William Saletan at Slate.com wrote two recent articles on the Quran-burning bruhaha which ring true with wisdom and common sense. I encourage everyone to read them both (they’re not that long):
One of his best points is the observation that nobody speaks for anybody. Fifty racist Christians in Florida do not speak for America any more than nineteen Islamic hijackers speak for Islam. Unfortunately, I think his second article contains one sadly naive bit of optimism. Speaking about the conservative pundits who have manipulated the Florida story to their Islamiphobic and political ends, he writes:
Eventually, it will dawn on them that the Muslims who want to swim, eat, and worship at a community center in Lower Manhattan really are different from the Muslims who flew planes into the World Trade Center.
Sadly, I don’t think this is true. I think some of these blowhards (maybe Gingrich, probably not Palin) do not truly believe that every Muslim walks in lockstep to a globally-orchestrated conspiracy to take over the world. But they will continue to stir that racist, hateful soup as long as voters and donors keep lining up for it. They won’t wake up one morning and suddenly start behaving as compassionate Christians, or begin take America’s founding ideals to heart and welcome the world’s poor, huddled masses. They’ll only change their tone when that tone no longer keeps them in power and money.
Which, I guess, is an argument for better public schools.