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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/8/10

Hysteria and Intolerance in America

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The protest sign read, "Mosques Are Monuments to Terrorism."[1] The sign was displayed at a proposed site for a new mosque in Temecula, California and led by a local "Tea Party" group.

Similar protests have occurred in Murfreesboro, Tennessee where Republican candidates denounced a planned mosque and hundreds of protestors "turned up for a protest at a county meeting."[2]

In Sheboygan, Wisconsin some local Christian ministers led a boisterous crowd against a Muslim doctor who had purchased a vacant health food store for a proposed mosque.[3]

Most notably, the proposed site for a mosque a couple of streets down from "ground zero" in Manhattan brought criticism from the likes of Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and the Anti Defamation League, a prominent Jewish group(the site has just been approved by the New York City "Landmarks Preservation Commission"[4] to build the mosque).

At the Temecula protest one woman was heard to remark, "I learned that in 20 years"we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented."[5] She further went on to say, "Islam is not about religion. It's a political government, and it's 100 percent against our Constitution."[6]

Well so much for religious freedom and tolerance by these Americans in a country that has no official religion written in the Constitution and has never been proclaimed as a Christian country (although it's likely if one would ask these protestors if America is a Christian country they'd most probably answer in the affirmative).

From this observer's view point, it seems all of the same piece i.e. fears of Muslims and Islam, illegal immigrants (particularly from Mexico and other Central American countries), suspicions about President Obama being a Muslim that he wasn't native born in Hawaii, health care reform is an attempt to install socialized medicine and "Socialism" in general. It seems like a collective paranoia, a fear of the "different" (between us "Americans", white and Christian and them, dark skinned, "foreign" and Muslim). To be sure 9/11 is a huge part of it, coupled by pronouncements from Osama bin Laden and his "Death to America" rants as well as the more publicized terrorism attempts (the would be failed shoe bomber on the plane landing at Detroit's airport and the failed Times Square bomber). Throw in our two wars in Muslim countries and the insurgencies they spawned exacerbating radical jihadists to fight against us and the ongoing demonization of Iran building a nuclear weapon and"well you get the picture.

It all gets put in the same pot and metastasizes into becoming a cancer of suspicion and irrational fear where many of these aforementioned protesters are unable to discern the nuances (of Islam, jihad, the majority of the worlds Muslims being moderates who oppose terrorism, the sectarian differences between Sunni and Shiite, that suicide is specifically rejected in the Koran, but has been distorted and used by radical Muslim extremists against "infidels") and where misinformation, disinformation and thus misinterpretation take over. Then they're riled up further into a lather by the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh (and their ilk) while some ruthless right wing Republican political opportunists (Palin, Gingrich, Bachmann et al) whip this crowd into a frenzy and protests of hysteria often result.

Apparently to these people it doesn't matter if the dots they've connected don't make sense or the threats perceived by them, to the country or to the Constitution are completely overblown and that the reality they perceive is really a fabrication, a fantasy and a lie residing only in their heads. Don't tell them that for this are what they believe!

There was a time in this country when "Communism" and "Communists" were the bogey men. A time when Senator Joe McCarthy (Rep. WI.) was branding innocent people as "Communists" in the State Department and the House UN American Activities Committee held hearings in a modern day "Inquisition" that destroyed many people's careers and their lives. Now that "Communism" is all but dead, it has been replaced by terrorism, Muslims and a radical jihadist Islam with Osama bin Laden as its face.

It seems there's a strain running through America that need "enemies", isms they feel threatened by, who they see as mortal threats and who we must fight against to the death.

They represent the dark side of America for whenever they are in the ascendency and their attitudes prevail, it is a dangerous time in this country. We will know shortly if this is such a time.

[1] "Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition", by Laurie Goodstein, "The New York Times", August 8, 2010.

[2] See footnote #1

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