Enough, already, with intolerance

Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis

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.

Your thoughts?

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4 Responses to Enough, already, with intolerance

  1. Fear & intolerance grows like a cancer when it continues to be fed by those who spread it for their own personal gain & agendas.

    The only thing I can think of that will end this is for the citizens of this wonderful country to stop listening to the propaganda and start using their minds.

    God help us all!

  2. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain: “Travel is death to bigotry and prejudice.” And he was talking about looong travel in other countries – months and months, not a week trip to Europe. If more Americans lived in other states and abroad, I think we’d be a better people overall. Personally, I think it should be a requirement of every president we elect that she/he has to have lived some time out of the country.

  3. Alex C says:

    While I agree with your logic regarding the transitive property of terror equality, I think most people are looking at the Ground Zero Mosque issue from a broader perspective.

    The religion of Islam will not rest until it all humans are a part of the faith…the same is true of all religions, yes? The difference is that while the Lutherans and Catholics of your upbringing would simply speak to their neighbors or preach from the street corners, Islam and the Koran DOES condone the use of the sword against infidels, the same logic used to take down the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the U.S.S. Cole, and the Kobar Towers. Call it radical Islam if you like; it’s simply an expression for those who would are actually following their faith.

    (I’m pausing to listen for someone to bring up the Christian Crusades)…

    We all agree that the idea of the Crusades was incorrect; to force others into the Christian faith and take lands by force. The greater world has learned these lessons, but apparently these mores don’t apply to the Islamic world.

    That being said, the Ground Zero Mosque (Cordoba Project) is on its own extremely insensitive. Whether this group of worshipers is responsible for the WTC fall is irrelevant; placing a building symbolic of the WTC destroyers within a few hundred feet of the site is akin to placing a Japanese rising sun flag near Pearl Harbor or a Museum of Nazi History near Auschwitz.

    I daresay that I speak not of fear; I’ve spent time in Islamic countries. I’m curious how we should be tolerant of a faith that is intolerant of others’?

    • Peter Faur says:

      Alex, thank you for taking time to read my thoughts and to share yours. I read an interesting book called The Strong Horse by Lee Smith (affiliate link below). The book maintains that Middle Eastern cultures (mostly Muslim) respect only strength and that citizens of Middle Eastern countries always choose to follow whoever displays strength. Smith says that Sept. 11 was as much or more about bin Laden trying to demonstrate his strength to his world as it was about expressing hatred toward us and trying to make us fearful.

      Hatred and an addiction to violence, unfortunately, can be found among factions in any religions that get themselves enmeshed in politics and power – Christianity, Islam and Judaism. I think the leaders behind the project in New York City are not of this ilk and are not being spiteful. (And of course, the project they want to build can’t even be seen from ground zero.) I understand you might have a different view. Thanks again for your thoughts.

      The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations

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