Don't equate Islam with terrorism

August 23, 2010

The debate about the location of a mosque in New York City has reached a point beyond ridiculous and has become a dangerous example of the intolerance of American citizens.

Equating an entire religion with terrorism is ignorance and bigotry. Think back several years ago when the federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed by Timothy McVeigh, a man who was raised as a Christian. I don't recall any outrage or debate about the proximity of Christian churches to the bombing site. I don't recall anyone stating that Christian churches near the site would be an insult to the memory of the people who died there. And rightly so. There should be no outrage, because the building was not bombed by "The Christians". The building was bombed by a terrorist.

The Twin Towers in New York City were not bombed by Muslims. They were bombed by terrorists who labeled themselves as Muslims. Ask the average mainstream Muslim if they consider these to be men of faith, followers of God's word and I think they will tell you "no." Ask the average mainstream Christian if they think Timothy McVeigh to be a man of faith, or follower of God's word, and I think they will tell you "no."

No religion, or lack of religion can be equated with terrorism. Those who stir up these controversies are interested in dividing and alienating people for their own purposes of obtaining power for themselves, or reducing the influence of those of a different mind than they are. Making all Muslims the scapegoat for acts of violence against the United States will lead to increases in bigotry and hate crimes by the ignorant, because it will become more acceptable if Muslims are not viewed as "real Americans."

Finally, it is a shame that the White House should be required to " defend" the president against being labeled "Muslim" as if this were a crime or something undesirable. The answer should be that he is a Christian, but so what if he was a Muslim? One should not have to defend against the labels of "Muslim, Jew, Catholic, atheist, Mormon, or pagan."

We all have to live in this country together. Exaggeration of the differences in people only leads to conflict and gives no benefits. Learn to live with you neighbor.

Andrew Klingler, Baltimore

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