My husband asked me yesterday if I had written or commented on the “Burn a Koran” day in Florida. I hadn’t, at least not in writing. I have commented on it to family and friends verbally but not here in print. Why? I wasn’t sure until this morning when I read one more article on the growing hatred towards Muslims and the Islamic faith within the United States.

The article wasn’t about the Park 51 site; it was about the mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The article was from the view of one Muslim woman (http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/09/13/muslim.tennessee.mosque/index.html?hpt=Sbin). It outlined the reasons behind the decision to build a mosque in a town that already had a large Muslim community. It also showed the form bigotry and hatred toward the Muslim community has taken in this city. It is sad, it is ignorance, it is wrong for such actions to be happening let alone to be tolerated and, in many cases, condoned. This is why I chose to write… finally.

I must say something before I continue. Please feel free to be offended by what I am about to say. Feel free to disagree with me. Feel free to say that I am wrong or that I am in a position different than you and I am able to give such opinions. Feel free to say that my situation is unique and different from yours and therefore you cannot say or do what I am about to suggest. Now on to the rest of what I wish to say:

If you do not speak up against such bigotry and hatred then you are condoning it and allowing it to continue and grow.

As Pagans we know what it is to be condemned on misinformation and outright lies. We know what it is to lose jobs, lose family members, lose friends do to irrational fear of the unknown. We understand what it feels like to have people whisper innuendos behind our backs. I myself am no stranger to the finger-pointing, derogatory jokes, or public humiliation by those I thought were my friends. If there was ever a community that could relate to the current situation American Muslims find themselves facing it is Pagans.

Hollywood and the media paint broad stroke pictures of groups; we have been the victims of this phenomenon as long as a story could be told. It is the same story playing out with a different group being targeted. And why? Is it because they do not believe the same thing? Or is it because “they” look different? The last time I remember in this country that a group of people were singled out because they could possibly be a threat to national security was when American Japanese were placed in internment camps. That should never happen again. If we wanted to target people who are a threat, then go after the individual. Remember Timothy McVeigh? He was a home-grown, white boy who decided to kill a lot of people based on his own political doctrines. But everyone agrees that he did not represent the majority of Americans. So if we extrapolate a little, the few radical men who attacked on September 11, 2001 obviously represent all of Islam. There could be individual thought in “that group.” People! Wake up! Speak up!

Hate and bigotry is wrong, flat-out wrong. It makes no difference where it comes from or where it is pointed. It is wrong when it is directed towards Pagans, Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Whites, or whatever group you wish to put into that sentence. I know the fear that the woman in the article speaks about. The fear that someone will find out, what will they do, how will they react. No one should live with that fear, not in this country, not anywhere.

In reading the article I was reminded of a poem written by Martin Niemoller. I think that it is something that we should all be reminded of:

“First, they came for the Jews. But I was not a Jew, so I did not speak up.

 Then they came for the communists. But I was not a communist, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the trade unionists. But I was not a trade unionist, so I did not speak up.

And when they came for me, There was no one left to speak out for me.”

Please, please, speak out. If you don’t who will?

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