Time magazine has a cover story, “Is America Islamophobic?” Based on an interview the author, Bobby Ghosh, did with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, the answer is an emphatic yes. Islamophobia is “taking root,” Ghosh insists, in “places all over the country.” It is the new anti-Semitism, we are told. And when Olbermann asked why America was becoming Islamophobic now rather than in the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11, Ghosh quickly corrected him. We were plagued by irrational anti-Muslim fears back then as well. “It was pretty overt in the immediate aftermath of 9/11,” Mr. Ghosh informs us. But “we weren‘t paying attention because this country had gone through this trauma.”
This is both silly and slanderous; in fact, America showed enormous, impressive, and proper tolerance and respect toward Muslims after 9/11.
What’s worth noting, I think, is that this is part and parcel of the growing alienation from America that is occurring among some elite liberals. As the president continues to fail and to fall, as his agenda becomes more and more unpopular, some of those on the left are now training their fire on America and its citizens. There is, in their view, something deeply, morally wrong with the nation.
This judgment is unwarranted and unwise; if it continues, it will further discredit modern liberalism.
What’s regrettable is that this most unhealthy debate we’re now engaged in, which is causing polarization based on ethnicity and religion, could have been so easily avoided if Iman Rauf had decided, on careful reflection, to build his mosque and community center elsewhere. He could have made the point that he has every right to build the mosque near Ground Zero but that, as a gesture of sympathy and solidarity with the families of the victims of 9/11, he decided not to.
That would have been an act of patriotic grace and it would have deepened the respect and affection the country has for those of the Muslim faith. Instead, we are where we are, which is not a good place to be.
It was so easily avoidable; and it makes one wonder why it wasn’t avoided in the first place.