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Kevin L. Roseland, Published December 11 2009

Let’s find common ground

Each day, I cannot wait until I open and read the Opinion page in The Forum. It is always interesting, if not somewhat scary at times, to view the range of opinions, some well-reasoned and others so full of venom that the pages burn in my fingers. Interesting nonetheless.

I refer to Austin Culp’s opinion in the Saturday, Nov. 28, edition, “Islam is violent by nature.” I suspect Culp is neither a philosopher, historian nor theologian, but he is certainly entitled to say what he wishes; yet when I read things such as this, I am only further concerned that our country is becoming so polarized that we shall never again be able to meet on common grounds for the general benefit of all.

My father and uncle fought in World War II, during the Battle of the Bulge, and were a part of the group that eventually broke through and helped liberate France from German control. They fought for freedom, all kinds, and I believe fought to preserve the rights of every American to live according to our Constitution, which guarantees the rights of all men and women, regardless of heritage, belief system or economic background. I consistently ask myself these days where we went wrong. At the time, we were fighting Hitler and his sick belief that the only ones who belonged were the “pure race” of blonde, blue-eyed Aryans.

It is a horrible shame what happened at Fort Hood by a radical and apparently sick man, who also happened to be a Muslim. By Culp’s imagination and faith, it is because he was a Muslim, for whom all of that faith are a murderous bunch. Additionally, Culp believes that liberals too are misguided and will bring disaster to the United States because they believe differently than those good ultra-conservatives.

Do I dare state that his position is similar to the attitudes that incurred the wrath of some people in the U.S. who believed that all Japanese people were also our enemy and therefore earned the distinction of having to be interred in camps during World War II? Could we take it further to this generation and say that Muslims, or for that matter, anyone who does not believe in the ultra-conservative point of view (i.e. liberals, Mexicans, African-Americans, Jews, etc.) should also be interred until the ultra-conservatives get this country back to “where it rightfully belongs?”

My nephew served a proud 14 years with the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell. While he was primarily involved in black op types of duty, which he cannot talk about, he did share that some of his fellow soldiers were “fringe people” from Aryan and white supremacist groups who looked upon their opportunity in the armed forces to gather the best training possible, so they would eventually be prepared for the ultimate race war they believed is coming.

I ask, where do we stop? Maybe, just maybe, some or all of us have certain beliefs that are not popular with others. That is diversity. Get used to it. Perhaps we should all be locked up.

My point is this: We all have some type of faith, even the atheists among us. I find it very discouraging to make generalizations that a certain faith or belief systems by themselves can be fully wrong, just because it differs from mine. It is true that we have prison and mental health hospitals for those who are so far outside the mainstream, they are locked up for our and their own protection, yet the majority of us are good folks with good families and friends. Rather than tearing each other down, perhaps we can make a better America by finding commonality and working to solve the problems that face all of us.

Roseland is a former member of The Forum’s Readers Board.