Fear mongering and the mosque near Ground Zero

August 24, 2010

Eighty years ago, a courageous teacher urged my mother to leave West Virginia to attend nursing school in Baltimore. That teacher feared that my mother could never achieve her dream of becoming a registered nurse if she tried to pursue it in the West Virginia of the l930s. My mother's parents were immigrants from Southern Italy, and despite owning their house, working every day and sacrificing a son in the Pacific during World War Two, practicing Catholics were not fully accepted in their community. That suspicion was not dispelled until 30 years later, when John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, proved that he could carry West Virginia in the 1960 presidential campaign. Many people were convinced that the pope would be directing U.S. foreign policy from the Vatican.

Fear is a dangerous and destructive thing. Labeling all Muslims as terrorists is as unfounded as the notion that the pope would call President Kennedy and tell him how to govern. My mother became a proud graduate of St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing and went on to be a "head" nurse at Union Memorial and finished a 40-year-nursing career at Westinghouse.

She never, to my knowledge, got a call from the pope.

Mary Toth, Baltimore

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