Tuesday, April 12, 2011

America's "Lawrence of Arabia" opens speaker series on tolerance

Posted on Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Ryan Crocker, the former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (and State Department go-to guy throughout the Middle East) speaks April 19 in Millwood to inaugurate a free speaker series launched in response to hate incidents in the region.

Crocker will discuss the ongoing rebellions in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East in a presentation, “Culture, Race and Understanding.” The talk begins at 7 pm at Millwood Community Presbyterian Church, 3223 N. Marguerite. Questions for Crocker are encouraged.

Crocker, a Spokane Valley native, recently retired here after spending most of his State Department career in Beruit, Baghdad, Kabul, Syria and Pakistan. President George W. Bush called Crocker “America’s Lawrence of Arabia.”

In a press release, organizers say "more events are being planned for the ongoing series that is designed to deepen participants' knowledge of diverse ethnicities, cultures, struggles and lifestyles. Such understanding is especially important now, as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws near and the community continues to grapple with recent events, such as the failed bombing of the peaceful Martin Luther King Day march; the continued distribution of hate literature in Coeur d'Alene; and two days of picketing by Westboro Baptist Church members in October."

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