Monday, August 28, 2006

Disgruntled

Our local newspaper, the Princeton Times-Republic, runs a weekly Op Ed titled "Correct Me...If I'm Wrong!" by emeritus editor Jim Wolff. The man is consistently annoying but his last two pieces have pushed me over the edge. He's been ranting and raving about Muslim terrorists, and he uses inflammatory and biased language to support his racist agenda. The paper limits letters to the editor to 200 words or less, so I'm publishing my verbose response here.

(It's my blog, I can say what I want, dammit!)

Mr. Wolff:

I have avoided responding to your annoying column in the past simply because I have not felt that your biased writing deserved a reaction, but your recent submissions regarding the war on terror and racial profiling have provoked me to action. Specifically, the sentence in your 8/17/06 piece that “those peaceful Muslims are being silenced by Muslim terrorists every day because they’re afraid of their lives and they will never turn in the bad guys for fear of retribution.” This followed the extremely arrogant challenge for your readers to “name one Muslim nation that allows freedom of speech, of thought, of religion, of press…or respects the rights of women, or has been productive in one single way that contributes to the good of the world.” I was shocked to see this printed in my local paper on August 17, 2006.

Mr. Wolff, I don’t know how many “peaceful Muslims” you know, and I wonder how many “Muslim terrorists” you know. I’m sure you must know a few Muslims, since you talk so freely about our motives and lives. As a Muslim myself, I want you to know that I am horrified by what happened on September 11, 2001, as well as all of the other terrorist attacks that have occurred around the world. I agree with you that terrorism must be stopped. But I am NOT silenced by the terrorists.

The biggest fear I have is of the bigots who perpetuate negative stereotypes. I am afraid of raising my son in a town where the paper publishes blatantly racist statements that encourage racial profiling of “male Islamic extremists”. Tell me, Mr. Wolff, what does an Islamic extremist look like? How would you identify one? Is it skin color? Language? Style of dress?

I am white. As a matter of fact, I was born and raised in Montello, and I converted to Islam when I was looking for a religion that didn’t alienate other beliefs and offered a simple doctrine of love and peace. This description might clash with your ideas of what Islam is, but I would encourage you to find out more by contacting the Council on American-Islamic Relations at http://www.cair-net.org. I would also be very willing to sit down with you and tell you what I know about Islam. I could even give you an example of a Muslim country that is a democracy and allows all of those freedoms that we hold so dear in the U.S. – and we could also discuss how Muslim countries contribute to the good of the world.

My husband isn’t white, and he comes from one of those useless Muslim countries that you so abhor. He is by no means an extremist, nor a terrorist, but he does speak with an accent and his skin is dark. He is an American citizen, and has been harassed on several occasions while living in this area. I’m not telling you this so that you’ll feel sorry for us, but I would like you and your readership to think about whose freedoms are sacrificed as a result of the war on terror. It is not the Christian white majority that is giving up their rights, but a minority group of people with Muslim names, whether or not they are “extremists”. It’s definitely easy to sacrifice another person’s freedom, Mr. Wolff, but I’m sure you’re thankful that after the events in Oklahoma City, white males were not put under the microscope.

In this era of fear and war, I don’t know if my words can make much of a difference. All I can do is ask you to think about the hatred that you are propagating in your articles. I hope you agree that hatred is not good for the human race. It’s definitely not good for my family, and although I love this place where I grew up, I don’t want to subject my son to bigoted attitudes if I don’t have to.

Mr. Wolff, I don’t begrudge you your beliefs, in fact I agree with you on some of them. I just ask you to please consider the consequences of hatred – a dramatic example of which we saw on September 11, 2001.


Very sincerely,

Katie Zaman
ktzaman@gmail.com

5 comments:

gina said...

Ball-sy KT and so eloquently put! You are a credit to this... I was going to say "country" but I'm changing it to "world." Peace Out!

Page said...

F*cking amazing.

Oops, I accidentally censored my comment.

FUCKING amazing.

Wendell77 said...

Ditto to Page's comment! Rock the fuck on, buddy! 14 huggys, W!

Maddie's nana said...

Katie, Well said! Unfortunately the people who read this guy's column probably don't tune in to your blog. Can't you send the first 197 words to the newspaper and end with "to be continued..." Then send in the next part the next day, week or whatever? The people of Montello are the ones who need to see this!!!

Shefa said...

Umm... I think you are my new hero. Give me this idiots address and I'll give him a piece of my mind also.