Archive for April, 2010

OWUJew – Out in Academia

April 20, 2010

This winter, I wrote an article called “I’m Not Really a Chaplain;I Just Play One to Pay the Bills” for an online journal called Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Art of Persuasion.  It is published by graduate students at The Ohio State University from the Rhetoric and Composition program.  I was honored to have my work included in this menagerie of voices and hope you’ll enjoy learning a bit more about my perspective on becoming Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The Anatomy of Hate – In the Middle East

April 7, 2010

Tonight, at 7PM, many of us at Ohio Wesleyan will learn more about the sociological origins of hatred as we watch the “The Anatomy of Hate: A Dialogue for Hope.”  Following the film, we’ll have an opportunity to speak with the director, Mike Ramsdell.  I expect a large audience for the event which is co-sponsored by Student Union on Black Awareness; LGBTIQ Resource Center; President’s Commission on Racial and Cultural Diversity; Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; Office of the Chaplain; Women’s Resource Center; House of Peace and Justice; Amnesty International; B’nai B’rith Hillel; Tauheed; STAND; PRIDE and the Sociology/Anthropology Department.

The film has received a lot of advanced publicity on campus due to the potential visit of members of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), an anti-homosexual hate group featured in the film.  Whether or not representatives of this organization visit Delaware tonight, they seem to have gotten students talking about the rights of homosexuals and those that do not recognize those rights.  Michael Moore’s response to the WBC (1999), like his other films, is an interesting piece of activist filmmaking, but leaves one wondering whether the minds of these fanatics can ever be changed.

In a statement on TheAnatomyOfHate.com, Ramsdell suggests the origins of hate are entangled within our cultural institutions which promote ideologies of inclusion and exclusion.  Indeed, many people renounce religion as the cause of all wars.  Certainly the url for the Westboro Baptist Church, godhatesfags.com, illustrates how the idea of God has been used to foster hatred.  As Jews at a small Methodist-chartered university in the Midwest, we know what it is like to feel set apart from the dominant culture.  Fortunately, however, few of us have directly experienced hate speech or action.

One space in which we do experience a challenge, and a subject the film explores, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  We have trouble talking about this issue on campus, afraid that if we speak out, as Jews, in support for Israel’s right to exist we will be labeled as blind Zionists with no compassion for the suffering of Palestinian refugees.  We have trouble taking sides.  We have trouble not taking sides.  This morning I read an article about non-violent Palestinian protests to Israeli occupation in the New York Times.  I have to admit, it gave me hope that peace is possible.  The Prime Minister’s words about building the infrastructure to give people a sense of hope, makes sense to me.  I look forward to seeing where this movement leads, and how the Israelis respond to it.

I also look forward to seeing how The Anatomy of Hate portrays both sides of this long-standing conflict.  I recently watched The Promises Film Project (2001).  The maker of this film focuses on the children involved in this conflict.  I know from preview clips I’ve watched that Ramsdell also spoke with Israeli and Palestinian children.  They are indeed the future of the Middle East.  What words do they use to describe one another?  Where do these concepts come from?   I expect to learn something about this tonight.