This is from Juan Cole. He makes a bit of a point. When Republicans compare a Ground Zero mosque with a Japanese monument on Pearl Harbor, they imply that the 9/11 terrorists reflected and represented all Muslims the way the Japanese military represented Japan in WWII. When Republicans say that a mosque could aid the recruitment of terrorists, or provocatively include Obama’s outreaches to Muslims among the details used to support the assertion that Obama is a dangerous president, it fosters an implication that Islam is bad, un-American or synonymous with danger. More than irresponsible or devious, the best word for that is wrong.
Yet, there are no serious Republican efforts to curtail the rights of Muslims. Even the most adverse statements against the mosque amount to an isolated blemish on anyone’s current religious freedoms. My humble perception is today’s Islamophobia results more from awkwardness and confusion in the way our Nation continues to cope with 9/11 than from real bigoted feelings about Islam. There’s more good faith in every corner of this debate than today’s prevailing voices allow us (and Juan Cole) to realize. This article (or any article by that title) doesn’t make resolving the issue or locating the good faith any easier, so I think Cole’s squandered his point.