I’ve been out for a bit, and on Monday I’ll put up a post explaining the nature of my absence, but because it is September 11th I wanted to make sure that I included a shout out to show my solidarity with the folks at the Park 51 community center in the financial district.  The proposed community center, incorrectly dubbed “the ground zero mosque” has been stirring up quite a storm among the racists and xenophobes of this country.

As we’re in the midst of protests, counter-protests, and attention-loving racists who claim they will burn Qu’rans, frankly, I kind of can’t believe we’re still talking about this.  The hatred and ignorance involved in persecuting a whole group of people due to the heinous acts of a few is disgusting, and really indicative of how far indeed we are from “post-racial.”

Have we seen any efforts to rein in white men after white supremacist James W. von Brunn shot up the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard?  How about after the Oklahoma City bombings? We, of course, have not.  Because in this country white people are perceived as a group of humans, made up of individuals, each of whom have complex lives and stories, some of whom are amazing, some of whom have terribly fucked up issues, some of whom are both amazing and fucked up.  In short, white people are perceived as human – nothing more, nothing less.  This is not a privilege people of color are afforded; we are talked about as groups, our accomplishments and our mistakes, the good, the bad and the ugly, all become inherent traits of our ethnicity, or religion, or nationality.

I’ve heard good people say that this is not what the United States is about, and I wish it were true.  Historically, this is actually a lot of what the United States has been about.  But I think it’s time to stop, and I think we can.

UPDATE: A friend pointed out to me that writing about this issue in terms of race leaves out the fact that there are, in fact, many white Muslims.  She’s right, and I think that’s important to mention.  This issue is about religion and religious freedom, and the statement I made about privilege and how groups of people are perceived applies to any oppressed group of people.  This includes religious minorities.  The actions of a few Muslims on 9/11 are now being used as a claim that this kind of violence is inherent to Islam, which is, obviously, completely absurd.  However, I wrote about this in terms of race, because I do think that race is a major factor in this particular debate in the United States; I should have been more clear.

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