Leave it to the right wing to take one of our most sacred rights and turn it into a hateful weapon that goes against everything this country stands for. Last night, armed Arizona bigots and unapologetic racists congregated outside of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix, to “protest” the existence of Muslims and to ostensibly hold another cartoon contest depicting the Prophet Muhammed (عليه السلام).
The anti-Islamic protesters wore shirts that said “F**K Islam”, many openly carried assault weapons, intimidated and insulted muslims with gun-totting, slur-filled tirades, and shouted at the top of their lungs about America being a “Christian nation”.
They were met outside the mosque by counter-protesters, who carried peace signs and preached tolerance to the bigots. The police were out in heavy force, keeping the two sides divided and preventing the inevitable brawl. The cartoon contest was quickly forgotten; only two people sketched drawings and were both declared winners.
The irony of the whole thing is that the people under attack responded with the most reason and tolerance of anyone involved. Usama Shami, the president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said prior to the event: “Everybody has a right to be a bigot. Everybody has a right to be a racist. Everybody has a right to be an idiot,” Shami said, according to a local NBC affiliate. “It will be the same as every Friday evening and we’re going to tell our members what we’ve told them before: not to engage them. They’re not looking for an intellectual conversation. They’re looking to stir up controversy and we’re not going to be a part of it.”
The protest dwindled after four hours, but it is an ugly blemish on our nation and the way we treat minorities. The hypocrisy is incredible. What do you suppose Christians would have done if protesters surrounded their church with guns and offensive cartoons of Jesus? It all points to some very disturbing developments in America- this nonsense about free speech provides a very convenient excuse. The Republican gun-lobby war-hawks have seized on the issue of radical Islam and are whipping the idiots of this country into a frenzy, a campaign of xenophobia and hate-mongering against Muslims that is taking place at the same time as a campaign to paint ISIS as a threat to America and that President Obama’s foriegn policy is “weak”. All the Republican presidential candidates are all incredibly ignorant of foreign policy but seem utterly determined to get our nation to go back to war in the Middle East. It’s all eerily similar to the buildup that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and if we aren’t careful, we could find ourselves right back there.
Watch it if you must:
and here is an awesome counter protest:
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.