I’d like to begin by admitting that your title says it all. “Prejudice today: how to reaffirm what you already believe.” I completely agree. But what did you expect? Trinity Progressives and Trinity Diversity Connection sponsored this forum. By the time the forum occurred, the Ahmed Mohamed story was old news. Participants walked into the forum already having solidified their opinion on the matter. And guess what? The majority of them agreed with each other. Because drum roll please they are members of the SAME ORGANIZATION. I found it very obvious that most people attending would share the same general opinion with the exception of a few misinformed stragglers who would quickly adhere to the consensus of the group and a couple of people who attended to pick fights and/or troll the discussion.
Lets address your claim that there was “no variety to any of the perspectives” of panel members. This is simply not accurate. The panel was composed of a white female, a Black Muslim, a man who is often incorrectly profiled as a Muslim, and another Black man. All of these panel members had insight to offer on prejudice pertaining to the Ahmed case. You also mentioned that the participants were not very diverse in opinion. 1) No kidding. Although you are in the great state of Texas, you are at a liberal arts institution. And while there are other conservatives that share your beliefs at the school, many chose not to attend the event because they recognized that attending wouldn’t have served any purpose. 2) The goal for this discussion was to have participants diverse in background “” not opinion. Keep in mind that these events only take place once per month, are only one hour in duration, and have no pre-defined talking points so it is no surprise that even with diverse opinions, little would be accomplished.
Next you expressed your dislike of the panel’s use of “Islamophobia.” I was not in favor of its use during the discussion either; however, I understood the message they were trying to convey within the context. After your point was raised, the panel offered “anti-Muslim sentiment.” Other people using or even misusing “Islamophobia” throughout the remainder of the discussion out of habit was not significant enough to warrant a multi-paragraph diatribe in your column.
These preceding paragraphs removed all doubt that you completely misunderstood the purpose of this forum. If you did understand the purpose and did not have an agenda to push, you likely would have opted to not attend because like the panel discussion, you didn’t accomplish much. What you “view to be a clear double standard in the culture of victim-hood” goes both ways. This point should have never been raised, as it does not pertain to the Ahmed Mohamed case (the purpose of the forum). This was your inappropriate and inopportune attempt to push your agenda. You steered the discussion away from prejudice against Ahmed and others in similar situations, and attempted to make yourself (and conservatives in general) appear as “the victim”. I’m sorry you feel personally victimized by students, administrators, and campus publications, but I hope you didn’t expect sympathy from participants at the forum.
The debate that sprung up about being discriminated against based on opinion or appearance is another discussion entirely, but it is appalling that you even remotely compared your “hate mail” situation to that of (and this is just one example that popped up during the forum) a woman experiencing discrimination based on appearance before her getting an opportunity to speak.
Your statement that the Soviet gulag was the genocide responsible for the most deaths based on political ideology in human history is likely incorrect, and does in fact require citations. Even if this statement was accurate, it is not what I would describe as appropriate. Comparing the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for what they believed in to you who experiences criticisms and complaints for your thoughts/ideas is inappropriate at best.
You move on to mention that participants ignored a comment made by “the honorable lady” next to you. I see a couple of possibilities: the first is that no one heard her. Now I know that you got it on audio (good for you), but you were sitting next to her so of course it sounded like a loud exclamation. The second possibility is that since her comment was not relevant to the conversation, it was ignored. This was not an attack against you or your beliefs. Please be aware that apathy is not the same as antipathy.
You mention that you are “quite sure” that you would be arrested if you pulled the same “stunt” that Ahmed did. Is this true? Maybe. It is impossible to replicate, but I too can be “quite sure” that your situation would have been handled much differently.
In conclusion, I do agree that you should have spent your time writing about the events that happened at the UN and Syria. What I initially thought to be a synopsis of the forum turned out to be a self-serving vituperation of the panel in a desperate and failed attempt to get last word after the panel didn’t entertain your commentary. I do appreciate that your article addressed the ineffectiveness of the panel, but similarly to your comments in person, your article digresses from what could have been a constructive argument and morphed into a continued attempt to push your agenda, and express your discontent with the panel because you didn’t have realistic expectations. You even mention that “these events will simply become pointless reiterations of unilateral opinion that foster nothing more than what the majority already knew before walking in the door.” Surely you knew that people attended in order to voice “their” opinion on the topic, get an ego boost when people of course agree, and walk away feeling better about themselves for having attended such a progressive event (pun intended). While you have every right to attend an open discussion, for your purposes I recommend hosting your own or attending one with a more receptive audience. If you are looking to challenge opinions, attend a debate. Prejudice today was a discussion””not a debate. I’m not saying the forum wasn’t pointless because it arguably was, but your commentary and points raised at the forum were equally as pointless.