|image from website Thump and Whip: Whack Liberalism|
Okay, I've said it. Does that make it so? Absolutely not.
But evidently some person, somewhere, has the power to turn lies into credible facts, for according to a new poll done by the Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 Americans now believe our President is a Muslim.
Not, of course (as Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer would say), that there's anything wrong with that. Being a Muslim, I mean. But in difficult times, we Americans do love our clearly-defined enemies, and we seem to be increasingly willing to lump immigrants and Muslims into the enemy category, willy-nilly.
Chuck Norris is one of the pundits some of those eighteen percent might be listening to. The website Bible Paths has a long quotation from Mr. Norris in which he presents his reasons for believing that President Obama is actually a Muslim missionary. He begins. . .
There's chatter on the internet that President Obama is not only a Muslim, but is the Twelfth Imam, whom Twelvers (the largest branch of Shi'a Islam) believe will one day return with Christ to reestablish the rightful governance of Islam and replete the earth with justice and peace. Rush Limbaugh recently referred to our President as Imam Obama."More than they have been at any other time in U.S. history, our First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion are in jeopardy. As if recently passed “hate crime” laws and a politically correct culture weren’t bad enough. Now our president is using international pressure and possibly law to establish a prohibition against insulting Islam or Muslims. . . ."
Who, I wonder, thinks this stuff up? And who is the first to believe it and pass it on as the truth? What's wrong with the real truth: that this is a complicated, scary, confusing time, that requires all of us to calm down and focus on real solutions for real problems?
All this Muslim branding puts me in mind of the Boston Police Strike of 1919, when the rank and file policemen went out on strike and management's most effective weapon against the strike was innuendo and name-calling.
1919 was a time of wide-spread labor unrest in this country. There were not enough jobs, inflation was out of control, immigrants and blacks were flooding the cities, taking jobs away from Real Americans who grew increasingly angry and fearful. The designated enemies of the day were Communists, a term which was applied more and more to anyone who thought workers deserved better treatment than they were getting.
The fledgling union movement was gaining strength; one-fifth of American workers went out on strike that year. After all attempts at negotiations for better pay and working conditions failed, the Boston Police, through their organization, the Boston Social Club, decided to do the same.
There is no doubt that Boston's police had grievances, which they expressed as early as 1917. New officer pay had not risen in sixty years, since 1857 when new recruits received two dollars daily. Officers worked seven days per week, with a day off every other week during which they couldn't leave town without special permission. Depending on duty, officers worked between 73 and 98 hours weekly, and were required to sleep in infested station houses kept in deplorable condition.
The Boston police struck on September 9, 1919. The next morning the LA Times wrote:
"...no man's house, no man's wife, no man's children will be safe if the police force is unionized and made subject to the orders of Red Unionite bosses."The Massachusetts state guard was called in. The strike lasted almost a week. The thousand or so officers who struck lost their jobs. The men hired in their place got higher salaries, pension plans, and free uniforms. So the strike was, and wasn't, a success.
But what seems relevant to me in terms of America today is how, back in 1919, the moneyed and empowered interests manipulated American citizens into believing something that wasn't true simply by stating that it was.
For heaven's sake. When are we going to grow up?