Letter to the Editor: Response to letter by philosophy lecturer Mark Sheldon
February 5, 2017
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I write in response to the recent letter in The Daily written by Prof. Mark Sheldon, entitled “The walkout’s purpose was derailed by anti-Israel sentiment.” His letter expressed dismay that the #NoMuslimBanNU demonstration included sentiments critical of Israel, which he believed prevented a “single-minded full-throated condemnation of President Donald Trump and his administration by the full Northwestern community.”
As we enter an era where the number of people engaged in protest and demonstration is rising exponentially, I think that we should all stay cognizant of who we are within those protests. On Wednesday, Prof. Sheldon’s ability to express his anger at the Trump administration was built on the labor of student activists. For these students, resistance is nothing new. Through years of work, they have forged strong connections with others fighting forces of oppression, including but not limited to those who fight for the rights of Palestinians. This intersectional perspective was embedded in the DNA of the #NoMuslimBanNU demonstration. To ask Muslim students to ignore the intersectionality of their struggle is to be ignorant of what their struggle is.
As a Hindu student, much like Prof. Sheldon, I bear the privilege of getting to decide when I want to join this struggle, rather than having it forced upon me. In these times, I first and foremost seek to listen and understand the movements being built by my Muslim friends. Any other approach is fatally misguided and a disservice to those who are suffering.
I ask Prof. Sheldon — and those who agree with him — to realize that Muslim students needed you long before the Muslim ban. Now is not the time to arrive at a demonstration, take the fruits of their labor and then attack a core aspect of their movement. As a philosophy student, I understand your critical eye, but I argue that in this case, your understanding of the demonstration you attended is superficial.