‘Gut-wrenching bigotry’ at the WSJ

Juan ColeJuan Cole responds to Mitt Romney’s speech arguing that his adherence to Mormonism was no obstacle to standing for the US presidency:

“The unsavory aspects of this entire discourse are apparent in the op-ed of Naomi Schaeffer Riley for the Wall Street Journal. While she depicts Mormons in a positive light, she displays the most gut-wrenching bigotry toward Muslims. She writes: ‘A recent Pew poll shows that only 53% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Mormons. That’s roughly the same percentage who feel that way toward Muslims. By contrast, more than three-quarters of Americans have a favorable opinion of Jews and Catholics. Whatever the validity of such judgments, one has to wonder: Why does a faith professed by the 9/11 hijackers rank alongside that of a peaceful, productive, highly educated religious group founded within our own borders?’

“I just wanted literally to puke on my living room carpet when I read this bilge. Islam is not ‘the faith professed by the 9/11 hijackers’. Islam is the religion of probably 1.3 billion persons, a fifth of humankind, which will probably be a third of humankind by 2050. Islam existed for 1400 years before the 9/11 hijackers, and will exist for a very long time after them. Riley has engaged in the most visceral sort of smear, associating all Muslims with the tiny, extremist al-Qaeda cult.

“We could play this game with any human group. Some Catholics were responsible for the Inquisition. Shall we blame Catholicism for that, or all Catholics? Of course not. Jewish Zionists expelled hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinians from their homes in 1948. Is that Judaism’s fault or that of Jews in general? Of course not.”

AlterNet, 9 December 2007