Then Kristof goes on to point out that in the 19th century, “fears were stoked by books written by people who supposedly had ‘escaped’ Catholicism,” in which they recounted obviously fraudulent and fanciful stories of kidnapped girls, the raping of nuns by priests, and the like. Again, the problem is that the accounts by people who have left the faith of Islam, like Hirsi Ali, are not fanciful: they are true. Perhaps Mr. Kristof should read the memoir of PJM’s Phyllis Chessler, who writes in her book The Death of Feminism about her own shattering experiences after marrying a Muslim man.
Then again, Kristof accounts all the ways in which past bigotry inflamed violent outbursts against Germans, Jews, Chinese, etc. Old immigrants newly assimilated, he says, target the newest immigrants. Hence what he calls “the fear-mongering about the proposed Islamic center.”
So there it is: opponents of the mosque are fear-mongers. They are, in other words, bigots — precisely what he says at the article’s beginning he is not arguing. He does not present any of the valid concerns I and others have pointed to earlier — the contradictory anti-American and Islamist statements of Imam Rauf, the nature of the mosque’s funding, the refusal of the imam to condemn terrorist groups like Hamas, etc. To Kristof, it is easier to ignore these. If he had not, he would not have been able to make the argument of bigotry.
He concludes by saying that Americans “have called on moderates in Muslim countries to speak out against extremists,” but he neglects to say few have done so and one has to look for a needle in a haystack to find them. So he turns this around and says that Americans must “have the guts to do the same at home.”
To Mr. Kristof I simply say: We are tolerant; we are for freedom of religion; we only do not want to be ostriches with our heads in the sand, denying the reality of radical Islam and exaggerating the extent and power of a practically non-existent moderate Islam.
I do not expect Nicholas Kristof to get it. After all, he writes for the New York Times.
Two Labor Day recommendations:
At the New Republic, the historian Michael Kazin takes his journal to task for ignoring the situation of today’s workers and the union movement. As in the past, he sees them as the forefront of the movement for social change. The problem Kazin ignores is a simple one: the old organized blue-collar working class no longer makes up the trade union movement. Today it is white-collar and particularly public workers who compose its majority; their impact is to bankrupt state economies with the kind of contracts that most workers do not have. They blackmail politicians to continually fund their outrageous demands, and the Democratic Party is beholden to them. No wonder all the examples he looks back on with pride are from the 1930s.
On the same website, E.J.Dionne, who misses big labor, tells the truth Kazin ignores: “Only 12.3 percent of American wage and salary workers belong to unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from a peak of about one-third of the work force in 1955. A movement historically associated with the brawny workers in auto, steel, rubber, construction, rail, and the ports now represents more employees in the public sector (7.9 million) than in the private sector (7.4 million).”
Nothing like telling the truth. But Dionne remembers that labor used to have “a disdain for elitism.” He thinks this should lead to a rebirth of the movement. But doesn’t he realize that these same working-class voters who disdain elitism are the Reagan Democrats of the past and the tea partiers of today? What they reject is the elitism of pundits like Dionne and Kazin, who pine for the old socialist movement and never understand why it will not be reborn.
And finally, the libertarian writer Todd Seavey has a great book recommendation on his blog today — the major book by my friend about whom I have written in the past, Martin J. Sklar. You can read Seavey’s blog here.
Addendum: 8:50 pm, EST.
Well, I think Nicholas Kristof doesn’t appreciate my blog. Here is the link to his recent Tweet. I guess the limitation on twitter gives him the excuse not to reply to its contents. Well, at least he clearly doesn’t like my title!