I love America. As a Cuban exile, this country became home to my mother and me, and, with all its flaws, America is my home sweet home. There are freedoms we enjoy as Americans that we take for granted.

Some of these freedoms are a matter of life or death in other countries. Freedom of religion, speech and the right to protect oneself are but a few that separate us from many other places.

My favorite freedom, though, is the freedom to be as stupid as you want to be, and the Christian right is the chief employer of the right to be dumb.

While it is true that Sept. 11, 2001 ushered in an era of disdain towards radical Islamic extremists, it by no means fortifies the current arguments of many Christian evangelists who spew out anti-Islamic rhetoric.

With everything else going on in the world one would think that inflammatory remarks against the world’s largest religious group would be a major no-no. Then again, it is difficult to gauge the world from the confines of a trailer park.

It has gotten to the point where even Dubya himself had to step in and denounce the views by these pseudo-righteous hate mongers as not the popular view of the American public or the government itself. It was a ballsy move by Dubya for the following reason: It is tricky to distance oneself from those evangelical lunatics without offending the religious right within the same party that got Dubya elected in the first place.

How can a group of religious pretenders in a country that boasts separation of church and state have such control over politics to the point of where the commander in chief has to worry about pissing them off?

Our mission, as a strong nation after one of the most devastating terrorist attacks on American soil, is to root out the evil with the help of our Muslim allies and in turn help them root out those evil ones from their society as well. To real Muslims, these extremists pose a threat to the real tenets of Islam and the rest of the world. Our allies need us and we need them if this is going to work.

So along come these ranting lunatics, denouncing Islam as a form of evil that must be eradicated if we are to survive as a nation. Simply hate speech, simply stupid.

Christianity, like Islam and just about every other religion, originated as a religion of peace and good will to those around you.

It was never about placing inferiority onto others in its original form. But then came the Crusades and all that changed from then on. From the words coming out of the mouths of present-day idiots, it is clear the Crusades were never over.

These evangelical types are comparing the Muslim faith to Nazi Germany. But if anybody comes close to the comparison it is these very evangelists and their following that falls into the category of genocidal maniacs based on a picture of Armageddon that they profess to be the truth.

Close observation lends truth to the fact that these folks are no better than the extremist ilk behind Sept. 11, 2001.

To preach the destruction of a people based on a religious difference sounds familiar. Call it what you like – genocide, intolerance, ethnic cleansing – it all amounts to a too familiar tale that has played out in far too many places.

We’ve seen it in Kosovo. We’ve seen it in Bosnia. We’ve seen it in czarist Russia. We’ve seen it in Nazi Germany. We’ve seen it in Rwanda. And now we’re seeing it in American society in the form of ignorant comments from ignorant people.

If it were only a few ultra-right wackos spewing their stupidity-laden hatred, then concern would be at a minimum. But these are individuals that get massive exposure, have contact with as well as influence on government leaders, receive funding and have a convinced following that believes their every word.

I’m not politically correct; in fact, I’m far from that label. But I’m an American and it is being such that teaches me to accept all other Americans, be they Christian, Muslim or whatever, and to understand that there is good and bad in every group. Extremism in any form is bad, and the recent comments made by “respected” evangelists are of that nature. Go figure.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.