Minstrels is another name that comes to mind for these people in modern day America who travel the country inciting and inflaming people’s passions about Islam and Muslims in America. I’m especially piqued at the prospect that a southerner from the state of Georgia who no doubt understands full well the historical role carpetbaggers played in his state’s history, a role he no doubt would describe as detrimental, would himself take up that calling.
I’m talking about Newt Gingrich, in another life he was a congressman from Georgia who had a rather ignominious reputation relating to personal integrity, who has gone on to New York City and weighed in on the Cordoba House which is slated to be built near the location where the World Trade centers stood before being destroyed on 9/11/01. Nevermind the fact that this establishment in the heart of one of the most culturally diverse cities in America will have facilities for people of all faiths to pray, Muslims, Christians or Jews, or that it will have recreational facilities for all an interfaith YM/YWCA, or that the democratically elected Mayor of New York city which will house Cordoba House has gone on record with a very constitutionally correct statement
I think our young men and women overseas are fighting for exactly this – for the right of people to practice their religion and for government to not pick and choose which religions they support, which religions they don’t
Gingrich has inserted himself in the debate with the really inappropriate analogy of the US and Saudi Arabia by saying
There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.
Of course it didn’t take long for carpetbagger Sarah Palin to join in the fracas and with her appearance the usual scalawags, locals from among the New York landscape joined in with their unhealthy doses of Islamophobic paranoia. If you remember anything about American history you would know that “carpetbaggers”, was a derogatory term applied to Northerners who moved to the South during the post Civil War era between 1865 and 1877 looking for opportunism and exploitation of the area in which they moved. The outsiders often formed alliances with freed slaves and southern whites of like mind nicknamed scalawags who then politically manipulated and controlled former Confederate states for varying periods for their own financial and power gains. Carpetbaggers were viewed as dubious outsiders whose objectives were to disrupt the status quo for their own political gain. As time went on, the terms changed, so that people who came to an area of the South, especially during the Civil Rights era, were called outsider agitators, or communists. (I assert there is no moral equivalency between the people who agitated for change brought on during the time post Civil War era to now and the Islamophobes of today; the former was inclusive in aspiration as well as participation while the latter is exclusive)
Gingrich comes from a place in America that knows all to well how people react to outside influences, positively and negatively and seizing on that experience has allowed himself to be swept up in the racism of the Islamophobic reactionaries. It is especially relevant because he is considering running for President in 2012, and recognizing there is a tidal backlash against Muslims and Islam has gathered his surf board and is now riding that wave. His co-partner in crime Palin, equally ambitious and cash crazed has joined him as has the scalawags of the movement, some of them you can find mentioned here. They are all political opportunists, demagogues whose rhetoric appeals to a segment of the population they hope will catapult them to political power. They are segregationists in the sense they envision a limited participation of certain segments of America’s population into the everyday affairs of the public. Gingrich and his ilk are driven by a bloodlust that has seeped into America’s conscious, in part due to two wars being fought by American troops and in part by a war of propaganda that has permeated the airwaves attaching all the necessarily repugnant stereotypes of a people in order to influence public opinion. The people of NYC and surrounding areas would do well to listen to the patriotism of Mayor Bloomberg, whose appeal is to the rule of law and social order. Gingrich and his band of scalawags hold such noble callings in contempt and therefore should be dismissed.