How Soon We Forget

There are more stories about other groups that are part of the paranoia and fear that periodically rear their ugly heads among us to demonize the newly arriving stranger, the “other” in our midst, this time Muslims. And what distinguishes each movement is that charismatic leaders incite the worst in us.

via Edward Schumacher-Matos – Ground Zero mosque fight shows how little we’ve learned from U.S. history.

From the beginning of the settlement of this North American continent, we have struggled with religion. On the one hand it was settled by many who were escaping religious persecution, attempting to move outside the mainstream of religious thought with new revelations from God. On the other hand, once they arrived they often fell into the same forms of persecution that they had left in regards to “other” groups.

As Shumacher suggests in his article, this persecution happened between Protestants and Catholics, and Christians and Jews. What he omits is the persecution of Baptists by the Puritans, the Quakers by the Congregationalists, and the Mormons by pretty much everyone. In a land that wants to claim the mantle of religious freedom, persecution based in religion has gone hand in hand.

Thus, the concerns raised about Muslim expansionism in recent weeks shouldn’t surprise us, for they are the extension of the John Birch Society raised concerns about the election of a Roman Catholic president during the election of 1960. While the media has focused on the Ground Zero mosque for it’s symbolism, the fact is that in places like Murfreesboro and Antioch, TN there are even more heated battles over the ability of Muslims to build community centers and places of worship. In these places there is no symbolic consideration, no hallowed grounds to protect. No, the concerns raised are blatant NIMBYism, driven by the same motivations that led Puritans to tie Baptists to dunking stools and hold them under water until they drowned. And as folks search for justifications for their fears, the rhetoric rises and political leaders co-opt those fears for political purposes.

Should we be surprised by all of this? Probably not, for history often seems to repeat itself. And yet, the student of history (such as Shumacher suggests) would be well advised to point out to others that today’s persecutions follow a trajectory that we’ve seen before, and we ended up learning that our fears were unfounded and that we had more common with the other than not.

When will we ever learn?

6 thoughts on “How Soon We Forget

  1. Excellent BLOG post (and testimony/encouragement /validation to your post yesterday about blogging)

    I’ve found myself flabbergasted and sad about all this. Did you see that Murfreesboro’s version made The Daily Show last week (or maybe the week before) ? I also am seeing it on the Facebook UMNS page, as the Beck-ians bring their talking points.
    Wow, I wasn’t even aware of the Antioch issue.

  2. Not all folks in Antioch are fighting having a mosque in our neighborhood. Many of us believe in the American idea of freedom of religion. Some of us even showed our support by joining with Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even non-believers last month in walking from Belmont UMC to the Nashville Islamic Center in show of our friendship and welcome to all.

    1. Deen, it may have been unfair to lump Antioch in the mix, for the opposition there was, for the most part, more focused on the desire to see the space available for another tenant. And yet, knowing some in that opposition movement, I have little doubt that there are those for whom the concern is about “them” rather than hope for Nashville Tech.

      I had hoped to make that walk, but in the midst of all that’s happening, I couldn’t do it.

  3. When will Americans “learn the lesson” that Wrong is Right and Right is Wrong? Hopefully never, though the Liberals living within and off of America’s taking it as the centerpiece canon of their quasi-theology makes me less sure of that.

    Every time one of you Liberals mendaciously paint Americans arguments against the Ground Zero mosque in terms such as you consistently do proves our point.

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