Friday, March 4, 2011

Hate Comes to Orange County: The Disgusting Reality of American Islamophobia

We have run a host of stories covering the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, particularly at the level of state and federal politics and policy, but a video currently making the rounds online drives home the reality of the hatred and bigotry to which Muslim Americans are increasingly being subjected in a more visceral way than anything we could hope to pen. The video below was filmed outside the Yorba Linda Community Center to protest a fund-raising event hosted by aid group Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald shared this observation about the video:
"I think what was most striking about that video is that the presence of small children didn't give these anti-Muslim protesters even momentary pause; they just continued screeching their ugly invective while staring at 4-year-olds walking with their parents. People like that are so overflowing with hatred and resentments that the place where their humanity -- their soul -- is supposed to be has been drowned."
A friend shared how the video of Muslim parents escorting their obviously terrified children into the fundraiser reminded her of Dr. King's reflection from 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail,' in which King writes:
"You suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that "Funtown" is closed to colored children, and see the depressing cloud of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people."
It has been almost fifty years since Dr. King penned those words, and understanding the motivations that drive some of our fellow citizens to treat others with the sort of callous hatred and fundamental disrespect evidenced in the video above has become no easier to grasp. And whether politicians like those featured in the video genuinely share in the bigotry they espouse or hope to channel it for cheap political gain, they have to realize that their promotion of such hateful ideas comes at a cost that cannot be measured, but can be guessed when we view the fear on faces of the children walking into that community center.

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