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Terry Jones & The Story Of Religious (In)tolerance

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him”- Booker T. Washington. We live in a seemingly tolerant nation. We have a Black President, more than dozen female CEO’s of fortune 500 companies, and a few LBTQ members of Congress. Let’s give ourselves a pat on the back. We’re such a great country. We tolerate these people.  The hypocrisy in our national rhetoric is sickening. Many of our media/political elite talk about all the human rights travesties in foreign countries as if we are not culpable of the same thing.

As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close I can’t help but weep for our Muslim brothers and sisters who continue to face an uphill battle for freedom and acceptance in our country. According to Rush Limbaugh, “There is not backlash against Muslims in America. Zip, zero, nada”. I don’t know what prescription pills he was on when he made this statement, but in a land where Mosques are firebombed and a pastor goes on Koran burning crusade, it’s hard to believe that there is no backlash. In 2010 Muslims are the new whipping boys.

In my great no so great home state of Florida, Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville has stated that he plans on burning Korans on September 11th. This is not the way to honor Americans who lost their lives on that awful day. Adding fuel to a fire never solved any problems. What scares me even more is that outright hatred is gaining traction. Instead of debating serious policy issues many Americans are stuck on whether President Barack Obama is a Muslim or Christian. I wouldn’t care if he were a Rastafarian. I want to expand healthcare, reduce our national debt, and improve our public schools. The same country that patted itself on the back for electing a Black President is also unabashedly discriminating against people because of their religious preferences. For every battle we win, we lose two.  Even General David Petraeus has stated that this islamaphobia could jeopardize national security: “It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort.”

Why are innocent people being unfairly punished for the actions of a few? Should we hate Catholics because of domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh? Of course not! It is ludicrous to hate anyone because of the extremist adherents to their religion. I believe that you should always love the doer even if you dislike the deed. As humans we all fall short of perfection in our various ways, but to love someone in spite of all their imperfections is the only way to reach human flourishing. Speak up and stop the hate!


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