By Salina Nasir
As graduation nears, I realize the great reward that came with writing this weekly column. My goal was to remind people of their power to influence the policies that facilitate empowerment for the voiceless. I also said that my voice may be small among our campus community, but after 30 weeks of writing and engaging in productive dialogue with peers and strangers, I have come to know that it was, nonetheless, heard. So thank you for listening.
Two very important things happened last week, both of which illustrate larger issues in our world and have left me questioning the importance of humanity, patriotism and nationalism.
The first was an act of sheer intolerance that took place under the false pretense of a “free speech” protest. Jon Ritzheimer, a veteran and staunch anti-Islam advocate, organized a protest outside of a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday.
He encouraged people to attend armed with not just posters painted with intolerant, bigoted statements, but also with weaponry. The notion is almost too ridiculous to entertain. Yet through his actions, Ritzheimer has demonstrated an important factor of the growing Islamophobia trend in America: It’s not hatred, but a lack of education coupled with absolute stupidity that fosters anti-Islam sentiments.
A zealous patriot, Ritzheimer once served in Iraq as a Marine whose mission was to support an Islamic government. Where were his feelings of anti-Islamism when he worked as an active duty service member to reinforce the presence of Iraq’s Islamic regime? Moreover, Ritzheimer has failed to realize just how destructive his actions may be: They will neither quell the anger of foreign terrorists, nor will they prevent lone-wolf terrorists from striking domestic targets. Instead, his anti-Islam demonstration will only exacerbate existing tension by playing right into the narrative of the terrorists that seek to wage war on the West.
As a Muslim, I may be offended by Ritzheimer. But as an American, I am ashamed of him. What’s worse is that this topic of intolerance transcends American borders.
Earlier last week, Sixteen Minutes in Palestine reported that, “In the first 10 days of May, Israel opened fire six separate times on Palestinians across the border in Gaza.”
As a response, a Palestinian resistance group launched a lone rocket into Israel. Luckily, no one was injured and no infrastructure was destroyed. But Israel’s rejoinder was unwarranted: The country launched continual attacks in Gaza with American-made munitions.
First, we must remember the stark difference between defense and aggression.
Also, the United States must pay attention to its own policy ” one that prohibits the trade of weaponry in countries where the possibility of violence runs rampant. It does not sit well with me that bombs supplied by America, a country founded on the principle of liberty, are raining down in foreign lands.
This week’s news left me feeling defeated. Has humanity failed? We may not know the answer now, but so long as we continue to prioritize patriotism and nationalism, it surely will.
Michael Torres / The Poly Post
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