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September 24, 2010

Hate will be death of us

NORTH TONAWANDA — Human nature, on a primal level, is to be wary of that which is different. Fortunately, we as a species were given the mental capacity to move beyond instincts, to comprehend that our superficial differences seldom mean anything in terms of who we really are.

Unfortunately, too many people choose not to use the cognitive abilities they were given.

We all know that the terrorists who took down the World Trade Center were Muslims. We know that their skin color didn’t match the hue of most Americans.

How we jumped from B to Z isn’t clear, but we did. Somehow, that got some Americans around to the belief that all Muslims are evil, that if you’re not a Christian and don’t have the same skin color that you share the beliefs of a small handful of extremists.

All of a sudden, we want to prevent mosques from being constructed, despite the fact that our nation’s founders came across the ocean to escape just such religious persecution.

For whatever reason, we suddenly feel justified in burning their religious texts, even though we’d be hypocrites if we didn’t burn Bibles, as well. (Remember Timothy McVeigh? He grew up a Catholic, and he was a registered Republican when he lived in Niagara County.)

We tell our children not to judge books by their covers, yet we encourage the profiling of every person who’s a bit less pale than us as a person who’s out to get us, even though there are millions of people of Middle Eastern descent who are, in fact, U.S. citizens.

 Continued anger over the Sept. 11 attacks is entirely justified, but not if it’s directed toward the wrong target. When we’re mad at “them,” we’re not talking about the roughly 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. “Them” is the 19 Muslims who carried out the attacks and the few hundred or so radicals in Asia who supported those terrorists.

Sooner or later, though, if we continue to espouse such grand-scale hatred, “them” might increase in size. Then, before you know it, we could have a holy war on our hands between two faiths that worship the same creator (or three, if the often-ostricized and violence-entangled Jewish state of Israel gets involved).

While many people might be willing to die for their faith, must we ensure that we do so? I, for one, don’t want to explain to my children some day that our nation’s in a state of perpetual war because we couldn’t discern between a few violent nutjobs and the peace-loving people who unfortunately shared their religion (remember that Middle Eastern Muslims can say the same thing about American Christians).

Before any Christian considers casting a blanket of hate over the Muslim faith, consider what the Bible instructs its readers to do: “Seek peace and pursue it.”

Or consider this quote from the Quran: “And do good. Truly Allah loves the good-doers.”

Hmm. Maybe we’re not that different after all.

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