The Right View: Mutual tolerance is not an option

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“COEXIST”?

I don’t know about you, but I’m rather tired of being lectured to by liberals via bumper-stickers.

You don’t coexist with animals who cut off people’s heads with knives and send the footage out around the world on YouTube, or drive tens of thousands of people to mountaintops, where they are left to starve to death or face execution.

And I somehow doubt that airdropping those foolish bumper stickers by the planeload over Iraq and Syria would do anything to change one terrorist’s mind.

Let me remind you briefly of what Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had to say about the Islamic State terrorist group at a Pentagon news conference recently:

“ISIS is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen,” he said. “They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well funded. We must prepare for everything.”

Well, that should take care of any further cuts in the defense budget.

At the same news conference, U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said ISIS cannot be defeated without attacking it in Syria. “They can be contained, but not in perpetuity,” Dempsey said. “This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision.”

Sorry folks. You don’t coexist with an “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategy.”

Given such a tremendous challenge, which will require the cooperation and input of many nations around the world to ultimately solve, it can be painful to sit by and watch what is unfolding on television and feel there is nothing you can do, as one person, to help.

But there is one small way. One that is much more constructive than driving around Portland shrieking at people with that idiotic bumper sticker on their cars.

Dave Guthro, communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, told me the diocese will be announcing a special collection the weekend of Sept. 6-7 at all Catholic churches in Maine. The special collection is to express solidarity with Christians and other minorities in the Middle East in the face of ongoing violence and persecution. Proceeds will support the efforts of Catholic Relief Services to provide immediate humanitarian and pastoral needs, as well as the cost of long-term church reconstruction.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency representing the Catholic church in the United States, for charity outside U.S. borders.

Pope Francis has also asked for Catholics to pray for and remember all those forced from their homes in Iraq, and, if we are able, assist with materials. The Diocese of Portland hopes the special collection will aid many in need.

“People can know that their donations are going right to assistance, as CRS is already on the ground helping those in need,” Guthro said. “They’ve already provided bedding and hygiene supplies for 2,500 displaced families, are responding to thousands of other displaced families in Erbil, and plan to provide relief to 5,000 families this week in Dahuk and Amadiva.”

Catholic Relief Services will provide food, water and living supplies where emotional trauma is high, especially among religious and ethnic minorities who were the target of attacks. CRS will also train staff and volunteers on trauma healing and the building of peaceful relations.

Many children have also missed months of school.

“CRS will provide children with education and exam preparation, while helping schools with the influx of children. CRS is also preparing for the long-term reality facing families: resettling in new locations, the onset of winter, safe shelter, and livelihood options, such as cash-for-work and vocational training,” Guthro said.

A positive message, at least, in the face of such evil. And while for now, this is all taking place thousands of miles away in Syria and Iraq, keep in mind what Abu Mosa, a spokesman for ISIS, said this month:

“I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established. Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”

However we got here, we now have to deal with this. I’ll even save people the trouble and say, “It’s all George Bush’s fault.” (OK. George Bush, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Barack Obama – blame whomever you’d like.)

But once everyone is finished pointing fingers, the problem still remains. And we have to play a part in fixing it.

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Julie McDonald-Smith lives in North Yarmouth. She is a registered nurse, former Capitol Hill staffer and former chairwoman of the Cape Elizabeth Republican Committee. Her column appears every other week.

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