Ross Douthat, like Thomas Friedman or David Brooks, is a New York Times artist — a master of dressing viciousness, bigotry and just raw stupidity in 'delicate' language. The test of a Douthat (or Brooks or Friedman) essay is to replace the targeted ethnic group with the name of another. As yourself then how you react to his "reasonable" blanket assertions.
Today, Douthat weighs in — with pathetic predictability — on the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy. How a person names the proposed development is the first indicator of where he or she falls in the spectrum of American bigotry. Douthat is marginally less awful than the loudest bigots on the Islamic cultural center. He's roughly in the Abe Foxman/ADL camp. Also predictable for Douthat, who spends a good deal of time trying such up to perceived power.
We could call this Harvard-Times Bigotry. It is the kind of bigotry that will lead a Harvard president (Larry Summers) to condemn as anti-Semitic calls for divestment from Israel but remain silent (Drew Gilpin Faust) on a Israeli professor's (Martin Kramer's) explicit call for genocide against the Palestinians. It is what allows the Times to equivocate on an Islamic cultural center while supporting Israeli atrocities in Gaza.
Harvard-Times Bigotry takes a specific form. It begins with a token 'recognition' of the weaknesses of the privileged oppressor. So Israeli suffers from an "excessive" (but "understandable") obsession with self-defense. Americans enjoy the "wonderful tradition" of democracy and tolerance mixed with the "social norms" of Anglo-Saxons.
Douthat can't even get his history right — cultural or even simple, basic factual.
"... where the newest arrival to our shores is no less American than the ever-so-great granddaughter of the Pilgrims." Really?! I thought the Constitution expressly stipulates a birth requirement for the American presidency.
That's just one example of the shallow apologies Ross Douthat offers for American racism and bigotry. By doing so, he betrays himself as one of those bigots.
Douthat is the second person I've seen refer to American "nativism". (See also Robert Schlesinger in US News & World Report." We can translate "nativism" to what it really means in 2010 America — racism. Racism. And Ross Douthat is unambiguously (though he tries to mask it) defending — indeed, advocating, racism.
Douthat differs from Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich only by toning down sweeping, unfounded assertions about Islam and Muslims.
We know — conclusively — how the Times would respond of such sweeping claims were made about Jews and Judaism. Such claims are made with regard to Israel's war crimes in Occupied Palestine, something Douthat has never and will never critique or criticize, when some condemn all Jews for the crimes of one state.
Likewise, the Times would condemn – probably bar — blanket condemnation of Christians and Christianity, a condemnation many might find quite reasonable given the past 1000 years of intolerance and war in most Christian nations.
So why is Douthat allowed to commit exactly the vile wrongs that would rightly be damned if committed against any group other than Muslims and Islam?