If these are times that test America’s values, here’s to hoping we pass.

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, wrote yesterday that times like these test our values as a nation. Kristof was remarking on the ongoing national debate over the proposed Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero in Manhattan. The ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks seems to have breathed life back into the discussion unfortunately.

Kristof starts by noting some troubling examples of American nativism and xenophobia that have accompanied the debate. Frankly they’d be shocking if I hadn’t already read about them 30 dozen times. But if they’ve lost their power to shock, they still make me shake my head in amazement. (You can read the column for those anecdotes and poll results. I provided in the link the paragraph above).

The main reason I’m drawing attention to Kristof’s column, however, is the way he ends it. He briefly profiles people who have stood up against such fear-mongering. They represent the America I identify with, the America that I think a majority of Americans really, truly believe in, even if the polls don’t reflect my hope at the moment.

Here are the final paragraphs of Kristof’s column:

If this is a testing time, then some have passed with flying colors. Hats off to a rabbinical student in Massachusetts, Rachel Barenblat, who raised money to replace prayer rugs that a drunken intruder had urinated on at a mosque. She told me that she quickly raised more than $1,100 from Jews and Christians alike.

Above all, bravo to those Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders who jointly denouncedwhat they called “the anti-Muslim frenzy.”

“We know what it is like when people have attacked us physically, have attacked us verbally, and others have remained silent,” said Rabbi David Saperstein. “It cannot happen here in America in 2010.”

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick put it this way: “This is not America. America was not built on hate.”

“Shame on you,” the Rev. Richard Cizik, a leading evangelical Christian, said to those castigating Islam. “You bring dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ. You directly disobey his commandment to love your neighbor.”


Let me second that.  Amen!


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