Republican Dean Koldenhoven was the Mayor of Palos Heights, just outside of Chicago, when a group of Muslims decided in 2000 they wanted to worship closer to home. They began working on a mosque.
Anti-Muslim activism is the Bigotry Du Jour in America at the moment. So, as might be expected, there was a community uproar. Mosques are a symbol to conservatives who want to strike a blow against the terrorists who flew planes into buildings on September 11, 2001. Collective punishment may have been condemned during Truman's time, but emotional shortcuts are never out of style for those who hate. But the lizard part of the human mind can't account for this case. That bit of mitigation does not apply here. It happened before those terrorist attacks.
Opponents tried to get the city to pay Muslims to stay out of town, but Mayor Koldenhoven vetoed the bill as an embarrassment to the community and an insult to Muslims. “Government has no place in this issue,” he said. Muslims decided to stay out anyway, so the mosque wasn't built after all. Voters tossed the Republican mayor out of office the next year, 5 months before bin Laden went, in our minds, from distant comic book villain to clear and present danger.
A year after the election loss, Caroline Kennedy called the ex-Mayor and asked if he would accept the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his resistance to religious prejudice.
When Koldenhoven accepted the award, he recalled another campaign in which religious bigotry played a part. When John F. Kennedy ran for President in 1960, West Virginia was a vital primary. Since West Virginia was an overwhelmingly Protestant state, Kennedy was advised to downplay the fact that he was Catholic. Instead, he he got mad, and confronted the issue.
Nobody asked me if I was Catholic when I joined the U.S. Navy. Nobody asked my brother if he was a Catholic or Protestant before he climbed into an American bomber plane to fly his last mission.
- John F. Kennedy, candidate for President, 1960
"I admired him," said Koldenhoven, "for his ability to step forward in courage and confront the issues head on."
I thought about President Kennedy last week as I read Pat Buchanan's latest attack on President Obama. While enraged that the President is following the lead of other Presidents and seeking to increase diversity in federal employment opportunities, Buchanan has developed another line of attack.
It seems Buchanan has been staring at photographs of combat casualties to get a sense of what, to him, is the most important fact about war.
White Americans were 75 percent of the dead, and from photos of the fallen in newspapers since, the ratios appear to hold.
Does this overrepresentation of white men in the body bags and caskets coming home bother our commander in chief, who wants fewer white men at the top level of his executive branch?
Oh boy. He does have a history of similar observations. Bill Buckley concluded that Buchanan was anti-Semitic after speculation about Jews in combat. In opposing the invasion of Iraq, Buchanan noted those proponents who were Jews. "There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East-the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States" and that actual fighting would be done by "kids with names like McAllister, Murphy, Gonzales, and Leroy Brown."
But color seems a very special preoccupation.
75% white casualties might seem disproportionate to Pat Buchanan, but, despite Buchanan's endless defense of history's level of white privilege, the rate is roughly in line with the makeup of America, although such things are difficult to control in an all volunteer military.
Kennedy's "Nobody asked my brother" made an impression on West Virginia patriots in 1960. Jack's older brother Joe had died heroically in defense of his country. And, yeah, nobody asked him his religion. Kennedy won the primary that year, and did it decisively.
It is Buchanan's phrase "from photos of the fallen in newspapers" that I found striking. It presents an image of Pat pouring over daily pictures of fallen heroes, grunting his satisfaction at photos of minorities, grimacing in anger at the sacrifices of those sharing Pat's skin color.
I admit to a special interest.
We pray every day and every night for our own Marine, now in additional training before his assignment to Afghanistan. Nobody seemed to pay attention to his skin color as he applied for duty. When I drove to his training camp to pick him up as his initial combat training finally ended, his fellow Marines, white and black, politely prevented me from helping him with his gear. They insisted on carrying it for him themselves. The handshakes and embraces signified a connection that went deep, below any skin level.
From all I have read, from all he has told me, that same camaraderie, that same mutual loyalty, will extend itself to a mutual protectiveness in combat. I certainly hope so.
We fear for him on so very many levels. He is competent and capable, but worry is part of what parents do. If anything happens to him, we will be unlikely to care at all whether his newspaper photo might result in one more satisfied mark in the war-as-it-ought-to-be column of Pat Buchanan's grim nightly tally.
Trackback address for this post
Mr. Pat has gone off the deep end, hovered a while, and then found a deep end inside the deep end and went off it.
Mr. Cantor will not allow disaster relief for Irene unless we cut spending equally.
He doesn't know about revenue, so what can be done?
It would seem we may have to cancel Irene, as it is not in the budget.
Luckily, his is a name that I have heard less and less of in recent years. He is rapidly descending into the irrelevancy he deserves.
Finally, I will continue to pray for your Marine and all members of the armed forces that are in harm's way. God bless your boy for his service, Burr!
Leave a comment
|« Magical Mystical Conservative Flower Shop||Shine Jesus Shine - Introduction »|