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The real threat to America comes from intolerant views

POSTED: May 19, 2011 1:00 a.m.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "Those who can sacrifice essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security." These words written in the 18th century amazingly still prove true, speaking either volumes about the insight of Dr. Franklin as well as the inability of Americans to distinguish fear from incredible racism, paranoia and demented, rabid intolerance.

When I read the letter by Jim Scharnagel, I thought, "This has to be some sort of joke. He's ripping off Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal by mocking hot-headed conservatives who would legitimately suggest such a stupid, barbaric thing."

However, I've learned that when Americans suggest these things, they are seldom joking, which makes the reactions by ill-informed, ignorant vigilantes with all the charm of neo-Nazis perhaps the most frightening part of any terrorist attack.

I'm going to assume the author's lack of either knowledge about Islam or constitutional principles of religious tolerance stems from a general type of cultural ignorance that prevails in the Southeast. His suggestion first and foremost is an abridgement of the rights of millions of Americans who practice Islam and are just as American as this man.

These millions of people were born and raised in the U.S. and are dedicated, patriotic Americans who are perfectly comfortable living side-by-side with millions of other Americans with various religious beliefs. In this way, these millions of Muslim-Americans are far more American than the previously mentioned editorial author who is willing to deport millions of Americans because of their religious beliefs (despite the fact that such an action is horribly anti-American, unconstitutional and has all the rhetoric that George Wallace's and Adolf Hitler's love-child would possess).

This point of view simply based on idiotic prejudice denies basic rights to American citizens who are promised that their religious practices will not be abridged. It is an embarrassment that this editorial was published in any newspaper that educated people read and I advise the author to do some serious soul-searching as well as some serious re-evaluation of what it means to be an American.

The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, awful as they were, were not a terrorist attack on white, Christian America. They were an attack on Americans in general, and if the author cannot realize that Muslim-Americans were just as much a target in that attack, then there is little I can do for him except to let him wallow in his distressing egotistical ignorance.

I would propose that anyone who is uncomfortable with Muslim-Americans be the ones to leave the nation because it is them, the ignorant, anti-Islamic extremists, who are currently the biggest threat to American life and liberty.

Kyle Shook
Gainesville



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