Letter to the Editor: Are Legitimate Concerns to be Dismissed as “Islamophobia”?

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In the last month or so I’ve attended two wonderful poetry readings hosted by The Phoenix. One was a tribute to the culture of Islamic countries and the other was hosted by the school’s GSA club. From what I gather, the recent rise in verbal and physical hostility to some of our Muslim students prompted the celebration of culture from the Middle East. Religious hatred is wicked. That should go without saying, but certainly recent events like attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and many German cities inspire legitimate concerns. Are legitimate concerns to be dismissed as “Islamophobia?”

If I think about my recent literary experiences in the library, it morphs into a tale of two readings. Besides the staff of The Phoenix, there wasn’t much overlap between the crowds. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Most of us know that such an event as the GSA-hosted event are impossible to conceive in a Muslim majority nation. I would encourage all students and teachers to read Mr. Victor Davis Hanson’s “Mass Murder and Identity Politics” (see excerpt to the right). He is one of our nation’s finest public thinkers and in my opinion, the most grounded and substantial educator. Read. Agree. Disagree. At its best, our country is a happy, freewheeling, freethinking, war of words, just as our visionary founders conceived it.

Excerpt from: “Mass Murder and Identity Politics”

“Ostensibly, people leave the Middle East for the West, in particular Europe and the United States, because it is an oasis, not the hellhole many of them came from. We take for granted clean water, uncontaminated food, competent medical treatment, religious tolerance, economic opportunity, meritocratic hiring, political freedom, and respect for the individual regardless of birth, class, and status. But that bundle is non-existent even in the elite Gulf enclaves. Those Western characteristics are apparently universal human wants, and they drive even Middle Eastern Muslims to seek out otherwise entirely foreign landscapes of quite different cultures and attitudes.

For many Muslims, to have strep throat treated promptly, to be accorded equality and respect while in a government office, and to be free to say whatever one wishes are all worth putting up with watching men kiss in public or women wear braless tank tops on planes, or seeing Christian crosses everywhere, or watching commercials for Viagra and Tampax in the middle of the evening news, or seeing so many apparently happy, content, and satisfied people of so many races who do not have Islam in their lives. Why, then, is radical Islamism, so antithetical to Western values, still preached in American and European mosques? Do radical Muslims in the U.S. and Europe realize that if they had had their way, they would not have wished to emigrate to the U.S., given that it would resemble the homelands they abandoned? The worldview of Tashfeen Malik, if enacted, would eventually have turned San Bernardino into Islamabad; would Ms. Malik then have left it for Portland? Why is ISIS apparently attractive to hundreds, if not thousands, of Western Muslim youth?”

by Victor Davis Hanson, Published December 2015, Excerpted from The National Review. Read the rest here.

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