Thursday, January 15, 2009

Intolerance in the family?

The UltraViolet May 2008

By Ali ‘09

When I first heard about this diversity column, I was a bit surprised. Living in a liberal city that is inhabited by every shape, color, and diverse diversity possible, I thought Marlborough especially had somehow overcome these lines of segregation. I never thought that such prejudice and division would be present in our community.
Well, last week, I was proved wrong. My uncle just sent me another one of those frustrating, disgusting, spam-ridden emails that suggest that America is going to hell because …Barack Obama is a Muslim.

The pictures depict an America where Playboy models are cloaked, where gas prices are exorbitantly ridiculous, and where the national fast food chain (boldly named McHammed’s) oppresses billions of people a day.
This angered and still angers me to no end. On a political level, after the ridiculous Jeremiah Wright controversy, I thought people had finally realized that Obama is, in fact, not a Muslim.
On a religious and biological level, I thought people realized that religion is not a genetically inherited trait. Just because Obama’s father was a Muslim does not mean he is a Muslim. And even if he was, please explain to me why America will henceforth be succumbed to the perceived “evils” of Islam.
Whether my uncle was trying to influence my political bias or just send me some “comical” pictures, the responsibility is now in my hands and those of the 27 other people that received the forward from my uncle. Defending a clear use of stereotyping is easy, but it seems once the issue becomes personal, the proper response becomes more difficult.
This fear-mongering message that stereotypes Muslims as evil is propagated continually because people simply click “send,” but the truth is, I’m not doing anything to stop this exponential growth.
No, I didn’t respond to my uncle in a vehement, strongly worded email, for my obvious upset has been overshadowed by the family dynamics with my uncle, who is already the ugly duckling in the family. No, I’m probably not going to express my personal disgust with his ignorance, because…well, I suppose in order to maintain the partial sense of sanity in my family.
The dilemma is: when issues become more than just an issue discussed at a Presidential debate, the “right action” isn’t taken. Regardless of whether this is my shortcoming or the “norm,” I think I have realized why Marlborough has this diversity column: for my sake, for my uncle’s, or for anyone else who has been on either side of this seeming petty situation.

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