Sunday, March 2, 2014

Masking Ignorant Hate for Religious Freedom

Posted by Hanan Yasin, ATLANTA, GA – Last semester I was walking past the main library at Georgia State University (GSU) where I was a senior finishing up my courses. There is a small stage there where various musicians perform every Tuesday and Thursday during lunch. Sometimes there are other events and sometimes there are unwanted ones.  In fact that day unsolicited ‘preachers’ had taken over the small stage “preaching” to a rather large crowd of very angry GSU students. 

It only took one look at their signs and less than a minute listening to one of them yelling through a bullhorn for me to realize why student were so angry. These middle-aged, mostly overweight white guys were basically saying that rebellious women, potheads, drunks, lewd women, homosexuals, sport nuts, baby killers, Jesus mockers, Mormons are all going to hell unless they repent and accept Jesus. You may wonder way GSU administrators and public safety would allow such hateful people to carry on like this. Well, we are a public university and therefore that small stage outside the library is public space. 

A woman responded to them saying: “Am I rebellious because I’m getting a college degree and want to be successful?” Someone else yelled back; Potheads love Jesus!” Another said “I’m gay, but I’m Christian!” And yet another student responded: “So do you all watch Sunday night football?”  The ‘preachers’ didn’t respond…they just kept ‘preaching’…hate. GSU is very large and racially and ethnically diverse school which draws students from all walks of life. In fact we have received national recognition because of our diversity.  GSU also has a large LGBT community. None of the students gathered appeared to be supporting these “preachers” and I was impressed by how many stood up to them. 

But in the wake of the “freedom of religion” Anti-Gay legislation in Arizona which thankfully the Governor vetoed, I have become especially concerned for the LGBT community. And while these ‘preachers’ that day last semester seemed more anti-gay, anti-women, anti-drugs, and anti-alcohol, anti-abortion, and oh, anti-sport nuts, I’m also concerned about their potential ethnic and racial prejudices and hatreds. As a young person who just graduated with a Sociology major, it seems to me that we now live in a world bifurcated by informed tolerance and ignorant hate – and there are powerful political leaders who advocate for one side or the other. Thankfully many are on the side of informed tolerance but I still don’t understand how ignorant hate has made it so far into America’s political discourse in this post 2000 day and age. We are supposed to be a democracy, not a bunch of ignorant haters.

Hanan Yasin graduated from GSU with a major in Sociology in December 2013. Good luck Hanan!

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