Letter to the Editor: Anti-Islam remarks only fan violence

Mr. Irving Levine’s editorial in support of the Pope’s recent remarks on the nature of Islam in the Oct. 11 issue of The News is, unfortunately, fanning the flames of this current conflict. I know Mr. Levine has done a lot for our school, considering I see his name on the wall every time I enter the dining hall. However, I feel that as a supporter of our school financially, Mr. Levine also needs to be a supporter of our school ideologically, an example of just and wise behavior. By teaching thoughts of prejudice, we are taking a step backward.

Mr. Levine’s broad generalizations about Islam included stating that violence “is a typical Muslim response.” These perceptions are all a matter of the context in which we live. In our lifetime, apartheid was thriving in South Africa, where blacks were treated as slaves and murder was an everyday occurrence. Our country was one of the few that opposed the implementation of sanctions against South Africa, yet we have been fiercely pushing for sanctions against Iran when there isn’t even any proof of wrongdoing (I won’t even speak on Iraq).

The fact that Islam has, for a long time, been viewed by Western societies as a religion of violence, a notion that began during the centuries of bloodshed called the Crusades. The recent Islamophobia that has gripped our nation is partially the result of yellow journalism – media alarmism indulging in pursuit of ratings. In 1986, a science fiction book was written about a Muslim terrorist trying to crash a spaceship into Earth.

This speaks for the acceptance by mainstream society of the prejudiced notions fostered by the media, no matter how absurd the example. By further deepening the emotional gap between societies, Mr. Levine is only increasing the risk of violence.

I am far from condoning terrorism, as a longtime participant in the Jewish Hillel Center and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the international Jewish fraternity, I know as well as anyone of the pain and frustration caused by the Middle East conflict. However, I do not let my anger speak for me. I know that the answer to our strife is not through prejudice and violence, but through open minds and hearts.

I salute Mr. Levine for writing about what he believes in, whether or not I happen to agree. I simply believe that in times such as these, it is dangerous for a respected member of our community to be writing diatribes against an entire religion, especially in such a prominent university publication.

– Jacob Lotstein is a middler biochemistry major.

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