The Common Denominator Shared By Park51, the Sharif attack and the Papers Please Law? YOU and ME


Watching the news reports today about Ahmed Sharif, the Muslim cab driver in my beloved NYC who was allegedly attacked and violently stabbed by suspect Michael Enright has me both sickened and saddened for reasons that I’ll get to in a moment.

Those who follow my blog will note that I wrote a couple of posts in the span of a week about the proposed Park51 Muslim community center and mosque, something like 5 blocks from Ground Zero.  It’s not on the site of the 9/11 tragedy in lower Manhattan, not even close.  You have a ways to walk before you get to it.  The first post recounted a missed opportunity on my part to take photos.  The second post actually contains a gallery of 10 photos of protesters for and against the proposed project. Last Saturday, when I was snapping, and later that evening, reviewing these photos, I had no idea that less than 24 hours later, there would be hundreds upon hundreds of protesters descending upon the area.  Remarkable, I thought. What a difference a day makes.

Since then, I have been following this story, watching in rapt bewilderment and disgust as both sides of the debate have shamelessly exploited this emotional issue for their own selfish ends.  Shame on the media and politicians for their role in fueling the flames of this heated debate….and shame on ordinary Americans for allowing the inmates to run the asylum.

Now, in the wake of this alleged hate crime, I wonder if those who are stirring this cauldron of hate and bigotry understand the connection not only to Park51 but to the Papers Please law (SB 1070) on the books in the state of Arizona.  It has been pointed out to me that perhaps they do, but maybe I should reframe the question:  do we as ordinary Americans understand that all of this stuff is in fact connected and orchestrated to incite fear and division as a diversionary tactic?  It’s carefully crafted to distract us from the gross ineptitide of those we’ve entrusted with getting us out of the economic and political messes we find ourselves in as a country.

So here’s why this whole sordid affair makes me nauseous. 

It’s interesting to me that Mr. Enright had the audacity to ask his victim if he was Muslim before proceeding with his violent attack. Can we say profiling, anyone?  If anyone thinks, for one brief, passing moment, that Mr. Enright’s actions weren’t akin to profiling, please speak up now, or forever hold your peace………… That’s what I thought. 

Moving right along…let me make two additional points:

First…I didn’t know that it was necessary to know the ethnicity, race, national origin, or religious affiliation of a cab driver transporting a passenger from point A to point B.  The only things I want to know about my driver are that s/he has a clean driving record, a license to operate a cab in NYC, and that s/he is not using his cell phone while driving. If I was Mr. Sharif, I wouldn’t have said anything.  I would have ignored him.  But then again, I’m not a cab driver and I know that driving a cab in NYC has to be one of the most dangerous jobs a person can have.  You never know who will crawl or slither into that back seat, asking for a ride somewhere.

And two:  How dumb are you, Mr. Enright, to put your own life at risk!! Who attacks a man who is operating a motor vehicle with a knife? DUMB!!!! Bigots are now willing to die for their prejudice?  That’s a dangerous bigot, if you ask me. 

I hope they throw this loser under the jail for being so stupid! Who knows how many other people he put at risk for his reckless actions?  How does this make him better than the terrorists who hijacked planes and slammed them into the Towers or the Pentagon nearly 10 years ago?  Two wrongs do not make a right. AT.  ALL.

You, Mr. Enright, and what you are alleged to have done, are the exact reason why the Papers Please law needs to never see the light of day and why the Park51 project needs to go forward as planned.   Those who think that bigots will somehow behave rationally and unemotionally when confronted with a situation where they can dispense their own warped street justice against those that don’t look, speak, act or worship as they do are smoking the worse type of crack.   

To be honest with you, I think most of us are smoking some bad drugs because I hear no voices of reason in this debate.  As Charles Pierce wrote in his book Idiot America,

There have been seven years of empty debate, of deliberate inexpertise, of abandoned rigor, of lazy, pulpy tolerance of risible ideas simply because they sell, or because enough people believe in them devoutly enough to raise a clamor that can be heard over the deadening drone that suffuses everything else.  The drift is as palpable as the rain in the trees, and it comes from willful and deliberate neglect.

We have no one to blame but ourselves, fellow Americans.  The inmates need to be restrained and sent back to the asylums.

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