Kristof clarifies things for you

September 8, 2010 by  
Filed under The Lileks Zone

Remember the Nick Kristof interview from last week? Kristoff responds, sort of, to the interview with our host Hugh:

A radio interviewer asked me the other day if I thought bigotry was the only reason why someone might oppose the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. No, I don’t. Most of the opponents aren’t bigots but well-meaning worriers — and during earlier waves of intolerance in American history, it was just the same.

This is a common trope: every immigrant group has a rough patch, thanks to Whitey – even the Irish, who were white, had trouble with Whitey. These misplaced, overblown fears about those furrners and their inscrutable folkways were nonsense then, so they surely must be nonsense now. Dangerous nonsense. Glen-Beck-strength nonsense. But just because you’re not a bigot, you’re still complicit:

Most Americans stayed on the sidelines during these spasms of bigotry, and only a small number of hoodlums killed or tormented Catholics, Mormons or others. But the assaults were possible because so many middle-of-the-road Americans were ambivalent.

As expected, we get a litany of all the historical sins, from the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings to the internment of Japanese-Americans, anti-Chinese hysteria, and of course the anti-German sentiment during WWI. (We were downright Hunophobic.) So while you, the Mosque-in-that-place opponent, may not be specifically bigoted, you’re generally bigoted on behalf of America and its history, and we have to support the mosque to show we’re better than people in 1834.

You can judge America by the nasty minority who did bad things “because so many middle-of-the-road Americans were ambivalent,” but you can’t judge Islam by the nasty minority who do bad things because so many middle-of-the-road Muslims were ambivalent. Got it. In any case, he ignores the point so many make: oh, go ahead, build it, but not there. If you want to promote understanding, and 70% of the people don’t want it there, then your insistence on doing so indicates you don’t understand. As for concerns about statements from the Healing Imam about the US role in killing Muslims, or the eventual future of Israel as an Arab state, well, here, look at this picture of a lynching in 1879.

In Kristof’s mind, there is no legitimate reasons to oppose the Cordoba Center in that particular location. So you’re either an extremist, an idiot, or a tool. Same point as before, but with a nice transparent glaze of nuance to forgive the idiots and pawns and complicit silent Americans. They not what they do. You could even call them no-nothings. Have a nice day.

PS: “A radio interviewer”? Would it have killed him to use the guy’s name?


3 Responses to “Kristof clarifies things for you”
  1. John Davey says:

    Color me an extremist idiot tool.

    And now from one tool to another, thanks for marginalizing my seemingly baseless concerns Nick!

    Liberal “Outreach” means accepting the ‘reaching out’ of others, never the commission of reaching out yourself. Muslim “Outreach” is lauding the concept of ‘outreach’ while taking two GIANT steps backwards (see the shinny outreach? Pretty, right? Wanna touch it? Just a little closer…). Come to Jesus Mohamed – In a roundabout fashion. Inasmuch that no one is really ‘coming’ to it, but being shamed to it. Tolerance, in the Islamic world, is a one way street.

  2. Chris Bogdan says:

    In comparing “invective” against the mosque to anti-Catholic bigotry in the 19th century, Kristoff misses the key point; the anti-Catholic bigotry was not based on anything other than suspicion of the “other”.

    Call me reactionary but 3000+ dead in a single day makes more uneasy than suspicious. When 9/11 is followed by near-weekly provocations, my uneasiness would seem rational. When I hear “death to the infidel”, my response will not be tempered by the fear of being branded anti-”other”. I may be a stupid, bigoted, extremist but that’s purely coincidental.

  3. Chris Gray says:

    Wow. I wish I could ignore what happened to Lebanon between 1960 and 1980; in the US on 9/11/01; what is happening in the Muslim Ghettos in Europe and in Israel. The “Religion of Peace” is on the march. I do not see them drawing parallels to the peaceful movement of Ghandi. I guess if I ignore the all of the attacks, bombings, honor killings, forced conversions, etc. Then Kristoff might have a leg to stand on.

    Worrying about “differences” by themselves is much different than worrying about whether “differences” in cultures are compatible, especially after an agonizing attack on your county.

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