My mother apparently gets a lot of emails sent to her from Texas redneck relatives/coworkers/acquaintances. Occasionally, she forwards them on to me, in what I assume is so far a futile attempt to make my head explode. (Kidding, Mom.) The latest one is an email purportedly by Jeff Foxworthy listing his opinions of Muslims. It's quite offensive, and quite racist. Highlights:
- You have more wives than teeth.
You may be a Muslim [Or a Mormon.]
- You wipe your butt with your bare hand, but consider bacon unclean.
You may be a Muslim
- You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.
You may be a Muslim
Not long after I got this, Snopes labeled it false. But here's what I find interesting:
This collection of one-liners is an updating of a earlier version of a list which is several years old (dating back at least as far as October 2007), was originally about the Taliban specifically (rather than Muslims in general), and was not in its original incarnation attributed to Jeff Foxworthy (or anyone else)..."
I've found the list in all sorts of places. It's on a community site for US Marines, a gun enthusiast forum, another gun enthusiast forum, and some weird discussion forum for some weird Christian combat-training company.
What I find so interesting is that the list was originally about the Taliban, but some clever conservative reworked it to apply to all Muslims and it started circulating. Google returns about ten times as many hits for the "You may be a Muslim" version than the "You may be a Taliban version". Making fun of the Taliban is certainly understandable; they basically are our enemy in at least one of the wars we're currently fighting. But the right wing has expanded the definition to include anyone any racial or religious characteristic with them.
Conservatives pundits and politicians in this country are now openly calling for racial profiling. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of the House Select Committee on Intelligence says that profiling "make sense." Sean Hannity and disgraced former-NPR bigot Juan Williams have also both called for racial profiling. In their minds, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and terrorist are all synonymous.
I'm told that one of the things to George W. Bush's credit is that he made it clear that the wars he started were not wars against religion, but against extremists. "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam."
No longer are conservatives happy with that statement. It seems that once, we were at war against people that attacked us. But anger and bigotry need an enemy, and now that those wars are winding down (or at least no longer visible in the 24-hour news cycle), they are turning against anyone that shares even superficial characteristics with Middle Eastern terrorists.