Teaching tolerance and understanding in Cincinnati goes terribly wrong when wingnuts get a whiff of it.
What started out as a cultural awareness effort by Mason High School Muslim students this week morphed into a fierce 48-hour debate about prejudice, freedom and religion in public schools.
By the end, Mason High School canceled the “Covered Girl Challenge,” and principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart sent an apology to district families. The challenge was student-sponsored and voluntary, meant to combat stereotypes students may face when wearing head coverings, McCarty-Stewart wrote.
“As word spread beyond our school community … we received many strong messages that made me reconsider the event’s ability to meet its objectives,” she wrote. “I now realize that as adults we should have given our students better guidance.”
Even afterward, though, the episode and arguments illustrate the fault lines in Greater Cincinnati – and the U.S. – over where cultural awareness ends and promoting a religion begins. And where avoiding controversy ends and turns into bigotry.
“This is ridiculous!!” read one email sent to Mason that the Enquirer obtained under a public records request. “You’re spending our money to support Sharia and Islam…”
“There is absolutely no reason to do this,” read another. “Stop trying to down play the horrible thing (SIC) that have occurred in this nation at the hands of Muslims.”
But for Shakila Ahmad, her first reaction when she heard about the response to the hijab challenge was disappointment.
“You know what? I really thought we were a better community than this,” said Ahmad, a Mason resident and president and board chair for the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. “To let ourselves be bullied and intimidated, to cancel something whose whole objective was to build understanding is extremely disappointing.”
Well, come on; everyone knows that “religious liberty” only applies to Christians.
HT to FC.