For those as tired as I am of hearing political opportunists exploit the fears of our citizenry, a full-page ad on page 7 of the January 4, 2016, Virginian-Pilot was a sight for sore eyes. Ministers, rabbis, imams, community groups, and numerous citizens pledged to stand together against intolerance in its many manifestations. Not only were we happy to see it, but my wife and I were glad that the sponsors provided an opportunity for more of us to add our names to the initial, impressive list.Although no one would mistake me for a fan of former President George W. Bush, he did earn my admiration for the tone he set in the wake of the September 11, 2001, acts of terrorism against the United States. On September 20, 2011, he gave an address to Congress and the American people that demonstrated positive leadership. One section, quoted below, is particularly relevant following the most recent terror attacks at home and abroad:
“Americans are asking, ‘What is expected of us?’
“I ask you to live your lives and hug your children.
“I know many citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat.
“I ask you to uphold the values of America [emphasis added] and remember why so many have come here.
“We’re in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them [emphasis added]. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith.”
We cannot win this struggle by letting terrorists or political charlatans play on our fears. Standing together with our neighbors is the essence of being “one nation, indivisible” with the strength to overcome those who mistake diversity and tolerance for weakness.