Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This just occurred to me

The coverage of the Saturday demonstrations in NYC about the Park51 project, to the degree it accurately reflects the tenor of the crowds rather than just quoting outliers, served to confirm some of my contentions about the opponents of the center but also prompted one observation that hadn't occurred to me before.

One such contention was how much of the opposition is driven by anti-Muslim bigotry. For example,
[s]hortly after the memorial service for victims killed [in NYC on 9/11], a man from North Carolina burned pages of the Quran, and another protester from Pennsylvania tore out pages of the Islamic holy book and coaxed the anti-mosque protesters to buy it as "toilet paper."
Meanwhile, a woman who said the anti-center demonstration could have been held another day because "It isn't nice for the families of the victims to see us arguing on the day of their sadness" (but who came anyway, so much for being nice) added that she had already helped block construction of a mosque in her neighborhood in Staten Island and that "Muslims build mosques in areas they think they have conquered."

Another contention was about the real motiviation here, the intent to define Muslims out of the American community:
"Muslims will never be American citizens, they don't fit, they don't assimilate," said one elderly protester from Illinois, who declined to give her name. "Let's call a spade a spade: I want them out, not in."
But the thing that just occurred to me was prompted by this:
"They're insensitive people," [said] Ron Silverados, a 57-year-old road striper from Long Island attending the anti-mosque rally. "I'm tired of saying this but this isn't a religious issue ... it is a moral issue."
Leave aside the bigoted use of the sweeping term "they" - and yes, that is bigoted; applying a negative characteristic to all members of a group is the definition of bigotry - and notice the world "insensitive." Oh yes, so much of the blather has been about "sensitivity," how the developers of Park51 have to be "sensitive" to "our" feelings and if only they'd show some "sensitivity" everything would be fine.

Really? The issue is a requirement to be "sensitive" to others' "feelings," to make sure you don't offend anyone? Really?

My gosh! They want to be (GASP!) politically correct! Oh, the horror!

I mean, isn't that supposedly the whole deal with "political correctness?" That you are supposed to avoid offending anyone? And isn't that precisely what these people - the ones who complain about how "insensitive" the project is - are demanding?

What a hoot that would be: Someone complains about the project only to get told "Oh, don't be so politically correct."

Footnote: The most hopeful quote of the day came from Bill Love, a member of the Lower Manhattan Community Board which approved the Park51 project:
I promise you that when that project goes up on Park Place, 10, 20, 30 years down the road, someone will point it out and say, "You know what? That was a big national controversy." ... People will shake their heads and say, "How can that be?"
The hopeful me says yes, that is the way history has played out many times: A generation later, people can't see what the fuss was about. The cynical me says maybe, but there is a rather long dark road between here and there.

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