Hatred is a Powerful Distraction

If you’ve paid any attention to the news lately, you could not have avoided the manufactured hysteria surrounding the construction of a Muslim community center two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. What used to be a Burlington Coat Factory building is scheduled to be a Muslim community center, modeled after buildings like the YMCA and Jewish community centers throughout the country.

Politicians and media celebrities have seized on this project to intensify a campaign of racism and bigotry against Muslims in general. The entire media establishment has chosen to distract the population with messages of hate. The cultural center has been called the “World Trade Center Mosque.” It has been called a disgrace to build a Muslim center near “Ground Zero.” Some politicians and newscasters have compared the cultural center to the building of a Nazi site next to a Holocaust memorial.

The opposition to the construction of this cultural center is based on blatant bigotry. The opponents claim it is disgraceful to the families of victims of the attack on the World Trade Center to build this cultural center close by. The message, then, is that all Muslims are to be blamed for the attacks on September 11, 2001.

This is the same kind of racist logic that was used to justify the destruction and occupation of Iraq by falsely linking Iraqis with the 9/11 attacks. It’s the same racist justification for the daily bombing and assault on the people of Afghanistan, blaming the whole population for the 9/11 attacks.

Politicians and the media have found a useful distraction based on hatred and racism. The real reason this general attack on Muslims has stolen the headlines is because it is far more useful than the real news of the day.

Where’s the in-depth coverage of the fake withdrawal from Iraq? Where’s the stories reminding people of the over two million Iraqi’s who’ve been killed, leaving a country in ruins? Where’s the story about the 50,000 U.S. soldiers who will remain in the country? Or the story about the largest U.S. military base ever constructed in the world to remain in Iraq indefinitely? Or the story about the tens of thousands of private mercenary soldiers remaining in Iraq working for the U.S. military?

Where’s the coverage of record-breaking profit rates for banks amidst the worst crisis of most people’s lifetimes? Last month was a nine-month high of over 500,000 new unemployment claims, reminding people that the trillions of dollars handed to the banks have done nothing to improve the lives of working people.

The story is the same for people losing their homes. The rate of foreclosures has continued to increase, with over 300,000 foreclosures filed every month for 17 straight months.

And at the same time, many corporations are reporting increases in their rate of profits (what they call “productivity”). The flipside to the climbing level of unemployment is that corporations make more money when they fire people and decrease staffing. By forcing more work onto fewer people, bosses make more money.

There is a massive attack being carried out on working people and it is something to be angry about. This is the reality that the bosses and the politicians would like us to be distracted from. They would rather have working people direct that anger away from the bosses and the politicians and turn it into hatred and racism. Let’s not be the pawns in their games of distraction.