Thank you for the uplifting story provided in "Tides of support buoy a city's displaced Muslims" (Jan. 15). It described the cooperative and compassionate response of the Columbus, Ohio, community in the wake of hate crimes against its oldest Islamic school and mosque. Jewish and Christian congregations offered to house the Islamic school/mosque and assist with repairs.
Their actions are the first steps in getting rid of the atmosphere of fear and hatred that some misguided Americans have toward American Muslims. We as a nation have an opportunity to demonstrate to the world the strength of our resolve never to return to the dark days of intolerance and civil injustice that mar our history. Though we have not achieved perfect equality, it remains a goal toward which we continue to strive.
As an American Muslim, I have been dismayed by those who haven't learned the lesson of our collective past. Unless we honor the memory of displaced African-Americans, Jews, Germans, Asians, and countless others who fled persecution within and outside of this nation by refusing to oppress our fellow citizens, we have learned nothing from their struggles. The congregation that now hosts the Islamic school and mosque has honored the best traditions of American society. They also honor the best traditions of the Christian doctrine, as Jesus clearly asked his followers to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
The members of this congregation have also followed one of the most honorable traditions from within Islamic history. Early Muslims, finding themselves persecuted by their own tribes, were offered sanctuary by the Christian Abyssinian king and by the neighboring tribes of Medina, who came to be known as the "Ansars." It brings joy to my heart to know of the "American Ansars."
In "Demolitions not revenge" (Jan. 15), the statement that the demolition of houses in the Gaza strip are not simply revenge is correct. But I don't believe they have anything to do with Israeli security, either. Israel is not threatened by houses in the south of the Gaza strip. Israelis cite security concerns when they kill Palestinians, demolish their homes, raze their orchards, or prevent them from checking into hospitals by stopping them at one of the hundreds of roadblocks.
The fact of the matter is, the Israelis are systematically trying to make life so miserable for the Palestinians that they leave the occupied territories of their own accord. This is otherwise known as ethnic cleansing. Slowly and deliberately, the Israelis have done this, sealing off villages and demolishing homes and property, thus changing the ethnic balance.
Gert van der Straaten
I read "After 9/11, the body politic tilts to conservatism" (Jan. 16) with great interest. It's correct in addressing a patriotic shift in attitudes among the younger members of Gen X and the emerging Gen Y. However, I fear that most of what is identified as "liberal" viewpoints now forgotten are really conservative stereotypes of liberal ideas. The liberal ideas found to be silenced by post-Sept. 11 patriotism are not really core liberal ideas at all, but phantoms of their parents' generation. In my work, having edited a book about the views of new adults, I see no change in the liberal ideas central to new adults ages 18 to 25 - that expression of all kinds must be unencumbered, change is positive, diversity is to be encouraged in all forms and situations, and reform is ongoing.
Jon M. Sweeney
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