We came together yesterday, in a circle of several hundred Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, (even atheists.) talking, reading, singing, praying and sharing thoughts against bigotry, hatred and book-burning. We said “Yes,” to love, diversity and inclusion in the US, and “No,” to hate, bigotry, and intolerance.
There were rabbis, ministers, imams and other religious leaders with us. It was especially moving to hear holocaust survivors talk about the burning of Jewish books in Germany, and why we can never let it happen again.
It made me think that there is another image, a truer image of America that has not been heard lately.
There is the image put forth by the so-called Reverend Terry Jones, from the Dove Outreach church in Gainesville, Florida, who announces his plan to burn the Koran to protest the proposed Islamic Center in New York near Ground Zero. It is an image of hate, bigotry, ignorance and theatrics.
Then there is the image of love, acceptance, and caring represented by the people of Gainesville, Georgia and their gay mayor, Craig Lowe. They have loudly and very publicly denounced Jones and his ideology.
There is Jean Revels who owns the print shop that used to print t-shirts for Dove, but how refused Jones when he wanted to order a shirt that says, “Islam is the devil.” Instead they printed shirts that said, “Love Not Dove.” They printed only two hundred but had to print over one thousand to meet the demand of the community.
And then there are the two young American born Muslims who took a road trip across the US in honor of Ramadan, and found tolerance, acceptance and friendship in the most unlikely places. These young men, say they found that this is the America that they believe in.
And that brings me back to the incredible circle in the park with several hundred people from different backgrounds, ages, and beliefs that want the world to see the America of tolerance, and love. That is the America that represents me, and the America that makes me proud to be part of.