ROSE NOLEN: Not all Americans are proud of country's intolerance

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

A friend asked me the other day if the land around the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City had ever been designated as "hallowed ground" since 168 people lost their lives there in a terrorist attack. I knew that he asked that question to point out the hypocrisy involved in the debate over the location of a community center near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The answer is not that I had heard about, although a national memorial was dedicated on the site, and an annual remembrance service is held every year at the same time of day as the original explosion.

This friend knows I hate bigotry with a passion. He only brought the subject up to make me angry.

He knows that no matter how fervently I hope that Americans will ultimately put this foolishness behind them, the time has not come. The difference between the two terrorist attacks is clear. The Oklahoma City attack was committed by a homegrown terrorist, and the 9/11 attacks were by foreigners. The fact that our fellow citizens were killed in both attacks is not the important fact in the minds of some. Although the fact is that people of many religions were killed in these attacks, some prefer to believe they were all Christians or at least Jews. The important fact to them is that the 9/11 perpetrators were foreigners of a different religion.

"Real Americans" are supposedly people who judge people by their race, culture or religion. They are people who think of America not as a melting pot but as a salad bar where you pick and choose the kind of fruits and vegetables you want on your plate.

But apparently, true patriots are those who do not care about the race, culture or religion of some who died in the 9/11 tragedy or of many who serve the country in the military services.

They only care about the race, culture and religion of those who perpetrated the tragedy and are willing to blame anyone who happens to look like them. And to keep using the word "mosque" when we're actually talking about a community center with an area where people can worship inflames the listeners, and this is thought to be good.

Probably there are millions in this country, like me, who are not interested in making enemies of people of other nations and religions because of their religious faith. I wish someone who is favored by the television networks would speak out and let the people of the world know this. Some of us are sick and tired of having our country defined by the hate brigade.

Those who feel that they are capable without involving our military of taking on 1.5 billion Muslims are free to do so. But please leave the rest of us out of it. I don't have problems with people who pray five times a day; I have problems with people who hate 24 hours a day.

Most Americans have experienced tragedies of one kind or another, and the loss of people we love is always devastating. The entire country was affected by the 9/11 tragedy. We continue to mourn the loss of our fellow citizens. We are a nation of law and order. Trying to deprive innocent people of their constitutional rights is un-American.

Some Americans are proud of their intolerance, and they wear it like a badge of courage. They look back on the country's historical record of racial hatred and feel good about it. These individuals never learned to live in peace and harmony with those unlike themselves. This is one of the reasons why it is so important that we protect our educational system from declining.

Future generations do not need to be burdened with this stupid philosophy of racial superiority. The fact that some of us must continue to live with it is unfortunate, but it is our fate.

Undoubtedly, there are people that refuse to think of Timothy McVeigh as a terrorist because of the color of his skin. That may seem like a sick attitude to most people, but to bigots and racists it makes perfect sense. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the country went to war, Japanese-Americans were imprisoned. Blaming every member of a race, culture or religion for the deeds of some could be seen by some as a national tradition.

With the help of the national media, I am sure that some people throughout the world compare us to the leopard that never changes its spots. Still, some of us hope that as a country we will outgrow that reputation. For the sake of future generations we really need to do so.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at


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Ray Shapiro September 28, 2010 | 12:23 a.m.

I enjoy eating at the Olive Cafe here in Columbia.
I enjoy speaking with the few Muslim friends that share my sense of humor and understand my New York City "Jewishness."
I even have a few black friends where we can "get on each others case," and still come through for each other when in crisis.
We all agree that this Imam is not good for the United States of America.
Or at least, that's what they tell me...

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 28, 2010 | 7:49 a.m.

We might achieve a more tolerant nation if EVERYONE believed that intolerance is a two-way street and not a one-way street, with all the traffic flowing in just one direction.

As long as a relatively small group of Americans believes only THEY are the tolerant ones we aren't apt to get anywhere. For such a group to take that stand is patently ridiculous. Careful, your own intolerance is showing!

Who will cast the first stone? (Am I even allowed to say that? Someone will probably accuse me of slandering Islam. But that question is clearly posed in the New Testament, so does that make me a Bible-toting redneck racist?)

(Report Comment)
James Krewson September 28, 2010 | 8:53 a.m.

It isn't Americans that are intolerant. Look at what happened when a kooky preacher threatened to burn the Koran. Muslims throughout the world threatened to kill Christians over the incident. In addition, the Koran teaches its followers to kill unbelievers. A religion of peace? Please show me one Muslim nation that is tolerant of other religions? Show me where there is a Christian church built in Mecca. All we ask is that Muslims respect the victims of 9/11 and build their mosque somewhere else in New York City. These same people who preach "tolerance" are the same ones who ban the Confederate flag and Nativity scenes. Tolerance works both ways, and to simply lay the blame on one side is both ignorant and naive.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 28, 2010 | 2:11 p.m.

@ James Krewson

Your final sentence represents an excellent commentary on this situation. There's an amazing amount of ignorance and naivety floating around these days.

(Report Comment)
James Krewson September 28, 2010 | 3:45 p.m.

Timothy McVeigh's terrorist action killed 168 people and he didn't do it in the name of any religion. He did it as retaliation for what the Federal government did in Waco and Ruby Ridge. To try and compare that with what happened on 9/11 is absurd. They are two completely different events.

Also I am sick and tired of people using the term "hate" when describing someone who disagrees with them on this issue. True "hate" was on display when radical Muslims flew jetliners into the World Trade Center murdering nearly 3,000 souls on 9/11/2001. It is patently obvious why Americans are a bit sensitive on the issue of a MOSQUE (not a community center as they so slickly disguise it) being built on the ground where this all took place. If Islam were truly a peaceful religion, common sense would guide them to not build this mosque on hallowed ground. If we simply look at history, Muslims have built mosques on landmarks that they have conquered throughout the world. I have yet to see a Muslim cleric yield or compromise with other faiths on any issue. Islam isn't a religion of peace, instead it is a religion of intolerance.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 28, 2010 | 4:15 p.m.

James, the mosque/community center/whatever is not on the footprint of the World Trade Center. If you think it's hallowed ground, get your private donations together and buy it from the imam. They own the land and have the right to build their building, whatever it may be, no matter who does or does not like it.

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Jimmy Bearfield September 28, 2010 | 4:58 p.m.

For a few weeks, I've been looking at the Special Olympics "Over the Edge" banner ad and wondering how long it would be before someone in display realizes that Sept. 29 isn't a Saturday.

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Ray Shapiro September 28, 2010 | 7:05 p.m.

For a few weeks I've been looking at this guy's puss and wonder why no one has taken his face down.
Are monies from terrorist organizations being used for the Cordoba Mosque project?
Will NYC unions do what they can to prevent it from being built where dead bodies and plane wreckage from the Trade Center were found just a stone's throw away?
This is much more than just a property rights issue, if it also involves illegal money laundering or other criminal or national security matters.
It is also not solely a religious freedoms fight, or Rose Nolen's interpetation of bigotry or her take on any broad brushed racist feelings about the nation of Islam.
It is an opportunity for the Muslim community to join the sentiment of Americans who need some healing from this horrific event as opposed to having it rubbed in the face of the families, friends, coworkers and empathetic neighbors by this guy, all in the name of Allah and JiHad...
Viewing the Cordoba Mosque as nothing more than a property rights issue might be a constitutional point of view, but in this case I believe the founding fathers would find it in their hearts to consider the circumstance surrounding 9-11 and the details surrounding who the Cordoba Mosque builders are, where's the financing coming from and what the neighbors think. Especially if this Imam is looking to build some bridges, instead of an edifice which signifies conquest and further advancement of Sharia Law in the United States.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 28, 2010 | 10:55 p.m.

So, according to the New York Post Iman Feisal Rauf is a slum landlord in addition to being a very impressive con man.

"By their works you shall know them." (That particular verse isn't from the Koran.)

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 29, 2010 | 12:32 a.m.

("I guess somebody finally figured out that the tips that mosque property owner Sharif El-Gamal was getting as a waiter weren't enough to buy the old Burlington Coat Factiory building ("More Mosque Revelations," Editorial, Sept. 2).

Now that we know at least one real money man behind the financing of the Ground Zero mosque, Hisham Elzanaty, you'd think maybe Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will look into his questionable background.

After all, this guy is not only putting up cash for the Park Place building, he also funded the Holy Land Foundation, an organization connected to terrorist groups.")
Read more:

(Report Comment)

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