Diversity has played a controversial role in this country since its inception—even in writing the Constitution. One thing is perfectly clear. We realized early on that the separation of religion and government was crucial to create a more perfect union.
Careful consideration of history tells us that this was a smart thing to do. Historically, religious leaders have colluded with governments in some of the worse incidents of human rights violations and genocide across the globe. Recently, the Clinton and Bush political machines have dangerously blurred the precious division between church and state in American politics. A combination of the tragic of 9/11 and subsequent colonization of Iraq solidified the undermining of resistance to religion-state separation.
Consider that the Council on American-Islamic Relations recently characterized Fox Television’s thriller series 24 as promoting negative stereotypes and racial hatred for it portrayal of Muslims in an upcoming segment.
Why not engage in Muslim-bashing for profit given the post 9/11 climate. The results of a recent Cornell University national study of American terrorism fears show that being Muslim is enough reason to curtail one’s civil liberties. According to the study published in December 2004, almost half of respondents polled endorsed the idea of U.S. government curtailing Muslim American civil liberties.
In fact, a little more than one in five respondents said that all Muslim Americans should be required to register their location with the federal government, and that mosques should be closely monitored by U.S. law enforcement agencies. Twenty-two percent said Muslim or Middle Eastern heritage should be used in profiling citizens as potential threats.
The good news is that 48 percent of respondents nationally said they do not believe that civil liberties for Muslim Americans should be restricted. The split in views is consistent with the political atmosphere in this country sense the Gore-Bush presidential campaign. The difference is that the current leadership appears to be exploiting religion to further divide the country rather than to heal people—which I believe is the fundamental tenant of spirituality.
You may want to blame it on white, conservative Americans. Well they could not pull it off without those African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and recent immigrants who have jumped on the Muslim hatred bandwagon with Christian whites. The common ground is a belief that those who do not fit within the mainstream of Christian, God-loving America can be treated as less than citizens. George W. Bush is a master of exploiting religion in the service of government agenda.
The blurred reality of church-state separation is not only a Constitutional travesty. It is also a travesty for a presumably civilized society. Remember enslavement of black Americans and Japanese American imprisonment. Boy, we have a short memory. Not the government—Just us little folks. Our leaders know that they are repeating past mistakes.
The very smart ones also know that we will live to regret the Muslim-American bashing (assuming it does not get worse). Their greed, unfortunately, simply prevent them from more compassionate governance. They also know how to manipulate most of us Americans into siding with their agenda because we are sheep. We do not know how to think for ourselves.
I don’t know if the Constitutional challenges to our wholly war against Muslims will do any good. I do know that we will look back with guilt and shame at how insensitive and ethnocentric we have behaved out of fear resulting from selfish government manipulation. This is not true of all government officials. However, too many of them simply do not have the capacity to be compassionate in a world that is in dire need for it at the top.