Monday, March 14, 2011

More on the new McCarthyism in the GOP

Why do we refuse to learn from history? And why would we think this a good idea, anyway? Does persecuting American Muslims really seem to be a good way to make them less radical?

Maybe we should consider accepting them as equal citizens, with the same rights - including freedom of religion - as the rest of us, instead. Maybe we should show them how tolerance works in a diverse modern democracy. (How radical is that!?)

It's as if Republicans don't actually believe in America. They seem to think our freedoms make us patsies, that our commitment to civil rights for all Americans is just foolish, too naive for the real world.

Then there's Peter King's blatant hypocrisy:

Republicans couldn't have picked a better person to demonstrate their hypocrisy on this issue. But I don't think Republicans can actually detect hypocrisy. I don't think they have the mental capacity to recognize it. It's a blind spot for the right-wing (one of many).

And so they cheer on dim bulbs like Michele Bachmann as they lecture us about the Founding Fathers, while getting the basic facts of American history wrong. (Yes, she's considering a run for the presidency, too!) They applaud people like Newt Gingrich, John Ensign, and David Vitter as they "defend the sanctity of marriage."

Honestly, they couldn't make themselves look more ridiculous if they tried. And yet,... it just doesn't seem to matter, does it? No matter how crazy they get, they don't seem to lose support. What has happened to my America?

Mike Thompson's commentary:
The official title of Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearing says it all. The Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security began hearings last week on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response.”

The implication is that the “radicalization” of the American Muslim community is a foregone conclusion and all that’s left is to determine just how far over the edge this segment of American society has gone. It’s sort of like trying to determine the extent of someone’s involvement in a crime before determining if a crime actually took place.

According to a report compiled by the Muslim Public Affairs Council and published on the organization’s Web site, since 9/11, “(T)here were 80 total (terrorist) plots by U.S.-originated non-Muslim perpetrators against the United States,” while during that same time period, “there have been 45 total plots by U.S. and foreign-originated Muslim perpetrators...”. In other words, since September, 2001, non-Muslim Americans have hatched far more terrorist plots against this country than American and foreign Muslims combined. So do you think Rep. King will hold congressional hearings on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American non-Muslim Community and that Community's Response”?

Nah, what crass political advantage can be gained by attacking a majority group?

Of course, militia groups and other right-wing fanatics tend to be Republicans. In fact, they're more or less the GOP base. This is the result of the party's longtime "southern strategy" of deliberately appealing to white racists.

The elderly white supporters of the GOP are easily scared by non-white, non-Christian peoples. And Republican leaders, from Fox "News" on down, are eager to keep them scared.

But shouldn't we Americans be better than that?

We've made progress in this country, despite the right-wing continually dragging its feet. We ended slavery. We gave the vote to women and racial minorities. We created Social Security and Medicare as a safety net for our elderly. We've done a lot of good things.

And we'll continue to make progress. Younger people tend to be more open to diversity - and, in general, they're far harder to frighten with bogymen - so the country will continue to move forward. But what disasters will we create for ourselves in the meantime?

And how much harder have we made it for ourselves, now that our Supreme Court has decided that corporations are just people, too (but people who can spend unlimited amounts of your money to influence political campaigns)? How much harder now that we've got Fox "News" spreading lies with impunity? How much harder now that the rich are the only Americans with enough money to lavish on politicians?

Yes, grandstanding politicians are a fact of life. And they'll continue to be a fact of life as long as we keep electing such people (so, as long as human nature doesn't change, I suppose). But we don't have to be dumb enough to let it happen without consequences. We don't have to keep electing such people.

Still, Muslims, just like everyone else, must realize that democracies aren't perfect. Not even close. It's just that we've never found another form of government that's better.

However, democracies do need intelligent, informed, rational citizens - intelligent, informed, rational voters - if they're to survive for long. And these days, with seven billion people busy destroying our planet, that need is absolutely critical!

We can't afford to let politicians pander to our bigotry. We can't afford to let them pander to our fantasies. If we can't stand up and face the real world, honestly, boldly, intelligently, we're going to be in a world of hurt - a world that will make today seem like a Golden Age.

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