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Reflecting on my recent run for the state Assembly and speaking at length with some of my close South Asian friends and supporters about the Sept. 11 flier I mailed during the campaign has been enlightening. When you can have a discussion with thoughtful people and avert name-calling and selective proclamations of “moral outrage,” a powerful dialogue and understanding can emerge.
In retrospect, with the campaign now over, I think the one thing I would have done differently would have been to omit the 9/11 imagery from that campaign piece. Campaign fliers are often viewed and discarded within seconds, especially when there is a glut of political mail delivered to voters’ homes. That is why iconic images are often used.
But the 9/11 images should not have been used and were ultimately not necessary to convey my position on the mosque issue, a position that suggests the mosque be located further from Ground Zero because of the nature of the site and the concerns and sensitivities of families who suffered personal losses.
Those who share this position have been unfairly portrayed as intolerant by the media and others. It is not intolerance but a difference of opinion. No one has ever questioned the constitutional right to build a mosque at that location. The question has always been the appropriateness of that site.
Conversations with civic leaders in the South Asian community helped enlighten my thinking about the use of 9/11 imagery in that flier, which brings me to an even more important point. When we can openly and honestly discuss issues, even those of a sensitive nature, without resorting to name-calling, derogatory remarks or stigmatizing each other over honest differences of opinion, we can begin to bridge our differences and build a greater understanding of each other.
But it requires that each of us come to the table with an open mind and willingness to admit to mistakes if they have been made. And in that spirit, this is my mea culpa.
Glen Oaks Village
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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