The Islamophobic sentiment shaking America is rooted in fear, not bigotry, writes Nick Kristof for the New York Times. The "well-meaning worriers" of the "Not-at-Ground-Zero Mosque" movement genuinely believe Muslims "don’t share their values, don’t believe in democracy, and may harm innocent Americans." Of course, some Americans once felt the same way about the Irish, Germans, Catholics, Jews, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, and Mormons.
"But we have a more glorious tradition intertwined in American history as well, one of tolerance, amity, and religious freedom." Previous waves of intolerance were calmed only when ordinary people stood up against "the Know Nothing impulse," Kristoff writes. "Americans have called on moderates in Muslim countries to speak out against extremists, to stand up for the tolerance they say they believe in. We should all have the guts do the same at home."