Contrary to Nickels' claim, I have no qualms with freedom of speech. In fact, I am obligated to exercise my First Amendment right to refute your letter. The overriding concern remains that when misguided words are used to defame all of Islam, it creates an intensifying cycle of bigotry and that needs to be countered.
Nickels' suggests that we should turn to widely discredited polemical pundits - whom he absurdly calls experts - in order to learn about Islam as a religion.
It's about as bad an idea as it would be to approach a sworn communist to learn about democracy; someone who has rejected and is invested in discrediting an ideology is not a reliable teaching source.
Furthermore, all of the “experts” that Nickels recommends have had their credibility universally questioned. Robert Spencer is listed as one of twelve Islamophobic “Smearcasters” by FAIR 2008 (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). Professional fear mongers, Walid Shoebat and Brigitte
Gabriel, for their involvement in the politically-agenda driven film, “Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West” (see: ObsessionWithHate.com). And Mark A. Gabriel for his self-biography that has not been verified and his claims of a doctorate in Christian education and a master's in world religion from Florida Christian University in Orlando, which is unaccredited.
The leading civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis got it exactly right in a statement last week working to temper the inflammatory political rhetoric. He said plainly, that “toxic language can lead to destructive behavior.”
For those who are truly invested in ensuring our community's safety, the toxic language needs to go.