Where else but the New York Times?
To the Editor:
Ross Douthat uses a reasonable tone and a pleasing logical symmetry — “two understandings of America, one constitutional and one cultural” — to craft what is a horrifying apologia for all that is worst in American culture.
Bigotry and xenophobia have never been the forces that helped “ethnic divisions to melt into a general unhyphenated Americanism.”
On the contrary, most immigrants have come here with a strong desire to assimilate, and it has been the hurdles thrown up by “the second America” that forced them to band together into ethnocentric self-defense groups, just as it has been our Constitution that finally guaranteed them their place in American society.
Should we also believe that the Jim Crow laws helped the freed slaves assimilate into white America? Or that the detention camps helped secure the loyalty of Japanese-Americans?
The opposition to a mosque (really a cultural center) at ground zero (really two blocks away) is not the legitimate expression of some second America that is “cultural” rather than “constitutional” — it is the American underside, the America of the Klan and of McCarthy, and it is to be repudiated, not excused.
Dear me! Opposition to an Islamic center (or mosque) near the WTC site isn’t just wrong, it’s illegitimate, it’s Jim Crow, it’s the relocation camps, it’s the KKK, it’s Tail-Gunner Joe! Apart from Nixon, did we miss anyone?