Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Quote Of The Day (Before Yesterday)

From the always readable Mahablog:
Arsonists set fire to some equipment at the construction site of a mosque in Murfreesboro , Tennessee. I guess it was too close to Ground Zero.
This latest incident, following hot on the heels of a Puerto Rican man being verbally assaulted by a crowd of protesters whilst on his way to work, is another reminder of why Goldberg's arguments are so ludicrous. Again, I'll have more on this soon (I've ended up having to split my original column into two; there was simply too much bile for a single sitting), but what Goldberg is missing - or pretending to miss - is that the concern here is not over the number of reported hate crimes between 9/11 and now, it's in the volatility of the situation as a whole. I could just of easily shortened him last time round to "People raising safety concerns about these giant mounds of gunpowder underneath each major city are idiots, because there haven't been all that many fires lately."

It should be clear to anyone with cognitive faculties that the issue of minority groups' vulnerability is not simply a factor of how much they are currently under attack (or, as Goldberg would have it, how much the FBI has decided they are reporting being attacked); it's the ease with which that degree of hostility can change. Surely, the rapidly increasing reports of abuse and arson (mixed in with the occasional alleged stabbing) demonstrates just how precarious a position Muslim Americans are finding themselves in.

The other crucial concept that Goldberg breezes past concerns a minority's capacity to (through legal means, of course) defend themselves when these kinds of hate-waves take place. His comparison between ill will towards Jews and Muslims fails on both the above counts. Anti-Semitism clearly hasn't gone away, and obviously it would be a great day for the world if it ever did. If we compare not hate crime statistics, however, but rather the proportions of politicians, celebrities, and highly regarded media personalities in the US who are of Jewish heritage compared to Muslim, then Goldberg's argument falls apart. Why aren't people concerned (or as concerned) about a Jewish backlash? Because the Jewish population in America has far more of a voice amongst the country as a whole to fight back against the hate-peddlers (the degree of sympathy that exists in America for Israel and the still-raw wound of the Holocaust also makes it harder for such poison to spread).

I'm not saying the Jewish population should be any happier about the amount of hate-crimes they have to endure than their Muslims cousins. I'm also not saying anti-Semitism could never again become a dominant and/or publicly acceptable viewpoint within the States or its allies (it was only last year that an armed Holocaust-denier burst into the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. and murdered a security guard). I'm saying that Goldberg himself, along with Charles Krauthammer, Senator Joe Lieberman, Jon Stewart, etc. etc. are ideally placed to fight such a hideous possibility tooth and nail.

Muslims, so far as I can tell, are entirely reliant on Christian and Jewish commentators to take their side, something which to put it mildly is not happening nearly enough right now.

That's why we're concerned.

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