In previous times it was other religious and immigrant groups that became the American national scapegoats. Today it is all muslims, from would be directors of community outreach centers to random cab drivers. Real Americans sure do love to hate those lesser people among us. And, for the record, those ‘lesser people’ include everyone who doesn’t think Sarah Palin and Rand Paul are the best things out there.
The Real Americans define who is a fellow Real American and who is lesser. In their considered opinion, the lesser are almost all non white people, although some will be let inside the gates as junior conditional members after a suitable show of obsequiousness. They are all muslims. They are many jews. They are all christians who dare to believe in social justice. They are all, airport bathrooms and meth fueled gay hooker massage sessions aside, all non straight people. They are not only liberals but rightwingers who served in the Reagan and Bush administrations but who don’t completely toe the far rightwing fringe line.
The self proclaimed Real Americans are puffed up but scared and wounded, mostly white people who are afraid of losing their white privilege. They are not unique to America, at base. Every society has a certain proportion of scared reactionary troglodytes who will always hate and suspect the other, however that other is defined at any particular moment.
But, in times of economic hardship, their vile can spread beyond their nominal ranks. In recent years, the trogs seem to make up between 20 and 30 per cent of the population. But, Ed Brayton at his blog Dispatches from the Culture War at Science Blogs, brings us this depressing news:
Brayton seems to have misread a particular result and claims that fewer than half of the Democrats approve it, which is noted in the first comment, but still. Fewer than 60 per cent of these Dems approve it and a quarter oppose it. Another commenter, ‘Abby Normal,’ makes this good point:
This poll was from an opt-in internet survey of 1000 people. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on my part. But it seems likely that those who opt in would be those with the strongest (i.e. emotionally driven) opinion. If so, bias toward anti-Islamic opinions skewing the results seems entirely likely.
That’s somewhat hopeful, but only slightly so. It seems that all human societies are prone to this sort of xenophobia. Despite all the rightwing hoopla about ‘American Exceptionalism,’ America is not, never has been, and likely never will be immune from this.
But one thing is different now. People are on record with their opinions and positions on this and the record is archived. The xenophobes will never be able to run from the bigotry and prejudice they are spewing these days. There are tens if not hundred of millions of people on the web who will make sure that the vileness they are indulging in now will be hung around their necks for the rest of their lives and forever after that.
They don’t get to walk away from this ugliness when they decide it is no longer politically beneficial.