Why do they hate us? A legitimate question any group attacked by outsiders might ask. A poignant, timely question to ask after the September terrorist attacks.
On October 18, Professor Neelam Canto-Lugo’s Speech 1 class attempted to answer that question, in a presentation sponsored by “Crossing Borders, Building Bridges” at noon in room 521. The discussion of the September 11 attacks was meant as a way to inform students about the cultural and political differences between our nation and others in the Middle East. Topics researched and relayed by the student participants varied from the geography of the Middle East to the education system and religion.
Canta-Lugo stressed the importance of being educated. “We need to look at different sources. We cannot rely on five minutes of TV or two minutes of radio. We need to find out information for ourselves.”The symposium was a class assignment given by Canta-Lugo whose students had three weeks to research their topics and used sources ranging from the Internet and editorials, to documentaries and even personal interviews.
Student Jennifer Walton, who spoke on the Western World’s effects in the Middle East, said that “in researching for this symposium, our eyes have been opened.” She said that she realized now how privileged we are to be born in America. In Afghanistan, said Walton, anyone attempting to adopt a “western” lifestyle is punished brutally by the Taliban.
Other presentations addressed the harsh treatment of the Afghan women. “Women under Taliban rule take a beating, and unfortunately I mean literally,” said student Candee Jenson.
In an effort to explain “why they hate us,” student speaker Matt Warta said, “We have made a reputation for ourselves, putting our noses in other countries’ business.”
Cindy Barrios, another student presenter, seemed to support Warta’s comments when she added, “American involvement in Saudi Arabia and Iraq has been a contributing factor in the Islamic fundamentalists’ rage.”Some would agree with Barrios and Warta, including journalists across the country who have contributed to this same discussion in what has now become a national forum.
Contributing to the national discussion, journalist Fareed Zakaria in his special report in the October 15 issue of “Newsweek” magazine attempted to answer the same question posed to Canta-Lugo’s students.
Zakaria pointed out that many of the largest Muslim countries in the world show little anti-American rage. “As we strike Afghanistan it is worth remembering that not a single Afghan has been tied to a terrorist attack against the United States,” said Zakaria. “Afghanistan is the campground from which an Arab army is battling America.”
Other media outlets have been addressing the issue of terrorism. For instance, The Disney Channel held a “child-friendly” forum to aid in bridging the generation gap and keeping the children of our nation clued in.
However, the purpose of the symposium on campus, according to Canta-Lugo, was not “to find a scapegoat, but to learn about our neighbors.”The central message throughout the forum was developing tolerance. That we as a nation are already developing tolerance was acknowledge in a Political Science class lecture given by Professor Rubiales who said, “We’re developing every year more tolerance for people with different backgrounds.”
Students and faculty seemed to respond well to the forum. The 12 student speakers were pleased to see approximately 95 students fill the room, along with teachers also looking forward to hearing the presentation. Canta-Lugo felt that the symposium was “absolutely successful.”