Staff Editorials

Keep speaking out against divisive rhetoric

Joann Gehling of Hiawatha (left) and and Marje English of Cedar Rapids holds signs in protest at Plaza Park in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. A group of protestors organized to stand in solidarity against controversial statements Donald Trump has made regarding muslims. Trump held the rally in Cedar Rapids just a few days after a recent GOP Republican debate and used the chance to talk about the debate as well as his hopes and ideas for the United States. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette) ¬
Joann Gehling of Hiawatha (left) and and Marje English of Cedar Rapids holds signs in protest at Plaza Park in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. A group of protestors organized to stand in solidarity against controversial statements Donald Trump has made regarding muslims. Trump held the rally in Cedar Rapids just a few days after a recent GOP Republican debate and used the chance to talk about the debate as well as his hopes and ideas for the United States. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette) ¬

We continue to be disappointed, even if we are no longer surprised, that some politicians, political candidates and other talking heads insist on spreading cartoonish untruths and half-truths about the Islamic faith and Muslim people, generally. We are proud to see so many Iowans standing up to protest these ignorant sentiments.

Too often when public discourse becomes ugly or distorted, reasonable people are inclined to turn away or tune it out. Their reluctance to wade in such fetid waters is understandable, but the lack of informed, rational discussion leaves a vacuum that tends only to be filled with more muck and mire.

In this caucus season especially, with all eyes on Iowa, we have a responsibility to learn more about the complex global fight against terrorism. We have a responsibility to correct the record when public figures or private people espouse nonsense we know to be untrue.

This past week, Johnson County Supervisors joined the many groups to do so, issuing a proclamation of their support for our “Muslim sisters and brothers.” As they noted, thousands of Muslim people have made Johnson County their home over the years and helped make the county a “great place to live, learn, work and play.”

They join the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ, which has declared their “commitment to embrace our Muslim brothers and sisters with our witness of prayers and action,” and the Rabbinical Assembly, which has denounced inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, and many others.

People of many faiths converged on the state capitol this month in support of the Muslim community. As Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, said at that event, it is because of our faith and our values, whether they are based in religion or not, that we are compelled to speak out with conviction and to stand beside Muslim friends and neighbors.

Last month, the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County hosted its 23rd annual interfaith Thanksgiving service. For the first time, the joint ceremony was held at the Cedar Rapids Islamic Center. More than 150 people came to that event and heard messages of thanks. Those in attendance stood for their own religious freedom, and simultaneously for the freedom of all faiths.

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So long as anti-Muslim sentiments continue to be expressed, we hope that even more Iowans do the same.

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