When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23, he enraged his audience of international statesmen and dignitaries, and he offended both our nation and our president, with his outlandish accusations and vitriolic diatribe. He alleged that a majority of Americans believe that the U.S. government orchestrated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which resulted in the deaths of almost 3,000 people, and in a subsequent press conference, he called for an investigation by the U.N to ascertain the facts. The alleged motive for our self-inflicted tragedy was to aid the cause of Israel. The collective response by rational minds was simply to denounce Ahmadinejad's speech as the venomous rants of a lunatic extremist. However, I beg to differ. I believe that Ahmadinejad's intent is to further inflame the anti-Islamic sentiment in our country that is being fueled by fear, bigotry and ignorance. Our response to Ahmadinejad's assault on our national character must be that of solidarity and unwavering resolve. We must not falter; we must not faint. We must not forsake our most noble values of tolerance, equality and fairness. We must not, for the sake of expediency or personal preference, sacrifice such fundamental human rights as freedom of speech, assembly and religion. We must not allow an extremist to redefine who we are as a people. My faith in our great nation assures me that we are much stronger, wiser and better than that. The Rev. John C. Dortch Beaufort
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