Wednesday, August 10, 2011

America’s bogeymen

Do Americans really need bogeymen?

Our history contains a legacy of witch hunts and witch trials. In the first half of the 20th century, we worried that communists were plotting, and perhaps on the verge of, taking over the country. Anyone who could not see that was simply a dupe.

The current witch-communist-bogey man is Islam. To most Americans, Muslims seem very different and practice strange customs and sometimes have funny-sounding names.

Gallup polling reveals that 44 percent of Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics doubt that Muslims are loyal Americans. There's no evidence of disloyalty, only suspicion. This is how the hunts for witches and communists are getting carried into the 21st century.

When attorney Sohail Mohammed was named to the New Jersey bench recently, some citizens immediately charged that the appointment was the first step toward adoption in New Jersey of Sharia, the Islamic code imposed in some Middle Eastern countries.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie called the claim "just crap" adding that he was tired of dealing with the crazies. Kudos for Gov. Christie and his fight for sanity.

This is the month of Ramadan, 30 days of sacrifice and reflection for observant Muslims not so different from the 40 days of sacrifice and reflection Christians celebrate in Lent. If, as polls also say, we believe Muslim Americans have a special obligation to speak out against Islamic terrorists, then the rest of us have a special obligation to stand up for our fellow citizens, face down ignorance and hatred, and prove that America has outgrown bogeymen.

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