Not all readers buy the idea that a reader whose parents were born in China, but herself was born and raised in the US, should find so mystifying the nativist side of the American character that is being displayed in the "mosque" and Koran-burning controversies.
Two representative responses below. The first says that the Chinese part of the writer's heritage should reduce the apparent "strangeness" of anti-Muslim activities; the second, from an Indian-American, says that familiarity with ethnic passions should be part of a basic understanding of America's living past. First, about China-and-Islam:
it's incredible that someone only one generation removed from China (presumably still visiting family there, etc) sees America's irrational treatment of Islam as such an anachronism. China was dictating the boundaries of Islam well before half of America got on the bandwagon. How many Chinese enjoy Uighur street food without recognizing that some Chinese Muslims are forced to keep their restaurants open throughout Ramadan?
Now, from a reader named Krishna:
Your most recent reader letter "A Chinese-American View of the "Mosque" and the Muslim Menace" had me spurting my latte all over the computer this morning. After cleaning it up, my reaction, is wow, we really are doomed as a nation.
Becoming American, for immigrants and their children, is often described as a process of forgetting. And I'd take that one step further: Being American, regardless of what generation you are, is also about forgetting the past, and being able to focus on the future. But I've been having this debate for years: is education about struggling not to forget; or is about creating stories that just aid in the waking dream we live in.
Your correspondent claims to be 20 years old, and I assume in college, so perhaps he hasn't gotten that piece of paper that says he is educated, but wow. Talk about forgetful. Anyone with any self-awareness as an American could tell you the ugly undercurrents this "Ground Zero Mosque" business reveals aren't anything new. We've been dealing with this for 400 years. I mean, Peter Stuyvesant didn't want to let some Brazilian Jews build a synagogue until his bosses told him so.
But as I said, being American is about forgetting. But should educated Americans forget as well?
A few other angles:
1. Civil War as distant as the Franco-Prussian War? Oh lord. You posted a great link to the essay on "MEOW" a few weeks ago; how could someone who makes that statement even begin to understand that essay?
2. Chinese-Americans may feel this mosque business is nothing; Indian-Americans get very nervous because, well, I look Pakistani. Probably says more about inter Asian American politics than anything broader....
If you want to talk great power politics, perhaps China (and Chinese-Americans?) have gotten better at this forgetting process that we have.
I appreciate the original writer sending in her comments and stimulating this discussion.
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