Two of the first comments received on this blog’s post “United We Stand” were “you are a moron” and “piss on ‘civility’.” Really?
For all the rhetoric around religious and individual freedoms in this country, there is surprisingly little tolerance for a political discourse based on an open and peaceful exchange of ideas. Too quick are critics – on both ends of the political spectrum – to jump on the messenger without even listening to or trying to understand the message.
One of the policy recommendations in “United We Stand” is a perhaps controversial, but “common sense” proposal to delay the Administration’s program to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees into this country until a more assuring security framework can be established. Unlike Donald Trump’s irresponsible rhetoric, though, this does not apply to all Muslims, including citizens. It is a simple realization of a potential threat, and not only to Americans. Syrian refugees entering the United States – however insignificant in number compared to the millions fleeing into Europe – are themselves at risk of persecution and violence in the country that has in the past prided itself on being a home to poor and downtrodden immigrants.
One of the biggest mistakes Trump and others are making is disrespecting the good will of a majority of Islamic-Americans. The critics are actually inciting radicalization within the United States. Instead, we should work with peaceful Muslim-Americans, who are prepared to take a stand against terrorism by the hundreds and thousands, defending only the same freedom of religion, which is protected by the United States Constitution. Unlike Trump’s counter-narrative, these Muslim-American anti-terrorism protesters are real and well documented.
Ironically, while critics like Trump are harkening back to the darker days of World War II, our European partners – facing an even bigger refugee challenge and well aware of the threat of anti-religious fervor – have demonstrated that Christian Democratic values really are compatible with tolerance and respect.