Letter to the Editor – Careless words hamper cultural growth

It is with great sadness that we write this letter. After reading The Oswegonian on October 30th, we feel that, as members of the campus and wider community, we cannot remain silent.

The opinion in the piece titled "Where is Obama’s immediacy when it comes to more troops?" was entirely inappropriate. Oswego State, as an institution, states that it is a diverse and vibrant cultural center, where people of all colors and beliefs are free to live, work and study. If you read this opinion piece, this sentiment would not have been obvious, since it goes as far as to suggest that everyone who practices the religion of Islam (nearly 25 percent of the world’s population) is ‘the enemy.’ Members of this community should feel some sense of shame that ignorant comments such as these are still made on our campus, despite the efforts of programs in Global Awareness, and continuing moves to increase the diversity of groups represented on our campus.

If people of different cultures are considering coming to Oswego State, where better to get an idea of ‘what the place is like’ than looking at the opinions of the people already here. Such comments as those that we cite below, may very well serve to put people off from coming here at all!

The statement that "He [Obama] has allocated taxpayer money to go to our enemy, Muslims, in the form of "The Global Technology and Innovation Fund" is very dangerously worded, especially when, later in the text, reinforcements are called for to "kill our enemy, take no prisoners and show no mercy."

The vast majority of Muslims, as with any group, want only to live their lives in peace. The vast majority of Muslims are not members of terrorist organizations, just as the vast majority of the world’s Catholics were/are not members of the Irish Republican Army, and neither would they support pedophile priests. Would anyone suggest that Catholics are terrorists and pedophiles because some Catholics belong to terrorist networks, or have abused children? No, they would not, and there would be legitimate outrage if they did. Why then should those people that are followers of Islam find themselves to be the object of generalized slander?

We do not think that such an opinion would have been expressed, slurring a different demographic. We do not have to look very hard to find similar language in history books, to that used in this instance, in the form of Anti?Semitic speeches of the 1930s, which are now considered totally unacceptable.

We are not saying that this particular incident is anything more than a careless error of judgment, but if such statements are found to be made repeatedly, we will be forced to draw different conclusions, and even in this instance, we cannot allow it to pass without comment. As members of the college community, we state that we strongly disagree with the sort of sentiments expressed in the opinion piece; they are not views that are held across this campus.

As our college moves toward creating ties with institutions in Dubai (a Muslim majority state), careless statements of opinion, of the kind to which we make reference, could have some serious implications and results for such ventures, which may otherwise benefit our own campus.

Finally, and with regard to The Global Technology and Innovation Fund, direct from the Whitehouse Web site, "The Global Technology and Innovation Fund is part of an ongoing U.S. government effort to expand partnerships that advance economic opportunity and job creation including in Muslim majority countries." This is a financial initiative, the type of which we have seen from past administrations. Its remit includes, but is not specifically for, Muslim countries.

While we recognize that the opinion page is a place for people to exercise their freedom of speech, we believe that the opinion expressed is at best dangerously misinformed and at worst maliciously contributing to hatred against Muslims. We realize a college newspaper is a place for students to practice their journalism skills, but we want to remind everyone that to use a newspaper to express oneself (and in this case, as a Staff Writer, no less) demands a modicum of responsibility. There are consequences to the words we use, even those expressed as opinions. As concerned students and faculty of all denominations and backgrounds, we cannot stand idly while members of our community and the world’s community are vilified in this manner.

Signed:

Neil J. Gostling
Karen R. Sime
Damian Schofield
Julie Schofield
Kamal I. Mohamed
Rachid Manseur
Patrick A. Rein
Jean Chambers
Cheryl A.E. Gostling
Charles G. Echelbarger
Jenna L. Burgess
Ashley M. Glover
Andrew Nelson
Sarfraz A. Mian
Ulises Mejias
Leigh F. Bacher
Ranjit Dighe
Randall J. Smith Jr.
Elaine R. Frost
Ashley F. Kurtz
Nicole I. Dean
Faith Maina
Abraham Alshawish
Webe Kadima
Ashraf Attia
Stephanie N. Crichton
Andrew P. Crawford
Konnor C. Shares
Elaine Wenderholme
Mira A. Ingemann
Monico Sotogran
Barbara Garii
Lisa Glidden
Elizabeth E. Bridges
Danielle Bonner
Lucas Jones
Thomas R. Brumbelow
Maria Grimshaw?Clark
Brandon T. Jardine
Paul Tomascak
Karol Cooper
Zohra Manseur
Jenifer Cruickshank
Kirsten L. Stanton