Views From Kennewick

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Irrational intolerance is a frightening reality

dpt-religioncolumn19Text6A26Q7LIEDITOR'S NOTE

This is the first of weekly columns by local religious leaders. Cindy Trane Christeson's "The Moral of the Story" will continue in this space once a month.

I taught at UC Irvine for 22 years. I am glad to have left a campus that has become fertile ground for hate speech and take pride in joining Chapman University, where discourse is passionate but civil.

Last year, I was invited back to UCI to speak about Israel to several hundred political science students. The ad hominem attacks launched by the Muslim class members, the insults they flung at me, the rage that contorted their faces, indicated an irrationality never to be imagined in a university classroom. Later, the professor confessed his fear that physical violence would explode and that he had considered calling security to protect me as I left.

Muslim students recently sponsored programs geared to whip up a frenzy against Israel. The only democracy in a sea of tyrannical and primitive regimes was likened to Nazi Germany and apartheid in South Africa. It is a crime punishable by imprisonment for a Christian to wear a Cross in Saudi Arabia, and yet this is the culture that attacks Israel for its alleged intolerance.

Islam, a faith profoundly inimical to Western values, divides the world into realms of dar al Islam, believers, and dar al harb, unbelievers. The Koran of Medina commands: "Then your Lord spoke to His angels and said, 'I will be with you. Give strength to the believers. I will send terror into the unbelievers' hearts, cut off their heads and even the tips of their fingers!' " We of the West, who affirm, "Love your neighbor as yourself," recoil at the global jihad that daily implements this homicidal Koranic message.

We must condemn speech that descends into vilification. As Lebanese-born Arab reformer Brigitte Gabriel recently said to my congregation, "What is at stake on campuses is our future; the students of today will become tomorrow's leaders."

I tremble.


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