We've seen in recent days some public shaming and exposure of the overt racism that undergirds and infects factions of the Tea Party movement. Sarah Palin's role in this, of course, was to attack the NAACP for calling attention to what proved to be a very real problem. Then Palin "tweeted" against the building of a Muslim community center near the 9/11 site as some sort of affront to "heartland" Americans - asking Muslims to "refudiate" their "stab in our hearts", i.e. building a meeting place for the mainstream Muslim community of New York City. Aside from the flagrant bigotry, it strikes me that the construction of a center for Muslim Americans in the "Ground Zero" neighborhood would be a statement of precisely what it is that set us apart - at our best - from our enemies. Instead, the right-wing wants to invoke the same fundamentalist fear-mongering that drives the Islamist extremists who attack us in the name of their religion.
Now, with the obvious backing of high-profile "conservatives" like Palin, this bigotry and petty pandering to prejudice is spreading:
In big cities and small rural communities, from New York to Tennessee to California, the right-wing fear machine is spinning up to take on the construction of mosques and Muslim community centers. In each case, the argument is essentially the same, when the hedging is peeled away: you don't necessarily have to exercise your freedom of religion in the privacy of your own home, but hey, you can't do it in public here either.
July is proving to be the month where the tea party movement is finally coming to grips with -- and rebuking -- some of its more racist elements, a move that many observers would say is a long time coming. But at the same time, plans to build an Islamic community center near the Ground Zero site in New York City has brought to the surface a different kind of bigotry among some conservatives -- namely, the idea that if Muslims are allowed to worship where they want, terrorist violence will spread across the country. (More HERE at TPM.)