Dear Mr. President, are we still within the bounds of reasonable discourse?
by Sheila Musaji
Anti-Muslim rhetoric has become commonplace, among a wide variety of our fellow Americans. Sadly, some Jewish and Christian clergy and community representatives, as well as a great many of our elected representatives have joined this bigoted chorus. The Cordoba House/Park 51 controversy has only increased the frequency and stridency of the comments.
We have free speech in the United States, and so people are free to make such comments. However, such rhetoric unchecked by wisdom, or even some sense of what constitutes civil discourse may have contributed to what I hope were unintended consequences.
There have been a number of worrisome anti-Muslim incidents, particularly at mosques, across the United States this year, and they seem to be increasing in frequency.
There have been protests at mosques across the country. Two already at the Cordoba House/Park51 site in NYC; in Murfreesboro, TN; Florence, KY; Temecula, CA; Santa Clara, CA; Sheboygan, WI; Bridgeport, CT; Staten Island, NY; Charlotte, SC; Wilson, WI. At some of these protests non-Muslims who simply “looked like” Muslims were harrassed.
There have been acts of vandalism aimed at mosques in Temecula, CA; Madera, CA; Costa Mesa, CA; Brownstone, MI; Cedar Rapids, IA; Queens, NY; Arlington, TX; Bellevue, WA; Wilson, WI.
There have been violent acts that go well beyond vandalism. A Jacksonville, FL mosque was attacked with an incendiary device. At the construction site of the Murfreesboro, Tennessee mosque someone poured gasoline on construction equipment and set it on fire.
A Muslim man was assaulted outside of the Corona, CA mosque. A NYC cab driver was stabbed simply for being Muslim. A Sikh man in Seattle was beaten because an ignorant bigot thought he was a Muslim. Worshippers at the Waterport, NY mosque were harrassed by teens who fired a gun, honked horns, yelled obscenities, and struck one worshipper with one of their cars.
There are plans for continuing protests at mosques in various states, as well as large protests and a National Qur’an Burning on September 11th.
And yet, the most recent statement from the White House from Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton was that the White House didn’t view the anti-Muslim rhetoric that appears to have emerged to be “dangerous” or beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse.
I sincerely hope that the White House is aware of the increasingly hostile rhetoric, and the escalating calls for violence, and actual acts of violence. I sincerely hope that either the President, or someone in his administration will let us know when they think things have gone beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse, or when things are becoming dangerous.