By Sylvia Gurinsky
The good news is that the time has apparently passed when well-respected community leaders could string up people of different colors and religions from a tree and lynch them.
The bad news is that they still have a tendency to slander those people, or try to put an insulting twist on a label.
In the wake of President Barack Obama defending the constitutional right of a Muslim group to build Park 51/Cordoba House two blocks away from the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, right-wingers are trying to insult Obama – and gain points with bigoted voters – by calling him Muslim.
It’s comparable to President Harry Truman once being called Jewish, whether it was because his maternal grandfather's first name was Solomon, or because of Truman's one-time business partner, Eddie Jacobson, who was Jewish and who helped influence Truman to recognize the State of Israel in 1948. Obama should react, and probably will, the way Truman did: He’s not Muslim, but if he was, he wouldn't be ashamed of it.
But the Muslim community, most of whom are law-abiding and patriotic Americans, are rightly angry at this slandering of them.
One of the slanderers is Franklin Graham, ordained as a minister, but tarring the legacy of most American ministers, not to mention that of his father, the Rev. Billy Graham, with his behavior in this. His father, known among other things as the minister to presidents, has spent his life reaching out to people. Sadly, Franklin Graham seems to be painting his legacy as a divider with his contradictory statements about his perception of Obama's religious beliefs.
Credit goes to those in the traditional media, usually timid about calling a spade a spade, who came out last week and criticized the religion baiting.
They called it exactly what it is: Bigotry.