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Fear & Hate, or Religious Freedom? August 27, 2010

Posted by Mary W. Matthews in Politics.
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For more than a year, the backers of a proposed community center approximately half a mile from the site called “Ground Zero” — which, shamefully after almost nine years, remains nothing but a hole in the ground — worked in peaceful obscurity to bring something more useful than a porn shop or a tobacconist to lower Manhattan.

Then the “fright wing” noticed that there will be an election this November, and that neither the Republicans nor the Tea Bigots have anything more to point to than blocking aid to the poor; blocking aid to the jobless; attempting with all the propaganda in their power to block all and any attempts to rein in soaring health care costs; blocking attempts to rein in Republican usurers and financial criminals; blocking attempts to address global warming; blocking all attempts to stimulate the economy that Republicans tanked through deregulation and through special privileges for wealthy Republicans; and blocking aid to 9/11 first responders. (And those are Republicans’ positive achievements!) What to do? The community center had space set aside for a meditation room, and voila! — the dreaded “Ground Zero mosque” was created out of vivid imaginations, distortions, and self-righteous untruths.

The “fright wing” declares itself to love the U.S. Constitution and to want nothing more than to protect the freedoms it guarantees — except for any part of the Constitution other than the Second Amendment, that is. The Second Amendment states,

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear [flintlocks, muskets, and knives] shall not be infringed.

Dozens of Tea Bigot militias have formed since President Obama took office, all of them armed with weapons more fearsome than muskets and all of them sworn to overthrow the legitimate, fairly elected government of the United States and “take our country back” — which of course is Tea Bigot code for “regain our sense of smug superiority over those evil liberals, progressives, women, people of color, gays, and halfbreed socialist fascist commie Muslim Kenyans who think they’re Christians born in Honolulu.” These are “patriots.”

Are you feeling frightened of the “Ground Zero mosque” yet, that evil attempt to celebrate the victory of Islamist jihadists? Have a look at this valuable Venn diagram, created by Sean Bonner, which you can find the original of here.

You are being urged with much hysteria not to be fearful of a speck so tiny that it had to be enlarged ten thousand times just to show up in the diagram at all, nor indeed to be fearful of that relatively tiny chartreuse “overlap” that represents Muslim-Americans. No; you are being urged to fear all 1.57 billion Muslims alive today, all of whom are supposedly indistinguishable from the 0.00006 percent who sympathize with al Qaeda.

I do not consider myself a friend to Islam. I have read the Qur’an four times, and if you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to do so. It’s very brief — about the length and intellectual complexity of a beach novel. If you skim all the rants about Hell, the final destination of all life in the Universe except for male Muslims and a few of their female possessions, you can finish the Qur’an in about two hours. I do not understand how any woman can tolerate Islam’s built-in misogyny — but then again, I can’t understand how any woman can tolerate the misgyny built into Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, or any other fundamentalism.

However, the strengths and failings of Islam are not the point! The choice is clear and stunningly simple. Do you value the freedoms on which the United States was founded, or do you prefer a theocracy ruled by propagandists for the enrichment of oligarchs? Do you value the religious freedom that allows you to worship as you choose, when you choose — or do you prefer a world in which drunken bigots urinate on innocent worshipers and attempt to murder innocent strangers with swarthy skin?

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