Friday, July 22, 2005

It's not patriotism, it's sick

The Wichita Eagle has been getting some hate mail recently. In response to an article about a new mosque opening, the Eagle got a good chunk of email like this:

  • "We don't need this blood thirsty Religion in America," read one e-mail, signed "Semper Fi. USMC Vietnam Combat Veteran."
  • "All jihadists are Muslims, but not all Muslims are jihadists. But how are we supposed to distinguish between the ones who are plotting attacks and the ones who are just selling pitas and fatoush?" the writer said [in advocating internment camps]. "Whether or not Muslims actually want to blow us up is irrelevant simply because the average citizen can't tell the good from the bad, therefore all are suspect."
  • Muslims, says another writer, have "infiltrated our lands, multiplied their numbers, slowly used our own constitution against us, the same constitution that they will love to do away with so that we all can 'submit' to a Muslim theocracy...."
  • In response to a photo of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in the new mosque with her head covered, another person wrote, "It was really nice to see Sebelius wearing the mark of a 7th century slave."
  • Under the heading of "dream of mosque opening" still another wrote, "More like a... nightmare. I say to our military, bomb the mosques."
  • "I don't give a tinker's damn about their mosques, their warlord's religion or their phony god. If I were President there would no longer be an Arab world. These people understand nothing but death."
The Metro columnist writes:
I'm not sure which group scares me more: foreign terrorists or some of the domestic wackos crawling out from under rocks in response to the terrorists.

Sometimes crazy e-mails such as these waft in from the fringe. This time, though, there are so many of them, and fringe folk ordinarily don't leave a name and address. These folks did. That's what's so scary.

The people who wrote these screeds didn't appear to feel any shame about the racist sentiments in the e-mails. In fact, they seemed imbued with some sort of twisted patriotism.

It's not patriotism. It's sick.

If the simple threat of terrorism can cause so many people around us to emotionally and psychologically regress this way, the terrorists won't really have to do anything.

We'll finish the job ourselves.

One of the things I've been happiest about since 9/11 is how little open hostility to Islam I've seen. The president came out early and insisted that no one vent their anger against the religion, but to support all Americans and to fight against the terrorists. I understand that anti-Muslim violence has been on an uptick, but there has been much less support for that violence than I feared.

Of course, real violence, not just rhetoric, is a problem nationwide. The SPLC has this compilation, updated as of 2002, of anti-Arab or anti-Muslim violence arranged by state, from AL-MA, and MI-WI. I'm gratified that the worst coming from Kansas was some harassing phone calls. Missouri had a firebombing, which is pretty bad.

Wichita area readers should write in to the Eagle to express their opinions on this. Racism and bigotry like that in the letters above can only grow when it receives tacit acceptance from the community. Kansas is better than that.

A little poking around on Google indicates that Mike Savage (aka Mike Weiner) linked to (maybe spoke about) this story. If so, that would explain the vitriolic letters. Anyone know what (if anything) was said about it?