The Great Debate

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There has been increasing criticism of President Obama for his reluctance to label Islamic extremists as “radical Islamists” rather than his preferred term of “terrorist”. It is the President’s position that we are not against the religion, but those whose practices and acts are directed toward us as a country. He rightly points out that religion has often been used a justification for heinous acts, even in our own country. That reference to history only serves to inflame the conservative pundits who believe we have not done enough to eradicate the threats to our well-being.

Unfortunately, this “debate” has fueled misconceptions and hatred

toward Muslims Americans that seem unjustified. It seems that our constitutional guarantee of “freedom of religion” is fine as long as that religion being protected is Christianity. Though I am a Christian, I understand there are others who do not believe as I do - some in my own family. That is their right. In the doctrine of “free will”, human beings are “free” to select their own path to God or to not select one at all. We are not the final judge about that choice.

This debate often goes beyond words. The fact that Muslim Americans are targeted at airports is irrefutable. The fact that they are looked at as un-American is unquestionable. The acts of hatred that are perpetuated against them is evidenced every day. The sad recent events in Chapel Hill only serve to illuminate the degree to which simple acts of disagreement can lead to violent outbursts.

As we ask for allegiance, we should also practice tolerance. Commitment to this country should not be measured by religion or even place of birth. It may, instead, be measured by the willingness to fight our enemies, to serve others in this country, to truly believe in the Constitution, and to abide by just rules. Aside from the Native Americans, we are all immigrants to this country, whether by choice or by force. More importantly, is the fact that we did not create this world or this country, so by force it was conquered. So what? That does not make us higher than the Creator.

We can elect to believe what we will. Those who are willing to claim the lives of innocents, no matter their beliefs or the cause for which they fight, are doomed to be properly judged for their actions. They can appropriately be labeled “terrorists”.


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