Sunday, January 10, 2016

What do you want?

The end of partisan politics in America, before it destroys the American Republic, this is what’s going on in my thinker this morning. I don’t know what Rose Hamid and her friend hoped to accomplish by going to a Donald Trump rally dressed as they did, and then standing up in the crowd, silently, during the candidate’s speech. Of course, the Trump is going to go on with his anti-Muslim (in the name of national security) rants. Of course, he is going to suggest various ways to prevent the Islamification that we see in Europe from happening here. Of course, he has already corralled a following that, between his rhetoric and their fear, can be brought to an ugly boil at the drop of a burkha.

In an interview afterwards, Rose Hamid’s explanation comes across as entirely benevolent, non-violent, and as all-American-housewife-and-mother, cookie-cutter, smiley perfect as you can possibly imagine, except for that burkha, that head-covering which, given two more generations of Americanized Muslim women, would probably go the way of the babushka (Slavic head covering)—but it won’t. The burkha, I mean. As harmless as Rose herself tries to demonstrate she (and therefore Islam) is, this latest demographic shift in America, Muslim immigration, is not just some more Mexicans escaping poverty and state corruption, enriching our culture by their contributions.

All other ethnic groups coming to America, that is, the ancestors of about ninety-nine percent of us, after one, two or three generations, become fully American, full participants in a gradually evolving and ethnically enriched culture in which they had a part in creating. A part in creating, yes, bringing their best and merging it into the American dream. Myself, I am the second generation of the Polish immigration of the late nineteenth century. The babushkas (women’s head covering) began to go in the first generation (my mother loathed it), and they finally disappeared in the second (most of my female schoolmates shed their head scarves by seventh or eighth grade and never put them back, except for church).

The subject of head coverings is circumstantial. What we are really afraid of—yes, we are afraid of something, and it’s not primarily terrorists attacking the homeland—is a group of immigrants whose religious culture is historically totalitarian, from our point of view not a religion at all in the sense we mean it, but an ideological racism that was never anticipated by the founders of our country. The fears that many have had (and still have) about the Hispanic immigration gradually erode as we see that, despite their different heritage, Hispanics can be good Americans. Yes, we have to ‘make room’ for them, and the ‘white’ America that some of us lived in has had to make adjustments for the second time.

Back to Rose Hamid, she probably considers herself a good Muslim and a good American. She probably doesn’t belong to a mosque where anti-Americanism is openly preached. As she said, when she was interviewed, she never felt physically threatened, even being in the Trump rally and while being escorted out. The Trump is not Hitler. A head-scarfed Jewess wearing a yellow star-of-David would never have been allowed into a Nazi rally, and if she had slipped in by stealth and stood up during the Führer’s speech, she would probably not have been ejected with courtesy. That eight-pointed yellow star worn by Hamid and her accomplice was, I think, multiply insulting—to Jews, to Trump, and to America.

Muslims can be Americanized. Many actually give up their original faith and assimilate to various forms of Christianity when they have lived here awhile, or over the generations, by marriage, for career advancement, for many reasons. Some leave Islam for the same reason some Christians and Jews abandon their religious traditions: prosperity makes secular humanism an attractive alternative to wasting time on worship, study, and prayer. In America we don’t kill apostates. We don’t even shun them. Americanized Muslims? They can choose many lifestyles. We are happy for them. But Islamicized Americans? Or worse, Islamicized America? No, we don’t want it. I don’t want it. What do you want?

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