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Lane: Stopping hatred begins with education

BY JOE LANE | SEPTEMBER 04, 2014 5:00 AM

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According to CBS News, the Ku Klux Klan distributed recruitment fliers in the Hamptons Bay, New York, area last week. Jews, according to Newsweek, are being killed and terrorized across all of Europe, sending them fleeing from the continent in numbers unheard of since the early 20th century. In Miami, just weeks ago, a rabbi was shot and killed on his way to synagogue. On Aug. 9, a young black man was shot six times and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Although the United States is nearly 50 years removed from the American civil-rights movement, it seems as though the country — and the world — is still decades away from eliminating bigotry.

The KKK’s insulting recruitment fliers distributed last week to the Hamptons Bay community of 13,000 (30 percent of which are Latino, according to CBS News) may have been an unimpressive attempt by the white supremacist group, but this does not prevent it from invoking fear and anger.

How can it be that in one of the most diverse nations in the world, hatred of people from different backgrounds still runs rampant throughout the country?

Something must be done in order to avoid regressing 60 years in the development of tolerance.
There is one environment in America and around the world, better than any other place, to eradicate the ignorance that fuels hatred and intolerance — the classroom.

One of the best parts of a college education is the ability to choose from hundreds of classes and take only those that truly interest you.

With the exception of general-education requirements (most of which even have dozens of options), students at the University of Iowa and other universities around the country are free to choose their own educational path.

But see, that’s the issue. General-education requirements are designed to create “well-rounded” students but there is only one general-education category at the University of Iowa that covers diversity, “Values, Society, and Diversity.”

The problem is that because this category covers numerous areas and students need only take one of them, large portions of UI students never have to take a class that covers diversity. Furthermore, students may not have the desire to learn more about other cultures.

How can the argument be made that universities are creating well-rounded students if each and every student isn’t required to learn about the diversity of the community of which they are a part?

At one point, I may have believed that simply offering classes in diversity is enough to educate the next generation and prepare them to prevent bigotry and animosity. But the events of the past few months have shown me that “offering” must become “requiring.” Bigotry still exists in an increasingly diverse world because education has not advanced to a point where prejudices have been eliminated.

It is clear that the hatred in the world today is present only in a minority of people, but the fact of the matter is that what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said is more true than ever, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Hatred will live on in the world. It is inevitable. But we must not fail to be more proactive in preventing it and doing so begins with education.


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