Mark Oppenheimer gave a speech about the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, and was struck by an exchange afterward with an audience member:
...there was one questioner who made a rather passionate short speech about how I had to understand what it was like in the rest of the country, outside the bubble of New York and Cambridge and New Haven: foreclosures everywhere, dislocation in the economy, uncertainty. And how, he said, in times like this it is understandable that people look for enemies, as they did during the Great Depression and during the Populist moment forty years before that. And I thought he made a lot of good points--but, I said, people should remember that it was New York City that was the victim of the 9/11 attacks, not Texas or Florida or Nevada. So it did not really make sense to say that "it might be all well and good to sympathize with Muslims in New York, but out in the rest of the country times are tough and people were angry."
I pointed out that my brother lived near Ground Zero when it happened, and that my in-laws live in downtown Manhattan, where my wife grew up.... I was not close to the tragedy, but I was far closer than most Americans.
And people listened politely to the exchange, and I had some fruitful and interesting discussions with people afterward, when the speech was over. But it left me wondering: why is there anti-Muslim rage in places with very few Muslims and no history of Muslim terrorism whatsoever? There are good answers to this question, I am sure, but it is late, and for now I will just marvel at how odd it is that somebody thinks it is easy to be a Muslim sympathizer in New York, but not out in the rest of the country...
This is reminiscent of what Jason Jones found when he went to Wasilla for The Daily Show.