All of sudden two of the usually completely distinct spheres of my life are on the same highway, merging into the same lane. Two days ago my new golf friend Stephanie Wei posted this on her golf blog, calling out a woman golf luminary for posting Islamophobic comments on her facebook page. As I know her, Stephanie is not political, but no fan of bigots either. In the golf world her post was widely picked up. I wasn’t surprised, for there is no American sport whose top players are more Republican, and self-consciously Christian than the PGA tour. At the same time, golf has a (pretty well-deserved) self image as being a realm of fair play and decency in a fallen world. The issue of Islamophobia cuts right into that, teasing out all the contradictions and spinning them about.
As it happened, I was playing yesterday with Stephanie, my wife, and an old friend. Somewhere late in the round, Stephanie and I began talking about the mosque, and I was expounding on my own view that whatever I might have thought about the idea of an Islamic cultural center in that spot, the issue had morphed into the much bigger one of whether the United States would be “officially” anti-Muslim or not, and the world was watching.
Walking up the fairway, my old friend overheard us talking. He said, I don’t know how anyone could say that the United States is anti-Muslim, or what basis any Muslims have for thinking that. Wow, I thought. I replied that we had killed several hundred thousand Iraqis and made refugees of several million more. I added that we had given more aid to Israel than we had to all the countries of the world combined. (That’s a slight exaggeration, I think).
Are you saying we shouldn’t, he asked. Not if they keep preventing a Palestinian state, I said.
We fell silent. It seemed better to drop the subject and think about the approach shots we faced, and the next three holes.