Archive for September, 2010

Shouting Fire: Stop the Madrassa

1.) I feel a newspaper definitely should not be this “partisan”, as in the case of The New York Post. However, as with any other form of media, there is bound to be some sort of issue or tendency to side with only one view/belief. In the particular case of Debbie Almontaser, I think her words were twisted in a way that made the article appealing to read. By this I mean, it’s all about ratings. This reporter chose to use her words in a way that attacked her because of her religion even though she made it clear that she was not supporting or affiliated with the Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media.   Unfortunately, attacking Muslims is “in” and people are made to believe that all Muslims are extremists and affiliated with the attacks on the World Trade Center. Of course, it is reasonable that a newspaper or reporter be so influential because that’s the whole point of news. Obviously, a reporter or newspaper has to convince the audience that they are right and what they’re reporting is true otherwise, no one would believe anything in the media.

2.)Debbie Almontaser stated that the people who are responsible for 9/11 are those who twisted the beliefs of the Muslim faith to justify their own horrendous actions. She made it clear that she absolutely did not agree with that group’s beliefs. Also, when she mentioned the questions that she gets asked like “Is it true you don’t believe 9/11 actually happened,” I felt so terrible for her. I think she was correct in wanting to completely separate the thoughts on 9/11 and what the school actually stood for/what was going to be taught. She wanted people to understand that this was going to be like any other NYC public high school. However, unlike Churchill she definitely did not want to bring any more attention to herself by putting in her 2 cents about the World Trade Center attacks. I feel there are people like Churchill who say something negative about the U.S. involvement/role in 9/11 but aren’t public intellectuals like he was so, they don’t receive any attention.              Also, unlike Churchill these people that have something negative to say about the U.S. probably aren’t confident enough to stand by their beliefs and are scared of any possible repercussions against them.

3.) I think that with this particular question, Churchill and Almontaser have something in common. Just because these people were thought of being affiliated with something negative, they were fired. The University of Colorado @ Boulder fired Churchill out of fear of being associated with a man who had something negative to say and Almontaser was fired out of fear of being associated with an extremist group even though this was something she was not responsible for as she wasn’t the one who decided for her words to be used negatively. What I think that what bothers me the most about Debbie Almontaser’s case, is that both the Board of Ed as well as the New York Post failed to acknowledge the 17 years of work she had to done to improving education and the relationship between Muslims and those who are unfamiliar with the religion. Also, in the documentary, we were told that the school opened without Almontaser as principal and instead hired someone who was not Arabic speaking and therefore could not relate with the student population. This would make one believe that obviously a new principal would have to be put in charge and one who at least spoke Arabic but it took three principals to finally reach one that spoke Arabic and would be a good fit to be put in charge of the school.

 4.) Of course, I am going to believe Debbie Almontaser. I believe her because of the honesty in her voice when telling her story and unjustly fired. After doing research, I read that she wasn’t going to sue the Board of Ed because she wasn’t interested in money. However, an article posted in the Daily News in March 2010 that she might sue even though it was 3 years later except now she had the backing of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who stated that the Board of Ed forced her to resign because of discrimination. I can’t help but feel some sort of hatred towards the reporter who wrote this story of Almontaser because these two people were practically the direct cause that prevented a potentially wonderful principal from doing her job.

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Shouting Fire: Churchill’s Thoughts on 9/11

Before watching the documentary, “Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech”, I had not heard of Ward Churchill. Honestly, I did not understand why his statement was so offensive but only because I did not know what the term “little Eichmann” meant but now that I do, I find his view on the 9/11 situation to be one that is insensitive.  I do not understand why he would even think that the death of all those innocent people was a fitting punishment and to question if there was something worse that could’ve happened to them was just wrong. Just because someone worked in the World Trade Center did not mean he/she was an “Eichmann”.  Although I completely disagree with Churchill’s statement, I completely agree with what was said in class which was that the investigation being launched and finding Churchill guilty of academic misconduct was just an excuse to fire him for his comments on 9/11. Churchill definitely deserved some sort of punishment for academic dishonesty but to fire him was just too much.  There are people like Churchill all over the place and sure firing them solves the problem for now but in doing so, the University actually attracted even more of the media’s attention and possibly popularized Churchill among some groups. Again, I don’t really understand what he said but what I have understood is that Churchill felt that a catastrophe such as what happened on 9/11 was inevitable but what really bothers me is that he felt that the victims of 9/11 did something wrong which was why they were attacked. He stated something along the lines of “why would someone be attacked if they did not do anything wrong”. He then went on to explain that the people working in the World Trade Center were “evil people” and “ignorant” who were self absorbed and only cared about profiting. Although there was bound to be someone that was like this, to say that everyone, including the U.S. government is like this and deserved whatever happened was wrong. However, Churchill was free to say whatever he wanted to and ultimately it is the people’s own decision to hear him and actually care about what he has to say or just ignore him.

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