islamophobia in the u.s. is an "increasingly vehement, nationwide movement"

Our comments in this post morphed - predictably, I think - into a conversation about the insanity taking place in the US against the planned Muslim cultural centre in lower Manhattan. In a recent column, Haroon Siddiqui pointed out that:
This theme has emerged in opposition to mosque projects in California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, New York state, Texas and Tennessee.
but concludes:
These groups are noisy but marginal. This is the opposite of Europe, where Islamophobia has gone mainstream. In North America, it is still held in disdain.

From what I gather, Islamophobia is much deadlier and more virulent in Europe, but I think Siddiqui is misreading the situation in the US, perhaps confusing it with the more mild forms of Islamophobia we see in Canada. (I'm using "mild" as a relative term here, not to excuse or explain away.)

Islamophobia is indeed held in disdain by many good people in the US, but in a country founded and built on racism, any bigoted movement can quickly gain traction - especially when the actions of the government do nothing but reinforce the hatred. This is, after all, a country where more than half the national budget is spent on wars against Muslim countries.

Glenn Greenwald:
One of the most under-reported political stories is the increasingly vehement, nationwide movement -- far from Ground Zero -- to oppose new mosques and Islamic community centers. These ugly campaigns are found across the country, in every region, and extend far beyond the warped extremists who are doing things such as sponsoring "Burn a Quran Day." And now, from CBS News last night, we have this:
Fire at Tenn. Mosque Building Site Ruled Arson

Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.

Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson. . . .

The chair of the center's planning committee, Essim Fathy, said he drove to the site at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning after he was contacted by the sheriff's department.

"Our people and community are so worried of what else can happen," said Fathy. "They are so scared" . . .

Opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer; they are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

"They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group," Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.

Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore "Vote for Jesus" T-shirts and carried signs that said "No Sharia law for USA!," referring to the Islamic code of law.

Others took their opposition further, spray painting a sign announcing the "Future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro" and tearing it up.

Earlier this summer opponents criticized the planned mosque at hearings held by the Rutherford County Commission, as supporters held prayer vigils.

At one such prayer vigil, WTVF reported opponents speaking out against construction.

"No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don't want it. I don't want them here," Evy Summers said to WTVF. "Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity."

The arsonists undoubtedly will be happy to tell you how much they hate Terrorism. And how there's a War on Christianity underway in the U.S. The harm from these actions are not merely the physical damage they cause, but also the well-grounded fear it imposes on a minority of the American population. If you launch a nationwide, anti-Islamic campaign in Lower Manhattan based on the toxic premise that Muslims generally are responsible for 9/11 -- and spend a decade expanding American wars on one Muslim country after the next -- this is the inevitable, and obviously dangerous, outcome.

Why should non-Muslim Americans care about this? Besides the same reasons white Americans needed to care about civil rights, non-gay Americans need to care about same-sex marriage, and men need to care about feminism, because what kind of world do we want to live in? Besides that. This growing hatred against an imagined internal enemy is one of the requirements of the fascist shift. How much clearer can the parallels be?

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