To the editor:
The front page of the Nov. 29 Gazette featured an article “Americans increasingly skeptical of Muslims,” which described the results of two recent national surveys. One poll found that “Americans’ perceptions of Islam have turned sharply negative over the past few years”; 56 percent of Americans said “the values of Islam are at odds with American values.” The other found that 70 percent of Americans said they “have seldom or never had a conversation with anyone who is Muslim in the past year,” and concluded: “In the absence of people they know who are Muslim, Americans’ perceptions of what it means to be Muslim could remain negative for as long as the headlines are.”
Six days before this article appeared, the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, which includes members of seven different faith traditions, including Muslims, held its 23rd annual interfaith Thanksgiving service. For the first time, the service was held at the Islamic Center — a momentous event of which our city should be proud — and more than 150 people filled the center. They heard thoughtful Thanksgiving meditations from the various faith traditions, and powerful affirmations of solidarity with our Muslim friends, especially our common repudiation of terrorism. The service was an inspiring antidote to the toxic rhetoric that dominates our politics today.
Yet, The Gazette carried nothing about this landmark event or the strong friendships across faith lines and the fine educational programs that the council offers. Such a missed opportunity is deeply disappointing.
Editors’ Note: We have received a couple letters criticizing the lack of coverage on this event, which is one we’ve covered in past years. The lack of coverage should not be interpreted as not being newsworthy. There are thousands of meaningful events that go uncovered each year. Stories often have multiple points of entry, and this is one where we will look at those points going forward.