Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I went back to Ohio...

Well just to let everyone know that I made it back to Ohio safely after essentially spending my entire Monday travelling. To get an idea of what I mean, just consider that my flight took off from Oakland at 9:55 AM and I finally landed in Columbus at 8:55 PM after an excruciating 2 1/2 hour layover in Nashville. I am now planning to write Southwest a letter lobbying for non-stop flights from Columbus to West Coast cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. After all, if no other carrier offers them, this should be a business opportunity, right? Besides, Columbus is a similar size city to Nashville, to which Southwest offers non-stop flights from all three destinations mentioned above.

While I was gone, I somehow missed the news of the Marines from Ohio who had been killed in Iraq. However, today's L.A. Times had extensive coverage of how a ceremony was held at the I-X Center in Brook Park for all those servicemen from Ohio who have died in Iraq, 49 so far. They also documented how the mood in this town has shifted over the past months of soliders from Ohio's own 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines being killed at an alarming rate.

Much to my own gall, The Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS was protesting outside this memorial ceremony for the Marines and others killed in Iraq. This is the same Rev. Phelps who is interviewed in the Gay/Striaght episode of 30 Days with signs saying such things as "God Hates Fags." Rev. Phelps and his church also wanted to post a memorial at the site where Matthew Sheppard was brutally murdered stating "Matthew Sheppard entered hell on this date..." The Rev. Phelps and company held signs and placards implying that God killed these Marines in order to punish the American military for allowing homosexuals to serve under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Some passerby had to be restrained by the police and many called the display blasphemous.

I have maintained, and continue to maintain, that the struggle we are in is a struggle of rational, reasoned morality versus religious extremeism in all its forms, whether Christian, Jewish or Islamic. The Rev. Phelps' display is yet another reminder that not all religious extremists are Muslims, but they are all equally dangerous.

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