To many, the stabbing of a New York City taxi driver by a deranged passenger who first asked if the driver was a Muslim seemed like a culmination of weeks of irrational debate about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” Now, federal officials are calling a fire at an Islamic center in Tennessee — — far from New York City — arson. If you don’t see the connection, you’re doing it wrong. As usual, Glenn Greenwald says it best:
The harm from these actions are not merely the physical damage they cause, but also the well-grounded fear it imposes on a minority of the American population. If you launch a nationwide, anti-Islamic campaign in Lower Manhattan based on the toxic premise that Muslims generally are responsible for 9/11 — and spend a decade expanding American wars on one Muslim country after the next — this is the inevitable, and obviously dangerous, outcome.
There’s more at Salon. And if you still can’t see what’s going on here, there’s this, from the CBS report on the arson:
Opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer; they are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.
“They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group,” Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.
This, of course, is all too common, even within that very article. And as noted by Gawker, it’s not just coming from the bottom rungs of society; it’s people in power, like Tennessee Lieutenant Gov. Ron Ramsey:
“Now, you know, I’m all about freedom of religion…But you cross the line when they try to start bringing Sharia Law here to the state of Tennessee — to the United States.”
To say this is getting ugly would discount the injustices — acts of terrorism, make no mistake about it — that have already occurred. Any at all is too much, but enough is enough.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 29, 2010