The American-News welcomes letters of opinion from our readers.

The American-News welcomes letters of opinion from our readers. Letters regarding current local and national news items are encouraged. All letters are subject to editing for length and style. Letters containing potentially libelous or obscene statements will not be published. Letters must contain name, address and phone number for verification and in case of questions. E-mail letters to: mmilbrandt@montenews.com Letters may also be mailed to:  Editor, Montevideo Publishing, P.O. Box 99, Montevideo, MN 56265

Don’t let fear be your guide

 On Thursday the 5th I attended the event “The Trojan Horse of Interfaith Dialogue” at the Community center in Montevideo. For three hours I sat and listened, quietly, to Mr. Hadian’s talk about Islam and the danger, to the church, of Interfaith Dialogue. While, neither his portrayal of Interfaith Dialogue, or Islam, tended to align with my own experiences of either, for the most part, I really had no feelings about the first part of his talk. It mostly centered on proving, from a Christian perspective, that Islam was a false faith, said that Christians should always proclaim their truth, and that Islam and Christianity are diametrically opposed. Again, while I do not subscribe to these beliefs, I had little argument to make, for these are matters of faith and conviction. Who am I to say he is wrong? I would not assume that a Christian would believe in the tenets of another faith and, as nearly all of us who have been involved in interfaith work know, while we may hold some VALUES in common, our beliefs are often quite separate. Contrary to what Mr. Hadian said, Interfaith work is NOT about blending faiths, or blurring differences, it is about recognizing our common humanity so that we can be less afraid of our neighbors and work together as fellow Americans.  

  As he reached the second part of his talk, however, I found much of what he said to be quite dangerous. Throughout this part of his talk he wove a tale of a plot, by Muslims, to destroy America and destroy the Church. He set out to describe a people who would stop at nothing to destroy our way of life. He lumped all Muslim organizations together and painted them all as liars and extremists. He fanned the flames of fear. As I listened to him, and the vocal approval of his message emanating through the crowd, I could not help but hear the echoes of similar tales that were crafted, over the ages, about my own people, the Jews. I could hear the very same narratives ascribing secret plots and motives to us as a group. Jews were destroying Christianity. Jews were destroying Russia. Jews were destroying Germany. Jews were destroying Spain. Jews were secretly murdering Christian babies. Jews were robbing Christians. Jews are controlling the media. The Jews must be stopped! The history of Christianity and these rumors is 1700 years of violence and murder. It is a history that parallels that of  modern “Islamic Extremism” in many ways. Fear is a powerful force and we tend to forget that, quite often, it was fear, not hatred, which led to pogroms and persecution by “Good Christians” perhaps like those in attendance.

  At the end of the evening Mr. Hadian opened a Q&A. I raised my hand and, when he chose me, I stood up and began to ask my question. At this point I DID make one mistake and it is something I regret. Mr. Hadian had finished his speech with a rousing piece about the anti-Christ including a slide that gave his criteria. I met all those criteria so, thinking that it might lighten the mood, and to let people know that I was not offended, I thought it might be funny to say that I was the only Anti-Christ in the room. As soon as I said it I could see that it was not a type of humor for the crowd gathered and I tried to move on with my question. I was polite but, as soon as it was clear that my question was going to be critical, Mr. Hadian began to shut me down and people began to surround me, even placing their hands on my person. People shouted for me to sit down and I said I would not. I found this odd considering that, over and over, through his talk, he accused others of trying to shut him down. To add further comedy to the situation, what Mr. Hadian and the audience did not know was that, in fact, I was a part of a group that did our best to make sure that his speech was NOT shut down and that there were NOT protesters from all over the State at his talk. I am a strong believer that all people should be given the opportunity to speak and that we should always remain respectful. As I attempted to politely speak about the dangers of conspiracy theories, I looked around the audience.  I recognized dozens of you who are my neighbors. I have worked with some of you volunteering in our community. My children have played with your children. I have sat with some of you in your churches. I have shared meals with you. I have done business with you. Some of you have been to various talks I have given over the years in which I have ALWAYS encouraged you to say whatever you feel is important, and I have always begun by assuring you that you will NOT offend me by speaking your truth. If there was a moment of the evening that was most painful, it was this. NOT ONE PERSON had the integrity to stand up and support me, a member of YOUR community, not necessarily in my message, but, rather, in my right to speak. Not one of you intervened as people grabbed at me, your neighbor, in a community center in my own town. I watched your faces as I was led out by a kind police officer and I was embarrassed for you, who I have known to be good people. Do not let fear be your guide.

—Michael Jacobs

Milan

The Second Amendment

As the death toll from gun violence mounts, we are told that, because of the Second Amendment, nothing can be done to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. That is false. You have to wonder how many of those who make that argument have ever read the Second Amendment; a careful and open-minded reading of its mere 27 words gives the lie to that argument.

  This is what the Second Amendment says:

  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

  There are a lot of poorly informed folks who think that we should ignore the first 13 words of the amendment, and pay attention to only the last 14 words. They would have us believe that the framers intended those 13 words to have no meaning, a legal nullity, without meaning and purpose. They imagine it to read: “ To ensure the freedom of individuals against the government, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That’s not the Second Amendment.

  It is obvious that the framers were focused on “well regulated” state militias, which could be called out by the state government to protect “the security of a Free State.” The words “well regulated” and “security” show the framers’ intent. Consider that the framers were wealthy and well educated men who certainly would not have wanted to have a bunch of gun fanatics forming militias to overthrow the government.

  What were militias intended to do? Find the answer in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which spells out the power of Congress to call out the militia “to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.”

  Let’s pay attention to what Representative Tim Miller and Senator Andrew Lang do to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, while upholding the true meaning of the Second Amendment.

—John H. Burns

Willmar

Children or guns?

I have an open question for State Rep. Tim Miller, Dave Baker and State Senator Lang.

What is your stance on Assault rifles and large magazines? Are you in favor of banning them, or are you in the pockets of the NRA’s money? Are you in favor of a mental health test to buy a gun? Do you favor banning all types of assault rifles, or are you like the NRA and say it is your right to go into schools and kill children or shoot into crowds at concerts, etc.?

Don’t give me the 2nd Amendment BS. Requiring mental health tests or banning guns is not against the 2nd amendment, as there are already rules banning ownership of sawed off shotguns, auto fire weapons, etc.

What is the Republican Party’s stance on this? What is your stance on this? As of 21 March 2018, 26 bills have been introduced, and not one (1) has made it out of the Republican held committees. Don’t give me that line of BS that crooks will still have weapons. It is not the Al Capone type that is going into schools or on rooftops shooting to kill as many as people as possible, it’s the people with mental health problems. It almost seems like the people against a mental health test either couldn’t pass one or are enjoying all that NRA money. Just wondering?

I am not a one position voter like the people who try to try to push their religious viewpoints down my throat with their votes. The Constitution says church and state should be kept separate. All have the right to believe what they want, but I will vote AGAINST anyone who refuses to support NEW gun laws to stop the killing of our children. I would think no parent would vote for a person who puts the NRA over a mental health test for gun buyers.

Remember, the 2nd Amendment was only put into place to protect slave owners from their slaves and to ensure they had guns to kill the Native Americans, who only had bow and arrows at that time.

You cannot own a sawed off shotgun, but you can own an assault weapon, and the only thing both of them are used for is to KILL PEOPLE, period.

Think about all the money being shoveled toward the republicans way by the NRA, who don’t give a damn about your children; just like the congress person that sits on that NRA money and won’t do A THING to stop the killing of your children.

Get out there and support your children in their protests against gun violence, they’re the ones who are getting killed. I wonder what kind of problems a person has that doesn’t support children wanting a safe school?

—Harlan Broers

Clara City

Diversity is strength

My husband and I started living in the Montevideo area in 1996.  While neither one of us grew up here, we both recognized that Montevideo and the surrounding communities had a lot to offer. One of the things we value most about living here is the opportunity to get to know people who have different ideas and beliefs than ourselves.

When we lived in the Twin Cities, it was easy to find people who thought like us and had similar life experiences. Unless we made a point to seek out opportunities to interact with people who have different opinions, we didn’t have to. In a small town that is not true. Interacting with people who are a different age, who have different life experiences, different beliefs and opinions is the way we get things done in Montevideo. It is true that diversity can create a feeling of discomfort. I have found throughout the last two decades in Montevideo, I learn more when I am uncomfortable.  

A presentation by Shahram Hadian in Montevideo last week challenged my view that members of this community want to work together across differences. The responses prior to, during and following this event illuminated weaknesses in our communities’ ability to have civil conversations. Both sides are trying to push their opponent into an extreme corner. By doing this, we weaken our ability to work together for the betterment of the whole community. Let's find the courage and respect needed to converse with people who have different points of view in order to better work together. The next opportunity to do this will be at the Chippewa County Civil Conversations Project on Thursday, April 12th starting at 7:00 pm at the Montevideo Community Center. Let’s live up to our potential as a community that can be stronger because we are diverse.

—Amy Bacigalupo

Montevideo

What is truth?

You’ve heard this question before. We’ve heard it many times in different contexts. I’m asking in reference to today’s meanings and manners of usage.

  There are at least two different truths. One is real truth. A car, an automobile is meant to get occupants from A to B. It normally has an engine, wheels and conjunctive equipment to propel it down a traffic way. You can call it a rose or a chair but it’s still an automobile.

  Other truth is relative and it’s getting wider use by the variety of situations applied to faith is normally what we hope for and what we are certain of - which we do not see. Now it’s also anything that people care to characterize what they believe in. They may be wholly convinced that a chair is a desk or a car is a tractor. A knife can be a screwdriver, pry bar, a saw or any other imaginative device chosen. Faith can be a belief in anything. Your bank account, your 401K or a savings account - real security. Money may be more than a tool. It can become power, authority and complete rough-shod over others.

   We need to see clearly. Truth is real truth, not all manner of self-made ideas of truth. We can only delude ourselves so far - His truth.

—Dave Swenson

Montevideo