To the Point for the week of 11/9/06

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I NEVER DO THIS, BUT somewhere to the left of this column is a letter to the editor that you may or may not have already read.

It is some sort of letter or point of view that was apparently written and published in a newspaper in Tampa, Florida; and then presented here for your thoughts.

Here are my thoughts:

I don’t believe that I have ever read a more close-minded, narrow view of our country. It is a message of hate, bigotry, and ignorance. It is not a message of patriotism – it is exactly the opposite.

And, wherever the man is who wrote it, it is printed in a free country with a free press and a free right of expression.

Maybe he should read that the next time he quotes the Constitution.

The history of our country is a history of immigration. We have long been known as the “melting pot” of the world, because other than the Native Americans, each and everyone of us lives in this great country because we have ancestors who sacrificed and came to this country to make a better life for themselves and for their families and those still to come.

Yes, writer, we are a nation of freedoms, and those include the freedom to worship in whatever way you’d like, because the government cannot establish a religion and make you worship in a certain way.

Does that mean that there is no religion? No, it means that you may choose which way you want to worship – and it also gives you the freedom not to worship at all.

You refer to America as a “Country of Choice”, but then you seem to want to take all of those choices away if they don’t conform with yours.

Our society gives immigrants who live under a veil of terror and suppression the right to come here and live the “American Dream”. It gives them the right to have a home and a job and raise a family – even if they don’t speak a language that you understand.

Our American cities have long been a wonderful mixture of cultures and diversity. Many cities celebrate that diversity – not condemn it. There are still areas of New York City where the people speak their native Chinese or Spanish or German.

Many people in Louisiana speak the native Creole or French. American citizens in the Southwest still speak Spanish; as do many other people who are moving into all areas of our country.

“In God We Trust” has not always been our national motto – it became one of our mottos in 1956.

The motto before that – and is still one of our national mottos today for the country that you so proudly defend – is “E pluribus unum”, a Latin phrase that is translated as: “From many, one”.

That means that when our forefathers debated on an original motto for our nation, they acknowledged and celebrated our diversity as a country. The motto itself reaffirms that many different people from many different cultures and many different backgrounds have all come together in one place to form a new country.

The motto has 13 letters in it, which is symbolic of the 13 colonies coming together. Many of those colonies had citizens who had come from different European countries and had varied backgrounds and religions, but they saw the value of blending those cultures – and those differences – together into a free society that today still stands as the model for the rest of the world.

This is the greatest country on earth, and it is great in part because each of us has been given freedoms as individuals.

It’s funny that in your letter, you quote the first amendment to the Constitution, saying that it gives every citizen the right to express his or her opinion – but then you follow it up with “WE will give you every opportunity to do so….”

Who, exactly, is “we”?

On one hand you celebrate the freedom of the First Amendment, but then you say that if your freedom doesn’t match that of “we”, then you should move to another country or part of the world.

Do you see the idiocy of that statement?

Writer, you just can’t quote the First Amendment when it applies to your freedoms, and then ignore it when it is applied to those who you don’t approve of. Two times in the letter, the writer says that he is not against immigration; but then proceeds to pour out an opinion that suggests that what we really have here is a nation that needs to close and lock its doors and strive for a pure race of people who all think the same thoughts and share the same beliefs – an attitude and environment not unlike what German citizens went through in the middle of the last century.

It’s been five years, so can we all agree that we can stop throwing September 11th in everyone’s face every time we want to make an “American Statement”? As far as I know, Mexicans who are in this country as migrant workers had nothing to do with the 9-11 tragedy.

What this letter is really saying to immigrants is: “You’re welcome to come to MY America as long as you live by MY American rules. You will worship MY God and you will pray in MY language.”

Sorry, writer, but it just doesn’t work that way.

I want to thank Darrell Kasson for bringing this letter in. Make no mistake, he didn’t write it, but – as he wrote – he wanted to give people ‘food for thought’.

I think I’ve had my fill.

Shalom.