Saturday, September 11, 2010


Here's Andrew Sullivan, reacting to the story of a man arrested for allegedly being part of a lot to blow up an abortion clinic, a man said to be motivated by "anger at abortion doctors, President Barack Obama’s health care plan, and plans to build a mosque near ground zero in New York city," which led him to want to be "the Christian counterpart to Osama bin Laden":

I think the demagoguing of Park51 is a direct result of the GOP's turn toward Christianism. It's a tipping point where mainstream American Muslims become indistinguishable from the mass murderers of 9/11 in the psyches of those too poorly educated to know the difference. Religious warfare, once begun, is hard to stop; and when it is tacitly endorsed by a political party many of whose members believe that the president is a Muslim and no one in the GOP directly attacks, rebuts and discredits this nonsense, we are in very dangerous territory. The disturbing fusion of nationalist Christianity and loathing of Obama in the Beck-Palin movement - crystallized by the Park51/Cordoba contretemps and the August Mall rally - wittingly or unwittingly gives these violent fringes a coherence and legitimacy. Because it's not just hatred of Obama at stake any more; it's a conflation of Obama with Islam and then a conflation of Islam with Jihadist terror. If that's in your mind, it takes very little to set off a chain of inflammatory acts that build on one another.

The GOP's turn toward Christianism is a big part of this, but it's not the whole, not by any means. The big problem -- and maybe I'm stating the obvious -- is the smashmouth, take-no-prisoners, scorched-earth politics that the GOP and the Murdoch/talk-radio right have been engaging in for quite a long time now.

The right just doesn't care how much poison it injects into the body politic, so long as prominent right-wingers can dodge blame if the country blows up or innocent people are killed or wounded. (Rightists felt they couldn't evade blame for the consequences of a Terry Jones Koran-burning, which is why this is just about the only right-wing provocation they've denounced.) The problem is that rght-wingers get up every day with one and only one goal in mind: to make voters hate and despise liberals, Democrats, and any individual or group that can be linked to liberals or Democrats. That's all they do. Beyond tax cuts, they don't care about governing. They don't care how well the country is functioning. If a long-term near-depression or a religious war serves their interests, well, bring it on.

If you don't believe rightists devote an ungodly amount of effort to brainstorming new ways of fomenting hate, you can look at the New York Post's map of where human remains were found near Ground Zero. It's rabble-rousigly labeled "Tragic map shows just how close human remains were found to the proposed site of an Islamic cultural center" -- but as The Village Voice's Leslie Minora writes:

... how is this linked to the Islamic center site? Developers and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf are not exhuming bodies to build the Islamic center; they're not even building where human remains were found nine years ago. The closest human remains were found a block away, but it's not as though construction has halted in that area since 9/11. For almost a decade, people haven't been particularly pious about where human remains were found with regard to development -- there are probably more shovels and cranes here than anywhere else in Manhattan. So, why has the argument come to this, and why now?

Why now? Because the leaders of the right throw everything at the liberals and Democrats they hate, consequences be damned -- and don't doubt for a mnute that we're the targets, and November is the goal. (If Muslims are attacked or terrorized, well, that's just collateral damage.) It's total war, and any clever tactic that can be devised must be deployed if it might succeed in bringing the right closer to its ultimate goal or regaining dominance of American politics.

Meanwhile, we learn from Samuel Freedman in today's New York Times that there was a Muslim prayer room in one of the Twin Towers. It was used by white-collar and blue-collar workers alike; the Times's Samuel Freedman interviews a couple of Muslims who prayed there, including one construction worker who escaped on 9/11. (Freedman, by the way, is a one-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award; I'm sure it'll only be a matter of time before someone on the right calls him a "Judenrat.")

Why are we learning about this prayer room only now? Doesn't it definitively give the lie to the notion that it's somehow inappropriate for anything to do with the Muslim faith to be anywhere near Ground Zero?

If the shoe were on the other foot, you can be damn sure that right-wingers would have long since unearthed any such information that helped their cause, because looking for facts (or half-truths) that support their cause is all they do.

At this point, we have to be the same. We have to work relentlessly to unearth information that rebuts the crazy smashmouth right. And by "we" I no longer mean Democrats and liberals -- I mean anyone who doesn't want the right to continuing tearing this country apart. Because right now we're all at war with these people, who have a depraved indifference to the safety and stability of this country. We can't let them keep winning.

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