I won't name names, but I've been reading enough mainstream and gaystream media for the past couple weeks to have come across the "Homophobia is over" thesis a few times. Ken Mehlman came out, AFER won their case against Prop 8 with help from Republicans, polling shows more Americans are OK with same-sex marriage, and Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Ann Coulter are playing nice, which all means that the Republicans must have seen that homophobia doesn't sell anymore so they decided to stop demonizing us (a few conservatives haven't gotten the memo, but that's just the bumpkins).
At the same time, and I can't believe that this is still an issue, people have suddenly become concerned about Muslims existing in Manhattan. Very concerned. Hold rallies and talk about it non-stop concerned. As others have asked, what changed between now and 9/11? Muslims have been saying it's worse now, and polling confirms that more Americans have negative opinions of Muslim people now than they did in early 2002. That makes no sense, so what gives?
It's the demonization, of course. Hannity, Limbaugh, and all their friends have been beating this drum to their tens of millions of viewers and listeners (and some of that spills over to their millions of friends and family and coworkers and neighbors), and people are becoming concerned. It's a testament to how much people can be led to believe and feel things that aren't related to the reality that surrounds them but instead are a direct result of manipulation.
Consider this chart that I posted last week on the site:
Notice that dip in what should be the easiest, most basic metric of support for gay people, right around 2004? That was also the same year the Republicans ran on a platform of homophobia, implementing eleven constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage and campaigning on a federal amendment. Not surprisingly, people thought less of us as a result of that campaign; their feelings towards the gays didn't simply get better as more of us came out, a younger generation replaced the previous, and everyone saw more gay people on TV. If that campaign tactic was used any longer, we would have seen more roll-back and significant manifestations of the same.
In 2004 it was us who were supposed to distract the country from sluggish growth and two wars (although there's evidence that that campaign didn't change votes on other issues and ended up just demonizing us); in 2010 it's the Muslims who are being used to distract the country from a terrible economy and two wars. It resonates on a certain level if people actually believe that Obama is Muslim and then blame him for the recession.
The only way that I see around this tactic is to fight fire with fire, to name the villains who are actually causing this country's problems and blame them. People are feeling insecure for a variety of reasons, mostly economic, and unless someone explains to them why, then the people who don't want to be discovered will continue to point their fingers at someone else. Heck, they'll even reach out to us and ask us to join in demonizing the next group (expect Coulter to have a long diatribe at Homocon about Muslims).
All the while, jobs continue to be eliminated, our weak safety net gets even weaker, and the country is worse off for it. It takes a lot of stupid to turn a modern democracy into neofeudalism, but they're doing what it takes to make sure Americans get that dumb.