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New America, Old Ideas: When Right Goes Horribly Wrong

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There is a lot of opinion since right-wingnut Pam Geller started the controversy over a mosque being built on private property in New York City, and some of those thoughts turn into actions.

I have weighed in on it before, and I’ll admit that even I was caught up in having to re-evaluate how I feel about others. It’s easy to jump on a bandwagon because strength seems to be reinforced by others. The debate about the mosque has brought out the worst in many folks on both sides of the coin, with many demonizing Muslims as terror supporters and others calling opponents of the mosque racists.

The mass hysteria encouraged by protesters was in full force in lower Manhattan yesterday as a man was harassed and physically threatened simply for looking different.

The man’s name is Ken and his crime is his pigmentation and his taste in hats. Unbeknownst to the mob, folks other than Muslims wear tight caps; Jews and some other observant folks cover their domes, and athletes and construction workers frequently wear tight lids underneath their helmets. Ken is a long-time union carpenter who works at Ground Zero. He’s one of the good guys.

The reality is that people are so blinded by hatred that they mistook a man for something sinister when he was just trying to live his life. And carpenter Ken is absolutely right in the fact that even if he were Muslim, the hate is not justified. There is already a mosque in Manhattan. The Manhattan Masjid has been around for 40 years and nobody seems too upset about it being there, with the exception of these new protesters, most of whom aren’t even New Yorkers.

The new protests have not just come against the proposed Cordoba Center, but have now come against all mosques, all Muslims, and anyone who might look like a Muslim. Because of the blind nature of the fear, blacks and browns have been attacked and harassed by those afflicted with the new hysteria. A Canadian rabbi was even incarcerated because xenophobia is that stupid at its core. The new right wants to make being Muslim a federal crime and will confuse lay folk in order to meet their ultimate goal.

Muslims have replaced gays, blacks, and the Japanese as the new enemy. It’s easy to point the finger at someone else in order to compensate for our own flaws. The Koran indeed holds a load of horrors, but so does the Bible. It’s far more convenient to quote Surah 9:5 than Judges 19:25 because one of those books belongs to the Big Bad Them, and They are coming to get us.

The truth in the matter is the fact that Muslims often come to the West seeking moderation and freedom from societies that have bastardized their faith. Quakers and Mennonites and Jews have all come to America to escape religious radicalism and bigotry. Muslims who grew up in Iran and Syria have witnessed their religion used as a weapon against those with more open minds. America seems more like home than what their former homes have become. At least it did, until a demented propaganda-fueled segment of society saw the world change and them left in the dust.

There was a time not so long ago that Americans were controlled by scared men. Thousands of people of ethnic minorities were sterilized in Virginia under the guise that whites were ethnically and morally superior. People of Japanese heritage where taken from their families and Eastern Europeans were incarcerated as possible spies. Women could be forcibly raped and beaten by their husbands and gays were lobotomized. These horrors and more are stains on our past, but today’s neo-cons seem very in love with the same ideals that inhibit progress and oppress citizens.

Building the Cordoba Center might not be wise, given the appalling political tenor of today, but the right to do so is ingrained in the constitutional documents referred to by the segment that wants to have the right to own rocket launchers. Hating a man because you believe him to be an inferior is contrary to a document that precedes the Constitution by a decade. The Declaration of Independence was indeed controversial, but held that the new union was to be different from the totalitarian monarchies. Moreover, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom to worship whatever metaphysical overseer the citizen chooses.

Amendments 1 through 10 comprise the Bill of Rights. As much as people would like to mess with them, they are not the Bill of I’ll Do What I Want To Whomever I Want. An American is permitted to worship a doorknob as a god, and while you’re allowed to have an opinion about The Loyal Order of the Shining Knob, you are not allowed to infringe on your neighbour’s right to call a brass doorknob God.

Americans enjoy freedom of assembly, but those powers are limited. One cannot promote hatred, cause mass disorder, or threaten the life of a guy because of the way he looks. There is indeed a fine line between free speech and hate speech and the far right has climbed over the wall into the pits of rancorous Hell.

If you think that your right to bear arms is more important than freedom of faith, open a history book or look at that Constitution hanging on your wall.

And if you think that the sweeping acrimony has nothing to do with you or people like you, yesterday’s victimization of a common blue-collar guy like yourself is the reality check that we all need.

“Hatred is the madness of the heart” — Lord Byron

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About Michelle Galipeau

  • Correlation doesn’t prove causation. But correlation is not the opposite of causation, either. It could supply the beginning of a conversation [but shouldn’t be the end of one].

  • Clavos

    But Clavos, your own logical error is that you’re apparently assuming this is a single event to which I refer

    Actually, I’m not, but the number of events to which you’re referring is immaterial — it’s not germane to the fallacy, which does not limit the number of events, nor did I. It’s a fallacy — whether used for one event or a hundred.

    So, once again, you’ve proved nothing, no matter how earnestly you assert that you have.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    But Clavos, your own logical error is that you’re apparently assuming this is a single event to which I refer…but it’s not. The payment and receipt of taxes of each state during each year is an event in and of itself. I could not make such a claim with the data of only ONE state from ONE year’s federal tax payments and receipts, for then I certainly would fall foul of the logical error to which you refer.

    But that’s not the case, is it? I’m referring to the data from fifty different states…and just as we see the general result from a certain discrete number of blue states, we also see in red states the counterfactual dependence apparently required to determine causation.

    Fifty different events providing both correlation and counterfactual dependence…every single year.

    Okay, Clavos? Are you going to still try to claim that it’s all ‘one event’ vice the fifty discrete events they really are?

    Now let me pull you out of the fire – what you’re missing is that I gave the answer many months ago – that it is NOT a result of the blue or red governance, but instead largely a result of the level of urbanization or the lack thereof of the respective states. Rural states cannot compete with the tax revenue generation of urban states, whereas rural states do receive far more farm subsidies than do urban states. Differences in location and size of military bases, state parks, and federal prisons – all federally-funded – also play a part.

    Do you remember when I posted the above conclusion about urban and rural states (minus the subsequent detailed description)? I suspect you do.

    Clavos, I have something to thank you for – I knew instinctively that your ‘logical fallacy’ argument didn’t work…but because you kept using it, you forced me to smarten up somewhat on the subject, and I was able to point out the error in your claim. So…thank you very much for challenging me, Clavos, and I mean that.

  • Clavos

    So if we Democrats are so irresponsible with taxes, why is it that 17 of the 20 (85%) states RECEIVING the MOST federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid are Red States? And why is it that 11 of the 14 (79%) of the states receiving the LEAST federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid are Blue States?

    Correlation does not equal causation. I’m gonna keep repeating that every time you commit that fallacy.

    Maybe one day you’ll come up with valid proofs for your prejudices, but I doubt it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Arch –

    So if we Democrats are so irresponsible with taxes, why is it that 17 of the 20 (85%) states RECEIVING the MOST federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid are Red States? And why is it that 11 of the 14 (79%) of the states receiving the LEAST federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid are Blue States? Reference here.

    So the blue states feed the red states with federal tax dollars…and the red state politicians rail about how irresponsible the blue states are with tax dollars.

    Yeah, Arch, keep telling us how bad the Dems are with tax dollars! The main causes of the current deficit, FYI, are the Bush recession and the precipitous drop in tax revenue that it caused; the TARP which Bush rushed through without ANY oversight; Obama’s stimulus which was too small in the opinion of most economists; and 25 percent of the deficit is STILL directly attributable to the Bush tax cuts!

    But keep telling us how bad and evil we are with those taxes, Arch! Ignore the fact that the Republicans drove our economy into a ditch! Give the Republicans the keys again – so maybe they can drive the economy even FURTHER into the ditch!

    Yeah, GO Arch GO!

  • Arch Conservative

    Yes and Democrats are fond of raising taxes on others and not paying their own Glenn.

    What’s your point?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Of course, of course! That’s why Republican politicians are more often involved in scandals, and more often in more serious scandals…yet they point out with glee just how terribly corrupt the Democrats are!

    (note: I’ve posted the proof before – do I really have to do so again? Tell you what – can you find even ONE Democratic scandal since Nixon held office even comes close to Iran-Contra? No, you can’t.)

    And they’re the party of family values, too – just look at Mr. Family Values himself, Mr. Newt Gingrich, who’s on, what – his third marriage? And wasn’t this longtime leading light of the Republican party cheating on his wife even while he was attacking Clinton on a daily basis for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky? And didn’t he dump his most recent ex-wife when he found out she had MS?

    Yes, Clavos – the conservative politicians PREACH morality…because they don’t PRACTICE it.

  • Clavos

    Glenn, you do come up with some of the most ludicrous, improbable and unprovable shit seen on these threads.

    #7 is an excellent case in point…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Zing –

    What Archie’s doing reminds me of a quote on the local Progressive station: “Conservatives preach morality…because they don’t practice it.”

    They assume we’re just as bad as they are and accuse us of a lack of morality because they can’t comprehend the fact that maybe, just maybe their own morality is lacking.

  • And then you have those in the centre of the political spectrum who can and will point out hyperbole and hypocrisy wherever it lies.
    A common man was subjected to a spiteful mob because of his appearance which like it or not, has been demonized by a segment of the extreme right that is becoming popular.
    The extreme left has indeed engaged in it’s own brand of ridiculousness, which mainly involves calling all conservatives bigots but also deifies other nations as socialist utopias.

    Calling someone out on their divisive ideas requires an argument, one certainly involving something more than name-calling and hopefully offering up a solution.

    Demonizing people like Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann do may make for entertainment, but does nothing to help the current human crises that affect most of the Western world.

  • zingzing

    dunno. didn’t you just call the entire left racists? so i’ll let you answer that one.

    how would you describe near-constant hyperbolic rhetoric?

  • Arch Conservative

    “constantly claiming the left is race baiting is race baiting”

    So how would you describe calling everyone that disagrees with you a racist zing?

  • zingzing

    of course, archie, always seeing race baiting instead of the actual point is, in effect, race baiting. constantly claiming the left is race baiting is race baiting, isn’t it? you’re a big race baiter. stop race baiting. you’ll go dumb.

  • Arch Conservative

    The right doesn’t have shit on the left when it comes to race baiting Glenn. The left has institutionalized racism.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Michelle –

    Very good article. The real tragedy, IMO, are all those on the Right who really aren’t racist (or at least try not to be) yet still support those who engage in race-baiting on a daily basis (as do the commentators on Fox News).

    And they either never see their hypocrisy or, if they do see it, allow their hatred of all that is liberal to excuse it.