Volume 93, Issue 101

Friday, April 7, 2000


A big (sarcastic) thank you for letter

Feeling of discrimination excruciating

Xenophobia hurts Jewish groups

Writer on mark, editorial misguided

American inputs his two cents

Misinformed opinions enlightened

Was letter written as complaint or question?

Israeli flag instills pride

A poem on profs

We need study day

American inputs his two cents

Re: "Racy Western" April 4

To the Editor:

Although born, raised, educated and currently residing in the United States, I am a wannabe Canadian. Since childhood, I have not only spent a considerable amount of time in Canada, but I have spent a considerable amount of time recognizing and appreciating the differing ideals between the two countries.

The letter written by Wong and Black not only shattered my idealistic beliefs about many of the things which make Canada great, but stands as a prime example of the sort of baseless and fatuous arguments that permeate the world today and make it reek of ignorance, racism and anti-Semitism.

So many times have I heard the rhetoric that the United States embraced the notion of being a melting pot of the different people of the world. Conversely, Canada, wished to embrace the inherent differences between people and thus sees itself as a mosaic. As a community, there is great value in diversity and individuality.

However, I begin to question the validity in the actual existence of mosaic ideal when I read Canadians making wide-sweeping and unsubstantiated charges of "blatantly segregating" and encouraging people to abandon their identity and "start acting as a nation of Canadians." Ironically, the writers commit the offence they so vehemently argue against in their letter.

To whom are the writers accusing of blatant segregation? All Jews? Or perhaps just Jews who attend Western? I am not able to discern who they assert to be the culprit in their letter, but it seems clear to me that stereotyping an entire group is itself an act of blatant discrimination.

I am unaware of the facts surrounding the Alpha Epsilon Pi party referenced in Wong and Black's letter. However, it seems to be a contemptuous assertion that because the fraternity elected to donate to a charity, they should be chastised for their choice of charity. Choosing to donate to a Jewish charity was their prerogative and should be questioned no more than a decision to donate to any charity.

The decision to donate appears to have been a symbolic apology for the incident at issue and questioning the recipient is as unconscionable as asking why a person donates money to meningitis research when far more people die of cancer and heart disease. I would be repulsed hearing such a statement, as I am repulsed that Wong and Black would insult the decision of AEPi.

To my knowledge, the Jewish fraternities at Western have no policy of excluding people of any religion and in fact do have members of religions other than Judaism.

The writers point to no example of being excluded from a Jewish fraternity or fraternity event based on their religions and furthermore, state no credible specific instance of being excluded from any Jewish event. Wong and Black do not state where on Yom Kippur (ironically the Jewish the Day of Atonement) they were excluded from attending based on their inability to say a Hebrew prayer.

I am sure no person in the Western community can contemplate any house of worship that would bar any person from attendance based on their own religion.

It is reasonable to assume that if a flag was draped across the Western Debating Society's table, then it may have been an isolated incident. Whether mistaken or intentional, it still shouldn't be a justification for asserting that all Jews are segregationists, any more than the (mistaken) assumption embraced by many Americans that African-Americans were not smart enough to be fighter pilots during the Second World War. Blanket statements about any group are inappropriate and represent the seeds from which ignorance and hatred grow.

Finally, Wong and Black's assertion that "We have always been under the impression that Judaism was a religious sect and not a nationality," is not entirely true. For many, Judaism is a culture which permeates numerous aspects of daily life.

As such, Jewish people choose to socialize together based on their common morals and values. The fact that they do so (provided that they do not exclude and discriminate), should not only be permissible but, in a country like Canada which calls itself "the mosaic of cultures," should be encouraged.

Daniel E. Waldman
University of Wisconsin-Madison
JD School of Law 2002
Master's of Business Administration
Business School 2002
University of Rochester
Bachelor of Arts 1997

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Copyright The Gazette 2000