Is hostility underlying our tolerance for others?

Anisah David

Anisah David

My daughter’s getting married! Her fiance is any parent’s dream; a polite man with a great deal of patience and consideration for others. Strong in his religion and yet moderate and intelligent. What’s the problem, you might ask?

Many at SDSU perceive there to be a high level of tolerance for diversity here. But under the thin veil of tolerance lies a pattern of religious discrimination and racism that has deep roots. People, who have no knowledge of my daughter’s upbringing, religious convictions and personality stress issues that have little to do with her and more to do with their own culture and family structure. People who shouldn’t be involved are attempting to create a hostile environment due to their prejudices.

I wish here to set the record straight. My daughter is marrying because that is what she has wanted to do. She has spent the last seven years preparing for her choice. Unlike many around her, she hasn’t been placed in the limbo of “teenager” where one is physically developed but told by society she isn’t an adult. She has been accepted as an adult since she reached puberty and has embraced all the duties and responsibilities of an adult. Those who know her know that.

Our community practices a subtle bigotry of tolerance for the sake of token hospitality. While members in our community are tolerant on the surface to people of cultural/ethnic diversity and people with strong religious convictions other than their own, there is an underlying attitude of “hostile hospitality” in which it is the goal of many to reshape the guest to the expectations of the host. I felt it 11 years ago when I first arrived. There is a strong push to befriend the international student, but primarily for the purpose of converting them to dominant religious faith systems and American culture. Those that don’t adjust soon find the hand of friendship withdrawn

It is hypocrisy, for the offer isn’t friendship. It isn’t based on the idea of befriending someone to learn more about them but rather to change them to fit our own expectations.

It didn’t start with my daughter. Others have suffered and suffer similarly.

This is a time for many to look in the mirror and ask themselves a few questions.

Are we being honest and respectful in our dealings with others of diversity?

E-mail comments to Anisah at [email protected].