I grew up Lutheran in St. Louis, where odds are good that you’re either Catholic or Lutheran. It’s hard to imagine that St. Louis Lutherans would be targets of political and religious intolerance, right? But go back just a short time, and you’ll see it was so.
It was World War I (and no, I’m not that old, but I’ve been told). The church in which I was baptized, Trinity Lutheran in a neighborhood known as Soulard, had some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in the city. Then one night, some anonymous cowards threw bricks through those windows.
The reason? Apparently it was because of the congregation’s German heritage. Never mind that these folks had been in the United States since the 1840s. Never mind that some of the congregation’s sons were serving in the U.S. military. No, the nation was at war with Germany. These were Germans (70+ years removed from Germany, but never mind), so they were fair game.
Sadly, things haven’t changed all that much. Today, people start equating terrorists with Muslims, and the next thing you know, we have the “ground zero mosque” controversy.
Here’s a little lesson in faulty logic: Those responsible for the Sept. 11 bombings were terrorists. Those responsible for the Sept. 11 bombings were Muslims. Therefore, all Muslims are terrorists. WRONG!!!
All of a sudden, some Americans see all Muslims as bad – even those who are our fellow citizens – and this mosque is seen as an effort to slap America in its collective face. We forget that Muslims as well as Christians were killed during the Sept. 11 tragedy, just as some of those Germans at Trinity in St. Louis lost their sons during World War I.
This is inane. In our sanest times, we applaud the great American experiment – freedom for all, opportunity for all, and a new chance at a new life. In our insanest times, we let fear grab our hearts. That fear turns into suspicion, and suspicion turns to hate.
I’m not sure what’s it’s going to take to stop the fear, suspicion and hatred. I’m sure, however, that the more we allow it to grow, the more we weaken our nation. That would be a real victory for the terrorists, to turn us in on ourselves until we tear ourselves apart.
Thanks for visiting. While you’re here, please look around the site. You can subscribe via e-mail or RSS feed. The tools to do so are at the top of the right-hand column. To share or retweet the entry, use the buttons below. You can follow me on Twitter: @peterfaur.