In 2010, a large swath of the American public -- led by ratings-mad media mavens and immoral politicians like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin -- had declared out all-out war on "the Other" in America in all its alleged forms, from immigrants to Muslims to non-white aides working in the West Wing of the White House and of course the president himself. ...So a smooth-talking, mixed-race Democrat in the white house becomes a demon, and the code word "Muslim" begins to represent everything they are afraid of. Muslims and gays.
Bishop Gene Robinson wonders at the timing of the new religious demonization relative to the sudden movement on GLBT rights. He writes,
Now, however, it appears that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people’s success in achieving equal rights in this country is impending and virtually assured. It makes me wonder, then, if a new “enemy” is now being chosen—Muslim Americans and Islam.However, it's worth remembering that the common thread to both of these is the opposition of the rigid Christian Right. Christopher Hitchens picks it up, writing about on Glenn Beck's tent revival on the mall:
In a rather curious and confused way, some white people are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one. What does it take to believe that Christianity is an endangered religion in America or that the name of Jesus is insufficiently spoken or appreciated? .....Saturday's rally was quite largely confined to expressions of pathos and insecurity, voiced in a sickly and pious tone. The emotions that underlay it, however, may not be uttered that way indefinitely.And in fact, already the ugly side of American bigotry is out in the open, fanned by religious fervor.
- Item: A New York taxi driver is attacked by a knife-wielding passenger who asked "Are you Muslim?"
- Item: a gay candidate for office in Kansas receives a death threat
- Item:A series of attacks against GLBT people in Covington KY by white supremecists
- Item: Arson against the construction site for a mosque in Murfreesboro, TN
- Item: Seattle shop clerk attacked as a Muslim (though he was probably Sikh)
- Item: Teenagers harass and fire shots at a mosque in western NY
Yes, there is some pushback. Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, is offering a spirited defense of the non-mosque that is proposed for not-ground-zero, and so did Orrin Hatch of all people. There are other examples of people who get it. But the simmering violence under the surface in this declining republic continues to bubble over. Too many people are afraid and ignorant, and the spark of their fear is fanned by strident demagogues wrapped in religion.
It seems to me that if any issue cries out for moral voices, it is this one. Can anything be more fundamentally opposed to both American ideals and truly Christian values? Or perhaps it is easier to think, "I did not care, because I am not a Muslim." At some point, we will all be "other". Will anyone speak for us?