It seems a world ago when American conservatives were up in arms about a mosque being built near “Ground Zero”, the site of the former World Trade Centers in lower Manhattan. Yet as money begins to be disclosed in time for taxes, we can clearly see the media circus was done for the benefit of another lower Manhattan landmark – Wall Street.
Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of the giant hedge fund manager Renaissance Technologies, appears to have financed the ad campaign entirely himself, through a $1 million contribution on July 26 to the New York State Conservative Party, according to a filing today by the party’s housekeeping account. Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long confirmed to Haberman that Mercer was the source of the ad money.
This kind of contribution is not the only cause of the “Ground Zero Mosque” hysteria. The media was complicit as well, as were the politicians who fanned the flames in hopes of being re-elected. Yet who started this mess? A hedge fund manager, cynically exploiting hatred against Muslims to distract from policies that might harm his class interests during election season.
These cynical circus games have caused untold damage to America. How many times have I read news stories abroad only to discover that in the United States, my fellow citizens are closely following the newest disappearance of a young woman or celebrity scandal? Senator Bernie Sanders stood on the floor of the senate for nine hours and clearly outlined what was going wrong with America while the news outlets decided that other, less materially important stories might get more ratings.
So assuming these sorts of media shenanigans won’t be letting up in the near future, what happens when the media distractions start to craft reality? Mosques were firebombed this summer, Muslims were attacked in the streets, and legislation was drawn up around the country as a response to this influx of “Islamophobia”. The fake competition between the “right” and “left” in the United States, the false dichotomy of “democrat” and “republican” has resulted in the murder of many, spurred on by angry talk show hosts, leading news stories, and suggestive slogans and rhetoric from politicians. It only takes a slight nudge to push some individuals over the edge, and when the result is as extreme as shooting up a Unitarian Universalist church by a Viet Nam vet or the recent shooting of sixteen in Tuscon by a 22 year old young man. Both perpetrators were victims of a poor economy and a government that had failed them in ways of social service – but when searching for the reason for their predicament, the perpetrators sidestepped at the last moment and others ended up bearing the brunt of class rage in their stead.