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Education Matters: Prejudice is the enemy, not religion

October 29, 2010|By Dan Kimber

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

I have received a rash of anti-Muslim e-mails lately. Some are from people I know and some are from organizations that somehow have me on their mailing list.

The most recent included pictures of a young boy having his arm mangled as a punishment for stealing. The words underneath the picture of a car rolling over the boy's arm read, "May God have mercy on us who tolerate the Muslim."


This came from an old friend who I've been politically dueling with for the last 40 years. He seems to be part of a general hysteria in this country over the attempt to build a mosque near the site of the former twin towers in New York.

Americans of all political persuasions and religious stripes have had conflicting emotions regarding 9/11. Our present and previous administrations in Washington have gone to great pains to insist that our country's conflict is with extremism and terrorists, not the Islamic religion itself.

Despite that, a substantial portion of America — particularly red America — does not agree, and in American politics, constituencies always find champions. The Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins easily ignite audiences with the argument that the mosque would be a "victory monument" for the attackers and all who supported them.

For others, the proposed mosque tests the limits of one of our most deeply held values: freedom of religion. We look to the Founding Fathers and try to understand their intentions, we study our history to learn from our mistakes, and we weigh judicial precedent — all in an attempt to promote equality before the law.

I went to my friend down the street, Firoz, who is a Muslim. Together we attend neighborhood parties, play golf and have great discussions. Firoz has shown me passages in the Koran that are very much like passages in the Bible; he considers groups like Al Qaida and the Taliban to be perversions of his religion; and he doesn't think the mosque should be built near ground zero. He is as American as I am.

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