Members of the Say No To Hate Coalition hold a counterprotest Tuesday in Tulsa. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
By World’s Editorial Writers
The line between tolerance and intolerance was never clearer than it was last week when opposing groups faced off in downtown Tulsa.
ACT! for America, a national group that sees a radical Muslim behind every tree, organized a local march to support a Tulsa police captain who refused to order his subordinate officers to attend an appreciation reception given by the Muslim community to thank the Tulsa Police Department for its work in protecting their mosque.
Capt. Paul Fields was suspended following what can be seen as insubordination. He claims that his refusal was based on his First Amendment rights. The fact is, Tulsa police attendance at community outreach programs is routine. There was nothing religious about attending the event. The officers were offered refreshments and a voluntary tour of the mosque. Despite rumors, no officer was expected or ordered to pray with their hosts.
The 100 or so ACT protesters were met by about 115 counterprotesters. The Say No to Hate Coalition quietly assembled across Second Street to counter the anti-Islam marchers on the other side.
Fields’ fate will be decided in federal court where he has filed a lawsuit. No matter the outcome, the wound will not soon be healed.
Anti-Islam protesters have a repertoire of well-worn slogans, two of which are: “When they accept a Christian church in Saudi Arabia, we’ll accept a mosque here.” And, “If a Muslim officer refused to attend a synagogue for such an event, no one would have noticed.”
First and unfortunately, those who make such a claim evidently don’t understand that what makes the United States different from some other countries is our freedom of religion. It is our tolerance of others that sets us apart. We’re not waiting for others to open up, we’re leading the way. Freedom of religion is one of the bricks upon which the foundation of this country stands.
Second, if a Muslim disobeyed a direct order, yes he would be reprimanded and he would receive the same criticism as Fields has. Police officers are supposed to serve the entire community, not just that part with which they agree.
Are radical Muslims a threat to the United States? Yes. As are radical Christians. That doesn’t make either religion dangerous. Extremists of any religion are dangerous.
Second Street in downtown Tulsa is four lanes wide. However, the gulf between those who accept all religions and those who refuse to tolerate something they don’t understand is much, much wider.SOURCE