If you subscribe to the notion--as I do--that people fear what is alien to them and demonize that which they fear, then it would follow that education and exposure are the best antidotes for this poisonous formula.
There is a theory (not original with me) that the reason the coastal states, such as California, Oregon, Washington and those in New England tend to be the most progressive politically is that their port cities were exposed from their inception to commerce from around the world. With commerce came broader intellectual horizons and familiarity with foreign cultures. With familiarity came appreciation and respect.
The interior states, conversely, did not benefit from direct contact with the outside world. They were by nature more insular, grew to maturity in a cultural echo chamber, and as a result are less tolerant today of thoughts and influences unlike their own.
Maybe this is an overly general assessment, but I could not help but think of the above when I heard that Pastor Jones (as of this writing, still a “standby” Quran-burner…evidently there’s a continuing problem with static in the lines between God and His humble servant) bragged that he had not read the very book he intended to destroy. Nor, he claimed, had he ever met a Muslim until yesterday.
When I lived in Oklahoma decades ago, there was a minister very high up in the hierarchy of the Southern Baptist Convention who allowed as how God Almighty did not hear the prayers of a Jew, because those prayers were not routed through Jesus Christ.
Rather than condemn him, some Jewish groups got together and sent him on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for a couple of weeks. He came back a changed man, and publicly repented his earlier statements.
When we do not feel threatened, we Americans are, at heart, an inclusive people. Maybe that kind of exposure is all we really need to regain familiarity with our true nature.