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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Our Generation Confronts Intolerance

We have been dubbed as Generation Y, the Millennials, and Generation Change by the media. Indeed, compared to the Baby Boomers and Gen-X, we have progressed to the point in which conventional rules no longer apply.

We have called for equality and have made a global bond over the need and, want for change. Although we are the most diverse generation in U.S. history, according to civicyouth.org, we are still constantly inundated by racial and political tensions, misunderstandings and biases. Between my Muslim and even Hindu friends being called terrorists in my middle school’s hallways after 9/11 to my older male gym teacher’s sexist remarks.

I’ve had my fair share of dealing with people’s prejudices. I’ve heard people state that if others want to come to this country (a country that has no official language, mind you), they should learn English or get out.

Personally, I love walking in a store or around campus and hearing five different languages. I enjoy embracing our differences, and it seems that on campus, even though there are racial, religious, and political cliques, there remains a general atmosphere of acceptance and respect.

Referring to the diversity of the student population, Priya Mallikarjuna, a junior, said, “I like it. Coming from a predominantly white high school, I find the interaction between different groups of people exciting.”

Unfortunately, there are those that feel differently across the country. Recently, political and religious issues regarding the establishment of a Muslim mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero has exposed us to the racism that’s blocking our push for tolerance.

Amongst the hundreds of protestors marching against the mosque on Aug 22, was one woman carrying a sign that read, “No Victory  Mosque Here!” insinuating that the establishment of the Muslim center would be a symbol of American defeat, instead of American understanding and acceptance of its citizens’ right to practice their faith. Protestors also chose Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” as the anthem to their bigotry, according to the New York Daily News. These protestors have the constitutional right to speak their minds; however, it must be seen that ideas founded in racism are dangerous and inexcusable.

What started as protests has now incited violence with the attack of a Muslim cab driver, Ahmed Sharif, 43, who, after being questioned about his Islamic faith by customer, Michael Enright, 21, was stabbed in the throat, arm, and face on August 25, according to  Newsweek. Apart from the racial and religious biases against Middle Easterners and Muslims that plagues the attempt for open-mindedness, another conflict is the argument over the sanctity of marriage. Some may remember that Prop. 8 (the California Marriage Protection Act) was passed in California, and then ruled unconstitutional last month, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The federal judge that promulgated so said that state interests and “moral disapproval” do not justify treating gay couples differently on a constitutional level.

The declaration against the ban on same-sex marriage is one step in the right direction. However, the response given by Andy Pugno, a lawyer backing the supporters of the ballot measure in favor of the bill, shows we still have a long way to go with this issue.

He said the trial court, “has literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent when casting their votes for Prop. 8.”

Wow, voters that have “ill and discriminatory intent”? Unheard of.

It’s apparent that our generation still has a lot of barriers to break down. We are the most racially mixed and tolerant group, not to mention the largest since the Baby

Boomers. It’s our responsibility to hold people, most importantly ourselves, accountable for how our culture shapes our lives. With all the political, religious, and social issues surrounding us, Gen-Y has the potential to stand up for equality and face the prejudices that have hindered progress for so long.

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