First of all, the damn thing is not a mosque, it is a community center with a prayer room.
But it has become "ground zero" for a rising tide of hatred across these United States. It seems that many of our "upstanding conservative" citizens are not happy unless they can hate someone or something with their entire being.
Many hate Obama or Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. Some hate all progressives. Most hate "libruls." A whole lot of them hate any religion but their own - which is usually a sect of Christianity. But of late they have come to hate Islam and Muslims with an eerie sort of passion reminiscent of humanity's worst historical hatreds.
Joshua Holland, who, I must confess, is one of my favorite political writers, has posted an informative and frightening article at AlterNet, titled "Fallout of Hate Is Spreading Across America from 9/11 Site."
He begins with this insight:
"[...] the feverish discourse about Muslim's role in American society is not about the proposal to build an Islamic community center a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center site. Park 51, as it's being called, merely let an ugly genie out of the bottle. The dark stain of Islamophobia had spread far and wide long before the controversy erupted."
The Mr. Holland provides numerous examples: Last May, there was a pipebomb attack at an Islamic Center in Jacksonville, Florida (which got no notice by the national media) and a firearms attack at a mosque in Miami last year. "Mosques have been vandalized or set aflame in Brownstone, Michigan; Nashville, Tennessee; Arlington, Texas (where the mosque was first vandalized and then later targeted by arsonists); Taylor, South Carolina; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Eugene, Oregon; Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Tempe, Arizona; and in both Northern and Southern California. A mosque in a suburb of Chicago has been vandalized four times in recent years."
Holland goes on to document numerous incidents in which people have met bodily harm by Muslim-haters.
These frenzied and crazed "perpetrators of ... hate crimes" have been spurred on "by cynical fearmongers on the Right. Holland notes that Daniel Luban, in Tablet magazine, suggests "the dark spread of Islamophobia has become 'the new Anti-Semitism.''
I think he's right, and there is a definite resemblance between what is happening in our country now and what happened in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. For example, the Lt. Gov. of Tennessee, Ron Ramsey, doesn't think Muslims should have freedom of religion. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, probably wouldn't go that far, but his idea of freedom of religion does not include the building of a "mosque" in NYC!
Newt Gingrich, who has become ever more unhinged, "compared the organizers of the Park 51 project ... (including the imam who was sent by none other than George W. Bush to represent the United States in its outreach tothe Muslim World) with the Nazis."
Brian Fischer, representing the frenetic, christianist, dominionist American Family Association, would deny all permits to build mosques in the U.S. because "each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government."
A rightwingnut radio host in Florida, Michael Berry, said "If you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up..."
The hysteria is growing. Just this morning I read of a construction worker in NYC who vowed not to be involved in building the Islamic community center as a way of protest. No doubt others will climb on that bandwagon!
There's much more in Holland's article, including commentary on how the Republicans plan to use Islamophobia to further their cause against the Democrats in upcoming elections.
You can read all of it here. And weep for what has become of the "home of the brave and the land of the free."