Western Herald – WMU reacts to ‘I want to kill you’ event at Miller Auditorium

WMU reacts to ‘I want to kill you’ event at Miller Auditorium

Letters to the editor

Breeding Hate at WMU

When I heard that two former Islamic extremist terrorist I was ecstatic.  As an Arabic minor, I couldn’t have been more excited to hear first hand accounts of the violence in the Middle East and a peaceful solution. I began to read more about the two men Walid Shoebat and Kamel Saleem and I read that there was a protest planned by the Muslim Student Association.  My first thought was that it was just people being overly sensitive.
The audience was fairly diverse showing the variety of students at WMU.  Beginning the presentation a former Special Forces officer led the audience in the pledge of allegiance, something I hadn’t done since middle school.  When Mr. Shoebat began speaking, I didn’t hear the violent stories of his past that I had expected to give us an insight into terrorism.  He began speaking of the dangers of Muslim countries and Sharia Law.  There was a certain undertone where each statement made Muslims seem worse and worse.  I noticed the younger students begin to leave row by row; but being an anthropology student I was determined to stay.  Suddenly I looked around and the room was filled with older white people nodding their heads and saying god bless America.
By the end of the speeches the crowd was yelping and whistling with patriotism due to the presenter’s constant references to American pride.  I felt very uncomfortable feeling like I had just watched George Wallace speak in 1963, there was an ominous anti Muslim feeling in the room.  After one Arab student’s outburst, he was shoved by a white student, and when the Arab student asked, “Who are you?” The second student shouted, “I’m America!” and the Arab student was escorted out by police.
That isn’t America.

— Andrew Lennox
WMU junior

Terrorist event doesn’t shed much light on the problem
The Western Herald’s coverage of Walid Shoebat’s recent appearance at Miller Auditorium noted that Shoebat challenged critics to dispute his authenticity. Fortunately, the Jerusalem Post already did so in a March 30, 2008 piece debunking Shoebat’s claims to have been a terrorist.
Shoebat claims that he participated in a bombing of Bank Leumi in Bethlehem in the late 1970s, but the Post noted that Bank Leumi has no record of any such bombing attack during the period Shoebat claims to have carried out the bombing. Oddly enough, Shoebat originally claimed the Bank Leumi bombing had been covered in newspapers at the time, but has since changed his mind and decided his bomb did little damage and so wasn’t covered in the media after all.
Similarly, the Post noted that although Shoebat solicits donations for the Walid Shoebat Foundation which he claimed was registered as a nonprofit in Pennsylvania, when it checked with officials in that state they had no record of such a charity. At which point, not surprisingly, Shoebat told the Post the Foundation was registered under a different name and he didn’t really know any details about its incorporation or operation.
Although Shoebat is clearly a talented spinner of tales, his history as an Islamic terrorist appears to be as divorced from reality as his views on the threat of Islamic terrorism. These views, as writer Jeffrey Goldberg has noted, takes legitimate concerns about religious‑inspired terrorism and turns them into a cartoon that can easily pack people into auditoriums and raise funds but doesn’t shed much light on how to deal with the underlying problem.

—Brian Carnell
WMU staff member

Event only shows one side
I was astounded by today’s article on the Why We Want to Kill You speech given last night.  The fact is, your reporter took for granted that everything these two men had to say was truth and chose to show their side of the issue as the only side.  In reality, these men are propaganda machines for the conservative party that only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes of the Muslim world and justify fear and hatred. Any interview with any of the Muslim groups on campus or Muslim professors would have shown the issue in an entirely new and balanced light, but no such attempt was made.

—Jordan White
WMU student

Terrorism flyers were invasive
Ms. Shafran’s concerns about the flyer expressed in her letter on March 10, I believe, were well thought out and reasonable.
I, too, received a flyer, shoved in from behind me at my computer table where I was working in the computer center at the Bernhard Center this week, which I found invasive and rude.
The “WHY WE WANT TO KILL YOU” statement on the flyer read as a  threat and seemed inflammatory and startling in purpose. I found the aggressive nature of the flyer itself and the aggressive way the flyers were distributed in the Computer center creating the opposite effect of what you would expect from someone who is wishing to be heard.
After this experience, in this time of trying to help each other move towards understanding differences and becoming culturally competent, I realized the enormity of the gap.

—Lauralee Middleton
Sindecuse Health Center

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