Addressing the protests against a proposed Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Fox News' Brian Kilmeade claimed that the “attitude and some people say stubbornness” of those planning the Park51 community center in New York “has fueled” the Tennessee protests. See, if they would just move farther away from Ground Zero, people in Tennessee wouldn't feel the need to do this:
Opponents of the Murfreesboro Islamic Center reportedly fear that “the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.”
It's quite clear who is fueling this outrage: those in the media and politics who have spent the summer telling us that all Muslims have to answer for 9/11 and that all Muslims should be viewed as potential terrorists.
For instance, on the August 19 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade himself claimed that the mosque in New York could be “the next Hamburg cell,” referring to the suspected source of the 9/11 plot; Fox News contributor Dick Morris claimed the community center will be used to “study and promote and train and recruit Sharia law advocates, which, who become terrorists” ; and Fox business host Eric Bolling said it “may” be a meeting place for “some of the biggest terrorist minds.” A few days earlier on Kilmeade's show, Newt Gingrich compared the Islamic center to Nazis placing a “sign next to the Holocaust museum.” Kilmeade has also accused the individuals planning Park51 of "taunting" 9/11 families and "gloating."
And you don't have to make these inflammatory accusations to feed the false perception that all Muslims are to blame for terrorism. Each and every claim that the location of Park51 is “insensitive” conflates the Muslims who are planning and will utilize the community center with violent extremists. As the New Yorker's Hendrick Hertzberg has written:
To demand that an Islamic cultural center run by Muslims opposed to terrorism not be built two blocks from the WTC site is like demanding that a Unitarian church not be built two blocks from an abortion clinic bombed by the “Christian” murderer of the late Dr. George Tiller.
Kilmeade's impulse to blame the New York Muslims planning Park51 for anti-Muslim sentiment in Tennessee is disturbing for reasons beyond the fact that he himself has communicated that Muslims as a whole are suspicious. His remarks echo an unfortunate trend of public figures claiming that the burden is on Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his colleagues move their community center in order to show "courtesy," "respect," and be "good neighbors," because what they're doing is “divisive” and it's making people uncomfortable.
As Richard Cohen writes today in the Washington Post, people with hurt feelings “need our understanding, not our indulgence.” If it's a mark of “stubbornness” to stand against those who disregard individual character to attack Muslims for being Muslim, then call me stubborn. If confronting their biases makes people uncomfortable, then by all means, let them squirm. We know the alternative.