Would He Win Votes in Present-Day Minnesota?
A substantial number of Minnesotans have developed an hysterical fear of Muslims. The main Minneapolis newspaper regularly reports on the purported social infractions engaged in by the local Somali community, who arrived in the city in the early 1990's as refugees fleeing civil war in their home country. The latest outrage to rile the native population involves the creation by a local community college of a designated place for Somali-origin students to observe their daily prayer ritual.
In a blog discussion about the prayer site, one participant asserted the following:
“This is just another step in the Islamification of our country. This will be the civil war of our lifetime. America vs. internal and home-grown Muslims.”
Apart from evincing paranoia, the commentary -- not at all unique in the blogosphere, or in the nation's capital-- is also reminiscent of a sinister belief from Germany's past: Verjudung.
Verjudung held that 19th century German culture was being corrupted by the newly-emancipated Jews. One of its foremost proponents was Adolf Stoecker, who -- according to Wikipedia -- was "upset with the dislocating social effects brought on by rapid industrialization" and so "called for German society to rededicate itself to Christian faith and return to Germanic rule in law and business." Stoecker founded the Christian Social Party, designed at once to beat back socialism and deprive Jews of their civil rights. The CSP found that the more it attacked German Jewry, the greater its success at the ballot box.
Along with increasing xenophobia in Minnesota, directed not only at Somali Muslims but also at Mexican immigrants, the US Congress has swung into action to revive explicitly a principal part of the CSP philosophy, last week passing House Resolution 847: "Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith." While the Iraq situation festers and a global financial crisis unfolds, our House of "Representatives" found time to assert officially by a vote of 372-9 that "on December 25 of each calendar year, American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ." Stoecker would have been proud.
Another major piece of the context that helped spawn the German CSP also is on the rise in present-day America: economic anxiety. The subprime mortgage crisis threatens not only to throw millions of people out of their homes and cause the US economy to contract, but also to provoke a worldwide financial meltdown. The blame for this, according to Martin Wolf of "The Financial Times," ultimately falls on the shoulders of the financiers of London and New York who are guilty of poisoning international markets with a "mixture of crony capitalism and gross incompetence." Even so, substitute "liberal" for "socialist" and "Muslim/Mexican" for "Jew" and my money is on our nation's latter-day Adolf Stoeckers to continue diverting anger from worthy targets onto bogeymen.