One of the apologists of bigotry and ignorance, the NYTimes Ross Douthat, explains in his recent column Islam in Two Americas
This is typical of how these debates usually play out. The first America tends to make the finer-sounding speeches, and the second America often strikes cruder, more xenophobic notes. The first America welcomed the poor, the tired, the huddled masses; the second America demanded that they change their names and drop their native languages, and often threw up hurdles to stop them coming altogether. The first America celebrated religious liberty; the second America persecuted Mormons and discriminated against Catholics.
But both understandings of this country have real wisdom to offer, and both have been necessary to the American experiment’s success. During the great waves of 19th-century immigration, the insistence that new arrivals adapt to Anglo-Saxon culture — and the threat of discrimination if they didn’t — was crucial to their swift assimilation. The post-1920s immigration restrictions were draconian in many ways, but they created time for persistent ethnic divisions to melt into a general unhyphenated Americanism.
"...both understandings of this country have real wisdom to offer" - in other words, tolerance and hospitality is as wise as persecution and bigotry.
This is the way right-wingers think - they love "tough love." But Douthat ignores the fact that the same crowd that objected to those who failed to adopt "Anglo-Saxon culture" quickly enough also objected to the end of slavery, female sufferage and the Civil Rights movement. The same backwards group that always prefers bigotry and ignorance.
The most amusing yet revolting aspect of the way Douthat's mind works is that he apparently believes that the reason the forces of tolerance sound better is because they have better speech-writers. No you idiot - the reason they make finer-sounding speeches is because their ideas are better! It's hard to make bigotry sound fine - although Douthat does his best to argue that it is "wise."
My buddy Roy makes some excellent points in his latest Village Voice piece
Ground Zero Mosque Story Confirms It: Conservatives Are The Honky Party:
National Review's David Pryce-Jones said the mosque was "not about freedom of worship, it is a statement of supremacy and conquest" -- a seemingly approving reference to the notion popular among the mentally ill that the mosque is being built to celebrate the 9/11 attacks.
"Non-Muslims are not allowed any place of worship in Saudi Arabia," continued Pryce-Jones, "they cannot even approach within miles of the cities of Medina and Mecca." This refers to yet another popular though idiotic trope: That America should show only as much toleration of minority religions as is shown by theocratic Middle Eastern states.
Former National Review staffer Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner, said Obama's clarification "pulls rug from under mosque supporters." This was unnecessary, York claimed, because "most mosque opponents concede the Muslim group's legal right to place the mosque in the planned site. They just argue that it's a terrible idea and have appealed to the organizers to cancel the project." ("Appeal" is an odd word for the torrents of abuse that have been visited on the planners, but it should be clear by now that these people have as little respect for language as they have for the Constitution.)
But we shall know the opponents of freedom of religion by their actions:
At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.
"Go home," several shouted from the crowd.
"Get out," others shouted.
In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called "The Way." Both said they had come to protest the mosque.
"I'm a Christian," Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.
But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.
"I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.
Most of the comments under the preceding story are just sickening examples of the bigotry and ignorance that is shockingly common in the USA.