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"Obama at the Mosque" Full of Bigotry and Falsehood

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 19/02/2016 Arnold R. Isaacs

I am writing in response to Arnold Steinberg's February 4 commentary, "Politically Incorrect Reflections on Obama at the Mosque."
That posting is not only full of crude anti-Muslim bigotry. It is also full of false statements. Nearly every paragraph makes an allegation that is wrong on the facts -- some wildly exaggerated, some completely untrue, none supported by any plausible evidence, all reflecting virulent prejudice and inflammatory stereotyping. E.g. the assertion that significant numbers of Muslim immigrants want to make the United States a "theocracy" where they will "impose their religion on everyone else." Or that present immigration policy is deliberately designed with the intention of "importing Muslims with no commitment to America or no goal of assimilation" and that its supporters, including President Obama, "want to transform... America into a Muslim-tolerant and then Muslim-dominated nation." Or the repeated sweeping generalizations to the effect that Christians and Jews are peaceful and good citizens, while Muslims are violent and dangerous
No one who knows anything about the American Muslim community would find any of those statements even remotely believable. And no one reading such comments as "If Muslim immigrants want to be called to prayer five times a day, perhaps they would be happier in an Arab nation" and "Muslims deserve to hear [the call to prayer] but not here" could fail to recognize the prejudice that underlies them.
Steinberg's policy prescription is extreme: "stop admitting as immigrants a demographic group in which many of the immigrants, according to polls, believe in violence against women and gays." Note that this would ban ALL Muslims, not just those who hold those beliefs, who by any credible judgment (which excludes Steinberg's) are a tiny minority of Muslim immigrants. I'm pretty sure I know which polls he refers to, by the way. They are basically fiction, produced by the organized anti-Muslim network.
It's a good bet that Steinberg's response to this or any similar criticism would contain the words "politically correct" -- today's all-purpose defense that is used to disparage criticism instead of answering it. But the issue here is not being politically correct or incorrect. It's about being correct on the facts. For example, it is simply untrue to say that recent immigrants represent a greater danger than an earlier generation of Muslim Americans. In fact, among the fraction of a percent who have turned to terrorism, new arrivals are not typical; a large number are second-generation Americans, and quite a few are American-born converts. To my knowledge, none of the several hundred who have been charged with terrorist crimes thought of their acts as a means to impose Islam on America. Their purpose was to retaliate for U.S. policy and military actions in the Mideast, not to make this country a sharia-compliant theocracy (they are not deluded enough to think that possible, even if Steinberg is).
Huffington Post should give a forum to a wide span of opinions, but not to such preposterous distortions of reality. And diversity of opinions should not mean no boundaries at all. This kind of bigotry doesn't educate readers. It damages the national conversation on an important subject. I regret that it was posted.
Arnold R. Isaacs

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