As Islamophobia in the United States reaches bonfire of the vanities proportions – involving a composite of talk show hosts, Republican politicians, Tea Party agitators and wacko preachers (see Nobody expects the American Inquisition Asia Times Online, Sept 11, 2010) – concerned citizens across the world should note that the anti-mosque hate festival this past Saturday in front of the proposed site of Cordoba House, the Islamic community center a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero in New York, totally fizzled out; according to ground witnesses, there were way more reporters present than rabid Islamophobes.
But as a graphic illustration of Islamophobia defeated, nothing beats what happened in Amarillo, Texas, the same day. David Grisham, the wacko director of one Repent Amarillo organization, who had planned his own Koran-burning session in support of Gainesville, Florida, pastor and instant global celebrity Terry Jones, was about to commit the act in front of around 200 people when, out of nowhere comes …
… the unlikeliest of heroes; Jacob Isom, a 23-year-old, bespectacled local skateboarder. Isom himself described what happened to the Amarillo-Globe News: “I snuck up behind him and took his Koran, he said something about burning the Koran, I said ‘Dude you have no Koran,’ and ran off.” The righteous skateboarder even had time to add to a startled Grisham, “You’re just trying to start holy wars,” then handed the unburned Koran to a local Muslim leader.
Repent Amarillo is one of those typical wacko militia American groups, referring to itself as the “Army of God” and with a promotional material modeled on army recruiting pamphlets. Everyone is a target: gays, Muslims, liberal Christians, environmentalists, breast cancer events that do not highlight abortion, Halloween, “spring break events” and pornography shops. Repent Amarillo even led a boycott against the city of Houston after it elected Mayor Annise Parker – a lesbian. Their motto is, “We are the special forces of spiritual warfare, we’re looking for a few good warriors.”
A lot of people at the would-be Koran-burning site in Amarillo put their hands over a barbecue grill to prevent Grisham from lighting the fire. So this is not only a story about a righteous dude acting like a model citizen. It’s in the same spirit of another citizen observing the Hate Festival near Ground Zero, holding a piece of carton with the words “Real Americans don’t burn Korans”. At the center of this response is the respect for the constitution of the United States – which ensures the inalienable right of anyone to freely practice the religion of one’s choice.
Cairo, Kabul, Kashmir, Peshawar should read into this that the vast majority of Americans won’t be cowed by fear and hate no more, and won’t succumb to a new, politically engineered, religious crusade. (Radical) maneuvers by free thinkers and righteous skateboard dudes are showing the way; no paramilitary Christian fascist resists being reduced to ridicule. Now if only Americans could redirect their outrage against the Pentagon drone war against Afghan civilians.