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What makes this republic mighty & great

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POSTED February 7, 2014 12:23 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

On behalf of all Manteca residents who love our community and love our country, I wanted to thank and applaud the Bulletin for its clear and courageous stand against bigotry in Dennis Wyatt’s Monday column, “Hate mongers leave ugly mark on Manteca”) and for maintaining a vibrant and open opinion page.

The recent vandalism at the new Islamic Center of Manteca, or previous incidents like the vandalism at Manteca’s St Anthony’s Church, have no place in a free and pluralistic society.

That is why federal laws are so strict when hate is involved. Any act of hate is a direct threat to the American way.

Mantecans should be proud of our diverse and welcoming all-American community. But, we need to work hard to keep it that way.

There are places in the world where it is not safe to be a certain color, ethnic group, religion, or persuasion.

Fortunately, we are lucky to live in America — a free and democratic society where issues can be debated in our opinion pages, education campuses, and halls of government. So all could be free, democratic and safe, we’ve fought a war against the world’s greatest power at the time (the Revolutionary War against the British), a war against ourselves (the Civil War), and a struggle that claimed the lives of 4 little girls in Alabama and and 3 voter registrants in Mississippi (the Civil Rights movement). Young Americans paid the ultimate price for freedom on the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima so we wouldn’t have to live under the hatred and dictatorship of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. Manteca’s newest mural dedicated to World War II veterans will help us remember their sacrifice.

Those battles and struggles are what we remember and celebrate when we plant Old Glory along Yosemite Avenue and Main Street every patriotic holiday. If you’re like me, you probably get shivers of pride every time you see our flags fluttering along our thoroughfares too.

In America, you are free to be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu or atheist. That’s what makes this country a mighty and great republic.

It was none other than Thomas Jefferson who gifted us our religious  pluralism. He envisioned a society where people of all faiths could live together. If you have any doubts about this, read Denise Spellberg’s new book, “Thomas Jefferson’s Quran: Islam and the Founders” (Knopf, 2013).

In addition, the Golden Rule is found in all religions and traditions — whether Christianity, Islam, Judaism or beyond. We have to continue to teach our children to want for others what we want for ourselves. We need to make sure Manteca remains a safe and loving community.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. preached. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Masood Cajee
Feb. 6, 2014

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