Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bob Dutko: Islamophobe

Today, I tuned in to hear Bob ranting and raving about the work schedule of a Tyson poultry processing plant in Tennessee. Now, why would Bob care about such a trivial matter?

Well you see, a large percentage of workers at the plant are Somali immigrants who practice the Islamic faith. The union representing the plant's workers recently negotiated a new contract which switches one of the plant's eight paid holidays. Specifically, the union and management agreed to swap Labor Day for the Muslim holiday of Id al-Fitr.

Bob was outraged. He went on and on about how immigrants to the U.S. need to respect our traditions and conform to the way things are in this country. Bob opined that if he was a worker at that plant, he would be "irritated" that he couldn't take Labor Day off to celebrate with his family.

Guess what? That Tyson plant historically requires its employees to work on Labor Day, despite it being a paid holiday. In fact, they've worked on Labor Day in that plant for the previous 23 years! So you see, the workers aren't really giving up Labor Day as a holiday, because they didn't get it off anyway. Instead, they're gaining a day off!

But even if Labor Day was a true "day off" to workers in the past, I still can't see any reasonable justification for Bob's outrage. This is simply a group of employees getting the religious holiday that they want off with pay in exchange for a secular holiday that isn't that important to them. The company is honoring their freedom to practice their faith as they see fit. Sounds like a textbook example of religious freedom in action to me. But perhaps Bob doesn't really believe in religious freedom. Maybe he only believes in "freedom" for Christians so long as those Christians conform to his standards of what should and shouldn't be a paid holiday. But I digress...

Plus, Bob's whole assertion that Labor Day is a sacrosanct "day off" for all is preposterous. Millions of Americans work on Labor Day every year from Denny's waitresses to clerks at Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland. If Bob's not worried about Christians being asked to work on Labor Day, why is he worried about Muslims volunteering to do so?

So what was Bob's purpose in all this? My guess is that he wants to demonize Muslims, present them as a "threat" to the American Way of Life, and thus promote division and animosity among Americans. That way, you'll vote Republican... out of fear for the dangerous Muslim "threat." After all, we're kicking Muslim ass in Iraq, aren't we?

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