It’s little wonder then that I was shocked beyond belief when one of my professors in a class I took as a freshman said the Russians were not bad people. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was this professor some communist sympathizer? Should the university run him down the road on a rail, tarred and feathered?
After I thought about his statement for a while, I realized he was right. The Russian people were not bad people. Their politicians and their policies were bad and antagonistic, but the Russian people themselves were not bad. Did they follow bad ideas and bad leadership? Yes, but they needed to find that out for themselves.
We now have a situation in New York City in which a group of Muslims wants to build an Islamic mosque within sight of the spot that once held the World Trade Center. Many people are adamant that that facility shouldn’t be built so close to that hallowed ground. The patriotic nerve of the New Yorkers and the American people in general seems to be literally on their shirt sleeves over this issue.
Yes, the World Trade Center was brought down by radical Islamic terrorists. Yes, it was a horrible catastrophe for our people to endure. Yes, we as a country decry actions of this sort and hate those who did that deed.
It is not true, however, that all Muslims are bad people. It is not true that Islam is a violent religion. It is true that people who followed the Islamic faith were killed in the World Trade Center catastrophe, though I have never heard how many. Even one would be too many, just as one of any religion was too many.
We have religious freedom in this country and as long as the placement of that mosque conforms to all local rules and regulations, it or any religious building should be built wherever the religious leaders choose to build it.
I don’t agree that rules should be bent either way to accommodate or deny the construction of that building. Any religion should have to conform to all reasonable rules and regulations to construct a building, as would any other structure of any other religion, business or individual that wanted to build on the site.
I’m a little shocked and embarrassed that many of the same people who flew flags of various sizes from every conceivable flag pole shortly after the 9/11 disaster would now deny the right to freedom of religion that that flag serves to symbolize to any group. I served proudly in our military, put my life on the line more than once, so that those rights were made available to every United States citizen and I’d do it again for the same reason.
I agree, the placement of that mosque may not be the best place for that structure at this time, but the Muslims have every right to do so if they desire and can follow the local rules in establishing their religious building.
When it comes to rights, we need to all get off our hypocritical high horses and respect other people’s rights.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at email@example.com.