Paul R. Lehman, Burning of Quran follows trend of negative attitude by GOP

September 12, 2010 at 12:03 am | Posted in Bigotry in America | 1 Comment
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When President was elected certain elements in America started a negative and hate-filled campaign against him because of his ethnicity—his politics had not yet been revealed other than from his speeches prior to his election. The plethora of attacks from many areas of society created an atmosphere of anger and criticism relative to Obama and the office of President. Many citizens including the GOP felt at ease heaping all sorts of criticism on Obama, his administration, and the government. The frequency of the attacks by people of standings in society and government gave license to social elements that believed that since Obama was not valued by so-called responsible people, they could say and do anything viewed as criticism of Obama regardless of its lack of good taste. After all, they were simply exercising their 1st Amendment right. What they did not consider is that hate begets hate as referenced by the so-called Christian pastor in Florida who announced that he would burn copies of the Quran.

The media announced that the Quran was to be burned by a pastor in Florida. Immediate response to this proposed event was commented on by a variety of American citizens with most of them opposing it. The objective of the burning was to be an act that showed disrespect to the Muslim religion. Why burn this holy book when it cannot be associated with anything or anyone except the Muslims? What did the Muslims do to warrant such disrespect? The Muslims have done nothing against America to cause this anger and hate. Unfortunately, many members of society still maintain that President Obama is a Muslim and therefore, should be held as suspect as an American. In essence, an element of society has demonized Obama and the Muslim religion as being evil, so any demonstration against either Obama or the Muslims is just fine. That attitude is a form of bigotry against Muslims directly and Obama indirectly.

After having received possible negative repercussions from the military, responsible citizens, and even the administration relative to the burning of the Quran, the pastor held his ground. He could not be convinced that his proposed act would be seen as unchristian, undemocratic, and unpatriotic, not to mention detrimental to U.S. troops everywhere. Like many of the people criticizing Obama, common sense played no part in the pastor’s mind-set. He seemed impervious to any rational comments.

What has made matter even harder to accept is the unwillingness of certain members of society and government to rage against this irrational event. They have taken to juxtaposing the Muslim cultural center conflict in New York with the Quran burning in Florida. In so doing, they are lending credence to the pastor’s actions. They should form a search party in the Gainesville, Florida area in an effort to locate the pastor’s mind. He needs to know that being a Christian means following the Golden Rule as well as loving one another. He also needs to know that our government allows for each individual the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without causing harm to others; the Muslims have a right to worship the same as he. He also needs to know that demonstrations such as his proposed Quran burning will cause irreparable harm our country’s image worldwide, and therefore represents an unpatriotic act.

Although the citizens who began the tasteless, negative criticism against Obama probably never gave any thought to the kind of mind-set reflected in the Florida pastor, they must accept some of the blame for it because evil begets evil. Had they not created an atmosphere of discontent and hate, seemingly making it perfectly acceptable, then society might not be held hostage by people who believe it is their god-given right to do evil in the name of Christianity. Many of these people believe that being European American and Christian give them the right to say and do anything as long as they do it in God’s name. They seem to believe that Christianity is the only valid and acceptable religion, and that all other religions must respect and yield to it in order to be acceptable to them. What also seems puzzling is that many who profess to believe in Christianity are apparently the least informed. When the pastor from Florida says he will wait to hear from God before he makes his decision, someone ought to tell him to open his Bible and read it—it is God’s word.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this Quran burning experience it should be that caution should be used when making negative and abusive criticism because some might use it as a sign that it is okay. When people start to believe that all forms of negative and hateful criticism are acceptable to use, they use it without reservation. They believe their use of it should not be questioned since they are simple following the lead of others. At some point the criticism turns into negative attitudes and negative attitudes can create dangerous situations, like the proposed Quran burning. Reasonable Americans with power and influence should take positive steps to help change the direction of the current criticism. Constructive criticism is necessary for the continued growth of society, but destructive criticism can be society’s undoing.


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  1. Knowing your preference for “African American” instead of “black,” I used it in a book review in Sunday’s paper. However, because of a dictate by The Associated Press Stylebook, “black” was substituted for “African American” by someone at the paper. It is interesting, though, that “African American” slipped through in the second reference in the review.

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