Town's rule: Disrespect thy neighbor
By Bob Ray Sanders
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Map: KatySometimes the mere facts of a news story are so revealing of people's attitudes and behavior that no further condemning commentary is necessary.

All I have to do in such cases is hold the mirror up to their faces and hope they see themselves for who they really are. Usually they don't, but it never hurts to try.

Consider the Associated Press report that has been picked up all over the country, as well as by the Al Jazeera network. The dateline is Katy, a town of 13,000 near Houston.

The residents are very upset about a house of worship that will be built on 11 acres in the town. You've probably already guessed that the planned building is a mosque, a place where Muslims worship.

Keep in mind, many of the town's residents don't really object to the religion or its followers. You've got to believe that. They are simply concerned about their property values and increased traffic.

Doesn't this sound a little like -- no, a lot like -- the Dallas County city of Farmers Branch, which recently adopted a series of ordinances, including English-only requirements, to combat illegal immigration there?

(And, please, no more letters from Farmers Branch.) <poster note: haha, that would be me as well, tyvm. I think I'll send one anyway.>

The people of Katy said they were also worried about drainage if the mosque were built there.


Well, that's one the good people of Farmers Branch didn't think of, although some observers predict a drain on the economy of their town resulting from a tremendous backlash over its new rules.

Despite what some Katy folks have said, their actions speak so loudly that you may not be able to hear what they are saying.

For example, one man who lives near the mosque site has vowed to race pigs on Fridays to deliberately offend Muslims on their holy day of the week.

Muslims, like Jews, don't eat pork, you see, so those pig races really ought to get their goat.

This is a town that can tolerate pigs running around but can't stand the thought of Muslims gathering on Fridays to pray?

By the way, the man who advertised that he would hold pig races said he has to go through with it because, otherwise, "I would be like a total idiot if I didn't. I'd be the laughingstock now because I've gone too far."

No comment on that statement.

Another resident, according to the AP story, "has set up an anti-Islamic Web site with an odometerlike counter that keeps track of terrorist attacks since 9-11."

You can see just how productive this town has become since the announcement that followers of Islam bought property there.

Seriously, sometimes I wonder what this country really has become since 9-11.

Are we now so frightened -- so blinded by fear and prejudice -- that we unashamedly disrespect and abuse our neighbors who are different?

That is not the kind of America that I want, nor is it the kind of country we tend to boast about on those days when we remember the Founding Fathers and observe patriotic events that remind us that, though we are a diverse people, we are still one people.

And yet we've begun to close ourselves off more, within our gated communities and behind our locked doors and inside our closed minds.

Go ahead, if you must, and isolate yourselves from the world, from your neighbors, from your fellow citizens of this country. Live in fear and mistrust and ignorance if that is your desire.

That is not for me.

Perhaps one day you, too, will see the light, the error of your ways.

But, until then, all I can say to the people of that little town near Houston is: Katy, bar the door.

Bob Ray Sanders' column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7775