Tuesday, August 17, 2010

After all, what's with those hats?

It's funny, in Ross Douthat's latest supply of laxatives to New York Times readers, in which he extols the benefits of nativism (i.e., xenophobia and bigotry) and calls into question the ability of American Muslims to properly "assimilate" unless they are "pressure[d] to conform to American norms, exerted through fair means and foul," he makes virtually no mention of other Americans who resist assimilating with American culture and religious traditions.

This is typical of how these debates usually play out. The first America tends to make the finer-sounding speeches, and the second America often strikes cruder, more xenophobic notes. The first America welcomed the poor, the tired, the huddled masses; the second America demanded that they change their names and drop their native languages, and often threw up hurdles to stop them coming altogether. The first America celebrated religious liberty; the second America persecuted Mormons and discriminated against Catholics.

But both understandings of this country have real wisdom to offer, and both have been necessary to the American experiment’s success. During the great waves of 19th-century immigration, the insistence that new arrivals adapt to Anglo-Saxon culture — and the threat of discrimination if they didn’t — was crucial to their swift assimilation. The post-1920s immigration restrictions were draconian in many ways, but they created time for persistent ethnic divisions to melt into a general unhyphenated Americanism.

Nor, curiously, did he mention American religious leaders who, like the Burlington Coat Factory Park51 Muslim Center leader, openly questioned whether American behavior and policies had a hand in motivating the murdering crazies who flew two planes in to the World Trade Center.

And yet, for Douthat, only one religion is required to answer for their co-religionists' crazy.

But if that's not the case, what is it with those Murder Caps?

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