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Saturday, February 13, 2016
It is hard to understand why there is a growing editorial tendency toward willful ignorance and Islamophobic extremism. It is growing at the expense of intellectual honesty and moral reason.
Not that a columnist should not have an opinion, but when opinion morphs into overt hatemongering and dualist propaganda, then editors have the responsibility to prevent the incitement spewed by fringe agitators.
Simply put: hate breeds hate.
In a world where there is no "multi-culti" threat of political correctness and the word "racist" has been banned, because "no word has suffered more abuse," Kathleen Parker and Dennis Prager are whistling Dixiecract with Trent Lott.
Kathleen Parker, in her column, 'U.S. will survive one hand on Koran" (Commentary, Dec. 13) – opted to endorse Prager, who has widely been identified from "all sides" as, "intolerant" and a "bigot."
Although Parker's column was also published under the more polemically charged alias, 'the wolf who cried racist," by the Jewish World Review, it lost none of its invectiveness in its Chicago-Tribune debut.
The Prager fiasco began with a recent column he penned, "America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on." Ellison is the first Muslim Congressman and America's first elected African-American to Minnesota Congress.
In his column, Prager effectively trivialized the atrocities of the Holocaust in an indignant analogy where he compared Congressman-elect Keith Ellison's choice to take his congressional oath using the Holy book of his faith- the Koran - to a racist Nazi taking his on a copy of Hitler's Mien Kampf.
Parker concedes that Prager was "technically wrong" in his disregard for Constitutional freedoms that express separation of church and state, yet remains a cheerleader for his gross misrepresentation of America's civil status quo.
Prager's harangue was repudiated in a statement issued by the prominent Jewish advocacy group, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), which described Prager's diatribe as "ugly…intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American."
Prager's extremism galvanized the ADL, Mayor Ed Koch, the American Family Association, and CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations) to respond in united condemnation of his views.
Still Parker joined Prager's monomania and found room to characterize the backlash to his dogma as a recent case where "Muslim and Jew have slugged it out." Contrary to this mischaracterization and as she Parker herself acknowledges throughout the article, this is not a debate that polarizes sides across religious lines. In fact, this is very much a case where "Jew and Jew have slugged it out." The debate has nothing to do with Jews versus Muslims, it has everything to do with Prager versus the majority of Americans (Muslim, Jewish, Christian and otherwise) who took offense to his intolerant and anti-constitutional rant.
And yet, Parker depicts him as "a thoroughly decent fellow," with merely an "unpopular opinion." In her endorsement, she reasserts a number of religiously intolerant and historically revisionist attitudes voiced by Prager with alarmist sensationalism. She describes America as a "Bible-swearing nation" undermining, as Prager has, our secular democratic values that recognize our nation's pluralism.
She refers to a monolithic "radical Muslim world, with the expressed goal of which is to convert us," whereas the reality is that few Muslims in the world ascribe to that agenda. The great majority of Muslims, especially those who happen to be American, simply wish to practice their faith without ridicule or harassment. Their efforts embodied in their representative organizations including CAIR have been pooled toward encouraging pluralistic coexistence and tolerance for all.
According to Parker, expressing your faith, if you are Muslim, is "probable cause to infer" that you are out to make one statement or another. This, of course, is a most disingenuous argument. For Muslims no less than for anyone else, expressing your faith should be taken as no more than – well – expressing your faith. Her selectiveness and aggressive hyperbole, framed in folksy phrases like "traditional values" and "American solidarity," barely conceals her ideological hostility.
The noise of divided opinion, spun by Islamophobic pundits, truly has amplified to a pitch reflective of a nation terrorized by its own uncertainty- caught between the fringes of Dixiecrat McCarthyism and the atrocities of terrorist extremism.
Encouragingly, moderation seems to have found plenty of spokespersons who have courageously raised their voices against Prager's scapegoating of Congressmen-elect Ellison. Parker, on the other hand, seems deafened by "one hand on the Koran."