A decade on, the bigots triumph
I was on my way to deliver some newspapers to a classroom on September 11, 2001, when I walked through the newsroom and saw everyone focused on the TV reports. At that point, the news was that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. It was, of course, a tragedy, but a plane had hit the Empire State Building in 1945. These things happen.
I was in the car and about to pull out when the second plane hit and it became clear that Something Else was going on. My first thought was to help kids understand what had happened, and my second thought was "Dear God, anyone who wears a turban or hijab in the USA is in some deep shit right now."
We had just introduced a new educational feature, "Around the World with Nellie Bly," with a cartoon dog doing geography-in-the-news. It was normally a mid-sized feature, but I also had a full page feature that ran Mondays. I pulled that full page, and a version of this piece ran on September 17, less than a week after the attacks.
Then I made this version available to papers around the country, and around the world, and a little over a dozen took up the offer. I thought it was important that people realize that Islam is a very widespread and diverse religion. I wanted them to realize that there are Muslims who have never seen a camel, and who read Harry Potter and who drive Hondas.
Alas, nearly a decade later, the bigots and idiots have dominated the discussion. There is a debate over the construction of a mosque in New York City because it is near the WTC site. Fair enough, but the arguments against it are the arguments of morons. These people are idiots, with no understanding of a world beyond "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars."
This is a jpg but that's what the blogspot interface allows. If you'd like a higher res PDF, let me know. I'm not sure you can battle against what Aquinas called "Invincible Ignorance," but what choice do we have?