By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout OpEd:
"2010 is shaping up to be the Year of the Hate Crime in America, thanks in large part to right-bent Republicans and their Tea Party allies who have nothing to run on in the upcoming midterms. Think about it; would you want to run for office as a Republican these days? Their dearest economic ideas gave us the current recession, their foreign policies resulted in a war we lost in Iraq and a war we're losing in Afghanistan, their environmental designs have resulted in yet another oil rig detonation in the Gulf of Mexico, a great many of their supporters don't believe in dinosaurs because the Bible doesn't mention them, and their biggest national superstar is Sarah Palin, who by all appearances is so drastically stupid that she couldn't figure out how to pour piss out of a boot if there were directions on the heel.
"So, yeah, not much to hang your hat on there. In the absence of anything substantive to give the American people, the right has gone home to their mothership: sowing discord, fear and hatred to distract people from the fact that, while Republicans are good at campaigning, they are walking cancer cells to the body politic if and when they actually win.
"This time around, the right's weapon of choice against this republic is spreading hatred and fear of Muslims and Islam. September 11 happened nine years ago, so it may seem an odd topic to harp on after so much time has passed, but the Cordoba House controversy gave them an opening and they ran right through it. Of course, it started before that, pretty much as soon as President Obama first threw his hat into the ring for the 2008 election. Once the right figured out his middle name was Hussein, it was hats over the windmill, and their incessant blather about his background and religion has finally begun to bear bloody fruit.
"Wrap your mind around this: at this point, a majority of Republicans not only believe Mr. Obama to be a practicing Muslim, but believe his intention as president is to impose Sharia Law on America and the rest of the world. I'd like Gallup or Pew to do a special poll so as to determine exactly how many of those who believe these things were dropped on their heads when they were babies. I'd wager the number would pop close to 95%. Of course, the media's love for spectacle - no matter how deranged or dangerous it is - has motivated them to run these cretins and their theories across the sky with klieg lights, and just as the right hoped, it is all having the desired effect.
"There have been other effects, however, and deadly dangerous ones at that. Mosques have been firebombed. A Muslim cabdriver in New York City was savagely slashed by a man screaming anti-Islam epithets. A Sikh man was punched in a store for wearing a turban, even though he was as Muslim as a church steeple. The controversy over the Cordoba House project has inspired a rash of threats against the Imam in charge, the Muslims involved, and the building itself. In short, the right has basically stated that if the place gets built, they will shoot it up and/or burn it down.
"There is nothing whatsoever funny or pleasurable about this phenomenon. The people pushing this vile tactic are someday going to find themselves burning in a deep ring of Hell, and rightly so. Sometimes, though...oh yeah, sometimes the tables get turned, and the hatred and stupidity being peddled by the right is transmogrified into a special kind of justice. Street justice, to be sure, but justice nonetheless.
"There's a joint in West Haven, Connecticut, called the Fire and Ice Hookah Lounge. By all reports, it's a nifty little place; the theme is Middle Eastern, the hookah smoke is tasty, and the belly dancers are something to see indeed. Last Thursday, a fellow named Kevin Morris, also of West Haven, came ditty-bopping into Fire and Ice and staked his claim to first-ballot entry into the Dumbass Hall of Fame.
"Mr. Morris, it seems, decided that any place with hookahs and belly dancers must be a festering nest of Muslims, and decided to give the patrons what-for. According to news reports, he barged through the door and started screaming racist and anti-Muslim epithets at everyone there. The crowd didn't really react until Morris tried to throttle the bartender...at which point, the patrons rose up righteous and basically beat the ever-loving Jesus out of him. Morris' mug shot looks like his face went through a wheat thresher, and as of now, he remains in police custody.
"Hatred and stupidity, folks. When they ride in the same applecart, things can get truly dangerous. But sometimes, and only rarely, things can also get truly funny.
"Thank you, Mr. Morris."