I just don’t have it in me today to post about Harry Reid’s disgraceful concession on the mosque and for the next couple of weeks I’m going to be offline. But something tells me that, come September and the return of business-as-usual, this issue will be moving to the back burner. Like last year’s death panels, pretty much all the juice has been squeezed out of it already.
I’m going to give this round to the Republicans. Though they’ve trashed their own principles in the process, they’ve managed, once again, to define their opponents as weak-kneed defeatists who are out of touch with the concerns of average Americans. Xenophobia, demonization, and scapegoating are tried-and-true tools of demagoguery; this wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last of them that we’ll see. Still, American history tells us that (with the exception of our indigenous peoples) they only work in the short term–Irish Catholics, Southern Italians, and Slavs were also once targets of this same kind of hatred, not to mention blacks and Jews. Homophobia is no longer the sure-fire wedge issue that it was thought to be only a few years ago; a slight majority of the country now supports gays’ right to marry. Hispanics already have recourse to the ballot box, and the Republicans will eventually reap a significant backlash.
There’s reason for hope, in other words, even if the prospects for November are looking increasingly grim.