It's played for laughs but it is worth mentioning that the idea that there should be muslims-only lines at the airport has been advocated by mainstream conservative pundit Mike Gallagher on Fox News. Also, conservative radio host Jay Severin argued on his nationally syndicated show that "Muslims in this country are a fifth column. . . . The vast majority of Muslims in this country are very obviously loyal, not to the United States, but to their religion. And I'm worried that when the time comes for them to stand up and be counted, the reason they are here is to take over our culture and eventually take over our country." And when radio host Jerry Klein suggested in satire that muslims be forced to wear distinctive armbands identifying them as such, his show's phone lines were instantly jammed - with listeners clamoring in support. Klein later took to the airwaves to chastize his own audience.
I think that the Islamophobia is really a symptom of a larger problem in the national psyche. In diagnosis, Thomas Friedman has a scathing opinion piece in the New York Times about the national reaction - his included - to the tragedy of September 11th. He argues it is time to move beyond September 11th:
I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.
What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.
It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.
I had a very similar essay at my Nation-Building blog on the anniversary of the attacks this year, simply titled 9-12:
It's six years since 9-11. Everyone has their own stories about what they were doing that day when time stopped and a nation turned to CNN. It was a day that truly changed the world, like a catalyst. It is time now to accept the new world we have and stop worrying about why it is so. That also means letting go of 9-11 to some extent. What about 9-12? What world do we want to create?
For the sake of clarity it bears repeating: 9-11 was six years ago. America's war in Iraq, for all the good it has achieved in deposing a cruel dictator, has also done massive injury, for which we do bear responsibility and yes, blame. We did not act in evil intent, but we must accept the moral burden of responsibility for our actions, good and bad. We are no longer innocent victims but active participants.
We need a fresh outlook that takes the present situation into account as the facts on the ground, and free ourselves of all concerns about why we are where we are. It's time to lay 9-11 to rest and focus on 9-12.