Once again we fall into the Us against Them trap that keep the TV Blowhards’ righteous indignation alive and kicking. Since the moments after the Boston Marathon bombing, Muslim hatred has spewed out of the mouths of those who only need the vaguest connection to “prove” their belief that all Muslims are bound and determined to bring down America.
At the same time, many in the American Muslim community were desperately hoping that this attack had nothing to do with Islam. I was also hoping this was a non-religious attack. I did not want to see some of the inflamers of hatred (Rushbo, Mark Levine, Glenn Beck…) have another opportunity to paint all Muslims with the broad brush of violent radicalism. Not that it would matter. These are “men” that will tell their audiences it was Radical Islam that attacked Boston until it is proven it wasn’t.
But when the 2 suspects were discovered and named, the worst fears came true. It seems that these 2 men were indeed Muslim with the older brother apparently leading the way with his Anti American beliefs. Whether the younger brother was in the same mind set or simply doing what his older brother told him is unknown right now. But I could hear the crowing of the Right Wing Neo-Cons squealing with delight!
Yes, they seemed to say, we told you so! See all Muslims are bad and it’s not a matter of if, but when they will cause harm. They were almost vibrating with sheer delight. Islamaphobia has become an industry built on hate led by Fox news and the loudest meanest voices in the Right Wing. It reminds me of the absolute vitriol espoused when a Mosque was planned to be built a few blocks from the World Trade Center. The news sent the harshest voices into apoplectic spasms. How could we besmirch the holiest place in the United States with a dirty Mosque filled with Muslims who only want to destroy America.
This particular neighborhood is also filled with trashy $.99 stores, Peep Shows, strip clubs and street hawkers selling allegedly stolen purses by the truckful. But putting a Mosque (which would have housed a community center, classes on calligraphy, photography workshops, etc.)
so close to Ground Zero is an absolute disgrace. This ginned up outrage was fueled by a few prominent voices and cable news shows who make their living bashing Islam and non-Christians in general. For months on end, you could not go anywhere without the direst warnings from bigots like Pamela Geller screaming that this would be the end of New York and everything we hold dear. (Geller’s most recent group, “Stop Islamization of America,” has been dubbed a hate group by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.) According to Geller, it would be just a matter of time before we were being ruled by Sharia Law and all us ladies would be forced to cover our hair. Oh please, like this would ever work, after what women in the city pay for their hair care, good luck making us cover up.
But then something did happen! The Mosque opened in September 2011 and no one noticed. “Standing there, two blocks away from the crews working on the Freedom Tower, it left you wondering what all that business last year was truly about. Was it because finally, after nine years of shock, we had a concrete issue to focus all those pent up 9/11 feelings on? Was it just last year’s version of the Casey Anthony story? Standing amid those pictures of children who managed to smile no matter the odds against them, it was hard to imagine there was ever a problem at all.”
Our attention span as Americans is so infinitesimal that when the voices stop shouting and something more shiny or sordid happens in the news, we forget about our previous indignation to jump on the newer anti-something bandwagon. Yet no one cares what happens to an entire group of people hurt and at times physically injured because of the intense Islamaphobia pushed by bigots like Pam Geller.
The harm that loud mouths like Rushbo and others of his ilk have created will last much longer than these clown’s careers. They push idiots like Michael Enright to violently slash his Muslim cab driver because “this is a checkpoint, motherfucker, and I have to bring you down.” We may never know if he was influenced by the anti-Islam factions, but during those months, you could not escape the malicious sentiments coming out of the far right media and the local GOP newsletter, the NY Post, on a daily basis.
There are millions of Muslims in this country as they have been here since New York was New Amsterdam. We have lived peacefully, side by side with them for hundreds of years. I have Muslim friends and have never thought of them as anything but friends. They are Americans who happen to be Muslim. No different than any other religion with fanatical followers.
But as far as destruction in this country goes, most of the violence in our past was caused by NON-Muslims such as Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski engaged in a nationwide bombing campaign against modern technology by planting or mailing numerous home-made bombs, killing three people and injuring 23 others.
Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier the Oklahoma City Bombers were American terrorists. Other Domestic Terrorists include the Ku Klux Klan, they loved to murder African Americans and burn down churches “to further its anti-Catholic, anti-Communist, anti-Semitic, and white-supremacist agenda.” There was the Atlanta Olympic Bombing, which happened while I was in Atlanta working on the Paralympics, by Eric Robert Rudolph, who killed 2 people with explosives.
According to the Council of Foreign Relations, “Since September 11, the threat of internationally based Islamic extremist networks has dominated concerns of Homeland Security officials. And while authorities say the threats posed by homegrown Islamic extremism is growing, the FBI has reported that roughly two-thirds of terrorism in the United States was conducted by non-Islamic American extremists from 1980-2001; and from 2002-2005, it went up to 95 percent.”
We as a country need to take our fear mongering down a notch. We need to stop making everything about religion. We need to export Ann Coulter to Iran (“She ought to be in prison for wearing a hijab.”) New York State Senator Greg Ball couldn’t stop himself from twitting “So, scum bag #2 in custody. Who wouldn’t use torture on this punk to save more lives?”
The worst offender of the day of the Boston Bombing, is not very surprisingly, Fox News contributor Erik Rush who, shortly after the bombings, before any suspects had been announced, took to Twitter to express his distaste of all Muslims, “Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.”
We need to stop lumping all Muslims into the same group as the fanatics who actually do represent a serious threat to our safety. Because I can do the same with Christians and claim they are all the same as the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s too easy to perpetuate an unrealistic fear of targeting religion based on the horrific acts of insane fanatics. But then some people like the easy way, it helps sell books, gives them more ratings on their talk shows and ups their speaker fees. To these blowhards, Islamaphobia is just business, but to those hurt by their “business” this overt bigotry has lasting effects. Thanks to Coulter, Levine, and other ignorant thoughtless jackasses, the violence now is directed at innocent Muslims just trying to live their lives in peace. Inquisition Redux anyone?