Pride and Shame in Northwest Ohio

A couple news reports from my very own neck of the woods: Toledo, Ohio.  One makes me very happy and proud to be from the Northwest tip of the Buckeye State.  The other shows me once again that things are not perfect here.  But first, the pride:

Arabic schools gain foothold in the region

I’m somehow not at all surprised that there was great demand for Arabic schools in Toledo.  I was always surrounded by Arab Americans and immigrants, especially during my college years at the University of Toledo.  Thanks to a couple poetry and film courses at UT, I met a young Palestinian woman who became a wonderful friend at the end of my undergraduate years.  The Middle Eastern restaurants have been incredibly successful in Toledo, thanks to Toledoans’ love of food and the fact that Middle Eastern food is fabulous.

And this sounds like a great school.  If I had children (or planned to ever have children), this would be one of the few schools I would feel comfortable sending my child to.  Well done, Toledo.  Well done.

But why am I not surprised that there are people opposed to such a school?  One of the (many) great challenges of this generation will be to overcome the negative sterotypes and downright racism that exists in regard to Middle Eastern folks.  I pray and hope for my nation.

Which is a good segue into the shame:

Former Gillmor aide won’t seek vacancy

I don’t know anything about the politics of Wood County commissioner Tim Brown other than that he is a Republican from a heavily Republican district.  I don’t know if he had a chance of winning and I don’t know if I would have been happy about him winning.  But I find this news story really sad for two reasons. 

First, the fact that he was outed by a blog, to me, seems viscious and unnecessary.  But it is pretty emblematic of how politics is run these days.  The negativity of contemporary political campaigns is not, in my humble opinion, good for our nation or our democracy. 

Nor is pushing people out simply because they are gay.  I don’t want to come down too hard on the Republicans here because I don’t have the evidence to prove that a Democratic candidate who is gay wouldn’t bow out if he or she were outed.  Still, I think I feel comfortable making the assumption that the Republican party is far more homophobic than the Democratic party.  And it is their loss as they push people out of public office who have,  either voluntarily or by force,  come out of the closet. 

I keep hoping something will change in this country.  I keep hoping people will get a clue about this issue.  But, at least we can take to heart what Melissa Etheridge said in 2004 when so many same sex marriage bans were passed.  She told the audience at the GLAAD awards to look at the positives of the 2004 election.  Yes, many states voted for discrimination.  But in order to make that vote — in order to stand in the booth, look at the issue and make a choice on it — they had to think about it.  They had to acknowledge that the gay community exists. 

For Etheridge, that is a step forward.  And in a way it is.  I just hope we have more dramatic steps forward soon.

Sphere

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4 Responses

  1. Doesn’t sound like a bad arabic schools. I know NYC was having problems with Arabic schools essentially abandoning teaching anything except religious studies (they weren’t publically funded though). This sounds like almost the polar opposite of those NYC city schools though.

    It’s only a matter of time before Arabic is offered as a foreign language in more private schools honestly.

  2. Well, my understanding of the NYC problem wasn’t that they were teaching only religious studies as they weren’t really doing that. They were teaching Arabic but everyone assumed that meant they were teaching Islam (I could be wrong but that is how I remember it). People were also upset since they thought it was a terrorist school.

    The ones in Toledo seem to be more broad than the NYC ones, though, with Arabic culture being the focus but also teaching lots of other stuff.

    We can only hope for more Arabic classes (especially if we stay in wars in the Middle East) because we’ll need more people who can speak the language. Fingers are crossed. For more Arabic language classes. And for less wars :).

  3. I’m refering to an earlier set of private schools that were definately teaching almost nothing but Arabic (to the point that they were barely teaching anything but arabic). Those schools were a big reason the NYC charter schools got so much flack, because people assumed they were similar in mission.

  4. Right you are.

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