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on racism and other kinds of intolerance

So I'm in the basement men's room of my building today and I find, scratched in bright bare metal on the black painted door, the words

ARAB GO HOME SAND NIGGER

I tried to re-black it with the pen I had on me to make it at least less obvious, but that didn't work. I was going to go back to my office and get some paper and tape to cover it up with, but then was sure someone would peel it off to see what was under it. So I wound up just leaving it there, which didn't make me feel so good.

I don't understand the sentiment that makes someone scratch such a thing out, anonymously, in a men's room. I don't understand who at this university was apparently unable to express themselves any less crudely, let alone harbor such a hateful thing. I don't understand.

I confess: for several weeks after September 11th, I found to my horror that I was unable to look Middle-Eastern-appearing men in the eye when passing them on the street. It took tremendous self-process to work through this, and in the end I believe it was the result, not of hatred, but of alienation, stress and fear, and dissociation. I don't remember when that behavior ended; I don't find myself still doing it. Presumably it faded away along with some of the other acute psychological stress symptoms I was exhibiting. I do want to thank the Muslim graduate student, whose name I have forgotten and whom I have never met, who took the time to answer some of the open questions I posted in an online forum here. I'm certain that helped close the gap some, and decrease the sense of alienation I was experiencing. Among other things, he wrote: "We are human beings and have been given the power of reasoning and tolerance. We must talk and discuss our similarities and differences. We are all children of Adam. We are all brothers and sisters."

"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"

"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm fucking serious!"

--from the Onion's September 29th issue

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