Anybody following me on Twitter (and if you’re not, shame on you), may have noticed how I and thousands of other Tweeters have been lambasting Sarah Palin for repeatedly using the word “refudiate” in her commentary. What has for the most part been casually dismissed as yet another “folksy” (translation: moronic) display by the former governor of Alaska, recently started a firestorm when she tweeted the following in response to building a mosque near Ground Zero:
Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.
She later deleted that tweet in favor of a more carefully worded one:
Peace-seeking Muslims pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing
The ridiculous use of made up words aside, there are several things fundamentally wrong with her sentiments. Let’s examine them, shall we?
The most obvious thing staring us right in the face is her plea to a larger group to repudiate (is that what you meant, Sarah?) the actions of a smaller group. Rather ironic considering that just last week Sarah Palin blasted the NAACP for making the same plea about racists within the Tea Party movement. Allowing a subset of people to define an entire group really sucks, huh? In that case, perhaps the right should make it a point not to respond to one misdeed with another one.
From the day the towers fell, to the launch of the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, to the day President Barack Hussein Obama was inaugurated – AND beyond – there has been a carefully structured plan to associate Islam with violence and terrorism. The lastest rage about a mosque being built near ground zero mirrors some of the aforementioned efforts to paint Muslims with a terrorist brush.
Then, there is the obvious question of how far this ethno-religious profiling goes. Would Palin and other like-mided people express the same outrage if an NRA building, KKK center, or a Roman Catholic church was built blocks away from the Oklahoma City Bombing? Recall, those are groups to which Timothy McVeigh belonged. If I had any reason to believe Palin would be just as pleaful to the Christian church or to gun owners, militiamen, or the Klan, I may be OK with her request to Muslims. But I don’t believe she’d utter a single word…outside of the obvious “you’re in our prayers” lingo.
Next, there is the little pesky thing people tend to refer to when it suits their agenda but dismiss it when it doesn’t: the Constitution. “Our great founding fathers” – the group to whom people like Palin love to refer – made it clear that religious persecution was off limits. Professor Juan Cole from Informed Consent took that fact even further by marvelously pointing out that during the American Revolution, the founding fathers actually openly EMBRACED the same religious ideology held by its British enemies. To wit, the professor says:
And here is a final point for Ms. Palin and her ilk to consider. The United States was born of a war against the British crown, the state religion of which was the Anglican Church. Those Anglicans who insisted on swearing allegiance to King George III were viewed as the enemy. And, the British custom of ‘establishing’ the Anglican church in many of the colonies, i.e. making it the state religion, was renounced by the revolutionaries. But there was no question that apolitical Anglicans could practice their religion freely, found Anglican (“Episcopalian”) churches anywhere they liked (even in places where the Americans and British had waged fierce battles, like New York), and even go to Britain to arrange for the training of Episcopalian/Anglican priests.
There is more. In 1787, Samuel Provoost was made the Episcopalian bishop of New York. He had been a Whig and a supporter of the Revolution even though an Anglican. In 1789, the US Senate made him its chaplain!
So not only did the Founding Generation not harbor a grudge against the religion of the British Crown (which had tried to crush them), they were perfectly willing to give non-Tory Anglicans high official positions in the new Republic. It would be as though the the current chaplain of the Senate were a former al-Qaeda member who had broken with Bin Laden and declared allegiance to the United States.
Finally, I thought it was very telling that Palin considers rejecting a mosque near 9/11 some kind of tool for “healing.” Healing? Really? Wouldn’t healing be the exact OPPOSITE of that? Wouldn’t healing come in the form of showing terrorists that we as Americans won’t become victimized and short-sighted by our fear? A mosque near ground zero – to me, at least – directly pimp slaps the bigoted notion that Islam and terrorism are bed buddies. Our country has a history – arguably a shameful history – of selectively drawing out people who ‘fit the description.’ Whether it’s Japanese-Americans during WWII, Arab-Americans after 9/11, Latino Americans in Arizona, or black people…well…everyday, small groups of people have been singled out for no reason other than being apart of a much bigger puzzle. A puzzle that doesn’t neatly fit the “everyday American” model Palin suggests.
I suppose what’s unnerving about this is that she’s not alone. Not by a long shot. She is jumping in popularity over the rest of her Republican bretheren by leaps and bounds. Along for the ride are millions of followers. These people vote. They often do so blinded by ideology, fear, a lack of knowledge about history, and with a myopic view of what this country needs to be. That to me is a cause for alarm.
It’s becoming readily apparently to me that we haven’t learned one damn thing since that day in September.