America Plagued by Periodic Paranoia

America Plagued by Periodic Paranoia

Our country has a pattern of losing its mind over issues that later turn out to be insignificant.

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Our country has a strong pattern of losing its mind over relatively silly things, says Nation Washington Editor Chris Hayes. Take, for instance, the most pressing issue of national importance at the moment — the proposed construction of a mosque near the Ground Zero site in downtown New York City. Hayes, who is guest-hosting The Rachel Maddow Show this week, compared the climate of this controversy to a period in 2003 during which a national campaign was made to change the name of french fries to freedom fries.

"I want everyone watching this program to take a deep breath and really think what this is going to look like four years from now, or five years from now, or twenty years from now," Hayes says. "Which side of this debate will come out looking good when history renders its judgement? You don’t want to be on the side of freedom fries." His Nation colleague Melissa Harris-Lacewell joined Hayes on the show to discuss the building of the mosque, emphasizing the controversy as an opportunity for America to prove itself as a defender of free speech and free worship. "As Americans, the thing that makes America unique and interesting and such a great project in history is that we meet vulnerability not with this kind of terrorized anxiety, but instead by actually opening ourselves up," she says.

–Carrie Battan

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