Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tolerance vs. Acceptance: Duke University Caves to Pressure

Duke University, one of the most well-known institutions of higher learning in the world, did an amazing thing, striking a blow for acceptance: They planned to have Muslim students chant the "adhan", or call to prayer service, every Friday morning from the University's bell tower. 

In a stunning reversal, however, they didn't even do it one time before it was cancelled, a victim of a boycott started by what sounds like angry Christian donors. They interpreted the move as "anti-Christian", citing the most recent terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo. 

Also, Duke University cites "serious and credible" threats they have received, but did not give further details. 

This is exactly the kind of shit we don't need. Let's make a few things clear:

1) The attack on Charlie Hebdo was not an attack on Christianity. It was an attack on humanity. 
2) Choosing to accept another spiritual path in a public way is NOT an offense to any other religion.
3) Muslims are already harmed regularly by the assumption that they are terrorists. But acts of terrorism by members of Christian groups against abortion clinics and medical professionals who perform abortions do NOT label Christians as terrorists. That's a pretty serious double standard. 

I'm disappointed in Duke University. They're covering their own asses by choosing to cancel the call to prayer. I understand that no one wants violence, but people KNOW that if they make a threat that authorities think are credible, institutions will cave in. And Duke did just that, even though they have had a history of supporting Muslim students.

Omid Safi, director of Duke's Islamic Studies Center, said, "We had hoped for a symbolic action that would shine a light on how a leading international university of the American south can be a place where the symbol of Christian heritage of the university is demonstrating hospitality to its Muslim community members." 

Duke University says they remain "committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant, and welcoming campus for all its students." If the University was really committed, it would have the call to prayer and address the threats as they occur. For now, they remain hostages to public opinion. 

The article goes on to say that Muslim students are scared and disappointed. If I was one of them I'd consider leaving over it.

Sorry, Duke. You get an "F" for letting terrorists win, because this is exactly what they want. It's as simple as that. 

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