Letters to the Editor: Article eloquently expressed need for tolerance

    Editor:

    As a Muslim American, I was extremely moved by Jessica Lingel’s article, “”Reactionary parents perpetuate ignorance”” (April 29), in which she spoke out against the cancellation of an assembly on Islam at her younger sister’s middle school.

    In a post-Sept. 11 United States, where fearful ignorance is being formalized and realized — as in the case of the USA Patriot Act and the mass roundup of thousands of American immigrants of Arab and Asian descent — what is needed is a return to basic American values, such as the innate equality of peoples and the right to an unfettered, uncensored education.

    In writing this article, Lingel reminds us of what is truly American; indeed, she serves as a role model not only to her younger sister, Anna, but to us all. I thank her parents for teaching her these exceptional values, and I thank her for continuing to espouse them.

    Lingel, you have done us all a great service; thank you.

    — Taha A. Gaya

    Muir College Senior

    Editor:

    The April 22 edition of the Guardian contained a letter from Brian Brook, co-chair of the Unified Campus Coalition. That letter used my name as an endorsement for Brook’s own views about last year’s Anti-Zionism Week, a private meeting held among UCC chairs and the presidents of the Union of Jewish Students and the Muslim Student Association, and current fliers circulating on campus about Jews and the precepts of Judaism.

    I write now so people will know that in no way do Brook’s views reflect the opinion of the Unified Campus Coalition or my own. In fact, none of us had any knowledge of Brook’s letter until we saw it printed in the Guardian.

    The problem is that the letter incorrectly assessed my own point of view and the view of the UCC, breached private issues, and unilaterally attacked the MSA and its president, Ahmed Salem.

    Brook’s letter, I fear, did more to attack people against whom he had grudges than to illustrate overall the views and goals of the UCC. While the Unified Campus Coalition stands for respect and understanding, its intent is not to alienate one side or the other.

    I was shocked when I read Brook’s illustration of a meeting between himself, the presidents of UJS and MSA and me, which was held over two months ago. Brook had no right whatsoever to discuss that meeting in any respects, nor to unilaterally single out the MSA representative and make claims about what Brook believed my feelings were about the whole occasion.

    We cannot pretend that the conflict in the Middle East is not a result of the faults on both sides and the fault of our own foreign policy.

    However, to alienate one position and not another, whether intentional or not, does not and cannot provide the credibility needed to solve conflicts and abridge differences. Only by focusing on the similarities between Muslims and Jews can respect and understanding hopefully be attained. I am afraid that this message was not carried in Brook’s letter, despite his intentions. The Unified Campus Coalition holds no political position, because it has no right to.

    I myself have felt the pain of hate and ignorance, of propaganda and plain stupidity. I have also been attacked by Jewish individuals for being Muslim. But the fact that I have been attacked does not mean that I should condemn my Jewish brothers or even consider them extreme. The only way for peace is by reaching out to them and making them understand your view with as much vigilance as it takes for you to understand theirs. I know that to shut my ear from these voices is a greater harm than to listen and see where they are coming from and understand why.

    This, I believe, is the goal of the UCC. I hope more than anything that this message is not lost because one of our members felt it necessary to pass judgment without the virtue of respect and understanding.

    — Nema Milaninia

    Co-chair, Unified Campus Coalition

    Editor:

    The political cartoon in the opinion section in the April 25 edition of the Guardian reveals your staff as biased and ignorant.

    The implication of the comic — that Catholic priests routinely engage in or enjoy child pornography — is totally unacceptable and an insult not only to Catholics, but to all those who loathe discrimination.

    Defining a whole class of people by the crimes of a few is sensational inanity that should be avoided at all costs by an organization that purports to represent UCSD. Does the Guardian also condone bigotry against Arab-Americans because of the actions of al-Qaeda? Or was the United States right to imprison Japanese-American citizens because Japanese pilots bombed Pearl Harbor?

    Of course, the degrees of bias are incomparable, but the point remains: Any form of labeling or stereotyping in our society is a poison that does not belong anywhere, let alone in an institution of higher learning.

    — Chris Baker

    John Muir College

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