Letter to the Editor an attack on Hillel director
The Targum published an opinion piece written by Janna Aladdin titled “Hate speech will not be tolerated on campus” several days ago. The letter’s intention is not to encourage students to stand up against hate speech, as the title might imply. Rather, it is an offensive and distasteful attack on Rutgers Hillel director, Andrew Getraer. The author’s basis is that conversations between Getraer and others were “leaked” on alternet.org, as if the content is shocking or offensive. In reality, all comments made by Getraer in the article are factual, and not even remotely Islamophobic. Since when are fact-based views stated on social media regarded as “hate speech?”
Aladdin’s letter is nothing more than cherry-picked words taken out of context and repackaged to align with her argument. In an attempt to stir outrage among her readers, she paints Getraer as a racist Islamophobe whose mere existence as Hillel director insults all Muslims at Rutgers. She accuses Getraer of making statements such as, “a majority of [Muslims on campus] are violent,” and “identifying as a practicing Muslim is enough to be labeled a radical.” These claims are fabricated and are not found on Aladdin’s only source, alternet.org. I encourage each reader to discover this truth for his or her self.
Although irrelevant, the letter refers to an event that occurred last semester with speakers Brooke Goldstein and Dr. Qanta Ahmed. Initially focused on the topic of human rights abuses in the Middle East, the event transgressed into a hostile environment during the question and answer session when Muslim students in the audience verbally attacked the speakers, destroying any potential for educational discussion. They claimed, and continue to claim today, that the event (which focused specifically on the injustices innocent women and children face in the Middle East) was “Islamophobic.” It seems that at any single mention of Islam and issues concerning the Middle East, these students scream of hate speech, Islamophobia and bigotry, rather than countering the opposing view with a discussion of their own.
Aladdin follows her baseless accusations with flowery words that urge students to promote diversity of thought, religion and expression, and not to promote hatred. Since her article failed to do this and ironically only promoted hatred and slander against an individual, a red flag is raised about the author’s true agenda. What purpose does it serve the author to attack the director of Rutgers Hillel?
Nonetheless, I am inspired by Aladdin’s encouragement for students to “enter the difficult but severely needed conversations on freedom of religion, institutionalized racism, prejudice and privilege” nearing the end of her article. I could not agree more. Rather than looking through social media posts and struggling to find ways to victimize ourselves, we should be encouraging conversation. With that said, I would like to spark the potentially uncomfortable but severely necessary conversation and challenge Aladdin to engage in discourse on Muslim extremists and their role in Islam.
Danielle Dossantos is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior and president of Rutgers Christians United for Israel.