Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Islamophobia’s Teachable Moment?

Objectively, we know the fury surrounding the planned Ground Zero mosque has ballooned all out of proportion to the attention properly due a single building renovation. Our nation faces truly serious challenges, of which this isn't one.

Yet the controversy is a big deal at two levels. First, it is the starkest example of our president, once thought to be a political master, shooting himself it the foot. Americans are flabbergasted and outraged that our very own leader would so misunderstand why New Yorkers and others affected by 9.11 cannot accept Imam Fiesal Abdul Rauf’s project, given Rauf’s 2001 statement that U.S. actions led to 9.11, his 2005 statement that “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims," and his public failure to disassociate from Hamas or Iran.

Second, it’s a crystal clear look at the self-contained cocoon created for themselves by those who teach: the academy, the media, arts, entertainment, non-profits, sympathetic bloggers, and their supporters in government and elsewhere in the liberal elite. Inside the cocoon, they relive again and again their civil rights triumph, where blacks and some whites in the South exposed themselves to real risk as most of the rest applauded from afar. They honor a time when thinking triumphed over prejudice, good overcame evil, and when in those unforgettable Vietnam years, we learned that our most important struggle should be wiping out prejudice at home.

Like generals who know only how to win the last war, Democrats are constantly refighting the civil rights war—for women, for Hispanics and other non-whites, for (they believe, others beg to differ) the elderly and children, recently for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, and now for Muslims. Whoever they fight for, the enemy remains the same: less-educated bigots and racists represented by Republicans, white Southerners, and right-wing Christians. The elite's higher standing in society, which—they know—rests on the more advanced level of education they have achieved, depends upon a polity divided with the enlightened on top, and the ignorant below.

There are more ignorant than educated voters today, and that’s a problem. But over time, as with civil rights, as with the rise of women, this will change if the enlightened ones only keep the faith. College graduates will one day be the American majority. Until then, as the highly-educated courts have taught us, it’s not about majority rule, it’s about being right.

The elite stand with pride inside their cocoon alongside an anti-American imam. They stand against ordinary Americans who truly do believe in “liberty and justice for all,” as long as "all" includes those hurt by and resisting Islamic terror.

Outside the cocoon, it's such a different world. As Franklin Roosevelt once knew, it's really about jobs, and who can create them. Capitalism teaches that business people create jobs--sellers finding ready buyers. Helping business create jobs is teachable moment #1.

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