Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Love will conquer irrational fear of Islam

Keltner Locke, The Tennessean  

Until about 20 years ago, I despised going to the dentist and, frankly, the dentist didn’t look forward to seeing me. My fear had turned me into the “patient from hell.”

But after moving to Tennessee, I found a remarkably caring dentist. He helped me see that my fear did not match reality. No one was going to attack me with one of those excruciating dental drills I remembered from childhood.

This compassionate dentist, who retired a few years ago, also taught me another moral lesson. In his waiting room, there was a framed piece of cloth, with words cautioning that we should not judge the weaver by a single thread. More than once, when I found myself judging someone based on a single act or tiny bit of evidence, I remembered that maxim.

So, it shocked me greatly to read in The Tennessean that this wonderful man had become associated with a group that scares the daylights out of me, the anti-Muslim organization called ACT! for America. Fear — in my opinion, irrational fear — is prompting members of this group to draw lines dividing our country into “us” and “them.”

In fact, the group has a third category: “Near enemy.” One ACT! member defined a “near enemy” as “anyone who thinks Islam has good points.”

For me, this category has a familiar ring. At one time, racists applied an ugly epithet to any white person who sympathized with people of color. That slur reflected badly on the intelligence and judgment of the person uttering it, and so does the phrase “near enemy.”

It appears that many members of ACT! profess to be Christians, as I do. Rather than debate with them about the merits of Islam, let me instead remind them that we Christians are supposed to follow the teachings of Jesus, who said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

Dividing people into “us,” “them” and “near enemy” categories does not foster peace but sets the stage for hatred and harm. Let’s never forget that in Nazi Germany, ugly words came first, then rocks through windows, then concentration camps, then Zyklon B. If that chain of events had not begun with evil words vilifying Jews, I doubt that it would have culminated in the gas chambers. The Nazis first had to redefine the Jewish population as “them,” not “us,” to target them for death...(Read Full Article)

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