May 30, 2020


‘Obsession’ a bad choice to show

I would like to condemn the students who attended the College Republicans’ “Islamofascism Awareness Day” movie and voice my disappointment in the College Republicans for showing “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” an ignorant and unintelligent documentary on the issue of Islam and terrorism.

One would think that in the post Sept. 11 era, when irrational and inaccurate images of Muslim people have saturated our television screens, the College Republicans would use Islamic Awareness Month as an opportunity to build bridges between peoples in order to restrain hateful, emotional perceptions.

Other organizations at the College, like the Jewish Student Union and the Islamic Society, should be commended for working together in this regard to hold joint events, including the Jewish and Palestinian comedy act and the Middle Eastern buffet of past years.

In contrast, members of the College Republicans, in all their wisdom and respectfulness, decided to schedule an extremist right-wing propaganda movie from Fox that showed a distorted and one-sided view of Muslims at the exact same time as an event scheduled by the Islamic Society to help dispel stereotypes about Muslims.

Whether or not this was intentional, one would think that in light of current events, an intelligent and thoughtful film that exposed viewers to the complexities of and multiple perspectives on the topics of terrorism and the Islamic world might be in order.

Instead, the College Republicans chose to address this subject by airing a video that dumbs down the discourse on this compelling and relevant issue by depicting Muslims as little more than savages who yell a lot, shout “death to America” and “Allahu akbar” incessantly and “hate our freedom and way of life.”

Having lived and studied in a Muslim/Arab country for a semester, I can attest that this is not true. While our foreign policies are not very popular, most Muslims in fact do admire America for its freedom of expression, democracy and other values.

I was surprised also during my semester abroad at how much cultural appeal the United States has in the Muslim world. It might interest the College Republicans to know that students over there were keener on watching “Desperate Housewives” and “Friends” than they were on angrily brandishing Qurans at the nearest American embassy.

“Obsession” also purports the asinine “clash of civilizations” hypothesis, one of the most primitive and idiotic explanations of terrorism that has somehow entered the discourse on terrorism as a legitimate and sound theory.

The “clash of civilizations” viewpoint asserts that Muslim-Christian enmity and violence are inevitable due to inherent cultural differences; because of this, the only way to win the “war on terror” is by using force to annihilate our enemies before they annihilate us.

This ideology is incompatible with history, which has seen numerous societies where inter-religious co-existence has been a real and genuine condition on both the surface and at the individual level (for example, in Andalusia, Titoist Yugoslavia, India, Morocco and even the United States and many European countries).

I also disagree with one of the College Republicans who said, “Long before we had hostile presences in the Middle East, (we had) people of a militant nature who wanted to see a global resurgence and spread of the Islamic faith via violence and fear.”

In actuality, most of the groups depicted in “Obsession” (Hamas, PLO, Hezbollah, Iranian Islamists) are either entirely or in large part byproducts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or, in Iran’s case, American meddling and support for the anti-democratic Shah. Their terrorist activities should be understood as a political phenomenon rather than a religious one.

To be sure, Muslims have been guilty of violent attacks and to say that Muslims never used violence to spread their religion is also inaccurate. It is also inaccurate to say there is nothing in Islam that supports violence and animosity toward non-Muslims.

However, Christianity has been guilty of the same things (the Crusades, the Inquisition, colonialism) and that is what I particularly resent about “Obsession.” The Confederates used Christianity to justify slavery. The KKK used it to justify its terrorism against blacks. The Belgians used it to justify their brutal and violent treatment of the Congolese. Yet, we don’t refer to their actions as “Christiofascism.”

Likewise, we should not defame someone else’s religion (in this case Islam) by associating it with fascism just because some of its adherents are terrible people who do bad things.

Yes, violence by Muslim extremists is real; yes, it is a threat. But the greatest threat of all is when people show movies which propagate a simplified and one-dimensional understanding of a multifaceted issue. This allows them to spout macho, chauvinist rhetoric about being “tough on terrorism” without addressing the complex issues behind terrorism in order to stop it.

In my view, “Obsession” not only hurts the image of Muslims, it also hurts the image of the Republican Party and the College Republicans who decided to show this garbage.

Ravi Kaneriya

Music department deserves better coverage

I am writing this letter to express my frustration with The Signal’s coverage of the College’s Music Department performances.

The most recent article, “Students take classroom learning to the stage,” is riddled with an unforgivable amount of inaccuracies. Not only that, this article is only the latest in a line of completely irrelevant pieces about music events.

My fellow music majors and I are sick of reading about our concerts and invariably being disappointed with what amounts to a glorified concert program, simply listing (usually incorrectly) the names of the pieces performed and several quotes by the ensemble director and/or participating students.

Case in point: the March 23 piece on the Jazz Ensemble concert was so unspecific that it could have been written without actually attending the concert.

A lot of thought and effort goes into each and every concert we produce.

It would be nice for performers, concert-goers and the student body alike to read a well-written and thoughtful review the following week in The Signal, but musicians are instead insulted to see their hard work translate into what amounts to filler, and the campus ignores these articles accordingly.

The careless errors and ignorance of proper musical terminology needs to stop, and I am sure I speak for all student performers when I request that The Signal provide meaningful and relevant coverage of concerts on campus. Otherwise, don’t even bother coming.

Jeffrey Auriemma

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