By Marisa Scimeca Special to The Chronicle
We live in a country whose pride is in religious tolerance and diversity, and yet it is in some of the most diverse parts of the country that we see the most intolerance. Last week vandals spray painted words of hate on a mosque in Bay Shore, less than an hour from Hofstra. After the police were informed, the vandals toilet-papered the imam’s house and have not yet been caught.
Being within such proximity of one of the biggest cities in the world gives Long Island a great deal of diversity. We often think of diversity as only meaning race, but it includes religion, beliefs, age, and more. Religious differences have caused as much tension and intolerance as have racial differences. Long Island is heavily segregated, not just by race but by religion as well. Even on campus we can tell the difference between our backyard of Hempstead and its neighbor East Meadow.
Unfortunately this act of vandalism isn’t an isolated case. Over the summer swastikas were found etched into a man’s car in Merrick (20 minutes from campus) the same day that a swastika was found drawn in marker on the local middle school’s façade. To many it may seem strange or even funny to find swastika graffiti in such predominantly Jewish areas. It’s really just evidence of a much larger problem affecting American society.
Hofstra’s pride lies within diversity and community and as such we think of ourselves as a tolerant bunch. But clearly, just because a place is diverse doesn’t mean that it is immune to acts of hate and discrimination. The P.R.I.D.E. principles monitor the Hofstra bubble in which we live; if we don’t act with tolerance and acceptance we face expulsion. But a college campus is a bubble, a microcosm of larger American society. And while finding swastikas on a middle school in a Jewish area may seem funny to a college student, as many of my friends thought, it actually shows American hypocrisy and weakness.
We think it’s funny because it’s petty and seemingly harmless. But these petty acts of vandalism are just evidence of the rising discord in America concerning tolerance and diversity. Let’s get back to the basics of community and tolerance; pride will follow.