Are Americans Intolerant of Islam?
If there was ever a question about whether Americans fully practice religious tolerance, the events of this past week (October 2010) have shown the world that our citizens are truly committed to the PEACEFUL right to practice our religious beliefs.
When Terry Jones -- an intolerant pastor in a miniscule church in Florida -- threatened to burn the Koran, our leaders, including the President, our military and religious leaders, and even the government of Gainesville (where Jones preaches) stood up in unison and rebuked him publicly. There was a clarion cry across the land, stating unequivocally that anger, revenge, and retribution are not in the American nature.
Why, then, is there a fear of Islam?
For this very reason: When Islamic Terrorists behave intolerantly, while there have been some isolated refutations from a few Muslim leaders, we Americans don’t hear the same heraldic condemnation from a united front of the leadership of this religion.
We intently want to know that we are safe in the presence of Muslims, and their leadership will condemn, immediately and without equivocation, any form of Muslim terrorism and intolerance.
We want evidence that if any Muslim goes on the warpath, he or she will immediately be corralled by sage Muslims, not by Americans forced into that role throughout the corners of the globe.
Unfortunately, those highly visible condemnations from Islamic leadership are not sung in unison from every mosque across the lands.
Are we intolerant of Islam? No. Are we afraid of Islam? Yes! So long as Islamic leaders are either afraid to condemn extremism, or, by their silence, give terrorism their passive acquiescence.
Fear spawns distrust. In its most basic form, trust is about safety, security, and reliability.
We clearly want to be tolerant of Islam, but we do not trust Islam because we distrust its leadership to keep us safe from those who disregard the most basic of all freedoms – life itself.
If Islam is truly interested in maintaining American tolerance for its religion, then Islamic leadership must ensure that we have nothing to fear from Islam. It’s that simple.
Just as so many Americans took responsible action to curtail Terry Jones' outrageous, unchristian outburst, so we expect Islamic leaders to do the same for killers and terrorists of their faith.
Robert Porter Lynch