The controversy concerning what is now called “The Ground Zero Mosque,” even though the proposed Islamic community center in lower Manhattan is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero, is in many ways the product of the evangelical capitalist resonance machine. Following a path that is spookily like the Astro-turfed Tea Party movement, what was once an experiment in false outrage has metastasized into something much greater. And already, as if on cue, the faux-wise Washington commentator David Wills, on the August 22nd edition of This Week on ABC has suggested that the whole affair is overblown, a product of the August slow news cycle, and that soon voters would turn their attention to more serious stuff like the economy.
racism and religious bigotry is fueling much of outpouring of indignant rage among those who are protesting the building of Park 51. And in this case, one of the strongest claims that many protesters are making -- that the site of the Twin Towers is a sacred place that must not be defiled, a place where several thousand people died – is perhaps the most dangerous claim that can be made, because it entangles the very meaning of what it is to be a human being with a politics of exclusion.
a recent Time magazine poll on tolerance of religious beliefs indicated that Americans are most tolerant of Jews and Protestants, only 13% having unfavorable views of them, followed by Catholics, at 17%, then Mormons at 29%. Muslims? 43% of Americans hold unfavorable views of Muslims. That Americans hold such a tolerant view of Jews and such an intolerant view of Muslims might suggest that a new form of anti-semitism is emerging here in the United States, with Americans disavowing the old form of anti-semitism by showing their love for Jews, thus freeing them to vent their hatred on Muslims.
In other words, while the specific issues concerning the current Ground Zero controversy may indeed fade to the background as the fall elections approach, the undercurrent of hatred that has fueled is not about to fade away, just as the Tea Party, a not unassociated movement – the August 22nd demonstration against 51 Park contained self-identified Tea Party members – is not about to fade away. It has become a matter of blood now, in more than one sense.