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Home Grown Intolerance (The United States' most popular export)
I want to start off by saying that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. In this great country those opinions and their expression are by and large protected by the touchstone document of our nation. I would never insist on the censorship of any action or statement that is protected by the constituion of the United States of America. My intension in writing this piece is for it to serve as a commentary. Nothing more nothing less.
September 11, 2001
It takes only a moment to change the course of human history. Similarly, that moment can affect the course of one human's life within that vast history. I lost more than most on that morning. I lost guide to my actions, a mentor to my emotions and a brother to my father. My uncle Douglas J. Stone was murdered along with many others by Muslim religious extremists. This action, motivated by hate and intolerance, sent shockwaves through the American psyche, and the aftershocks are still being felt nearly a decade later.
The anniversary of September 11th has been for me a time of remembrance. It has been a time to embrace your fellow man and celebrate the lives of those who were taken from us. While losing so much, I have gained perspective. Over the years my personal anger has faded to reveal a reverence that is not unique to Americans that suffered as I have. This reverence will never allow us to forget or forgive. MORE IMPORTANTLY, the memories embody an extreme distaste for any further bloodshed American or otherwise. I can say with finality and a clear conscience that what I have been through, I would not wish upon any man. This has taught me Tolerance.
Thus it troubles me deeply to read about the Gainesville, Florida based Dove World Outreach Center, who plan to burn copies of the Quran in remembrance of those who died during the attacks. (from DWOC Facebook page) " On September 11th, 2010, from 6pm - 9pm, we will burn the Koran on the property of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!"
I have a number of questions to the members of the DWOC. How dare you? How in the name of Christian morals and values preach the very intolerance and hatred that motivated the attacks that you are standing against. How can you in good conscience use the memory of innocents, including my family, in hate filled propaganda? Clearly, no member of this so called outreach program has ever felt the loss that I have. None of them have collapsed to the floor of their sanctuary and held on to memories tight enough to break the bones in their hands. They have not felt the heartache of an empty seat at Christmas, or an empty coffin at a funeral. If they had, they would be unable to speak, overcome with a sense of pain previously unknown.
However intense my moral outrage over these statements and proposed actions may be, it comes second to damage done to the image of America. International media outlets have already begun to report the intensions of this organization. As a result protests have already begun. According to Yahoo news on Monday several hundred Afghans rallied outside a Kabul mosque, burning American flags and an effigy of Dove World's pastor and chanting "death to America." Members of the crowd briefly pelted a passing U.S. military convoy with stones. This incident has already caused irreparable damage to our standing in the world. Some might say that is an embellished statement, a small group of extremists could never change the way the world views an entire country or group of people. To that I would ask how the Taliban has shaped the world's view of Afghanistan?
The international media allows for a direct market for the exportation of American Intolerance. Although there is nothing close to a majority of Americans who feel burning a sacred text is appropriate, It is nonetheless branded as "American" in the headlines and sound bites.
To the members of the Dove World Outreach Center I implore you to reconsider your decision to take these actions. Your immoral actions reflect badly on and embarrass most Americans. Our country was originally a sanctuary from religious persecution and now you are creating an image of just the opposite. I defend your right to freedom of expression, however with that right comes responsibility. And that is to not speak for or over those who also have that right as well. In the eyes of the world you are speaking for all Americans, and for it the world wants "death to America." For this you should be ashamed.
If this event is to continue as planned my moral outrage will be combined with millions of others, and you will be labeled and persecuted for the bigots that you are. Do not shame the memories of the innocents who have died, with hatred that lies in your heart. A moment can change human history. This is yours. Make the right decision and call off Burn a Koran Day.
Darin G. Tabor