Then the Santa Clara office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations had to be evacuated after a threatening letter full of suspicious white powder showed up in the mailbox. Then someone set fire to a mosque in Coachella. Then, on Sunday, vandals spray-painted graffiti about Jesus at two mosques in Hawthorne and left a fake hand grenade at one of them.
This is just in the last 10 days in California. It doesn’t count, say, the two Muslim women who were attacked in Florida just for wearing headscarves. Or the Ku Klux Klan fliers circulating in Alabama asking the public to “help us fight the spread of Islam in our country.” Or the eighth-grade Muslim girl in Georgia whose teacher stopped her in class and demanded to know whether she was carrying a bomb in her book bag.
We could go on. There are ways to honor the 14 people shot by Islamic extremists this month in San Bernardino, but this kind of sick behavior isn’t among them. The anti-Muslim bigotry sweeping the country in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre is un-American, pure and simple, and should be denounced by people of conscience everywhere.
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There are ways to honor the 14 people shot by Islamic extremists this month in San Bernardino, but anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t among them.
Unfortunately, conscience appears not to be among the threshold criteria for candidacy for elective office. Though many politicians – including a few brave conservatives – have denounced what Islamic groups say is the worst flare-up of Islamophobia in this country since 9/11, others have used this moment as a craven opportunity to play to the mob.
It isn’t just GOP presidential contender Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Or his rival Ted Cruz’s misrepresentation of the White House’s appeals for nonviolence as politically correct censorship.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez, an Orange County Democrat who hopes to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, was right in there with them when she said last week that “anywhere between 5 and 20 percent” of Muslims worldwide want an Islamic caliphate, and “are willing to go to extremes” to “put their way on everybody.”
On Monday, Sanchez, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, defended the premise of her remarks. She should know better. Her claim is an invitation to harass law-abiding people.
Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook’s cowardly attack on unarmed people in San Bernardino was horrific, and, yes, scary. But times like these test our values. This pandering to mob ignorance must stop now. It’s bringing out the worst in us.