The other day, I posted a tweet that disparaged the GOP. It was in reference to an article describing the GOP’s collective stance regarding the building of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero in NYC. My specific comment was “I suppose GOP is capable of looking like bigger bottom-feeding crap, but it’s hard to imagine how.” In retrospect, I think “scum” would have gone better with “bottom-feeding” than “crap,” — but why quibble?
On Facebook, where my tweets are automatically reposted, someone replied: “Does that mean all who agree with the GOP are but lowly bottom-feeding crap as well? Just wondering.”
I took this question to mean: “Isn’t it possible to believe that the center should not be built at the designated location without being branded ‘bottom-feeding scum’? Can’t there be a legitimate difference of opinion here?”
The question made me aware, once again, of the pitfalls of Twitter’s 140 character limit. If you just decided to glance at the article I cited, rather than read it through — and especially without any additional clarification from me — my tweet could easily appear undeservedly harsh.
In an attempt to make my intent clearer, I replied to the Facebook query. To give this reply as wide an audience as possible, I repost it (in an edited and expanded version) here:
If by “agree,” you mean isn’t it possible to simply believe that the Islamic Center should ideally not be built at that location — then no, that does not by itself mean you are a “bottom feeder.” While I would vigorously debate such a belief, and contend that it is wrong, I recognize that there is room for valid differences of opinion here.
The problem is that the GOP, through its various speakers, has done much more than that. It’s the “more,” as described in the article I cited, that ultimately lead to my Twitter post.
To describe President Obama as “not like an American” for his defense of the center’s right to exist, for playing up the issue with the primary purpose of getting votes, for blindly agreeing to echo GOP playbook statements as if you are Stepford clones, for focusing on what should be essentially a minor local issue when there is so much more important stuff nationally to worry about, for distorting the matter by claiming the building is a “mosque” to be built on “hallowed ground” when such is not the case, for hypocritically ignoring the fact (as seen here) that strip clubs and OTB establishments are already in this same location, for consistently resorting to name-calling and emotional oversimplifications as a political strategy, and mainly for encouraging people’s worst fears and prejudices for short-term political gain — if that’s what you mean by “agree,” then I would say yes, all such people are bottom-feeding scum.
And while I’m on the subject — just how many blocks away would the center have to be before it would be okay with the GOP to build it? And what if the terrorists had been Catholic? Would the GOP have been against building a Catholic church at the same location? Somehow, I doubt it.
In the end, while the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks were Islamic, this doesn’t mean that all Muslims are terrorists. While the truth of this syllogism should be obvious, it seems to have eluded the GOP. To truly show how this country is different from its enemies, we should showcase how we defend religious freedom, even when we don’t always agree with the specifics. The GOP wants to do the opposite.
During World War II, we rounded up innocent Japanese-American citizens and placed them in internment camps. At the time, with fear and prejudice running high, it seemed (at least to some) as the right thing to do. Today, we view it as an embarrassing stain on our historical record. Although the GOPs position here is less extreme, I strongly believe that we will some day look back on the GOP’s September 11-related prejudices and extreme nationalism (from “Freedom Fries” to “No mosque on hallowed ground”) with a similar sense of embarrassment. I can hardly wait.