Archive for August 12th, 2012
Islamophobia, in a single subject, captures the worst and the best of the United States.
There is no question that hate crimes against Islams are at epidemic levels. That domestic terrorism in Wisconsin – ironically against Sikhs, not Islams – is only the most recent horrific example. With the exception of bloggers like Glenn Greenwald at Salon, the carnage is both under-reported and horrific. Here’s part of Greenwald’s list:
- The Islamic Society of Joplin opened a mosque in 2007 in Joplin, Missouri. Almost immediately, the sign in front was set on fire. It was arson. On the July 4, 2012, someone probably thinks they are a patriot was filmed by a surveillance camera throwing burning material onto the roof of the mosque in an attempt to burn it down, causing some fire damage. The FBI offered a $15,000 reard, but the arsonist remains at large. On August 5, the day after the the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin, the Joplin mosque burned to the ground, completely destroyed by a fire that began in the middle of the night. It was almost certainly arson.
- In October of last year, a Texas man pled guilty “to a hate crime charge stemming from an arson of a children’s playground at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in Arlington,” and admitted that the fire was “part of a series of ethnically-motivated acts directed at individuals of Arab or Middle Eastern descent associated with the mosque.”
- After a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee triggered intense community opposition when it attempted to expand in 2010, a fire that was ruled to be arson damaged the mosque; after facing years of vandalism, bomb threats, and efforts by local and state officials (including state judges) to block its expansion, the mosque was finally able to open only this week only after the DOJ and a federal judge (to their credit) intervened on the ground that the mosque’s religious liberty was being infringed.
- In August of last year, an Oregon man was indicted “on federal hate crime and arson charges for intentionally setting fire to the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center.”
- In May of last year, a fire at a mosque in Stockton, California, WC’s hometown, was ruled to be arson.
- Last year in southwest Houston, surveillance cameras “captured images of a group of at least three men in masks” attempting to set fire to a local mosque; “prayer rugs at the back of the mosque were doused with gasoline.”
- In 2011 in Dearborn, Michigan, an attack on one of the nation’s largest mosques was thwarted when a man was arrested carrying large amounts of explosives.
- In Massachusetts last year, the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester was set on fire by a man apprehended before the fire could spread.
- A fire that seriously damaged a mosque in Wichita, Kansas on Halloween night last year was ruled to be arson.
- In July of this year, a South Carolina mosque was vandalized; such vandalism against American mosques is incredibly common.
- On the 4th of July this year, the home of a Pakistani Muslim family in Texas, who have lived in the U.S. for 15 years, had the word “Terrorist” spray-painted onto it and then had ignited fireworks left on their doorstep.
Can you imagine the public reaction if these attacks had been against, say, Baptists?
But amongst all this racism, horror, fear and betrayal, you can also find the qualities that define the Americans’ better instincts. In response to the events in Joplin, a teenaged member of that mosque, Joplin high school student Laela Zaidi, began using social media to discuss the importance of the mosque to her community.
Most significantly, a little-publicized online campaign to raise the $250,000 needed to rebuild the mosque has produced extremely quick and inspiring results.
Overt Islamophobia is nearly mainstream. It’s socially acceptable bigotry. Shameless opportunists like Peter King and Michele Bachman make McCarthy-esque attacks.
But just when you are ready to despair, a small mosque in an obscure town in the southwest corner of a middle-America state can raise $262,106 in 48 hours to replace a torched building.
In Interior Alaska, the winters are very long and very dark. Such sunlight as there is is thin and feeble. It’s gloomy and depressing. WC heard a mother tell her very young daughter, “Wait and see; there will be two whole minutes more daylight tomorrow.” Against the unrelenting bigotry against Muslims in America, against undisguised racism and irrantionality, we have the fundraising drive for the Joplin mosque: two more minutes of daylight tomorrow.