This is my last column, I promise

Left Language

It's Holocaust Remembrance Week, and speakers, signs and literature tell me to remember history and what happened during the Nazi regime. It is also History Day as I'm writing this column, and the importance and lessons of past events and legacies call out for attention - as do my memories of my four years at AU.

But how do my experiences in an affluent private school in Northwest D.C. relate to the Holocaust? Over the last four years I've watched conflicts develop on campus between Muslim and Jewish students, and between Muslim and many non-Muslim students. I'm happy to say that, for the most part, these tensions manifest themselves only briefly and in a respectful manner. Even when they have occasionally come to a head, cooler heads among all the groups have prevailed.

Yet tensions still flare up from time to time, and it is important to remember both the mistakes of the past and the humanity and integrity of the opposing side. Sometimes we tend to get carried away in our arguments, and we start to lose sight of the legitimacy and intelligence of the person or nation with whom we have a dispute. To let such an argument degenerate into a blinding dislike or hatred is dangerous but all too common. I've found AU to be a very tolerant place over the last four years, but it's not a perfect atmosphere. Most universities in the United States are not so tolerant, but even at AU many students left campus after Sept. 11, 2001, because they were uncomfortable with derogatory remarks or sentiment against Muslims or Arab-looking students and people in the AU community.

Through my many years at The Eagle, I have had to work with a variety of different people. Some of them have possessed radically different ideas than my own, and some have criticized my opinions as expressed in the pages of The Eagle. I hold no grudges, which is how it should be. One of the greatest lessons I've learned at this University is to be respectful and considerate when arguing with someone, a lesson which I had learned before but was not able to apply previously with such frequency. As the former (and current interim) editorial page editor, controversy is well known to me. Sometimes I've let my frustration and anger get the best of me, but that has only caused me further trouble.

It's important to remember that all the columnists who write for this newspaper are regular students with regular classes and regular lives. We're not radical ideologues hell-bent on the destruction of opposing thoughts. If we were, we'd resemble Nazis. Contrary to what some may think, I don't hate all College Republicans or worship prominent leftists like Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader. In fact, I welcome criticism - it makes life interesting and forces me to consider more viewpoints on a given subject. I encourage the liberal columnist who takes my place next year to remain as independent as possible and to respect the people who oppose his or her viewpoints. I'm confident The Eagle will continue to present the varying opinions that are submitted every week without censure or preference.

Coming from a small, rural and rather ignorant white town in northern Connecticut, my years at AU have increased my belief in tolerance and respectful debate. Yet there is still much to argue and fight for in the world, in America, in D.C., and at AU - perhaps when the personnel at AU are not largely racially segregated by job title, there won't be a need to battle the administration over a living wage for lower-end workers. Until then, I hope everyone at this campus, of all political and personal persuasions, will continue to speak up, speak out and act to further the causes that motivate them.

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