Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our Latest Demagogue

Time to catch up on some rants:

How revolting is Glenn Beck?

He’s accomplished the near impossible. He’s managed to make Al Sharpton into a sympathetic figure.

Before leaving for Russia two weeks ago, I read an article on the proposed mosque inside a community center proponents want to build two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan. No doubt you’ve heard about it. Back in early August the controversy was just simmering; it had not yet percolated into a national boil. The article in question noted the Anti Defamation League had come out against the location of the mosque.

For sure many Jews are against it. But I was appalled the ADL took a public stance. I was incensed the ADL’s position had been construed as blanket Jewish opposition. On this issue, the ADL does not speak for me, or, I hope, for anyone who truly loves and cherishes the values upon which this country was founded.

Thousands perished on 9/11. They should be publicly memorialized, in a positive fashion, not in a discriminatory one.

After WWII, my father abstained whenever possible from buying German products. He never voiced his boycott to his children. But we got the message. To this day none of us have bought a German car. He refused to travel back to Europe to receive the reparations he was entitled to. If the families of the victims of the terrorists want to honor their loved ones by individually harboring anti-Muslim feelings, that’s their right. But let’s not allow them, or demagogic politicians, or ill-advised organizations, to hijack our national heritage of tolerance.

It’s been pointed out that a mosque already exists within four blocks of ground zero, that the proposed construction does not front on the hallowed ground, that in the immediate vicinity there are strip clubs and bars that bring a less than sanctified presence to the area.

Perhaps, if we truly want to exact retribution on those who attacked our way of life, how’s about barring financial services companies from ground zero and its environs? It could be argued that the economic tsunami of the last three years has hurt more families than Al Qaeda has.

To get a better understanding of just how disturbed and disturbing Islamaphobia has become, watch last Wednesday’s Daily Show interview by Assif Mandvi of Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the leader of a mosque opposition group in Murfreesboro, Tenn.!!! The interview appears about five minutes into the broadcast— (when this loads make sure you are viewing the show from August 25 with Drew Barrymore as the guest. If it says Michael Bloomberg, simply scroll down and click on the correct link).

There is a paranoia sweeping our country. Tolerance, religious freedom are under assault, in the guise of national and defense interests. Racial and religious physical attacks occur daily. Regrettably, our nation has a history of demagoguery. Back in the 1930s, Father Charles Edward Coughlin attracted 40 million listeners to his radio programs. That’s roughly one out of every four Americans. In the guise of combating communism, he spouted anti-semitic diatribes. He was the Glenn Beck of his time. The Roosevelt administration took steps to limit his access to the airwaves and the mail for his printed screeds.

But Glenn Beck is protected by Fox News. We have to rely on our good senses to counteract his venom, misinformation, disingenuity and bigotry. I hope we are up to the challenge.

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