Guest Editorial: Hazing Immigrants

Christina Perez

I find it laughable that someone like Mr. Sandersfeld, who claims to be “objective” and politically educated, is oh-so-obviously swayed by such erroneous characterizations of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims reflected in the bias of Western reporters and filmmakers. Research verifies that lurid and insidious depictions of Muslims as alien, violent strangers intent upon battling nonbelievers throughout the world are all too common – and more so – incorrect.
In his opinion piece, Mr. Sandersfeld stated that the authors of the Danish political cartoons reviewed in The Lawrentian’s previous issue “were correct in their cultural assessment of Islam; it is a Western-hating, liberty-hating, individual-hating culture bent on violence.” Holding such bold misconceptions to be true is equivalent to believing all Americans are monolingual, promiscuous, selfish and lacking family values, as they are sadly regarded in many countries. Or, for that matter, that all Hispanics are uneducated, poor, lazy, and have the tendency to abuse federal welfare programs. Or that blacks are loud, rude, drug addicts, or criminals. I think you get the point. Making such negative generalizations of an entire religion, country, race or group of people is not only irresponsible and immature, it is outright prejudice.
Media coverage, whether he chooses to admit or not, deals heavily in stereotypes because the art of storytelling depends in large part on the success with which protagonists and antagonists are evoked.
When it comes to accurate depictions of an entire race or religious group, does art imitate life, or the other way around? Muslims and Arabs are essentially covered, discussed and apprehended, either as oil suppliers or as potential terrorists. Rather than provide the human density of their lives, a limited series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world are presented, every day and in every news channel and major newspaper, in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.
Both Arabs and Muslims are the most recent large minorities to come to the United States, especially the first wave after the fall of the shah of Iran and the second wave after the Gulf War. Just as earlier minorities in history, such as Italians and Irish, were stereotyped, so is this recent “generation” of scapegoats. This is their hazing period, which all other immigrants, in America and in Europe, have been equally subject to.
I strongly believe that the “very serious threat to the safety of America” lies not in the worldwide Islamic theocracy which he eloquently speaks of, but in this kind of black-and-white, narrow-minded, ultimately ignorant approach to world issues Mr. Sandersfeld proudly and blindly embraces. Perhaps he should consider sticking to singing in the conservatory, and leave the politics to the true objectivists.
It is precisely this kind of volatile, violent, unfounded and irrational thinking that gives your great country a bad name. I suppose I could say “Shame on you, Scott Sandersfeld. You should know better.” But clearly, you don’t.