To whom it may concern,
I’m writing in regards to the editorial piece “Viewpoint: Politically correct isn’t always right” that was published on Oct.13. Myself, and I know many of the other students here at Baylor, feel that this piece is extremely bigoted and prejudiced against the Islamic faith. Never have I seen an article written on this subject that is so blatantly uneducated and full of sweeping generalizations about Muslims than this article. What credentials does this writer, Mr. Swindoll, have to be writing on this subject to begin with? Mr. Swindoll argues first and foremost in his piece that the Islamic faith advocates the use of violence against all non-members of their faith. This statement alone is the textbook definition of not only bigotry, but Islamophobia in its purest form. He takes a situation that is occurring in two countries, Iraq and Syria, and makes a sweeping generalization that all Islamic countries are inherently violent along with their citizens.
I expected more from this newspaper than to release a piece as ridiculous as this. I’ve had friends from schools all over the country telling me that they and their other friends have been reading this piece, and joking about how absurd it is. To be honest, it’s absolutely embarrassing that MY school newspaper would permit and furthermore tolerate something as bigoted and religiously insensitive as this piece. I would urge that in the future, the writers of the Lariat stray away from religious topics that they obviously know nothing about to begin with. The entire argument is one-sided, and the “research” done is simply wrong. There are a total of 49 Islamic countries in the world, and just because there are three to four of them that are currently in violent turmoil does not mean that an overwhelming generalization should be made condemning the Islamic faith and moreover Muslims as a whole. The argument itself borders the point where all Muslims are fundamentalist extremists. Thank you for your time and I hope that my words will be taken into consideration.
– Kevin Bacarella, junior international studies major, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
I am writing out of a sense of righteous indignation (or as Swindoll uniquely put, “righteous indication”) regarding his recent column on Islam and political correctness. You may call me socially sensitive, you may also call me a pseudo-intellectual as a non-Muslim supporter of Islam, but in reality, it’s really not about me. It’s not about Swindoll, either; it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about people. It’s about human dignity. It’s about calling religious intolerance for what it is – it’s not liberalism, and it’s not pseudo-intellectualism. Discrimination is real. It’s painful. And many of us are blind to it. And I’m afraid Swindoll’s rhetoric, so adamantly based on fact, is blind. It’s blind to the evidence of hate and discrimination that exists toward so many Muslims. I am sorely disappointed and deeply burdened by the demonizing and stereotyping rhetoric about Muslims and Islam. In fact, Swindoll’s writing is demonizing of several groups: Muslims, liberals and really every religion other than Christianity. It’s offensive. It’s counter-productive. It’s hateful. His argument is not fully rounded. And here’s what I mean:
Swindoll assumes that political correctness is relevant only politically, hence the excessive dismissal of liberalism. Being politically correct regarding language about people groups, their beliefs, and practices isn’t meant to simply assuage a guilty political conscience. The way we talk about people, religion, and ideas shapes social attitudes; it shapes the way we interact with one another – on an individual level and at a policy level and everywhere in between. Our language should always promote human dignity. People, especially people different from us, are worthy to be heard, appreciated, and loved. I don’t see that in Swindoll’s column.
I’m also concerned about his facts.
I recognize I’ve as much authority as Swindoll here (which is pretty small), but I did some research as well. Let’s be very clear here. Insinuating that Muslim groups condone or support the kind of radical/extremism of these evil terrorist groups is not only profoundly wrong, but equally disrespectful. Here’s what I found from a Pew Research Center study entitled “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society” (2013): “American Muslims are even more likely than Muslims in other countries to firmly reject violence in the name of Islam. In the U.S., about eight-in-ten Muslims (81 percent) say that suicide bombing and similar acts targeting civilians are never justified. Across the globe, a median of roughly seven-in-ten Muslims (72 percent) agrees.” This stands in stark contrast to Swindoll’s argument that most Muslims support the literal interpretation of violence-supporting verses in the Quran.
I agree with Swindoll when he recognizes that a system of beliefs can warrant intellectual disagreements. I get that. And he’s right: the word bigot shouldn’t be used so dismissively. But I would argue that Swindoll is being equally dismissive. Swindoll is dismissive of every view other than the one he presents in his column. All others are liberals living in a liberal paradise, having liberal dreams, and promoting a liberal narrative. I’ve humbly learned that the best way to earn trust in an argument is to recognize there is more than one way of viewing an issue.
What is Swindoll’s aim here? Intellectual snobbery? That well-established Christianity is the norm and should remain the norm? How is that productive conversation? I believe that as Christians, we are called be a diacritical community – where we call out what we believe is wrong, unjust, untruthful but then also present a hopeful alternative to it. Swindoll is adding to the shameful narrative of being known for what he and so many others reject, and it’s not even based on fact or reason.
Here is my alternative: let’s all seek to understand the diversity of beliefs, practices, and experiences of Muslims. Let’s all choose to love, not just tolerate. And let’s keeping doing it – especially when we intellectually disagree. It’s good to look for facts; it’s crucial, but look long and hard at them. View them from different angles, and think about how they could be interpreted differently by different people. But recognize that worldviews are made up of more than just facts, but also experiences. Remember discrimination, pain, hopelessness. Remember human worth and dignity. And lastly, in his own words, I ask that Swindoll “rise above” his argument and to alternatively join forces for the common good and claim justice, freedom, and hope with and for all people.
– Erin Nolen, Social work, Houston
My name is Elizabeth Hebert and I just graduated from Baylor in May. I just came across an article written by Jeff Swindoll, a sports writer for the Lariat, about the supposed “defense of Islam” in our culture and politics today. I am writing to express my concern for a few things: first, where did this author get his information? Did he look at multiple sources before submitting his draft to the paper, or did he just ask his parents for their conservative opinions and consult Fox News for their highly misinformed “facts”? Second, there is no concrete information in this article other than some verses taken out of context from the Qaran. As a Christian, I get very upset when people who don’t share my religious views use the Bible in an ignorant and misinformed way, much like Mr. Swindoll did with the Qaran, to tell me that I am wrong. It doesn’t work. Third, I was wondering how The Lariat gave Mr. Swindoll the go-ahead on this article – just because it’s in the “opinion” section doesn’t mean it should be shared. Would you publish someone’s neo-Nazi opinion? Racism? Sexism? Probably not.
I am proud to say I went to Baylor, but this article parading around as well-informed and factual greatly disturbs me and makes me quite ashamed of my alma mater.
– Elizabeth Hebert, alumnus, Houston
I find the article by Jeffrey Swindoll “Politically Correct isn’t Always Right” problematic. If it were just a benign difference of opinions I would not care. The message this sends out is that Islam is condemnable, which is dangerous for Baylor Muslims. I had two Muslim friends at Baylor; they exist. Please do not make current Baylor students feel like they are “other.” They are already a minority so that could be determinate to their time at a University.
The article attempts to show that Christianity is in contrast to Islam’s violence but it is not. Irrespective of the peaceful texts from the BIble, there are still violent texts. A brown-skinned Muslim man could pick and choose texts from Christianity and write the same bigoted article. I could quote some reprehensible Christian texts but that’s not the point. Islam is a religion not unlike Christianity. The difference is that the majority of Muslims are in less-developed and less-modern civilizations. Just think about it: less than a mere century ago, American Christians were lynching people.
I’d love to hear, not your opinion, but how this is not detrimental to Muslim students or how the greater good of this article trumps them.
– Thomas Foster, alumnus, Waco
I am writing in response to an editorial article by one Mr. Swindoll. My initial reaction when reading this article was shock, followed quickly by resentment and a resolve to respond.
I must admit, I can’t say I’m well-versed in Islam. I have never read the Qur’an, and the number of Muslim friends I’ve had in my lifetime can be described as a handful. I do not call myself worldly or knowledgeable about many things beyond the realm of Christianity, which is with what I am most familiar.
Now with that in mind, I move onto a response to the article. I must first comment on the danger of taking verses from any religious text out of context and as stand-alone entities. I shudder to think of historical interpretations of stand-alone verses from the Bible that caused wars, famine, and genocide. There can be no excuse for this sort of abuse of holy words.
I would like to think that the purpose of the press is to report the honest truth and contribute to the betterment of people’s minds with well-researched opinions and points-of-view, which are critical and essential to well-informed public decisions. This article does nothing but perpetuate hate and fear for a group of people whose only crime is a different religious affiliation. Perhaps I’m living in a “liberal pipe dream,” but I cannot imagine that any forward motion with a group of people that have a different religious affiliation (in comparison to 73 percent of Americans that affiliate with Christianity) begins by claiming that their religious texts promote violence and hatred. I am saddened to see that this article only furthers that cause. Therefore, I conclude that Mr. Swindoll’s hubris response is uncharacteristic of what Baylor represents as a community, and to quote Jane Austen, is also full of “selfish disdain for the feelings of others.& quot;
Finally, I would like to point out that a portion of Baylor’s student population is indeed Muslim. If you are Muslim and have read this article, I am deeply apologetic. I want to stop and listen to you, even though we may not always agree. There are other doors that are open, even if you do encounter some blatantly closed windows. Here’s to hoping that more people are willing to open a few more.
– Monike Garabieta, alumnus, Waco