Last week, Jonah Goldberg wrote that, if anybody is facing discrimination in this country, it's non-Muslims:
The 70 percent of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from Ground Zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and the much-ballyhooed anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth.
Why aren’t we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America?
Because there isn’t one. And there isn’t an anti-Muslim climate either. Yes, there’s a lot of heated rhetoric on the Internet. Absolutely, some Americans don’t like Muslims. But if you watch TV or movies, or read, say, the op-ed page of the New York Times — never mind left-wing blogs — you’ll hear much more open bigotry toward evangelical Christians (in blogspeak, the “Taliban wing of the Republican party”) than you will toward Muslims.
There is an echo here of longstanding, familiar tropes of conservative thought on racial issues here. In the 1960s, conservative organs like National Review opposed civil rights, but most of the opposition came in the form of opposition to opponents of civil rights rather than a straightforward defense of segregation (though straightforward defenses of segregation were made.) The real issue was the smug sanctimony of Martin Luther King, the stereotyping of white Southerners, etc. That particular brand of anti-anti-discrimination conservatism wasn't so much straightforwardly wrong—sure, you could find examples of sanctimony and reverse-stereotypes—as a wildly obtuse reading of the power dynamics.
Likewise, the notion that Americans who oppose the construction of Park51 are subject to some systematic atmosphere of hate is bizarre. Even if we take Goldberg's analysis of Hollywood, the New York Times op-ed page or liberal blogs at face value, these organs are, as conservatives remind us endlessly, far more liberal than mainstream America. The idea that we can take the temperature of the culture by examining the Times op-ed page and liberal blogs is hysterical. I'm pretty sure that bigotry against blacks was fairly absent from the Times op-ed page in 1964, too—or at least that condemnations of the white South were far more common. So, I guess that means racism wasn't a problem in America, either.
A couple days after Goldberg's column, a deranged man asked a cab driver in New York if he was Muslim, and then stabbed him. Then, amidst mass protests against the construction of a mosque in Tennessee, somebody set fire to the construction equipment, and then the next day somebody shot up the site. Now, this may not be entirely typical of the atmosphere faced by American Muslims, but it isn't exactly a totally isolated case, either. And the notion that white Christians or opponents of Park51 face a comparable or worse atmosphere is, at this point, a pretty sick joke.