Great moments in media-abetted hatred:
1890s — L. Frank Baum, who would later pen "The Wizard of Oz," writes editorials in the Aberdeen (S.D.) Saturday Pioneer calling for the extermination of native Americans. He calls them “a pack of whining curs.” Two weeks later, federal troops massacre hundreds of Sioux camped at Wounded Knee.
1920s — Henry Ford’s corporate publication, the Dearborn (Mich.) Independent, launches a series targeting the “international Jew” as the “world’s foremost problem.”
1930s — A racial lynching is pooh-poohed as a “demonstration” by the Salisbury (Md.) Times. Fiery H.L. Mencken of the Baltimore Sun, pointing to the “simian” behavior of muted local authorities, observes that, yes, it’s a demonstration — “of what civilization can come to.”
1940s — The internment of Japanese Americans, says a San Francisco News in an editorial, is “the best possible way for all Japanese to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States.”
2010s — A mosque planned two blocks from New York’s 9/11’s Ground Zero is a "recruiting tool for domestic extremists," says Rush Limbaugh. Fox News' Glenn Beck labels it the "Allah tells me to blow up America mosque."
Isn’t it fascinating? The more things change, the more hatred doesn’t.
Throughout the history of racial and ethnic hatred on our shores, its barkers have always had good reason. After all, militant Native Americans challenged our manifest destiny. Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The blacks who got lynched had broken laws, or were lawfully accused. The Jews, of course, were and are seen by some Christians (see: Beck, Glenn) as communally culpable for a noted offense committed one day long ago in Jerusalem.
And, of course, the Muslims — well, they attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001.
So, yes — the hysteria over a mosque in New York, hype stirred for ratings and/or political advantage by Beck, Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and assembled protesters, fits perfectly in the annals of this land of the free.
They can’t be bothered by the fact that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the key leader behind the proposed mosque in question, wrote a book titled “What’s Right With Islam is What’s Right With America” and said after 9/11 that Islam must "define its 'American-ness,' that is, adapt to the American culture."
He’s exactly the type of American whom assorted demagogues like Gingrich, and demagoons like Beck, say are nowhere to be found: Muslims who speak out about their love of America, Muslims who denounce terrorism. Of course, those Muslims are plentiful.
Palin says she’s all for religious freedom, just so it’s “down the road.” What a stateswoman. She’s all about our better instincts, don’t you know?
A sign at the anti-mosque protest read, “You can build a mosque at Ground Zero when we can build a synagogue in Mecca.”
Do these people hear themselves? If they did, they would hear the totalitarian tones what make Iran so Iranian, Saudi Arabia so Saudi.
What makes America America is the very thing these people are protesting. They can’t stand it.
Good on the people of New York, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for embracing the fundamentally American message inherent in authorizing the mosque where it will be.
Beck likes to trot out the words and images of America’s founders to festoon his circus act. Here’s what one founder said about the kind of government Beck apparently can’t hack:
“Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.”
James Madison said it: words that fortunately, gloriously, and amid atrocities to the contrary, are carved in the annals of a land of freedom.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org