Tag Archives: intolerance

Homegrown Terrorism

It has become clear what goes on in one part of the world will be seen all over the world, often times in a matter of moments. Good news travels fast but it seems bad news travels even faster and is often repeated the most.

In July, the Dove World Outreach Center’s preacher, Terry Jones set the date of September 11th to burn the Holy Book of the Islamic religion, the Qur’an. What was his reason? He says Islam is of the devil.

In an interview with Rick Sanchez on CNN, July 29th he said, “We believe Islam is of the Devil. It is causing billions of people to go to hell. It is a deceptive religion. It is a violent religion. That is proven many many times.”

This pastor may feel how he wants to feel, as may anyone. However by setting this date to hold a burning of a Holy Book to the Islam religion, there are many consequences coming out of this from this one person’s choice.

Monday in Afghanistan, a protest was held in the capital. We have tens of thousands of troops fighting there and they aren’t fighting the Afghanistan people. They are helping them by fighting against their enemies, Al Qaeda.

Monday though, many of those people at the protest were getting mixed messages due to this news of what was going on at this church in the U.S. wanting to burn their Holy Book and saying their religion is of the devil? Maybe they should just give up on the American people. Why trust them?

This pastor is talking about burning another religion’s Holy Book while he lives in a country that is based on FREEDOM OF RELIGION. Does he choose what religions are free? Does he choose WHO has those freedoms?

This pastor believes he is a “patriot” but the highest ranking military officials are watching the reactions from overseas and saying it’s not good for America. Is that not enough of an alert? He’s not being a patriot. He is stirring up a conflict both here and abroad. He is doing this by choice and with full knowledge of the consequences arising and with numerous warnings from different government agencies, local officials and many around the world.

In a statement from one of the top American Generals in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, he said, “We’re over here to defend the rights of the American citizens and we’re not debating the first amendment rights that people have, but what I will tell you is that their very actions will jeopardize the safety of the young men and women who are serving in uniform over here and also undermine the very mission that we’re trying to accomplish. I would hope they would understand that there are second and third order effects that would occur that will affect the young men and women who’s out there on point for America serving their nation today because of their actions in the United States.”

These people serving our country and fighting the war on terror, are pointing out not only is this harmful for our troop’s safety and mission but also goes against the safety for America and many around the world.

Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan released a statement to the Wallstreet Journal saying, “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic Community.”

The safety of America and American troops has always been the priority but since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the heightened security has been more focused and more attention has been on Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden.

For many people the focus has shifted to the Muslim people and more recently causing a great deal of debates over the building of or even the expansions of existing mosque.

Often times, people fear what they don’t understand or what they are told is bad or evil.

This “pastor”, Terry Jones is causing a greater amount of conflict and danger on this nation, our troops who have been risking their lives and he is doing this all for a selfish reason, because he is trying to make a point.

Although he may fully believe everything he is saying and his estimated 50 church followers may believe him as well, is America’s safety or the safety of our troops, Americans abroad or other nations that have also fought the war on terror ready to face this added terror his actions may provoke, most likely will provoke?

Someone willing to put that great of a risk on other people’s lives for their own cause is as much of a terrorist as those he claims to be fighting against.

It doesn’t matter where he is born, what religion he claims to follow or what color his skin is.

He has been told to stop. He has been told of the dangers. He has been told of the risk he is putting America, its people and its troops in and yet he is refusing to stop.

Terry Jones does not care. He has a higher calling.

Does this sound familiar? Does this sound like the behavior words of a terrorist?

Intolerance vs. Terrorism

For years now, immigration has been an issue requiring attention. The U.S. borders as well as international airports have been an access point for drugs and weapons and on September 11, 2001, America was attacked in a way many Americans never expected could happen on U.S. soil.

On that day, 2,996 people died including the 19 terrorist, Al Qaeda hijackers. The majority of deaths were civilians, including nationals from over 90 countries.

Very soon after the attacks, the luggage of one of the terrorist, Mohamed Atta, was found which not only identified all 19 male hijackers but also had detailed plans, motives and backgrounds on the men and the attacks. On September 27, 2001, the photos of these 19 terrorists were released on the news and for the first time, people could put faces to the horrible anger and blame they had been feeling about the innocent lives that had suddenly been taken away on that clear and sunny Tuesday morning in New York City.

Many people still had not located loved ones, did not know if they were missing or dead and at the same time, there was still an unimaginable grief and anger throughout the U.S. for this horrible crime. What could have caused someone to do this? What did anyone in these towers, in the Pentagon, on those planes do to anybody? Why were they suddenly gone? Why did New York City look like a war zone? Why did it feel like a war zone?

The answer to those questions would come from Osama Bin Laden. He provided the leadership and funding for this group. Initially Bin Laden denied his involvement but later admitted involvement via video tape talking to Khaled al-Harbi. The tape was broadcast on several news networks in December 2001. He stated, “Terrorism against America deserves to be praised because it was a response to injustice, aimed at forcing America to stop its support for Israel, which kills our people.”

Right after the attack, the U.S. responded with the War on Terror, a war that is continuing today in its fight to overthrow al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Here in the U.S. however, right after the attacks, hate crimes began happening against Muslim-Americans, Middle Easterners or other “Middle Eastern-looking” people. There were reports of attacks on Mosque and other religious buildings including a Hindu Temple.

Different people were assaulted and Balbir Singh Sodhi was fatally shot on September 15, 2001 when he was mistaken as a Muslim but was actually Sikh, a follower of Sikhism. Like others, he has been mistaken due to the fact both religions wear head turbans. According to studies done by Ball State University, following the attacks, people perceived to be of Middle Eastern, Arab or Muslim were more likely to be the victims of hate crimes.

Although 19 terrorists hijacked the planes on September 11, 2001 and Osama Bin Laden claimed responsibility for leading and funding the group as well as the knowledge that al Qaeda (a militant Islamist terrorist organization) is the force behind these attacks, many people still focus the attacks on an ethnic group or a religion. What is the reasoning for the lack of tolerance or the outright hate towards Muslims or those practicing Islam? The main reason given is the attacks on 9/11.

Following the attacks on 9/11, a joint statement was released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Alliance, Muslim Public Affairs Council and others which stated;

“American Muslims utterly condemn the vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.”

The acts of these 19 terrorists did not represent their religion, their culture or their people as a whole.

April 19, 1995 was a regular Wednesday morning for those working in the Alfred P. Murray Federal Building in Oklahoma City until 9:02 a.m.

Timothy McVeigh, an American Militia movement sympathizer detonated an explosive-filled truck parked in front of the building. His co-conspirator, Terry Nichols had helped in the bomb making process which became the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil until the attacks of 9/11/01. That day, 168 people lost their lives, including 19 children. 680 people were injured.

Who was Timothy McVeigh? Where was he from? Timothy McVeigh was a U.S. Army Veteran. He had left the military in 1992. He’d written the local papers complaining about taxes and the government’s mismanagement. He was motivated by his hate for the federal government. In 1993, he drove to Waco, Texas to show support for those at Waco and distributed pro-gun rights literature. After the Oklahoma attacks, he said he was angered by the way the Waco siege was handled. He arranged his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the deaths at Waco.

On February 18, 2010 employees at an Austin, Texas IRS office say “it felt like a bomb blew off” and that “the ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran.”

Joseph stack, a 53 year old software engineer launched a suicide attack by flying a small plane into the IRS building containing 200 employees. Employees in surrounding offices were suddenly looking at images that appeared to be a repeat of 9/11.

Stack had previous issues with the IRS and left a note. “I have had all I can stand,” he wrote. “I choose not to keep looking over my shoulder at ‘big brother’ while he strips my carcass.”

Just in these three cases, to try to have prevented these acts of terrorism would have meant to have been looking for anyone that was of Middle Eastern decent, Muslim-American, American militia affiliated, anti-government and anyone that had really had it with the IRS?

The fact is in every group, in every race, in every religion, there are those that are bad or extreme and those people don’t represent the entire group.

This country would have never moved forward without that understanding. Wars would never truly have ended. Slavery would have never ended. Civil rights and freedoms would not exist. Equal rights cannot truly be something that the U.S. says it gives unless they are there for everyone.

True equal rights cannot be given by picking and choosing or not be given and then not honored.

The danger doesn’t come to America by those who appear to be different or come from a different culture or background. Danger comes when America fails to recognize humanity for each individual or when Americans are withholding opportunities from a select group that many are just taking for granted.

One religion can’t condemn another religion in a country that is based on “Freedom of Religion”.

There are those using the argument that the Islamic religion is based on extremism and saying that those wanting to build a mosque are doing so to convert others to their belief and lifestyle. There are two points that need to be pointed out here. First, when any church, synagogue or temple is built, it is done so to bring in new followers and also to give their present church goers a new and better place to worship. Second, in most recent news the violence happening is being done toward the Muslims and their proposed Mosque and toward their religion in the U.S., not by them.

There is a planned burning of the Qur’an on 9/11 at the Dove World Outreach Center and whether or not you agree with a person’s belief or not, to burn their religious book is just unacceptable. How would anyone feel if someone was burning Bibles? How would anyone feel if any group was holding a burning of any kind of books?

What if anytime a crime was done by a member of a family, the entire family was held accountable?

What if anytime a catholic priest was caught doing anything questionable, all priest were suddenly seen as suspicious?

What if one employee was caught stealing and suddenly everybody was being searched each day coming to work?

What if one person at a workplace says you made them feel uncomfortable and suddenly you are transferred, cut back on hours or let go of. Not because you did anything but just because someone said something, thought something or judged you.

What if another religion was suddenly the target of intolerance or hate crimes? Mormonism? Catholicism? Christianity? Would people turn their backs on the followers of this religion, join in the fight against the religion, just not do anything and remain silent or stand up for freedom of religion? What is the right thing to do in America? What is really behind the intolerance toward the Muslims, their faith and their desire to build new places to worship?

What will it take to end hate?

The more often a story plays on the news or is written in the papers about discrimination, hate crimes, intolerance against others for numerous reasons, it should be opening the doors to more mature communications and closing the gaps of miscommunication.



It seems even though more people are talking and talking that less people are really listening. It appears to actually be fueling more hate and more intolerance. Why is that the case? Why is there so much division within the “United” States of America? Something has to be fueling the continued division and causing this to not only grow, but to become such an issue that even when the country is in such turmoil economically and suffering from tremendous job losses and countless crisis that needs attention.

Is this a political issue or an agenda of politicians? Does it lean from one party to another? Does the possibility of so much intolerance towards one another benefit one party over another to the point that this would be beneficial in the long run? That wouldn’t really make sense. Maybe in some illogical concept one could see it but in the long term, any time there is a period of hatred it will bring the downfall of any government or society.

 

Is this centered completely around typical discrimination? In many ways, almost everyone has some sort of discrimination in them. It may not be racial or towards another person’s religion. It may not focus on a person’s sexual orientation or whether they are rich or poor but there are many ways to discriminate against people by judging them before you actually know them. The more often a person draws conclusions, the easier and more acceptable it seems to be.

 

Intolerance is the unwillingness or refusal to accept people who are different from you, or views, beliefs, or lifestyles that differ from your own. Nowhere in the definition does is say a person has the inability to have tolerance to accept people. It says they are unwilling or they refuse to accept the person’s differences. Everyone can choose to become tolerant.

 

At this point, the U.S. is in a crisis. The crisis is not just economic or jobs. The major crisis is within America. Americans need to find the ability to work on these inner issues of discrimination, intolerance and hate. Without fixing the inner issues, the economy and job crisis, the educational issues and the energy crisis cannot to move forward. America is only as strong as its weakest links.

Americans vote for the leaders that represent them in each state and in Washington D.C. Americans vote for the President. Americans vote for a great number of things. These votes represent what each voter is saying they want to see done and who they choose to represent them.

 

However, for this to work, each voter has to start by taking responsibility for themselves in their everyday life. Each person has to take responsibility for their everyday activity and how they treat every other person they encounter. Everyone has to expect that from the leaders they chose when they are in their home state and when they are in Washington, willing to work together for the good of their state and for the good of their country. Unless someone is working for the good of others, nothing will move forward.

 

Hate, discrimination, intolerance and waiting for someone else to start the process to end these problems is just not going to work. It takes each of us starting the process to end this and end this now, right away.

 

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” Samuel Johnson

Recovery for America Pt. 4 – Intolerance, inequality and discrimination

Everyday there are more stories, news coverage, talk between friends and families about issues that are not only dividing the nation but are also dividing people, even causing arguments between complete strangers. The discussion is over the building of the mosque (Islamic Center) at Ground Zero.

The online social media website such as Facebook and Twitter show these divisions as well. On Facebook, soon after a ”hot topic” news story runs, the headlines or video clips will post and the comments themselves become a place for open arguments going back and forth, lines drawn down the middle. On Twitter, “hashtags” which typically are names to form groups, can often be used to make a clear point or in 140 characters or less, a clear confrontation can take place back and forth for all to see or jump in and join.

What are the issues? The arguments are more often about things that have nothing to do with things that a person can change or have control over and more about things that fall into a person’s constitutional rights, religion, race and a person’s national origin. What’s different about these arguments is the social media and the internet’s ability for things to swell up much quicker into larger groups of both support and hate, so both sides seem to grow much larger overnight. Both good and bad information gets passed around much quicker and what is said on the news, on a website or in an interview makes its way around the world in a moment. However, most often good things don’t go “viral”. Bad news travels fast.

As each new generation begins, it has been a new opportunity to bring up a more open-minded generation. That does not mean a generation of people that “give in” or a generation that does not understand its culture. It means a generation that does not carry with them the burdens of intolerance but a generation that has the ability to see each other as who they are and not what they are. A generation that sees people for what they bring to society and not what a group of them has done or what has been done to them. It is okay to understand history but not let history control the future but to learn from history and not allow it to repeat itself.

With the U.S. having such a diverse people within its borders, there is only more to gain, more to grow and more to learn. By having so many adverse feelings against each other, it is only hurting the nation as a whole and many opportunities are being lost for everyone.

In NYC, many people are upset about the idea of the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. This has been an extremely sensitive subject for so many.

President Obama released a statement on a person’s right to practice religion this past Friday.

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has risen in New York City and the nation.

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”

The plan now is to turn the property into a 13-story, $100 million Islamic Center. This is being developed by a group call the Cordoba Initiative. The Cordoba Initiative says on its website that its goal is to foster a better relationship between the Muslim World and the West, “steering the world back to the course of mutual recognition and respect and away from heightened tensions.”

The Center’s board will include members from other religions and will explore including an interfaith chapel at the center.

The Center will include a basketball court, swimming pool, auditorium and culinary school as well as a mosque and mediation rooms.

We believe it will be a place where the counter momentum against extremism will begin, “the Imam’s wife, Daisy Khan to the Associated Press. “We are committed to peace.

Across the U.S., different towns have rallied against mosque being built as well. This isn’t just in NYC near Ground Zero. In Temecula, California, opponents brought dogs to protest a 25,000 sq. ft. mosque that would sit on 4 acres. Opponents say it would turn the town into a haven for Islamic extremist, but mosque leaders say they are peaceful and just need more room to serve members.

A proposed mosque in July is raising concerns in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Proponents allege the opponents are displaying religious intolerance while people fighting the mosque say zoning issues and worries about Islamic radicalism are their chief concerns.

Several hundred opponents faced off to counter protesters. The rhetoric was heated. Protestors bore signs with slogans such as “MOSQUE LEADERS SUPPORT KILLING CONVERTS.”

Mosque leader Essam Fathy, who helped plan the new building in Murfreesboro, has lived there for 30 years. “I didn’t think people would try that hard to oppose something that’s in the Constitution,” he said. “The Islamic center has been here since the early 80’s, 12 years at this location. There’s nothing new except it’s going to be a little bigger.”

Zuhdi Jasser, president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a nonprofit that advocates for reform and modernization of Islam, said opposing mosque is no way to prevent terrorism.

A study by professors at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina back up Jasser’s statement. The study found that mosque, religious bookstores, and other communal associations that bring Muslim-Americans together, prevent radicalization.

By taking the time to learn and understand a person, their religion and culture, it gives more of a chance to grow and develop in one’s own life as well as allowing one to accept a person more for their character and who they are and not judging them by who one thinks they are by their appearance, misunderstandings or what may have been heard by someone else.

Today it may be someone else being unfairly judged, someone else’s religion, race or culture. The hateful words may be directed at someone else. Those tables can be turned. Intolerance is never okay. Hate is never okay. Discrimination is never okay. Sitting by while a hate crime happens is never okay. Embrace our diverse Nation and learn about others, their culture and religions. Practice tolerance and pass it down to the younger generations.