And then, on my bike ride to work this morning, I passed by our neighborhood mosque, just a few blocks from my house, and I saw this.
And, in addition to this, more graffiti that said "Long live the west" and "Go home."
I've been in a funk all day. The mosque is a nondescript building; there's nothing on the outside to indicate that it's a place of worship, which leads me to suspect that it was someone from our own neighborhood who did this. Somewhere in this city I love there is at least one cowardly neo-Nazi who has the disgusting gall to believe that religious persecution is somehow an American value.
Seeing this provided a visceral demonstration of how rage can beget more rage. I found myself wishing I'd had the presence of mind to head outside and check on our neighbors last night when I'd heard the news. With a baseball bat.
But what good would that really have done? This is just graffiti, and it's already been painted over. American Muslims, unfortunately, have suffered much worse. The real damage is the toxic, self-consuming hatred that still persists, not only in the bitter minds of those who did this, but even in the dim intellects of presumably "upstanding" members of our community. Let's not forget our daily newspaper's publisher, Richard Connor, the dimwit who apologized for running a front-page story about local Ramadan celebrations last September 11, and then humiliated himself and his city by broadcasting his racist cowardice on national radio.
Make no mistake: the fact that Americans among us could behave this way is much more of a threat to the American republic than Osama bin Laden ever was.
If Osama Bin Laden's death spurs cowardly, Klan-like hate crimes like this one, then there is nothing to celebrate today. The terrorists are still among us.