For those who have considered suicide

Gay marriage, the predecessor to the “Ground Zero Mosque” in organizing moral panic among the unwashed, now has roughly 50% support nationally, and the trend is in the right direction.

If you’re in despair over the carnival of bigotry that Murdoch is so expertly emceeing, it’s good to remember what happened to the previous panic. Back from 1996-2004 it was gays who threatened Our Way of Life and could only be resisted by sending lots of money to wingnuts and lots of Republicans to Washington. It worked; had it not been for Mayor Newsom’s decision to permit gay marriage in San Francisco, John Kerry might have carried Ohio and become President.

But it’s not working anymore; gay marriage is now about a 50-50 proposition, with the trend strongly in favor of decency. That’s part of the reason the paymasters on the right decided to gin up the grossly un-American and objectively pro-terrorist campaign against Cordoba House.

It’s sad that the sort of people stupid enough to fall for this kind of crap are stupid enough to fall for it over and over, and that members of groups who themselves were victims (Catholics and Mormons, for example) are often eager to join the next pogrom. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time; even the African-American preachers who are willing to make common cause against gays with the spiritual descendants of the Klan don’t go so far as voting Republican. The anti-immigrant campaign that won the governorship of California for the Republicans in 1994 left behind it a solidly Democratic Latino community.

There’s a term for the political attitude that rejects each demonization campaign as it comes along, and slowly tries to expand the reach of the political community; it’s called “liberalism.” If you’re not a straight male chuch-going Protestant property owner of Anglo-Saxon descent, there was a time when your equal citizenship and American-ness was a contested question, with conservatives on one side and liberals on the other.

So dance with who brung ya.

And in the meantime, do not despair.

Footnote  I’m prepared to retract the accusation of bigotry if someone can state the case for why building Cordoba House should be controversial without implying that Islam and Muslims are only conditionally entitled to the full privileges of other faiths and other Americans.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

8 thoughts on “For those who have considered suicide”

  1. Thank you for reminding people that Gavin Newsom was the very definition of a useful idiot during that election year, very possibly costing billions of dollars and many lives with his hubris.

  2. I'd say the the Lower Manhattan Mixed-Use District doesn't need to lose yet another cast-iron front human-scale building in return for yet another mid-size block of mostly non-revenue-generating space, but that would probably be pointless. No one currently protesting the GZM could care less about skyscrapers or streetscapes in general.

  3. So what you're saying, in essence, is, "This too shall pass." I'm not so sure. It's possible that the current demonization of Islam will recede, but only when another enemy has been identified. Mass media thrives on conflict that can be reduced to simple "us against them" terms. Freedom vs. Communism. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Simon vs. Paula. Democrats vs. Republicans. Anything that dissolves into nuance and compromise is boring, and good news for everybody isn't even reported as news, because there's no compelling conflict.

    Your assertion that Gavin Newsom cost the Democrats the 2004 presidential election is depressing, if debatable. So what do you really have to cheer us up?

  4. Mark, this I take it answers my question of a bunch of posts back. If you were a moderate Muslim imam, aghast at what had been done in the name of your religion on 9/11, you would hatch and pursue a plan to build this mosque / community center in part as a response to those events and in light of that reaction. You wouldn't view it as presumptuous to "go it alone" in preference to, say, reaching out to leaders of other religious faiths to build an interfaith center.

    I still have to say, I don't think I would. I'd think it presumptuous, and I'd be extremely careful to act with a lot of humility under the circumstances. I strongly affirm the right of Muslims, or adherents of any faith, to build whatever places of worship they wish wherever they deem suitable. I acknowledge the bigotry that many of the expressions of opposition to this project have reflected. I don't think it's what underlies all of the opposition however. I think people are thinking, exactly as I am, that they wouldn't do this if they were in the shoes of the imam and others leading this project, they'd be too ashamed. And they're wondering, as I am, what it means that the sponsors of this project don't feel that way.

    Is it really true that none of this resonates with you at all? That this would absolutely be a plan you think would come to your mind under the circumstances?

  5. The Republicans are so funny, when the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. When most Americans (with Latin America roots) go to the polls this November we will remember that the GOP has gone on a nationwide rant in proposing and passing several anti-immigration legislation and have continue to blame us for the flat economy or worse. We will remember who stands with us and who stands against us, so trying to stop it now is somewhat funny, but go ahead, you will not change our minds. Is does not help that the GOP has recently attacked the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Your hate made you do it, in November; you will reap what you have sown.

  6. Someone pinch me, seriously. I just heard that "the Situation" from MTV's Jersey Shore is expected to make $10 mil in this very brief window of opportunity for him. This nation faces plenty of issues, and there's plenty of non-issues to cover like who George Clooney is dating, and what LeBron James is thinking in Miami.

    But why, why dear Lord, did we have to be cursed with such a stupid, stupid, stupid media? It's not a mosque, it's a community center. It's not ON ground zero, it's FOUR blocks away. It CAN'T be hallowed ground if there's a strip club closer to GZ. Unless T&A is holy, and God, I would totally believe that.

    I am not alive, this can't be real. Someone please eject the Matrix dvd from my brain, it's such a lame movie.

  7. "It’s not a mosque, it’s a community center."

    But even if it were a mosque, there should be no anger towards it either.

    Oh, hey, well what do you know, there's a law about it!….
    " In passing this law, Congress found that the right to assemble for worship is at the very core of the free exercise of religion. Religious assemblies cannot function without a physical space adequate to their needs and consistent with their theological requirements. The right to build, buy, or rent such a space is an indispensable adjunct of the core First Amendment right to assemble for religious purposes. Religious assemblies, especially, new, small, or unfamiliar ones, may be illegally discriminated against on the face of zoning codes and also in the highly individualized and discretionary processes of land use regulation. Zoning codes and landmarking laws may illegally exclude religious assemblies in places where they permit theaters, meeting halls, and other places where large groups of people assemble for secular purposes. Or the zoning codes or landmarking laws may permit religious assemblies only with individualized permission from the zoning board or landmarking commission, and zoning boards or landmarking commission may use that authority in illegally discriminatory ways.

    To address these concerns, RLUIPA prohibits zoning and landmarking laws that substantially burden the religious exercise of churches or other religious assemblies or institutions absent the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. This prohibition applies in any situation where: (i) the state or local government entity imposing the substantial burden receives federal funding; (ii) the substantial burden affects, or removal of the substantial burden would affect, interstate commerce; or (iii) the substantial burden arises from the state or local government’s formal or informal procedures for making individualized assessments of a property’s uses.

    Who will be the first wingnut to call for its appeal?"

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