I was reading the latest issue of the Temple News this morning, and quite frankly, I was taken aback at the Community section, specifically “Letter to the Editors” and the “Word on the Web.”
First on the page is Word on the Web, and a comment that starts out “Palestinians are a miserable and pathetic people.” The segment boasts “Unedited for content,” which is abundantly obvious, because clearly no discretion was taken or even a second thought given before publishing that. Was the idea to capture the shock value of such a vile comment? The author didn’t even put his or her real name down to take credit for that racist diatribe, so it’s incomprehensible why the paper would want to be connected to it. There’s a point at which the ability to hold and promote any abhorrent opinion you wish hits a wall of common decency and allowing your paper to be used to spew hate speech is irresponsible and contemptible.
Continuing on that count, the Letter to Editor by Alvaro Watson, the President of the Students for Intellectual Freedom, is just as guilty. A helpful hint for the future: If someone begins a statement with “I’m not a racist, but…” or anything along those lines, they’re probably about to say something bigoted. Unsurprisingly, the letter turned into nothing more than a lengthy assault on Muslims and Islam. He mistakes a refusal to be “politically correct” as a license for discrimination and ignorance.
In typical right-wing fashion, he speaks ominously about the threat of Sharia Law and drones on about how extreme Islam is. Maybe he just didn’t realize that judging an entire people by the actions of a few is unacceptable, but something tells me he’s aware of this. You could certainly find other groups to demonize using the same criteria that Watson finds convincing. Anders Behring Breivik killed 69 people in Norway last year, most of them teenagers. He is a Christian who killed in the name of Islamophobia, nationalism and Christianity. Does that make all Christians dangerous extremists? I’ll go ahead and answer that: No, it doesn’t. And it’s despicable to suggest that all the members of any group are dangerous and deserve to be discriminated against because of the actions of others like them. It flies in the face of the ideals this country was built on, and listening to Watson is certainly not how to “defend the American soul.”
In the future, The Temple News should not let itself become an outlet for animus like it has in this issue. Providing your readers with a forum for their thoughts and opinions is noble, but giving a soapbox to charlatans’ hateful rhetoric is not.
Political Science, 2014