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Nor was this a case of subjecting new recruits to "tough love" to harden us for battle. This was a case of modifying the Army Basic Training Manual to accommodate a level of bigotry that would normally be ascribed to our military enemies.

And Duffy wasn't the only bigot. We learned from recruits in other units that they were hearing much of the same. It was almost like it was Standard Operating Procedure.

But it wasn't, of course. It just happened to be the kind of behavior about which the Army was comfortable turning a blind eye.

Well, I was about to write that I was certain the Army has changed exponentially since those Dark Ages of the Korean 1950s. But what about Spec. Klawonn?

Ever since he was recruited, The Times reported, "he had been filing complaint after complaint with his commanders. After he was ordered not to fast and pray. After his Koran was torn up. After other soldiers jeered and threw water bottles at him. After his platoon sergeant warned him to hide his faith to avoid getting a 'beating' by fellow troops. But nothing changed."

Is Islamophobia worse or better than anti-Semitism or homophobia or "n-word-Loving"? The point is largely rhetorical; they're all equally reprehensible.

The point is that this kind of stuff has been around in American society forever and, despite (or perhaps because of) our election of an African-American as our president, it shows few signs of going away any time soon. On the contrary, all the data suggests that hate-speech - and actions - are increasing.

Now, if you'd like to try to find solace in delusional thinking, you can pretend that the ugly racism, homophobia and generalized hate exhibited by the Tea Partiers over the weekend was not typical of how Americans think and feel.

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You can pretend that this kind of garbage ended with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But, sorry to say, that law simply served to amp up the resistance of the White Supremacists. And it took many years for us to turn down their volume, though the craziness that sparked the volume is still with us.

So maybe it's not "typical" anymore, but it's there, still very much with us.

For me, the saddest part of this current saga is that the Republican Congressional leadership has been, shall we say, muted in its condemnation of the Tea Party protestors.

Even though most of them self-identify as Republicans, this should have been a time when Democratic and Republican politicians decided to rise above partisanship and present a truly united front unequivocally condemning hate speech, incitement and violence.

Alas, to date only the Democrats seem to be able to muster the courage to call out the Tea Partiers.

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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