A Message On Tolerance

"Diversity Is Our Strength!"

Letter to: The Montgomery County Sentinel
September 20-26, 2001 edition

To the Editor:

As we continue to gather together to express our grief and our anger over the events of September 11, we must be careful not to let our feelings blind us to what our nation is all about.

On the day after the attacks, I spoke with a good friend who told me that since these terrible acts were committed by people who were not Americans, we should stop allowing "foreigners" into our country. This is a nice, generous person, seized with the anger of the moment.

A day later, I heard a report on PBS radio that American Muslims are being harassed: women feeling they must stay indoors for self-protection, extra police security around mosques, Muslim schoolchildren suffering beatings at the hands of other children.

Let us not forget that we are a nation of immigrants, and our diversity is our strength. Let us not make the same mistake that was made in World War II when our own government ordered the rounding up and internment of Japanese-Americans.

Let us also remember that in times of national emergency and heightened military alert, concern for protecting civil liberties inevitably suffers.

I, for one, am willing to put up with certain restrictive security measures that we are going to be seeing at airports and elsewhere, in the name of security and safety.

But let us not forget that one of the things that makes our country great is our concern for individual rights and liberties: freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, equal protection and due process of law, and freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly.

Let us be sure that, as we accept and support heightened measures for our own safety and security, that we do not let our civil liberties become casualties to the work of the terrorists.

Deborah A. Vollmer

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