The Center Cannot Hold: Why the Mainstream Media Can't Stop the 'Ground Zero Mosque' Hysteria

Those of us in the "professional left"
often lament the timidity and fickleness of our more establishment
colleagues. If only they had been more resolute in their self-proclaimed
roles as arbiters of truth and reason--the country wouldn't have fallen
for weapons of mass destruction or gone berserk over death panels and
deficits. But the furor over the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" should
shred whatever faith we have left in the mainstream--not in its
integrity, but in its power.

The list of establishment voices who have spoken out--often
forcefully--against the plainly bigoted crusade against Park51, aka the
Cordoba House, should be daunting. It includes the editorial pages of
the New York Times , the Washington Post , the Los Angeles Times
and (grudgingly) the Wall Street Journal as well as CNN's Fareed
Zakaria (who returned an award from the ADL in protest), NYC mayor Mike
Bloomberg, Post columnist Kathleen Parker, the American Jewish
Committee, J-Street and Iraq war boosters Christopher Hitchens and
Peter Beinart, whose recent Daily Beast columns
put him somewhere just slightly to the right of Noam Chomsky. This
honor roll even included, for a brief moment, President Obama, who is
now twisting himself into knots trying to retract his retraction of his
refudiation of the smear.

And yet--all of this pushback has made not one iota of difference.
Over sixty percent of Americans still think an Islamic cultural center
should not be built on "hallowed ground," and vulnerable Democrats like
Harry Reid are caving faster than a Massey-owned mine on the issue,
which apparently erases from voters' minds the mass joblessness that
building more mosques would, in small part, ameliorate. There are even
talks underway to relocate the center to a less sacred
location--somewhere far far away from the strip club, McDonald's and off
track betting parlor that currently dignify Ground Zero.

Let's face it: Sarah Palin's Twitter account won. Even worse, so did
the blogger behind the jihad, Pamela Geller, a woman so unhinged that she can't even get her birther story straight .
(She once suggested that Obama was the love child of Malcolm X). It's
one thing to see the captain of the football team shrink away from a
fight with the undersized school bully. It's quite another to see him
stand up for what's right--and get knocked flat on his sorry ass.

My fellow Americans--what the hell is going on here? Ok, I excuse the
Tea Party and the 18 percent of Americans who think that Obama is a
secret Muslim. Prosecuting people who wear tin foil hats for believing
in sewer alligators is unfair, and also, somewhat besides the point. But
what about the rest of you? Have you been patiently waiting all these
years to dump the First Amendment? Or maybe you think it only applies to

But maybe you're just slow on the uptake. You see, right now,
Muslim-bashing is bad, because not all Muslims are the same, and it's
important to tell the good Muslims apart from the bad Muslims. Also, the
Constitution is sacrosanct and applies, yes, even to Muslims. But for
the better part of the last decade, the exact opposite has been true.
The Muslims who perpetrated 9/11 were indistinguishable from the Taliban
and from the Baathists and from the ordinary Afghanis and Iraqis who
suffered under their oppression and whose lives we care so much about
that we send unmanned drones to bomb them and their mosques into
oblivion. The Constitution? That didn't apply, and still doesn't, to the
detainees at Guantanamo or heck, even to "normal" Americans who might
be emailing strange places with strange names. Justice and rule of
law--well that's not exactly relevant to the Muslims the Bush
administration tortured and whose cases have been swept under the rug by
Obama, who said "nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy
laying blame for the past." Belief in freedom of expression and
devotion to multiculturalism--tell that to Debbie Almontaser, the former
principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy who was forced from
her job by the same right-wingers behind the mosque mania.

So dear American public, I don't really blame you. When you show up
at Ground Zero armed with crucifixes ready to fend off the dark hordes,
you're just following the old cues, the ones that have determined
official state policy since September 11, 2001--revenge as justice;
amnesia as progress; dehumanization as democracy. But it's important to
understand something: it's the third week of August in an even-numbered
year, so those rules don't apply at the moment. The political
establishment and mainstream media love mainstream Muslims--didn't get
that memo, didya? Aren't listening to those old Queen Bees any more
now--are ya? Like being off the leash--dontcha?

Maybe it's the establishment, so busy lecturing the masses on the
Constitution and Islam, who should be sent back to class instead. Lesson
one: the hysteria over the "Ground Zero mosque" did not happen in a
vacuum. Lesson two: when you permit and foment the indiscriminate
dehumanization of Muslims in the name of 9/11, it is not one bit
surprising that the public would view lower Manhattan as the frontline
of a global religious war. Lesson three: the reason you don't have any
power now--when you've decided that enough is enough--is that for so
many years, you cheered the bullies on. It is not enough to demonstrate
occasional courage. In order to regain your authority and honor, you
have to show up to more than just one fight.

In the meantime, watch your back. Pam Geller has a slingshot--and she knows how to use it.

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