To The Daily Sun,
I guess it's time to clarify the "parallel universes" concerning the recent Martin Luther King celebration as suggested in a letter to the editor by Mr. Steven Earle.
A synopsis (my universe) of the printed program for the multicultural celebration was as follows: Mr. Leonard Campbell (chair, Laconia Human Relations Committee) opened the program with a brief introduction of the meaning of Martin Luther King Day which was followed by a video of Reverend King's famous speech "I have a Dream". Mayor Ed Engler then related to the importance of the day and how multiculturalism is important to Laconia and the basis tenet of a democracy. Oddly enough, this local paper never had an article — unless I missed it — concerning the event. A 10 (our numeral system is Arabic) minute break was provided so the attendees could submit questions to two Islamic invited guests, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim (Imam) and Mr. Amadou Hamady. The program pamphlet stated: "We are pleased that Dr. Ibrahim and Mr. Hamady have agreed to bring THEIR THOUGHTS on their faith at a time when there is much misunderstanding of it." The two honored guests then answered questions for a considerable period of time. The concluding remarks also allowed a local Islamic gentleman to relate about his experiences with his religion.
Mr. Earle was concerned that Martin Luther King was not referenced by the "two clerics" (actually only Dr. Ibarhim was a cleric). Of course the two guests were at the celebration to "bring THEIR THOUGHTS on their faith", and Mr. Earle could have posited his concern during the question and answer session. Mr. Earle was also bedeviled by Dr. Ibrahim's explanation that Islam was a democracy. Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney — and four girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church — might have disagreed about the principles of voter rights and democracy in our country. Concern was also expressed by Mr. Earle that "questions had to be written down on filing cards" because "that's one way to screen out unwanted questions that might have put a Muslim cleric "on the spot." I don't think the purpose of the celebration was to put anyone "on the spot." That common-courtesy protocol allows an invited guest to "think before talking," something that does not occur in our present national political environment.
Actually, I approached Dr. Ibrahim during the 10 minute break, and had a short discussion with him. Perhaps Mr. Earle could have done the same. Likewise he could have talked to the panel moderator, Carol Pierce, as to why that protocol was followed rather than make his own "alternate fact." A question on Sharia (primarily practiced in only one country, Saudi Arabia, and by the Taliban and ISIS) was answered (allegedly "rambling," but apparently no answer would have sufficed) as was an "on the spot" question of (paraphrased), "Does Dr. Ibrahim approve of Muslims killing Christians." That would have put the questioner "on the spot!"
Mr. Earle's statement that "any foreign culture ... that seeks to come here and install a barbaric, anti-human rights system in its place" seems to be a hyperbole considering what Christian nations did to Native Americans during the 19th Century (and the mob-mentality murders of over 3,000 African-Americans in the 20th Century), and to the six million Jewish and Roma innocents executed during the Holocaust. I'm sure that the American public would not endorse an ersatz-Sharia amendment to the Constitution. Dr. Ibrahim further stressed the philosophic need to come to the middle in our thoughts. That's why we have a democratic (bad choice of a word) society (Oh, another bad choice, soci_ _ _ _ M)!
Mr. Earle might be interested in a six-week program at the First United Methodist Church of Gilford, which started on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 9 a.m., entitled "Christianity and World Religions: Wrestling with Questions People Ask". This program will strive to "find authentic and appropriate ways for Christians to share their faith in the increasingly diverse world." I'm sure that Pastor Tom-Getchell-Lacey, who was at the celebration, would welcome him with open arms of respect. And it could be mind-opening!
"Alternate facts!" Suppositions! "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors!" Name calling! Perhaps it is time to say that we respectfully disagree with a person's point of view rather than through the use of adjectives to denigrate that person's character. All of our opinions should be looked on with politeness, not necessarily agreement. Respect others! Isn't that what we are supposed to teach our children! "In Shallah!"
Frank M. Weeks
Gilmanton Iron Works