Kristof: “America’s History Of Fear” (And Fear-Mongering)
Nicholas Kristof reminds us that the current anti-Muslim narrative in America is redolent of the way Catholics, Mormons and Jews were treated here in the past.
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.
The Know Nothing movement spoke of 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?
Jews were also once regarded a a menace, with warnings that they were plotting to destroy America.
All that is part of America’s heritage, and typically as each group has assimilated, it has participated in the torment of newer arrivals — as in Father Charles Coughlin’s ferociously anti-Semitic radio broadcasts in the 1930s. Today’s recrudescence is the lies about President Obama’s faith, and the fear-mongering about the proposed Islamic center.
Kristof rightly suggests that as we urge moderate Muslims to speak out against their extremists, we must speak out against our own.Click here for reuse options!
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