Mosque, Arizona Immigration Controversies Reflect Tough Economy

When the economy gets ugly, Americans take their resentment out on easy targets, like Muslims and Latinos.

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Character is a test of how we behave when things are hard. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

It's not a coincidence that things really get ugly when Americans are struggling to make ends meet. Since the political and corporate establishments are so big, powerful, and unresponsive, people take their resentment out on easy targets. Like Muslims and Latinos.

Arizona passes a law that suspends civil liberties for people with brown skin even if they're American citizens. People in New York city and around the country fight the construction of a mosque near ground zero even though many of the first responders and people killed in the twin towers were Muslim. The fight against the construction of mosques is not confined to NYC. The New York Times reported Sunday that citizens are protesting against the construction of mosques all across the country.

[Read Robert Schlesinger:  'Ground Zero Mosque' Controversy Shows America's New Nativism]

What's the connection between economic hardship and racial intolerance? I found out last week when I blogged about immigration and gay marriage. I wrote:

The federal court decisions of the last two weeks (in Arizona and California) indicate that there is an inexorable march in American history to equality. It's just a matter of time until Latino citizens and gay Americans take their place in the sun.

I didn't say anything about the economy, but this was the reply from one of the readers, Pepina from Arizona:

Place in the sun…What about my 60 hour work week, taxed to the bone, shoved aside, my rights ignored, my religion sneered at, bills going up the gazoo, sales tax going up and wondering how the hell, I'm going to buy my groceries next Wednesday. Yeah. Well. I'm still waiting for MY place in the sun.

There's a Latin expression that lawyers use and that is appropriate here. Res ipsa loquitur: The thing speaks for itself.