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America Is Better Than This
Will someone answer this question for me? What is wrong with being a Muslim? There are Muslim doctors, lawyers, teachers, policemen and policewomen. There is a Muslim congressman from the great state of Minnesota named Keith Ellison. We encounter Muslim Americans in every facet of American life. They are part of the American tapestry. When did it become un-American to be a Muslim?
52% of conservative Americans believe Barack Obama wants to institute Sharia Law. I’m sure if you also asked those polled what Sharia law is, they couldn’t tell you. Since it’s associated with Islam and Muslims, it must be terrible– and this president must be in support of it. Everyday more of his American identity evaporates in the eyes of these people–if it were even there at all. Why? Even in the face of substantial proof–evidence that is insurmountable–these people insist on painting the president as some foreign enemy of the state.
Where is the media culpability in this? Fox News pushes a bitter narrative, asking questions about Obama’s American legitimacy and his faith. They allow this meme to be explored on a routine basis. They harbor vicious anti-Muslim views, and foster an unseemly climate of Islamophobia. Yet one of their major shareholders is a Saudi Prince named Al-Waleed bin Talal– a man who owns a 7 percent share of NewsCorp, parent company of Fox News. A man who contributes heavily to Islamic groups Fox conservatives believe are terrorist organizations. A man who in his homeland of Saudi Arabia, rules UNDER Sharia Law. Where is their outrage?
Shouldn’t Sean Hannity be condemning this bold expansion of the Sharia law in American media? If right-wingers fear Sharia tentacles tethering themselves to American institutions, why not start with rebelling against the power structure at Fox News?
These people are not defenders of American justice. They hide behind euphemistic attacks–which are not only cowardly– they’re craven and treasonous. They are dishonoring their patriotism, perverting it in order to gain political advantage.
When Byron York, staunch blue-blood right-wing pundit, indulges in fantastically simplistic reporting, by placing blame directly on the president–he noted that Obama has brought much of this on himself by choosing to play golf or basketball Sunday mornings, rather than attend church–you realize just how cynical and foolish the tone of this debate is. I did not realize that is what made one a Christian. You must attend church on Sundays. If Americans need this type of affirmation– seeing video clips of the president attending church to answer questions– perhaps they have the wrong questions. Amazing. Some of us are choosing to embrace religious radicalism to support our notions of nationalism. That’s not the America I know.
These people are cowering in fear. They are racing to a corner of self-doubt and pity, trying to resist change. There they are, waving flags of self- pity and anger because of their reticence to accept the wave of change on the precipice.
This isn’t what this country is about. It’s not how we were founded. If Islamist fundamentalists choose to burn bibles and American flags, should we meet their wretchedness and hatred with our own? No, and that is what makes us better than the enemy.
This is where we find ourselves. Struggling to discern who we are as a people and a nation. We used to have an identity. We used to stand for something righteous, mighty, and right. We used to stand proudly for tolerance–at least most forward thinking Americans did. We used to debate fairly, cogently, and intelligently. Now we’ve become an empty husk, filling with anger, mistrust, hatred and fear. Now we disavow our own laws callously in order to marginalize some of our citizens. We should be better than this.
America stands for something more because we don’t devalue our idealistic principles, and we don’t deviate from our values. We set the pace for virtuous action, and let others follow our example. Our discourse has been hijacked by pretend patriots, who’ve warped constitutional moralities into fluid, politically expedient landmines. America is better than this.
Worthy of Comment
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Last month I was on assignment in a remote place, the kind of place where you see trucks and tractors but few cars. Farm territory. I parked along a weedy, poorly maintained road and as I stepped from the car I saw a sight from childhood. A tangled thicket of briars with succulent, shiny blackberries glistening like onyx pendants. Red berries, hard and yet to ripen, waited their turn for sunshine to do its magic. Seeing this explosion of blackberries brought back childhood memories. Pickin’ berries was great fun, a tradition. You’d reach into the briars and pluck a big berry, pop Read on →
This past weekend, my wife Jody and I attended a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac performed at the Blackfriar’s Theater in Staunton, Va. Just to hear the language was well worth the one-hundred forty mile round trip. Although I don’t have the skill to read it in the original French, Anthony Burgess’ translation which combines blank verse, prose, and rhyming couplets held our attention for the nearly three-hour performance. He created a contemporary sound for a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand based on an historical seventeenth-century troubadour, dramatist, poet, soldier, and sword-swinging duelist known for his razor-sharp wit and w Read on →
How did it come to this? How did our political life in America get to be so drenched in hostility? While reading an article about how “anti-environmentalists” are spending thousands of dollars to alter their vehicles to increase the smoke they produce, I came across this statement from one of that group, who call themselves “coal rollers”: “If [Obama’s] into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not.” And it’s not just the president they’re hostile to, it’s also those Prius-driving “librels” who, according to the article, might be specially targeted with a blast of smoke and soot. How did “if they’re for it, I’m agi Read on →
I knew I liked him early on by the way he told a joke. He had timing and delivery and the punch line was not telegraphed. Whenever I get off my mountain, I’m alert to serendipitous opportunities to meet such people and to get a peek into their lives. So on a recent trip to Atlanta for a couple of woodworking classes, I had the pleasure of spending a few nights with a dear friend in Asheville, one of the world’s finest and most civilized of cities. My friend is also a fine lady and like her adopted city, most civ Read on →