When was the last time you heard about the “Ground Zero Mosque”?
Although Islamophobia continues to run rampant in some circles (the Tennessee trial and Bill O’Reilly, e.g.), the speed with which the Cordoba House disappeared from headlines gives us our own chance to evaluate the presence of absence. Why is this issue suddenly dead?
Perhaps because it was never “live,” in that it was never something the right was prepared to, or interested in, pushing continuously, on an organized level. Just as Republican candidates wave the gay marriage flag every now and again, when votes are needed or a chance to exploit bigotry emerges, only to drop the issue when the needs disappear, such culture war issues are by nature transient, a way of engaging and keeping the attention of the angry voter, and weaponizing that anger into the service of more useful goals, but never of satisfying them.
None of this obviates the importance of holding the line against the right-wing issue du jour. The damage done during the course of an issue’s time in the spotlight can be severe, and even a transient presence will create and legitimize continued bigotry.