Cultural Diversity

By Tara Hanson, senior
Cloudland High School

   "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." These are the famous words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King. Since the time he uttered these powerful words, America has come a long way, or so we thought. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, may have brought back our judgment of those who are different, especially on one specific race, Arabs. It is evident that somewhere amidst the struggle of being politically correct we have lost sight of truth.
   It is common knowledge that more than a few Americans cringe at the sight of an unfamiliar Arab. This reaction escalates when an Arab male is in line to board your airplane. Many people would say, "How can you not?" Considering all the Sept. 11 hijackers were Arab males, who would want to take the risk? Arabs are not the first to catch the backlash of a nation so blinded by color. African-Americans know all too well about the hatred that can come from people who refuse to look beyond your race. Some would even go as far as to say Arabs have taken the undeserved heat off the African-Americans.
   The airports are the place where the most racial profiling occurs. Should every Arab be stopped and searched? This would be terribly demeaning to an Arab who was simply using the airplane as a way of transportation like everyone else. It sounds absurd, but that is what it would take to make many people feel secure.
   Achieving cultural diversity starts with acceptance. There is a need for people to look beyond outer layers. Race is something you can't choose, and there is no valid reason for someone to be punished because of it. This is not to say that once we have taken the time to learn what a person is about that we are supposed to accept every aspect of their lives. Many people believe that everyone can have their own thoughts and beliefs as long as they are not stepping on anyone's toes. There is a big difference in hating someone because they are different, and disagreeing with someone because they are wrong. As 9-11 proved to us, some Arabs are taught to hate all Americans. They are told that it is an honor to kill us. Although we don't have any obligation to just accept that way of thought, we do not have the right to assume all Arabs believe that way and hate them because of it.
   Sept. 11, 2001 assisted in dismantling our acceptance of diversity. That is definitely true, but the gray area comes into play when discussing how accepting we should be of different cultures, especially when they are harmful to us. No one should ever be discriminated against because of their skin tone, but people who have extreme hate for Americans can't expect Americans to accept their way of thought. Not all cultures are right, and the extremist groups show that some can be dead wrong. Promoting cultural diversity is still right for America as long as it is balanced with fighting dangerous ideas.