The people who are coming up with all sorts of explanations as to why they object to a mosque in the vicinity of “ground zero,” in New York, cloak themselves under all manner of aggrieved American citizens. At best, in memory of the loss of someone and at worst, simply acknowledging their dislike of anything Muslim. Yet it is this passing on of the blame of 9/11, of the actions of a handful of fanatics who claim to be associated with Islam, to an entire body of followers that is truly worrisome. The protesters are unable to make a distinction between the true followers of Islam and those who would use its name for their own dark purposes. Such broad-brush strokes lump everyone together and make all followers of Islam guilty of the crime. This is exactly what Japanese Americans suffered as a consequence of the attack on Pearl Harbor. One hundred twenty thousand loyal Japanese Americans were vilified and put into prison camps in spite of the fact that they had nothing to do with the despicable deed.

The Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, an organization committed to the civil rights of all who regard America as their home, call upon all citizens to stand up and support this country as a land of religious tolerance. As a people, let us defend American values and continue to adhere to what is fair and just. We also call upon those who are protesting to rethink where their intolerance and hatred is leading them. What is being paraded in front of the world to see is an alarming lack of understanding of our fundamental values as outlined in the Constitution. What these protestors really show by their actions is their nativism, their ignorance and bigotry. All of this, ironically, taking place in the shadow of the statue dedicated to liberty.

Jim Matsuoka

(submitted on Sept. 14, 2010