Sunday, April 03, 2011

Soledad O'Brien and CNN presents "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door."

The program is avaialble for viewing on YouTube and comes in six parts. I present them here for your convenience: Part One,  part two, part three, part four, part five, and part six.

This from James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, writing for the Huffington Post:

On Sunday, CNN broadcast "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" a remarkable documentary, produced by Soledad O'Brien, that tells the story of the conflict in Murfreesboro, TN over whether or not that town's Muslim community would be allowed to build a new mosque.

Murfreesboro, we are told by some of its residents, prides itself on being a "welcoming community" and a "family". But in this documentary we see them speaking for themselves, angry, spewing hate, and striking out at their own Muslim neighbors. The program highlights a failed, but still hurtful, effort by mosque opponents to have a Tennessee court rule that Islam is not a religion and is, therefore, not protected by the Bill of Rights. The portrait that is painted by the mosque's antagonists' own words and behavior is both disturbing and frightening.

I watched this program with a growing sense of horror. 

The ignorance, the hate, and the religious persecution happening in the "heartland of America" was so vicious that one could almost believe they were watching video taken from the Inquisition, or the Salem Witch Trials.

You always hope that we as a people are much too evolved to allow ourselves to become so hateful, based on prejudice or a lack of knowledge. But then you see something like this and you are suddenly slapped in the face with how close to the surface our xenophobia and distrust of the "other" is always lurking.

I know this is Sunday, and a day of relaxation for most of us, but I would  strongly urge you to watch this entire documentary when you get the chance.  For intelligent people who are searching for answers to better understand what is happening in our country, this is invaluable.


  1. Anonymous6:38 AM

    I already know what's happening in our country. The ignorant, who always happen to vote Republican, are destroying everything.

  2. Anonymous6:49 AM

    I am reminded more of the feelings of German citizens toward their Jewish neighbors. We gorget that there was a deep reserve of resentment, distrust and fear in place for which the fascists, and later Hitler and his Nazis, to tap. The depression had heightened these feelings, as jobs and resources became scarce, and the excuse of "not like us" for the prejudice morphed into "inferior to us" in order to justify the antagonism - and later the rationalization as they watched all that happened next.

    Substitute immigrants, especially undocumented or illegal, as well as Muslims and even African Americans - and combine it with this country's poorly educated and angry poor whites, and I think you have we have a frightening situation - and one made worse with every move of the Republicans to demonize them while ensuring that the economic noose tightens on the unemployed, the uninsured, the disabled, etc.

    By demonizing the "other" we have started down the Hitler's ugly road.

  3. Anonymous6:53 AM

    Ironic, last night I was at a local play that told the story of the holocaust from a teen's viewpoint. Certain "Americans" do seem eerily similar to the Nazis intent on genocide.

  4. This should come as no surprise to anyone. These are the children and grandchildren of those who turned hoses and loosed dogs on black people in the 60s.

    Get a grip and do what you know is right; become an activist for the best, instead of the worst, we are as a nation of humans. Sending money is no longer enough--our physical presence is needed.

  5. Randall7:17 AM

    This goes right to what I've been saying about the tea-party and the Xtian fundamentalists:

    As much as they espouse love for freedom and the Constitution - they understand neither.

  6. Anonymous7:52 AM

    Yes, 6:38AM my life is one unfortunately surrounded by Right Wing zealots, "good catholics" some not practicing, but fiercely loyal to the pope etc.

    I am 77 years old, originally from the bible belt, but happily a product of a grandparent and mother who were always tuned (not radically so), to the political news, stock market for farm commodities info daily, and well informed re: national interests, and deeply fiscally responsible.

    Daily, I am appalled at the lack of educationally astute, politically informed through reading, blind following by these Republicans misguided in their direction. When I mention events or detail fiscal issues of the past, to a person, these "intelligent, faux religious individuals in my life are totally ignorant regarding historical events! Unbelievable!

    My granchchildren's maternal grandmother proceeded to inform me yesterday, via a phone conversation how fortunate we will be to have someone as smart and caring as $P in the White House come 2012!! Yikes, I gave her some info on the AK idiot. She then danced through the lineup (hoping to influence my next vote?) naming Newt, Bachmann, Rand, giving them accolades which I batted down with cold, hard facts. Finally she named "Ron, Rom, oh the guy who always wears a nice suit," as the one who will win the nomination. I helped her with, "You mean Romney, don't you?" "Oh, yes"

    I live with someone, extraordinarily intelligent, but who runs a socialist commune housing offspring with drug and alcohol addictions on his property, with numerous trashy white folks flopping there 'til someone else offers them another "free" room & board. Voting Republican while monetarily subsidizing gutteral behavior is about as schizophrenic as it gets. Not to mention all those addicts access (repeatedly) county medical and police services for their needs, plus draw welfare when they can.

    The delusionary behavior escapes those of us with a sense of "walking the talk."

    David Brock's "Blinded by the Right" is a most compelling book giving the insider story of what drives the "vicious" right wingers, especially since Reagan's onslaught to destroy the middle class. If you haven't read it, consider it a must. It is as applicable to those leading right wingers today, who are named and just as politically active RW's as when it was published just a few years ago.

    We must be vigilant and informed. It is the progressives who must not falter and must inject sanity into our nation's government, NOW!

  7. Murfreesboro is about 20-25 miles away from where I live.
    This is really shocking to me!! Murfreesboro is a College Town, I am surprised that the students are not out there protesting! It has MTSU, a State School.
    This is another reason why I hate living in the South so much!! They are so friggin racist here, it's mind blowing. When I first came here it was a bit more hidden. But ever since $arah started with her Bagger's, it has gotten a MILLION times worse!!
    I am ashamed of this State! The legislature is no better. It's full of Tea Bagger officials.
    I am ashamed to be an American.

  8. I can't watch that. I don't want to be that close to their hate.

  9. Anonymous8:39 AM

    This is everywhere.

    They now feel it is ok to just use their freedom of speech to spread the hate.

    Video: Minnesota senator says Minneapolis schools destroyed by integration

    The DFL has released a video of this week’s statement by Burnsville Republican Sen. Dan Hall on school integration. “I watched Minneapolis get destroyed, so I not only didn’t want my kids in the school system,” he said. “I took them out of Minneapolis because they ruined our neighborhoods with integration and [de]segregation.” Hall made his remarks during debate about a move by Minnesota Republicans to repeal school integration laws, specifically a decades-long program that aims to diversify schools in the Twin Cities metro area and Duluth.

  10. Anonymous8:55 AM

    I have in the past considered myself to be open minded, however, lately I am really struggling and I am at a loss on how to deal with my internal conflict. I now find myself generalizing about people from the south. I'm at the point where if I even hear a southern accent, I am immediately thinking the person is either racist, or ignorant. Stories such as this only make it more difficult for me. I cannot begin to imagine life as a minority in the south.

  11. Anonymous9:31 AM

    One of the many reasons why I love being a Canadian citizen:.....

    "In Canada, advocating genocide or inciting hatred against any 'identifiable group' is an indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada with maximum prison terms of two to fourteen years. An 'identifiable group' is defined as 'any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation."

  12. Hey Gryph... This turns out to be a far worse story of the beginnings of what looks like a religious war in the US.. I just happen to be reading about Apartheid last evening - probably the worst offensive action ever undertaken by peoples against another for purely social reasons and the color of their skin. FAR worse than the 1960's in the US.

    That's what this is starting to look like. The anger, hate, rhetoric, and vile behavior against neighbors and colleagues... If left un-checked, this WILL devolve into an internal split that will rip this nation apart. Violently I fear.

  13. anonymous @ 8:55, I grew up in South Louisiana. My family is one of the only liberal families I have ever come across there. I speak with a small southern drawl. I want you to know that when I hear a southern accent, I think the exact same way as you do. Ignorance and racism. I've just experienced it way too much first-hand, so it's now a permanent association. As long as you can be an accepting person, and you can get over it as soon as you find out what the person is really about, it's gonna be ok. The problem is when it prevents you from becoming associated with ALL Southern people, and I just don't see that happening within the liberal population.

  14. honeybabe9:50 AM

    doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.....karma! sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. god is love....where does all the hate fit into the "christian" belief? so sad, we all have to speak out.

  15. Anonymous9:55 AM

    I feel the same way - struggling against my internal recoil - only mine is strongest whenever someone mentions being a Christian. Unfortunately, the most racist, hateful, hate espousing people I've ever met have claimed Christianity. Yes, I know in my heart that all Christians are not like that....but like the good cops who refuse to police bad cops...they are all tainted with the same stench.

  16. Anonymous9:58 AM

    Here's sme more hate in Canada which mentions Palin.

    "In the aftermath, some drew a direct connection between the attack and the anti-politician rhetoric that was being whipped up by Sarah Palin, former Republican vice-presidential candidate and now a star of the Tea Party movement. Shortly before the Tucson attack, Palin had included Gifford’s face in an ad that drew rifle crosshairs on politicians’ faces, with the slogan: “Don’t retreat, reload.”

  17. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Don't forget that Sarah fueled this with her very public opposition to religious freedom with the proposed mosque in NYC. This is ALL connected. Something else that she will not take responsibility for, I'm sure. The press probably already feels that she's dead in the water so there's no sense in holding her accountable after all her whining but to understand what is going on, all pieces of the picture should be considered.

  18. Anonymous10:14 AM


    I am in Tx. Believe me, we are not all racists. My son's best friends in school were from Jordan, India and Pakistan. I live in a small city with a large Muslim population and we do fine together. There is a Hindu temple not far and a mosque not that far from me.

    My town in also majority Hispanic--I am actually the minority. There are many African Americans as well.My mayor is African American as well. It has been very diverse here for over 25 years and it works just fine.

    Sorry--but I just have to call the racist bigots what they are-shallow idiots, who give those of us who live with many cultures, a bad name.


  19. Anonymous10:23 AM

    Meh, I've heard some pretty rough racist talk in the midwestern rustbelt/now upper middle class and predominantly white 'burb I live in , too. The thing is to stand up to it, no matter where you hear it. In your sports locker room, on the sidelines at your kids sporting events, etc. If it's in dogwhistle form - ask them publicly to clarify exactly what they mean - make them own their damn racist views. Then calmly voice your non-racist rebuttal. Public shamign goes a long way... particularly if you're a "respected member" of the community yourself.

  20. Anonymous11:17 AM

    This type of Xtian rhetoric and associated violence is not confined to the South. It is alive and well in Wasilla, AK. Imagine Muslims wanting to build a mosque here!

    As someone who doesn't always reign in the expletives, I have 3 times been asked BY STRANGERS if I am a Christian. When told to mind their own damned business, I was given a vile and threatening look.

    All we have to do is look at the recent past and current political panorama in AK to know that it is the Xtains against the rest of us. It was not that way 25 years ago.

    A shame so many never internalized the real teachings of Christ. They act like a bunch of neanderthals worshiping whatever they don't understand.

  21. California Dreamin'11:27 AM

    I know that all southern Christians are not racists, but I totally blame Christianity and the southern culture for a lot of the racism that exists.

    I speak only from personal experience, but I grew up in OK, have relatives in LA and TX, and lived in east TX for three years.

    Growing up, we went to church for a few years, until my mother (who was raised southern Baptist) grew weary of the hypocrisy of a lot of the members. After that, I never set foot in another church, except for weddings or funerals. In the mid 80s, I had a friend growing up that attended an evangelical style church with her family. She regularly regurgitated garbage about how the races shouldn't mix and how all other religions are "wrong" except for Christianity. Also, I heard the "n" word (my grandma called them "colored") regularly growing up from my southern relatives. Martin Luther King was characterized regularly as a "trouble maker" by my father.

    Racism is very deep seated in the culture and psyche of most southern people. Ironically, most southerners also attend some denomination of Christian church.

    Poverty is also a large part of the problem. The southern states are the poorest in the nation and lacking in good education. When we lived in TX, I worked as a public information person for a federal agency. I was shocked by the number of people who would come in to our office to purchase permits who were totally illiterate.

    It's just really sad that some in the Republican party pander to and take advantage of racist ignorance for political gain.

  22. What strange bedfellows are the overly concerned African American and the racist old plastic surgery recipient. I'm tired of the attacks on our constitution. When are we going to call these people out for their lack of American values? They are un-American. VI'm very proud however of the young people of Murphreesboro for their counter protests. Wish I could be there as well.

  23. Anonymous1:20 PM

    This sickens me, that was the longest hour of my life listening to the truly ignorant racists that spew so much hate.

  24. honeybabe3:09 PM

    we ask that others respect our beliefs, that shoe should go on the other foot as well. do we not have enough problems that we need to look for more inspiration for hate?

  25. Anonymous3:21 PM

    Anon@9:55 AM. I was saying the same thing to my daughter today. The Christians like my parents, and grandparents, who are deceased, no longer are out there.

  26. Anonymous4:18 PM

    My husband, who by on his name can be identified by others as Muslim, has been a US citizen for more than 25 years, and has made productive contributions in his field. He is completely assimilated and a proud American who is grateful to this country for offering opportunities that the country of his birth did not offer. He watched that program and was shaken to the core, saying after that he always thought he had a place in our system, but now he wasn't confident that this would be a place he could remain for the rest of his life. It broke my heart that he heard this hatred and ignorance. He and millions of other Arab-Americans don't deserve this.

  27. wow, that was a well done yet disturbing documentary. now i understand why some states in the heartland are trying to ban sharia law even though they have very few muslim communities - they are trying to have a legal foot to stand on in preventing such mosques and community centers from arising on the grounds that they are somehow against the constitution because of sharia law. the ignorance and hate are so disturbing and hurtful to this poor community. they have one tiny, too-mall mosque, yet how many churches are there in that town?
    the syrian man is correct that sharia law is interpreted differently by different cultures and communities. this is obviously a progressive muslim community where not all the women even wear head scarves in public, except for friday worship. why can't the ignorant people trying to block the center simply inquire what version of sharia these folks adhere to? i suppose they don't really want to know, they are too xenophobic to care.
    growing up, my best friend was an egyptian muslim. she went to catholic school with me, and she belonged, with her family, to an islamic community center just like the one these folks are proposing. they had prayers services, went on camping trips, had bake sales, supported the members of their community, gave generously to local charities, and took excellent care of the grounds of their facility. they were some of the politest, kindest people i had ever known.
    what these eejits in mufreesboro don't realize is that this center will be an improvement and a boon to the whole community. i'm sure they will have outreach programs and will try to educate the public as to what their faith really means, and they will give back to the larger community of mufreesboro as well.
    i feel for these people living under such duress, but i am glad that ultimately the constitution is on their side. i hope they are able to carry out their plans as scheduled and wish i could stand up with those supporting their center.

  28. from what i saw this looks like a huge section of America that needs to be band reproducing. these people are nothing more than backwoods rednecks that are trying to enforce their cult-like attitude. i am all for the folks wanting to build a place to fellowship. sending panic or instilling fear against these people is no more than assault, terrorism, bigot, racist, and just a poor excuse of a human being. we are supposed to be the home of the free and able to practice our religion of choice even if for the evil sky monkey. what is really sad is the message and moral this sends to future generations. that if you do not think or feel like us you do not belong. Hitler tried that and we all know where that got him.


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