Late Night: The Triumph of the Willfully Ignorant
So, comrades, what did we learn from the Death Fetish/Monster Rascal Scooter Rally Weekend ’10? I don’t know about you, but I walked away from the experience with my suspicions confirmed that this country is in some seriously deep shit if the level of media-driven, anti-Muslim, xenophobic — and markedly un-Christian — behavior exhibited by my “fellow” Americans down at the World Trade Center construction site is to be believed.
Our 21st-century American version of the frenzied, torch-bearing mob storming Dr. Frankenstein’s castle is decidely less ambulatory, but no less rabid, than the thugs who ran around breaking windows back in 1930s Germany. Allergic to reason and critical thought, these mobs are hopelessly addicted to the hyperbolic doublespeak of the Palins and Becks, holding them up as the ultimate arbiters of morality for the country.
Then, with Newt “Cancer? Yuck, I Want a Divorce!” Gingrich’s blatant dog-whistle accusations and the nationalistic tone of the fearmongering over the weekend, I began to question whether the United States had somehow wandered into the plot of Lights Out in the Reptile House. It was a chilling display of irrational fear and racism, with just an aromatic soupçon of totalitarianism, down on Park Place on Saturday (and again down in D.C. yesterday). Anybody who tells you that the opportunistic politicians and rightwing pundits aren’t driving this narrative can blow it out their tightly puckered portholes:
The cynicism of this rhetorical journey can be traced in the remarks of Laura Ingraham, who interviewed Daisy Khan, Abdul Rauf’s wife and partner in the project, in December. “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it,” Ingraham told Khan then. “I like what you’re trying to do.” Ingraham has since been brought into line. “I say the terrorists have won with the way this has gone down,” she said last month, on “Good Morning America.” “Six hundred feet from where thousands of our fellow-Americans were incinerated in the name of political Islam, and we’re supposed to be considered intolerant if we’re not cheering this?”
[P.S. Political three-card monte dealer Newt Gingrich calling anyone else a “con man” is downright laughable].
And I want to reiterate that the vast majority . . . nay, ALL . . . of the fuckwits who ginned up the Park51 controversy for craven personal gain would be apoplectic if the federal government had inserted itself into a local zoning issue in any other city in the country. But since this is Gomorrah on the Hudson we’re talking about, the city the rightwingers love to hate except when it’s politically expedient to beat their chests, wave their tiny flags, and chant “Never Forget! Ground Zero!”, the rules magically don’t apply.
A small but growing group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have signed onto an open letter, provided exclusively to the Huffington Post, which calls on the American public to respect “the values we risked our lives to protect” and to avoid endangering the mission — and safety — of U.S. forces in the Mideast.
“America, you gotta have our back,” reads the letter, composed by signatories Roy Scranton, Philip Klay and Perry O’Brien. “Those who would vilify and target Muslims on grounds of their religious belief not only show a deep disrespect for American values, but put American lives at risk. It’s easy to burn a Koran when you won’t feel the heat.”
Or stories like this, submitted to the New York Times’ Metropolitan Diary:
I was in a taxi, late for a doctor’s appointment, when the driver turned around and, with a serious gaze, asked if I was American.
After I told him I was, he asked if I was from New York. Again I replied in the affirmative.
“So tell me,” he asked, “what do you think of the mosque being built downtown?”
Eager to reveal that some New Yorkers believe in religious freedom and civil rights, I exclaimed, “Well, you know, it’s not just a mosque, it’s a whole community center as well, and I think it’s fine for them to build wherever they want.”
I waited for his approval, but he shook his head and said, “Well, I am a Muslim, and I think it is a very, very bad idea!”
Expecting a philosophical explanation, I asked him why.
Clearly agitated, he explained, as though it were obvious: “Because of the parking situation downtown! You can’t find parking anywhere near there!”
Adequate parking — seriously, that should have been the extent of this ludicrous debate. But so long as there’s money to be made and power to be gained by preying on other people’s fears and ignorance, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Pam Geller, and the rest of the shit-stirring attention whores will make mayhem while the sun shines.