For those who believe hateful people can't turn over a new leaf, meet 61-year-old John Dutcher from Nebraska, who admits he out and out "hated Muslims" after 9/11.
But it's often hard to maintain such hatred when you're living alongside people and get to know them on an individual level, instead of as a big, scary "other" to fear.
Dutcher's attitude started to change when some Muslim families moved into his apartment building. Everything changed — for the better.
Dutcher, a house cleaner based in Omaha, recently shared his story with the press about how knowing Muslims helped him overcome his hatred for the religious community.
He told The Washington Post he had been “one of those guys who would want to put a pig’s head on a mosque.” Even though he hadn’t actually met or known a Muslim person before, he hated them because of the September 11 terror attacks.
“There's a mosque out here in Millard and I even thought about, how you hear people put bacon on their doors. That's how bad I was thinking,” Dutcher told KETV in a separate interview.
Then six refugee families from countries like Syria and Afghanistan moved into Dutcher’s apartment building. All of them were Muslim.
With time, he got to know them by learning about their struggles, how many of them escaped their war-ravaged countries.
“They took the hatred out of me. I never knew how badly somebody could hate someone they don’t even know,” he continued, tearing up during the interview.
“The Muslims here were all about family and they just loved everyone. I remember the people who lived here before; they took for granted everything this country gave them. These people, they really changed my heart.”
Dutcher voted for Donald Trump. However, after the president’s Islamophobic immigration ban, he is reconsidering his decision.
“I like him, but I don’t like the way he’s carried out this ban,” the man remarked. “I didn’t think he’d make a blunder so fast.”
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters