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 firstname.lastname@example.org.