For years, the Muslim Student Union (MSU) and the Anteaters for Israel (AFI) have waged their petty campus pissing contest over who has more of a right to love God and live over 8,000 miles away from UCI. It essentially devolves into a scene of two obnoxious and highly self-conscious little boys measuring their relevance with a ruler (Hint: neither wins).
During my time as a student at UCI, I cannot recall a single instance in which either AFI or MSU have taught me anything even remotely related to the actual tenets of their faiths. I have learned that every good Jew knows he or she has influence in Orange County, should hate the Muslims and MSU, should consistently bring up the Holocaust and every vague instance of American anti-Semitism ad nauseam and should dedicate a sizeable chunk of time and money to all of the above.
I have learned that every good Muslim should rightly play into stereotypes of organized terrorism and peace disruption, should hate the Jews and AFI, should constantly yell and scream and when in doubt, play the victim card, should blindly support Arabs politically because Arab is Muslim and Muslim is Arab (duh!), and should also dedicate a sizeable chunk of time and money to all of the above. Oh, and these clubs have also taught me that good Muslims and Jews should bypass the Korean BBQ and boba tea monopoly on Ring Road and sell hummus, falafels and shawarmas instead.
Neither of these groups has done anything to teach us about the beautiful, intricate and rich faiths they represent.
The recent fiasco with Michael Oren is a perfect example of this. I know we have all heard more than enough about it thanks to the ear-splitting bitching and feces flinging from both groups, but humor me. The incident essentially went down like this: (1) Israeli ambassador Michael Oren came to speak at UCI. (2) The MSU did not want this evil representative of Israeli genocide (as they see him) desecrating holy UCI ground. (3) So, being the reactionary geniuses that they are, they sent out an e-mail of the master plan with the text “It was NOT an MSU event.” This is probably the most important thing to remember to say. The eleven acted on their own accord, and it was not organized or put on by MSU. If asked about MSU’s stance, it was that MSU did not organize the protest, but MSU does condemn the university. (4) 11 MSU revolutionaries at the speech loudly disrupted Oren, only to be escorted by campus security as their supporters in the crowd hooted and hollered in cowardly anonymity. (5) Within days, the equally reactionary geniuses at AFI began to express their outrage (and for once, got to play the victim card too) as they and the Zionists of America called for the end of the MSU. (6) More yelling, more screaming, more feces flung. Rinse and repeat.
I know the New University put this out in their editorial soon after the incident, but it must be reiterated: this is stupid and we do not care for it. Predominantly Asian-American and white UCI have had a long history of general political apathy. That has only recently been broken by the economic recession and the UC fee increases.
Then again, why should we care about what AFI or the MSU have to say about their political causes? Both groups are made of university students at one of the world’s most prestigious universities in the safest city in the United States. We (the rest of the campus) suspect or are fairly sure that most of you (AFI and MSU) know very little or next to nothing about the pain, suffering, culture or history of the conflicts and people you claim to represent. No matter how many petty arguments you have or how many melodramatic demonstrations you put on, you will not change anything. You are less than a droplet in your respective buckets.
We, on the other hand, would very much like to know what it really means to be a good Jew and a good Muslim. We want to know about your family histories and we want to see you two little boys stop measuring yourselves, come together, hug it out and find the threads of common humanity between you.
Until you give us that, no matter how loud you yell, we will not care about anything else you have to say.
Sandeep Abraham is a fourth-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.