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Don’t Let GOP Destroy Sacred Sites

Issue of the Week

Jan. 5, 2016
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The world looked on with horror when two radical fundamentalist groups destroyed historic religious sites that didn’t belong to their narrowly held view of religious observance. That was when the Taliban demolished the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001 and ISIS attacked ancient monuments, tombs and temples in the historic city of Palmyra in Syria just last year. Both groups wanted to be rid of evidence that their worldview isn’t the only way of looking at the world. They were totally indifferent to the fact that they were destroying cultural heritage sites that were more than 1,500 years old.

The proposed destruction of historic Native American burial mounds in Wisconsin may not be as dramatic, but it is just as distressing as the attacks on the giant Buddha statues in Afghanistan and the relics of Palmyra. Two Republican legislators, state Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and state Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville), want to give the green light to developers to destroy some of these sacred sites that are about as old and rare as the sites destroyed by the Taliban and ISIS.

Of course, if the Wisconsin burial mounds are destroyed, it will be the result of a democratic, legislative process and not a violent attack. But that doesn’t mean that the Republican legislators are any more enlightened than these fundamentalist groups. In seeking to destroy sites that are sacred to a group of people to which they do not belong, Kapenga and Brooks are showing a disturbing lack of respect and tolerance for those who don’t worship or think exactly as they do. We ask these legislators how they would feel if someone not of their faith destroyed their houses of worship, cemeteries and religious artifacts. We doubt that they would stand back and allow their precious sacred religious and cultural sites to be destroyed. We call on Kapenga and Brooks to learn more about these sites, the people who created them and were buried in them, and those who believe they are sacred. If Kapenga and Brooks continue their quest to destroy these sites, then are they any more enlightened than the Taliban or ISIS?

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