We are U.S. military veterans, many of whom saw combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, who are appalled by the current spate of bigotry, racism and hatred expressed toward Muslims, the huge majority of whom are law-abiding and productive citizens.
Bigotry and racism violate all of the values we believed we were defending during our military service. The ideals contained in the Constitution, to the degree they have been manifested in America, have been a beacon to much of the world because of the diversity, openness, and respect for people of all faiths that most Americans live by. It will be a great calamity if we let fear give rise to hatred.
Fear-mongering endangers our national security and gives rise to hatred and racism that play into the hands of an enemy that wants to convince Muslims around the world that the West, led by the U.S., hates them, and that joining ISIL or similar organizations is the only way to truly observe and defend their religion. We can never defend ourselves effectively by playing into our adversary’s strategy, giving credibility to their recruitment propaganda. We endanger ourselves whenever we make that mistake.
We call on all Americans to let their voices be heard and to stand up for the values of tolerance, respect and love. As Pope Francis told Congress, “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.”
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