While the world is a landscape of ever-changing affairs, two things have remained constant; wars, and the need to demonize the opposition. The recent bombardment of negative news coverage regarding the U.S. and ISIS can make the latter condition easy to overlook. Ever lingering and untold stories of extremist sects outside of Islam have remained out of the media’s focus however, and consequently, outside of the eyes of the public.
The KKK is an extremist group whose goal has been the oppression of African Americans, homosexuals, immigrants, and a return to pre-civil war United States. The KKK, is a Christian terrorist organization. Other examples of Christian terrorism involve the 2012 Wisconsin Sikh Temple Massacre and the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009 at an abortion clinic.
Outside of religion, we may look at even more secular groups. The Earth Liberation Front is an extremist environmentalist group responsible for burning car lots, destroying university labs, and blowing up lumber companies. The Jewish Defense League is an organization who committed more than 15 terrorist attacks in the 1980s as well as plotting to blow up a mosque in 2001.
Despite these representations of religions, it is important for the citizens of the U.S. to remember that not all people who identify with a given demographic live in the shadow of the “extreme.” The grand majority of Jews, Christians, environmentalists, and Muslims are peaceful, and do not contribute to the sects that twist doctrines and morality to inflict cruel crimes upon civilians with alternative views.
Attending Springfield College, we can witness a microcosm of these prejudices. Having a very diverse student body, we can learn a lot from connecting with individuals from many different backgrounds. Whether it is students of different religions, sexual orientations, social classes or ethnicities, we have been given a chance to learn to empathize with people who stand for different values than our own. Though we may be swarmed with negative stimuli in relation to a group; derogatory words, racial slurs, etc., existing in such a vacuum can allow us the opportunity to make progressive strides in our relations with people unlike ourselves.
Going forward, it is important that we keep in mind who our enemy is. For the last 13 years, the Islamic culture has been portrayed in a certain light in the media that has left American society with many prejudices. Let us make it a point not to hold the actions and ideas of extremist groups against the peaceful participants of that culture or belief system, to keep understanding diversity is a priority, and to continue to pursue an open mind with all of our encounters/endeavors.