NEW YORK -- The US is racked with fear and paranoia. Following last week's attacks in Paris, a raft of ugly sentiment has surfaced from across the political right demonising not only Syrian refugees but anyone who professes to follow the Islamic faith.
The fear was stoked on Tuesday when Republican governors from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas signed a pledge promising to ban refugees from being resettled in their states. Constitutional experts suggest such a ban would be illegal, but the move is symbolic of the type of rightwing rhetoric infecting the country following the massacre in France.
Also on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush suggested there should be a religious test for entry into the United States -- if you're Christian you're in, if you're Muslim you're out. How this test would be administred, the younger Bush failed to answer.
This type of overt bigotry was quickly reflected in the populace when on Wednesday a man interrupted a presentation for the building of a new mosque in Virginia, lambasting the speaker with racist abuse. “All Muslims are terrorists,” he shouted at Samer Shalaby, who was presenting the plans.
“I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that does not happen," he continued. "We don’t want it because you are terrorists. Every one of you are terrorists. I don’t care what you say. You can smile at me. You can say whatever you want, but every Muslim is a terrorist.”
Others expressed concern that the new mosque would be used to house refugees from Syria, such was the sweep of suspicion gripping the assembly. President Obama has promised to take in 10,000 refugees to ease the crisis that has seen more than 5 million escape the conflict in their homeland. However the attacks in Paris and GOP fear mongering has reduced the displaced to nothing more than a clandestine Muslim fifth column army sent to launch domestic attacks.
As Obama said about the US hysteria during his meeting in Manila on Wednesday, “It has to stop because the world is watching."