Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Knowing the difference

This was written by Tom Altepeter who is a former elementary principal and present middle school assistant principal. He is passionate about intercultural responsiveness and social justice. you can find him on Twitter here and his blog here.

by Tom Altepeter

Disagreeing with someone doesn’t make you racist, and it doesn’t mean you’re practicing sectarianism, and it doesn’t mean that you’re a xenophobe. You may not agree with the same viewpoints as someone else, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with disagreeing. However, we need to know the difference.

Calling into question if a person belongs or doesn’t belong isn’t about disagreeing with them. I want people to truly understand this point. So, I’m going to say it again: Calling into question if a person belongs or doesn’t belong isn’t about disagreeing with them. We need to know the difference.

I’m going to use a most famous example since people will be most familiar with this. I realize it’s a risk because it also means there will potentially be a lot of heated feelings around the topic, therefore quite possibly clouding the ability to discern what’s being communicated. With that said, I believe enough has happened in recent times to put to rest any questions about the example I am using, except for those who are most sincerely on the furthest fringes of the spectrum. There are those who have strong feelings, and then there are those who are so removed from reality, no explanations will suffice. We need to know the difference.

Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States, isn’t everyone’s cup of sunshine. There are those who agree very much with his political bent, and there are those who disagree very much with his political bent. That disagreement is a healthy part of a democratic republic. The United States affords its citizens the ability and right to debate openly about politics. Disagreeing with the President is one of the luxuries we have in the country I live, but disagreeing with him isn’t the same thing as calling into question if he belongs or not. We need to know the difference.

His name alone makes some people cringe. It sounds so “foreign.” It sounds so “Muslim.” It sounds so “Islamic.” Then, throw in his skin color. We’re not used to having multiracial presidents. This also makes some people cringe. And, so, what happened next could most certainly have been predicted; however, it didn’t make it acceptable. We need to know the difference.

Now, I know, we all know, that our President is a Christian. What was debated for a long time by the mainstream populace was that he was a Muslim. Now, the fact that he may or may not have followed the Pillars of Islam wasn’t the issue. People can have curiosity about the faith of another person, especially their leader. The issue, rather, was that it was viewed as unacceptable that he was possibly a Muslim. So much time was spent attempting to prove he was a Christian that we got lost from what was the real concern: Why did it matter if he was a Muslim, and why did he have to go through such a process to prove he was a Christian? This isn’t about disagreeing with his political bent. It’s about questioning if he belonged. We need to know the difference.

Now, I know, we all know, that our President is a natural born U.S. citizen. What was debated for a long time by the mainstream populace was that he was not. Now, the fact that he may or may not have been a natural born citizen wasn’t the issue. People can have curiosity about the natural born citizenship of someone, especially their leader when their leader is required to be a natural born citizen. The issue, rather, was that this particular president, Barack Hussein Obama (the multiracial one with the “foreign” and “Muslim” and “Islamic” sounding name), was questioned. So much time was spent attempting to prove he was a natural born citizen that we got lost from what was the real concern: Why was he questioned (even though no other President had ever been questioned), and why did he have to go through such a process to prove he was a natural born citizen? This isn’t about disagreeing with his political bent. It’s about questioning if he belonged. We need to know the difference.

Intercultural responsiveness is a journey. We can choose to get defensive about this. We can choose to ignore this. Or, we can choose to grow and change because of this. We need to know the difference.

2 comments:

  1. Humbled by you posting this on your blog, Joe. Thanks for continuously challenging our thinking and knowing the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Tom. Belonging means ' he can be trusted , he is loyal and patriotic

    Your post fits in Joe's message about accepting and encouraging diversity. There is strength in diversity

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget

Follow by Email