Singing An American Tune

by

For some time, a Muslim Interfaith Center has been part of the rebuilding plan for the Lower Manhattan area destroyed by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Lately, there’s been an outcry intended to prevent its construction, led by the sorry likes of Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich but backed even by many who should know better, including the Anti-Defamation League.

I grew up in New York City, and back then at least, New Yorkers prided themselves on being able to handle anything that came their way. Blackouts, subway strikes, bring them on! We’ll walk to work in the dark! I’m glad to see some of that spirit still survives. While Palin and the rest appeal to fear and try to get Americans to hate each other for no other reason than their race and religion, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg made a speech yesterday that stands with the best. In it he appealed to a history in which New Yorkers have much to be proud of and much to regret, and came down firmly and eloquently on the side of inclusion. You can read the speech here, or see it here. It’s a courageous performance and worth watching.

It’s not easy to be an American these days. Our society is crumbling as racism and anti-immigrant sentiment substitute for constructive action. We are fighting each other instead of pulling together and I’ve never been so discouraged. But as long as we have someone willing to speak up, we have a shot, I guess.

It was pretty easy to figure out what song to tack on to the end of this post. Paul Simon is one of our great songwriters and An American Tune one of his best. Here’s Willie Nelson with his take on it – with Paul Simon right alongside. Sad that this song should once again be so current, but here we are.

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