Are Arizonans stupid as well as ignorant and bigoted?
Sorry, I don't mean to disparage every single Arizonan. Many, after all, are opposed to, if not fighting, the state's draconian anti-immigrant law, for example. But explain this:
In an era saturated with absurd moments of anti-Muslim fear-mongering, mosques have become a touchstone for Islamophobia. Even unbuilt mosques have set off a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in Tennessee, Texas, California, and most notably, New York. Not to be outdone, the people of Pheonix, AZ were quick to call foul over the appearance of a dome-like structure along an interstate. But in the clamor over the impending Muslim takeover, these Arizonans missed one small detail — the building is not a Mosque, it's a church.
That's right, a church. Not that it would be any more acceptable if it were a mosque, but this little episode shows just how insane the fear-the-Other climate is at the moment, especially in Arizona.
And I would note that this climate of fear, bordering on outright paranoia (if it's not there already), has been manufactured largely by conservative propaganda that targets certain vilified groups, namely, Hispanics and Muslims.
"It is unfortunate that people are so intolerant to differences that they aren't willing to see that the place of worship is not a mosque," said Tayyibah Amatullah of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Arizona chapter. But with so many high-profile figures selling unfounded, anti-Muslim fear to the public, is it any wonder that all many Americans can see in Islam is a phantom menace?