Written by anonymous
Marked by paramount inventions such as cookie dough shot glasses, voice activated text messaging and electronic cigarettes, the continually revolutionizing 21st century is inhabited by mostly tolerant and adaptable beings. We are lucky to live in such an environment that allows us to meet new people on handheld devices, watch events unfold in other countries from a high definition television and – most importantly – exercise our rights.
The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights maintains that American citizens have the right to practice any religion and express any thought that they please, and most countries have similar legal regulations.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” the U.S. Constitution states.
Despite the radical developments of our time, some people have yet to modernize their perception of the world, accepting that others will be different than they are. Some people have no qualms with voicing their disdain towards other people’s beliefs.
Four years ago, I had the misfortune of encountering one of those people.
Like most first year university students, I was interested in 2 things: Drinking alcohol and meeting new people. Often times, the two went hand-in-hand. The coming together of new friends and booze led to mostly good things like beer pong and sex. Other times, the combination yielded not so good things like vomit and hellish hangovers – but those were expected.
One time, something really awful happened – something not even a bacon-egg-and-cheese, a coffee and hot shower could fix.
It was February and most people were avoiding the cold by drinking in the dormitory. I’d spent enough time with my neighbors to know what state they hailed from, which Greek organization they were interested in and their tolerance level for alcohol. There was this one kid – let’s call him Jack – who was notorious for chugging up to 3 cases of beer in one sitting. Jack, a robust guy from Staten Island, was fun because he was always down to party. Good ol,’ lovable Jack, right?
While Jack was normally well-mannered and polite, he was his usual 3 cases deep in Natural Light, and his true colors were emerging. Unprovoked, he began to verbally attack my best friend – taking blows at her artistic abilities and British accent.
And then, he went for me. My best friend and I stood there, tight-lipped, and listened to what Jack had to say about our hobbies and our wardrobes. But then he began to attack our religion – and that’s when shit hit the fan.
“You guys killed Jesus,” he said. His words were dripping with merciless hatred. Suddenly we were no longer 3 pals hanging out. We were 2 helpless Jews and one angry Catholic.
Perplexed, I looked at my best friend. Neither of us had ever been discriminated against before. Sometimes, we felt excluded from holiday festivities and bonded over our Jewish roots instead, but we were used to that.
A 2013 poll by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) states that 26% of Americans believe that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. This claim is in the New Testament, with Jews being repeatedly referred to as “the opponent,” among other things. However, according to many other sources, crucifixion was a Roman punishment for crimes against the state.
Jack can believe and express whatever he wants, as stated in the first amendment. I may not agree with it but I will sure as hell respect it. However, after my attempt to reason went Jack went nowhere, my friend and I walked away – fearful that the situation might escalate into something more.
The problem that I faced with Jack is that he was continuing to promote anti-Semitism, a concept that’s more than 2 thousand years old. It’s outdated, obsolete and irrelevant to our relationship together at school. I understand that his religion deems that mine is responsible for the death of a key player in his, but by no means does that mean he should involve his beliefs in a personal relationship. The separation of church and state was created so that problems like this wouldn’t arise, and Jack is responsible for opening old wounds that should have remained patched so that they could continue to heal.
I distanced myself from Jack after that night. He went on to become a resident’s assistant – to many other Jewish people – and on April 20, Jack sent out a tweet wishing Hitler a happy birthday.
Having an open mind means being able to happily accept the changing world for what it is. If you’re going to go out and buy a Fit-Bit, or eat a Cronut or take some new type of medication, then you better be able to accept the beauty of difference, because it’s not going anywhere. Hopefully people like Jack will be able to do that sooner than later.