Hand it to Muslim terrorists, at least when it comes to truly long-term planning and the Fourteenth Amendment -- according to Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert. On the floor of the House of Representatives, he recently offered the following explanation for his desire to change that amendment, which makes anyone born in this country a U.S. citizen:
“I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system. And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty... thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life. 'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get setup in a position to destroy our way of life."This may be mad, as well as a figment of Representative Gohmert’s feverish imagination. It’s no joke, though, as Stephan Salisbury, author of Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland, a rare reporter who has long been attending to what’s happening to Arab American communities in this country, indicates below. The anger about the prospective “mosque at Ground Zero,” for instance, has caught the media eye, and in news reports has looked like a singularly strange “controversy” until last Sunday when the New York Times reported on several other examples, ranging from Tennessee to California, an indication of the sort of growing hysteria that two centuries ago here might have centered around imagined Catholic or Masonic plots.
There’s no countering hysterias like this with reason or logic. It doesn’t matter, for instance, that (as Justin Elliott pointed out recently in Salon.com) no “mosque” controversy ever developed around Pentagon prayer practices. And yet Ramadan is celebrated in that building. As the Washington Times reported in 2007, a Navy imam called to prayer 100 Department of Defense employees. “Uniformed military personnel, civilians, and family members,” the Times' reporter wrote, "faced Mecca and knelt on adorned prayer rugs chanting their prayers in quiet invocation to Allah.” All this happened, and continues to happen, not two blocks from Ground Zero, but, as Elliott writes, “inside the building where 184 people died on Sept. 11, 2001.” It seems, however, that right-wing reverence for the U.S. military still exceeds right-wing mania about Muslims, and so “our infiltrated military” stories have yet to develop.
The present hysteria remains part of a process launched by the Bush administration in 2001 and since promoted by a veritable Fear Inc. in this country, which has blown anxieties about Islamic terrorism staggeringly (and profitably) out of all proportion, while turning this country into a nation of cowards. But beware what you launch: often, you have no idea where it will end up -- and in whose hands. Tom