The successful press against the Florida preacher threatening to burn Korans illustrates just how easy it would be to suppress the entire wave of Islamophobia if it didn’t serve the short-term political interests of the official wingnuts. The secretary of defense and a flood of other public figures denounced the creepy stunt even though a few diehards like Boehner couldn’t quite spit out the required phrases.
So there will be no inflammatory photos of Christian bonfires, but the more insidious campaign against the Islamic Center in downtown Manhattan will continue along with the whispering campaign against Obama as a closet Mohammadan—as if that were some sort of crime.
I notice that Gates and the rest did not ask Pastor Jones to please move his Koran burning indoors or do it discreetly away from the glare of the cameras. They weren’t requesting a ‘compromise’ solution that will enable everyone to indulge his or her prejudices—no, they were saying, This is wrong. Stop it.
It would be nice if people could apply the same criteria to the campaign against the Sufi mosque. The Koranic bonfire panic over, all the reasonable ‘centrist’ types now will continue to push for the Islamic community center to be moved a few yards away from the Twin Towers site or placed in some other borough, as if the existence of a religious monument could offend on Cortlandt Street but won’t over in Jackson Heights.
Meanwhile, the people of Gainesville, Florida, are up in arms to try to dissociate themselves from the religious hatred fanned by their local storefront hype-artist. Gee, isn’t it terrible that a whole group of people are being slandered just because of the actions of a few?
I’m not against all Gainesvillians even though they have rabid assholes in their midst that have caused me great pain. So here’s my compromise solution: they can still come visit New York, but out of respect for our suffering, they can only visit Brooklyn and Queens. I don’t want them in Manhattan because they remind me of 9/11/2010.