Sep. 17th, 2010

holzman_tweed: (Default)
Author Elizabeth Moon wrote a particularly Islamophobic entry in her LiveJournal in which she spent considerable effort displaying her failures as a citizen of the United States. Quite a few people, including I, replied with a variety of reactions, mostly expressing our disappointment in her failure as a citizen.

For reasons she has not seen fit to share, Ms. Moon has deleted all these comments and locked the entry against further comment. There may be a way to view this action on her part that redounds to her credit, but for the life of me I can't imagine what it is.

As luck has it, I have a copy of my reply to her and I decline to be silenced. Thus I repost it here:


You have a number of good points to make about citizenship, though I suggest that the next time you enjoy a frankfuter, hamburger, pizza, taco, or gyro, that you reflect on the fact that the process of immigration and entry into American culture is not the one-way assimilation you describe. That list, after all, could be much longer and not confined to popular food options.

That said, I must respectfully bring to your attention that in this post you yourself are failing as a citizen.

You fail as a citizen when you describe, as you do, the bigotry with which Americans receive immigrants with the subtext that that's just how it is, or even that such bigotry has justification, rather than condemning it unequivocally as one of our great failings as a nation.

You fail as a citizen when you treat bigotry against Muslims, as you do, as having a reasonable basis to which Muslims should show a deference that you do not expect Christians, Jews, Atheists, or any other group to show.

You fail as a citizen when you treat, as you do, the entirely manufactured outrage as something with any rational basis whatsoever. A Muslim community that has lived in that neighborhood for years, that was a part of the economy created by the World Trade Center, that itself lived through and were victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks, is building a community center because they need a community center. They are building it where they are because that's where their community is and that's where they could find a building they could afford. Out of the kindness of their hearts, instead of building a mosque -- because the reason this all started is that their current mosques are so overcrowded people have to kneel in the street on cardboard boxes to pray -- they're building a community center that will serve the needs of people of all faiths.

Republicants created outrage out of nothing because they really don't want to head into November talking about the economy and how it got here. And you're carrying water for them by saying it's a reasonable reaction. It's not, and you fail as a citizen for being hoodwinked, for not calling bullshit.

But me no buts about how close it is to the World Trade Center site: if it was another 2 blocks or 20 miles away Republicants would have manufactured the same outrage. You should know this because if you bother to look, you will see them manufacturing this outrage all over the country, anywhere Muslims are trying to build Mosques.

I challenge you to stop failing as a citizen: Unequivocally endorse Park51 not only as something a patriotic Muslim American community has a right to do, but as being exactly the sort of thing a patriotic Muslim American community would and should be doing. Unequivocally condemn those who manufacture irrational outrage. Address that outrage in those who have been hoodwinked, or even in those few who sincerely can't yet think of any Muslim thing with the same compassion and firmness that you would a drunk friend asking you for their car keys. Become an active part of the growing dialog between actual Muslim and non-Muslim Americans, get past the big monolithic shadow Islamic stereotype you write about and pay lip service to denying.

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