"this is not your country." that's what the young woman's sign read, in big red letters. the accompanying article was about "islamophobia." (i think its interesting how our language has such an easy way to coin new words for new fears. tells us something about ourselves, i think.)
islamophobia is not new. it swept across northern europe in successive waves throughout the middle ages, and if you look back far enough, you can see that the seeds of the emnity now erupting between the fundamentalist arms of the world's two biggest religions were sown somewhere between the eighth and the thirteenth centuries of our Common Era. the restablishment of the state of israel, taken in the context of the last two thousand years, was simply, to my way of thinking, only the latest opening salvo in a conflict that's been going on between christian europe and the moslem middle east for the last fifteen-hundred years. (knowing a lot of history may make for a lot to remember, but it provides one hell of a context.)
but people don't generally look back that far. the rallying cry for the anti-moslem hysteria sweeping some parts of the country seems to be "remember september 11." given the fact that countless millions across the last fifteen hundred years have already died in the cause of just this very conflict - christian west vs moslem middle east - i would think it should be easier for us as the forward-thinking society we tell ourselves we are to come to the obvious conclusion that its time to stop drinking the kool-aid, or in this case the Tea.
september 11th was a terrible event in our national psyche and i experienced deep shock and horror and i feel great sympathy for the families of all the victims. certainly there was great heroism and loss and we should remember that day forever.
we should not allow that one watershed moment to shape our collective psyche to the point where we as a culture can never move past it. we should not allow people whose world-views are not much more sophisticated than twelfth-century crusaders and whose religious ideologies are yoked to the minds of fifth-century BCE desert nomads, to shape our national policies. the lense of history also shows that the first step to the gulag or the concentration camp is taken when groups are allowed to identify and target other groups for the purpose of projecting onto them their own angers and fears.
to the angry, fearful young woman with the big red sign, i say - this isn't your country, either. not yet, anyway.
and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.