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Two articles — Sunday’s on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement and Monday’s about needing Indian teachers — have reminded me of the need to separate issues from “isms.” This is fundamental to critical thinking. In both articles, people jumped to label opponents with an “ism,” shutting down important conversations.

If you don’t support Israel’s policies against Palestinians, some label you anti-Semitic, as though you’re automatically prejudiced. To object to a particular policy created by particular people is not the same as smearing an entire group for no specific reason other than membership in the group. The specificity of the first is exactly what distinguishes it from the generalization of the second. Israel often claims its actions are in self-defense. In our court of law this is a legitimate excuse, but we don’t just take the transgressor’s word for it. The court assesses whether that was the case and then sentences accordingly. We should do the same for Israel.

When state Rep. John Fuller called the suggestion that Indian students would benefit from having some Indian teachers “racist,” he shut down important discussion and ignored studies that show kids need mentors and models who resemble them.

Opt for thinking critically. Stop slinging the “isms.”

Amy Ragsdale,


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