed to treating these things as religions that have many different people with many different thoughts and views about said religion.
Much like confusing my horrible stalker with all men and hating all men because of the actions of that one man.
It annoys me because the Bill of Rights pretty much covers the right to the community center being there and this over reaction using arguments like "they would discriminate against us in some Muslim country" seems silly. So if other countries are discriminatory we're supposed to be discriminatory to our own law-abiding citizens even though that's illegal in this country? We're supposed to be just as petty and reactionary as others and trash the things we claim to believe in and value, as opposed to, proving we're not a bunch of reactionary xenophobes and that many American citizens who happened to be Muslim died on 9-11 or that we have American citizens who happen to be Muslim who serve in the Armed Forces and have died overseas fighting for this country.
This is the horrible, destructive side of turning an entire group of people into a stereotype. Of making one group of individuals the monolithic "exotic" other. Often African Americans are considered to be "over-sensitive" over issues of race. But people who lob this criticism forget what the "othering" of people causes. It doesn't just lead to tacky stereotyping and some name-calling. It leads to full-on hostility. It leads to fear. It leads to demonization. And eventually, to the neglect of your rights and violence.
If you're willing to think that Muslims need to walk around on egg-shells due to 9-11, that's not too far from pushing that maybe Muslims shouldn't wear their traditional dress in public, and maybe their mosques shouldn't have religious symbols or signifiers on them to maybe they shouldn't live near us to maybe they shouldn't live here at all to lets round them all up in a truck and send them off to a place where we can forget about them to lets shoot them in the back of the head.
Making someone the "other" is dangerous. It dehumanizes them. And when you take away someone's humanity it a slippery slope to believing your justified in taking everything.
It's happened before. It's the dark side of human nature.
Which is why it's so important for people who claim to be for freedom of religion and against discrimination of all kinds to take a stand on this. Yet, per usual, you have one political party stoking the whole situation to drum up their base while another political party flails around, afraid to be called "nigger lovers" ... Oh, I'm sorry ... "terrorist sympathizers" on the evening news. (I get my bigotry confused sometimes. It all just looks so familiar.)
Recently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came out against the Park51 project being near Ground Zero. The President has stated that the mosque has a right to exist, but his response has been measured, largely because along with being accused of being some black radical by extremists, the President is often accused of being a "secret Muslim," which implies that there is something dangerous and nefarious about being Muslim. Other Democrats remain silent, as if they hope that by doing nothing no one will notice that they DID NOTHING. TAPPED blogger Adam Serwer made a great point about this hemming and hawing going on regarding Democrats and the community center.
(T)here's a liberal complacency when it comes to conservative intolerance that I find maddening. The Democratic Party's virulent racism did not prevent black Americans from flocking to the Democratic Party when the Republican Party proved unable or unwilling to mount forceful defenses of black rights. There is no reason to believe that a Democratic Party that has been as timid as this one in defending the rights of Muslims and Latinos can expect their loyalties simply because the other party has been hostile to them. History suggests the opposite is true, and as bad as today's GOP is, they are no where near as racist as the Democratic Party once was.
Calvin Coolidge was a vocal defender of civil rights, but most black people don't look back at the Coolidge administration and think, "That's why I'm a Republican." Lyndon Johnson didn't just give a speech; he passed the most wide-reaching and comprehensive civil-rights legislation in American history. What has Obama done for Latinos or Muslims that is even remotely comparable?
For some reason some Democrats are under the false impression that because some Republicans are pandering hard to the right, coming out against the Mosque, this will push more Muslims and others who hate discrimination to vote Democratic.
While that make work in the short-run, this proves dangerous as a long-term strategy to rely on your opponent to always play the role of the villain. Serwer makes the point that Democrats who follow this faulty logic are ignoring their own history.
You have to actually DO something at the end of the day to keep people supporting you. If you're not willing to stand up for people when they need you the most, who will you stand up for? And in the fall, will those people stand up and vote for you? Relying on the other side to be so extreme that ethnic and religious minorities have no choice to vote for you out of fear is a pretty pathetic strategy.
Short term gains, but in the long-run they're going to remember who stood up for them and who wasn't around.