Once in a while, Americans forget what makes them American and descend into bigoted craziness, writes Nicholas Kristof for the New York Times, noting our "shameful" internment of Japanese during WWII. And now with the editor of the New Republic openly questioning whether Muslims deserve First Amendment rights and a staggering 52% of Republicans thinking the president sympathizes with Islamic fundamentalists, here we are again. This anti-Muslim fear-mongering "undermines our democracy, risks violence and empowers jihadis," Kristof writes.
George W Bush forestalled Islamophobia aftrer 9/11, cautioning against confusing al-Qaeda and Islam, but it's come out now. But Kristof sees pockets of hope: Ordinary people and interfaith groups are coming together to speak out for tolerance and foster understanding. This type of bigotry "cannot happen here in America in 2010," says one rabbi. "America was not built on hate,” says a cardinal. To these and other acts of tolerance, Kristof says, "Amen."