Rutgers community needs unity, not division
As a current Rutgers graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies, it is rather upsetting to see a group claiming to represent the honorable Jewish students on campus — the Rutgers Hillel — is hosting an event this Tuesday, Sept. 30, that could lead to the spewing of much hate and negativity. The event Hillel is hosting is titled “Examining Human Rights Violations Against Minorities in the Islamist World,” and the guest speaker for the event, Brooke Goldstein, is a known Islamophobe.
For those who don’t know of her, Goldstein, a media darling of both extreme right-wing conservatives and war hawks, has taken the position of labeling terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda as “Islamic” and/or “Islamists.” As a student of religion, I will not deny these two groups claim to be “Islamic.” But in the view of the majority of Muslims, they are fringe groups adhering to gross misinterpretations of Islamic doctrines. Hence, it would be completely unjustified to refer to them as anything even remotely Islamic. By doing so, Goldstein effectively scapegoats an entire community of largely peaceful Muslims, of which an estimated 4,000 attend our university alone!
In 2012, the entire Western world was abuzz discussing the barbaric atrocities perpetuated by the Ugandan Joseph Kony, but little was discussed regarding his background. Kony leads the Lord’s Resistance Army, whose goal is to establish a theocracy based on Protestant Christian fundamentalism. The bloodshed caused by Kony and his followers was derived from Christianity, but not a single media entity promoted him as a Christian or a Christian-ist, and rightly so. Further back in history, Adolf Hitler’s movement promoted a religion known as Positives Christentum, or Positive Christianity, which advocated for and enacted upon the massacre of millions of innocent people. Why is Hitler, the epitome of evil, not called a Christian-ist?
I call upon Rutgers Hillel to seriously contemplate its decision of having Goldstein speak at this event. Hillel serves an important role on campus by representing the Jewish community, and in this time of trouble, they have the opportunity to set a positive example by building bridges among communities on campus. By inviting someone like Goldstein, the Hillel risks burning the very few bridges left between people of faith on our campus.
Shabbir A. Abbas is a Rutgers University graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies focusing on religion and conflict.