The mask is gone.

George W. Bush, while arguably the most reactionary President in American history, was not an open racist. On the contrary, during the 2000 presidential campaign, he went out of his way to court the Hispanic vote. After 2001, he exploited 9/11 in order to invade Iraq, but he still made sure to praise Islam in the abstract.

But ever since the election of Barack Obama, the mask has come off the American right. Unlike George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and the Tea Party make no effort to conceal their racism. Through a dog whistle so weakly applied that even the dogs say "give me a break this is dog whistle," they weave the various strands of non-white, non-Christian America into one vast conspiracy against white America.

In the mind of the Tea Party, Muslim Americans, Mexican immigrants, Barack Obama, even Mike Bloomberg all become identical to the 19 fanatics who destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11.

While George Bush said "you're either with us or with the terrorists," the Tea Party says "you're either a white Christian or you're with the terrorists."

The left, on the other hand, has largely been silent ever since the election of the initially superficially liberal and later not even superficially liberal Barack Obama as President.

That seems to have changed.

Relentlessly hyped by the media, by talk radio, and the by Republican Party, Pamela Geller and the Islamaphobic coalition of book burners, xenophobes and Euro Nazis managed to draw about 1500 people to Park Place and Church Street.

Ignored by the media and treated like the crazy first wife in the closet by mainstream liberals and the Democratic Party, a coalition of leftist protesters drew about 25% more than that, about 2000 people, to Broadway in front of City Hall Park.

Several hundred 9/11 Truthers rounded it all out.

In the end, the dueling protests in lower Manhattan become what protests in lower Manhattan are always about, the state of the art ability of the NYPD to herd crowds.

Even I was impressed.

When the anti-mosque protesters descended about a group of about 20 pro-mosque counter protesters after the end of their rally, the NYPD swung quickly into action. They began herding everybody, pro-mosque, anti-mosque, media, and just plain curious in the direction of City Hall. By the time it was all finished, there were no groups, only isolated individuals scurrying for the subway.

And there it ended, two small but highly ideological and partisan crowds forcibly blended into the immensity of lower Manhattan, and into the general apolitical crowd of tourists and weekend shoppers.