SG president’s e-mail smear was a disgrace

Recently at the University of Kentucky, Nick Phelps, our Student Government president, circulated a false and racist e-mail about Sen. Barack Obama on one of the student listservs. We, as students of UK, must hold Nick responsible for his intolerant and discriminatory behavior.

For those of you who have not read the e-mail, I will give a brief description. It falsely claims that Barack Obama is a Muslim and suggests that he is part of an Islamic plot to take over the United States. The e-mail makes other false claims about Obama, saying he went to an Islamic Wahhabi school (a school that teaches radical beliefs), he will not say the pledge of allegiance, he was sworn in on the Koran, and so on. dispels these rumors.

I am most bothered by the fact that the writer of the e-mail links being a Muslim with being a terrorist. Myths and misconceptions such as this one only perpetuate prejudice and discrimination. After 9/11, many American citizens who were Muslim were attacked because of their ethnicity and/or religion. These hate crimes occurred because many Americans are uneducated about different groups of people outside the dominant white, heterosexual Christian norm. The truth is that Muslims are like all other individuals of faith. They believe in peace, love and justice. It is wrong for anyone to portray them otherwise.

Therefore, we, both the students and the administration, must hold this student leader accountable for the slanderous e-mail. Nick Phelps’ actions symbolically represent the racist and discriminatory actions that occur on this campus and throughout the country everyday, and they will continue if students do not demand institutional change.

Short term, we need to educate the rest of the student body about the discrimination that Muslims and other minorities face at UK, across the state and across the nation.

I encourage everyone to learn about Islam and Muslims. In fact, the Muslim Student Association on campus is hosting an event to educate students about Islam on Thursday. Please take advantage of this opportunity. We all have freedom of religion, and no American should be stigmatized, misrepresented or targeted due to religion. As a community, let us show that we respect all people of faith and people of various backgrounds.

Taneshia House

Sociology and gender and women’s studies junior