Has anyone noticed that the political air is wafting rancid lately? That is the smell of modern barbarism. Modern barbarism is a malodorous umbrella concept. Underneath the umbrella are lots of fetid phobias, isms and behaviors: Islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, semi-fascism, scapegoating, stereotyping, bullying, libeling and a growing, aggressive intolerance of everything and everyone who is not to the liking of the modern barbarian. Here are some recent instances of this phenomenon.
Part I - Mistaking the Particular for the General
Michael Quigley, a Democratic Congressman from Chicago, made the New York Times on 24 September 2011. He made it by promoting the virtues of tolerance and diversity and lamenting the suffering that occurs when tolerance fails. Out and about in his Chicago district, he stopped in at a meeting of the American Islamic Conference. He made a short speech to the 100 or so conferees during which he said "discrimination comes in many forms, many shapes and many guises. You have my pledge to work with you to fight them, and I think it is appropriate for me to apologize on behalf of this country for the discrimination you face." Mr. Quigley was correct about the growing levels of Islamophobia that confront Muslim Americans. Islamophobia is a delusional mind-set which mistakes the general for the particular, which condemns an entire group (which happens to have a billion plus members) for the particular actions of a very few. There is no logic to such an overreaching generalization. It is irrational.
Within days of Mr. Quigley’s brief presentation he was "attacked harshly...in the conservative blogosphere...on radio and TV." There was "at least one death threat on a Fox news site that by week’s end was still not taken down despite ...