Nicholas Kristof: “Screeds against Catholics from the 19th century sounded just like the invective today against the Not-at-Ground-Zero Mosque”
Nicholas Kristof doesn’t think that those who are determined to resist the jihad and Islamic supremacism are bigots. Thank heaven for small favors. He just thinks we’re idiots. “America’s History of Fear,” by Nicholas D. Kristof for the New York Times, September 4 (thanks to all who sent this in):
A radio interviewer asked me the other day if I thought bigotry was the only reason why someone might oppose the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. No, I don’t. Most of the opponents aren’t bigots but well-meaning worriers — and during earlier waves of intolerance in American history, it was just the same.
Screeds against Catholics from the 19th century sounded just like the invective today against the Not-at-Ground-Zero Mosque. The starting point isn’t hatred but fear: an alarm among patriots that newcomers don’t share their values, don’t believe in democracy, and may harm innocent Americans.
Yes, yes, of course. You may recall from the histories of those days that Catholics newly arrived in the U.S. in the 19th century loudly proclaimed that they were there to take over, and numerous Catholics engaged in terror plotting, as well as in non-violent attempts to assert the primacy of Catholic canon law over American law. You remember the Fort Hood Catholic shooting, the Arkansas recruiting center Catholic shooting, the Christmas underwear bomb Catholic Crusade attempt, the Times Square Catholic car bomb attempt, the Fort Dix Catholic Crusade plot, the North Carolina Crusade plot, the Seattle Catholic shooting, the JFK Airport Crusade plot, and on and on. No wonder non-Catholics were suspicious, and in all good faith wanted Catholics to show that they rejected the wellsprings of all this violence and supremacism.
No, wait! Those weren’t plots by 19th-century Catholic immigrants, but by 21st-century Muslims in the U.S.! My mistake!
Followers of these movements against Irish, Germans, Italians, Chinese and other immigrants were mostly decent, well-meaning people trying to protect their country. But they were manipulated by demagogues playing upon their fears — the 19th- and 20th-century equivalents of Glenn Beck.
Does Nicholas Kristof really think that Glenn Beck and those who are telling the whole truth about violent and stealthy jihad activity in the U.S. (i.e., not Glenn Beck) are more of a threat to the United States than the Islamic jihadists whose threat he so blithely dismisses?
Most Americans stayed on the sidelines during these spasms of bigotry, and only a small number of hoodlums killed or tormented Catholics, Mormons or others. But the assaults were possible because so many middle-of-the-road Americans were ambivalent.
Suspicion of outsiders, of people who behave or worship differently, may be an ingrained element of the human condition, a survival instinct from our cave-man days. But we should also recognize that historically this distrust has led us to burn witches, intern Japanese-Americans, and turn away Jewish refugees from the Holocaust.
I couldn’t care less how differently Muslims or anyone else may behave or worship. As Thomas Jefferson said, such differences neither pick my pocket nor break my leg. It is only when these different behavior involve an impulse to convert, subjugate or kill me and destroy a great civilization that I think it’s time to call a halt in the name of freedom and human rights, and no amount of opprobrium from the ridiculous Kristof is going to make me desist.
Perhaps the closest parallel to today’s hysteria about Islam is the 19th-century fear spread by the Know Nothing movement about “the Catholic menace.” One book warned that Catholicism was “the primary source” of all of America’s misfortunes, and there were whispering campaigns that presidents including Martin Van Buren and William McKinley were secretly working with the pope. Does that sound familiar?
Critics warned that the pope was plotting to snatch the Mississippi Valley and secretly conspiring to overthrow American democracy. “Rome looks with wistful eye to domination of this broad land, a magnificent seat for a sovereign pontiff,” one writer cautioned.
About the pope, that was sheer fantasy. This is not fantasy: The Muslim Brotherhood “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” — “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America,” by Mohamed Akram, May 19, 1991.
Oh, and by the way, regarding that “Not-At-Ground-Zero Mosque”: the Burlington Coat Factory building that will be torn down to make way for this mosque is part of Ground Zero. The landing gear from one of the jetliners hijacked on September 11, 2001 flew into the building that the Islamic supremacists want to tear down to construct their mosque. That makes this building part of the 9/11 attack site, and will make the mosque — in the eyes of the Islamic world — exactly what the Dome of the Rock is: a mosque of victory built right on the site of the Muslim defeat of the Infidels. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on the site of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, are declarations of the superiority of Islam over Judaism, and its victory over Judaism. The mosque at the Burlington Coat Factory site, built on the site — not near it, but on it, because of that landing gear — of the Islamic jihad attack on September 11, 2001, will be seen as a declaration of the superiority of Islam over the United States, and its victory over the American economic machine.