“Islamophobia” in one state (3)

The Star Tribune continues with another round of letters to the editor taking issue with my column “Islam in Minnesota: Can we have some straight talk for a change?” Here are today’s letters:


Why should ‘straight talk’ be all Muslim, all the time?

To the commentary writer asking if he was crazy for wanting some straight talk about Islam and Minnesota, I would say no, not crazy, but certainly misguided (“Can we hear some straight talk for a change?” Dec. 28). It is not clear what specific measures would constitute straight talk, but it seems pretty clear that the innocent-until-proven-guilty principle would not apply to Muslims. Perhaps the writer is simply funneling his inner Trump: The solution to keeping America safe is to build walls and make sure all Muslims are on the outside.

No one should dispute the obligation of law enforcement authorities to focus on the Twin Cities’ Somali community, given that several Somali-Americans left the country to become terrorists. But what is especially troubling about the desire for straight talk is a disinterest in straight talk about non-Muslim acts of violence and terrorism in and outside of Minnesota such as anti-abortion activist bombings and shootings, mass shootings, and homegrown anti-government terrorists. Rather, straight talk about violence and terrorism seems to be limited to all Muslims, all the time. Can straight talk about internment camps be far behind?

Michael Harwell, Forest Lake

• • •

I would encourage the writer to come and get to know some of the people about whom he writes.

The church I have served for almost 20 years is in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. I was proud to speak at the gathering mentioned. The Minneapolis mosque he refers to, Dar Al-Hijrah, used the lower level of our building for a year and a half while repairing its building after a devastating fire. For several years, we have worked together with Augsburg College and have hosted many interfaith gatherings in our building and in theirs. We have come to know and respect each other deeply and are committed to working together to build relationships between faiths and people.

What the writer would learn after listening to members of the community is that they are as sad and distressed about their young people as we all are. But the issues are far more complicated than meets the eye or makes the news. He would also learn that they are grateful for their warm welcome to Minnesota and that they have worked hard to succeed, often made more difficult by persistent racism and Islamophobia.

The Rev. Jane Buckley-Farlee, Minneapolis

The writer is pastor at Trinity Lutheran Congregation.

I have no comment except this: beatings will continue until morale improves.