La Crosse Tribune: Uphold American Pluralism

Richard Haling’s letter to the editor, “Fight Them in Iraq, not here.” (La Crosse Tribune, Dec. 29) is an embarrassment to American pluralism. Haling’s letter shows a disturbing confusion regarding the difference between Muslims and terrorists. He is unable to clearly explain which “them” is dangerous nor exactly what conflict is occurring “here.” The article is tantamount to fear-mongering and stereotyping, and his conclusions necessitate re-evaluation.

For example, he states, “Let’s put God and the Bible, with its morals and social backbone, back into our country.” I agree with his statement, if not with any of his other conclusions. Christian values give central importance to the sanctity of life, and the need to assert this value is immense, particularly now in Iraq. According to a Johns Hopkins University team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists, 655,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq thus far; its state of mayhem has no visible end in sight.

What moral currency does America hold unless we demand that all sides respect the sanctity of civilian life (not just the terrorists)?

However, the sanctity of life is not just a Christian value, it is a human value, shared across the religious diversity of America.

As Keith Ellison takes part in his private swearing-in ceremony with a version of the Quran owned by Thomas Jefferson, let us be reminded that in America, Muslims have the right to serve in Congress no less than any other citizen of any other faith group; and that makes me proud to be an American.

Editor’s note: Reem Rahman is a representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. The Johns Hopkins study he cites, putting the estimate of civilian deaths in Iraq at 655,000 since the U.S. invasion, is controversial. Other estimates have been far lower. In December 2005, President Bush said in a speech that there had been 30,000 civilian deaths up to that point. More recently, the United Nations said there were 34,452 civilian deaths for 2006 alone.

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