As I write this message to my readers, I am appalled by the continuous erosion of democratic ideals in our body politic. We, as a people, this year see our fellow citizens facing a disastrous war policy that appears to buck up corrupt, dishonest regimes. Our treasure and blood is spent on policies that many experts conclude only enflame the Moslem street. Our allies appear to be losing their resolve to help us in our efforts to defeat international terrorism.
We also see workplace accidents that appear to be the direct result of corporate greed. Too many of our fellow citizens cannot obtain gainful employment or cannot meet their basic financial obligations.
Although I could write lengthy articles on both our foreign policy and our economic distress, I am forced by recent events to focus on intolerance. When D.W. Griffith was criticized, and rightfully so, for his epic film “The Birth of a Nation” which glorified the Klu Klux Klan, he decided to direct another epic called “Intolerance.” He made a film that depicted various periods of intolerance in history. Both silent films are worth a viewing if only for their cinematic historical value and technique.
This nation, founded on the values of the enlightenment, has had many periods of horrific abuse of minority groups and cruel economic abuse of immigrant workers. Today we are witnessing attacks of religious intolerance towards Moslem immigrants and vicious attacks on Central American and south Asian immigrants. All our leaders must strive to end any vestige of religious and ethnic intolerance. Too often politicians are cowardly and refuse to address the threat that intolerance is for all citizens. Other politicians feel use of code words and often ugly rhetoric can be of political advantage. Their use of prejudice for political advantage is not only unethical-it can lead to antisocial behavior and sometimes to death. Intolerance can only lead to social unrest within our borders and dismal foreign relations and possibly economic and violent reprisals outside our borders.
Unlimited immigration and cultural differences need to be addressed without displays of violence and intolerance. To be intolerant is not an American virtue. Frank Sinatra received his first Academy Award for a short documentary “The House I Live In” which was a cry for tolerance and against bigotry. Sinatra and other Italian Americans knew very well the sting of bigotry. This film was made for a nation that was fighting racism abroad and practicing social segregation within its own armed forces. Sinatra may have numerous defects but was an advocate for racial, religious, and ethnic tolerance. We need to include Moslems and Central Americans in the house we all live in called The United States.