Imagine the leaders of a Catholic high school having the audacity to bring in a speaker to inform the student body about the nature of the horrific violence being perpetrated against people in the Middle East, in general, and Christians and Assyrian Catholics, in particular.
Yet, according to some of parents, that’s what happened a couple of weeks back at Junipero Serra Catholic High School (JSCHS), a Catholic college prep school located in San Mateo, California.
As a Catholic school, JSCHS leadership believed it important to inform the student body about these atrocities against humanity, in general, and fellow Catholics, in particular. So, they invited Mrs. Juliana Taimoorazy to address students concerning the nature of the horrific violence being perpetrated against people in the Middle East.
Mrs. Taimoorazy’s narrative was particularly compelling because, being Assyrian, she is a member of one of the longest-living ethnic groups on Earth. For ISIS radicals, Assyrian Catholics are overt targets. Mrs. Taimoorazy related, among other things, that the Muslims will hold parents captive and then proceed to cook and eat their children in front of them. Taimoorazy has lost a couple of her own children as well as her grandparents to the Muslims. Some students found Mrs. Taimoorazy’s presentation compelling and motivating, having the effect of putting the fear of God in them.
Evidently, that description of “Muslims” didn’t set well with some parents of JSCHS students who are of Middle-Eastern descent and/or are Muslim. Hearing reports about the speaker’s narrative, some of those parents were outraged, claiming the speaker’s narrative negatively portrayed Muslims, in general, and negatively affected their families, in particular.
Events conspired to devolve to the point that JSCHS’s “Head of Faith Formation,” Patrick Reidy, felt impelled to reiterate to the JSCHS student body the following Monday
….that JSerra Catholic High School’s intention for Friday’s presentation was to raise awareness about the gruesome massacres occurring in the Middle East. In no way did the school intend to be political. Rather, we hoped that the JSerra community would become more acutely aware of the extremism that is brutalizing all of our brothers and sisters in the human family so that we can pray for them and assist them in creative and generous ways.
Reidy then sent an email to the parents of JSCHS students in which Reidy expressed his “heartfelt sorrow for the way recent events may have immediately affected your own family” noting that this “is deeply distressing for all of us here.” Reidy proceeded to blame Mrs. Taimoorazy for the brouhaha. He wrote:
Our speaker focused on the attacks against Christians and was not inclusive of the other peoples that have been terrorized by radical groups such as ISIS. Furthermore, she did not always distinguish clearly between radical Islamic groups and ordinary Muslims. This is a necessary distinction to make. (italics added)
Step back for a moment. Imagine Catholic parents of students enrolled in a Muslim school complaining that they’re offended that a Muslim speaker detailed the atrocities perpetrated upon Muslims by the Crusaders. Should those parents of Catholic students expect that the leadership of that Muslim school would apologize for not being “inclusive” enough of them and not carefully distinguishing between Crusaders and ordinary Catholics?
To ensure that Mrs. Taimoorazy’s message will be revised appropriately for JSCHS students, Reidy noted:
We have been following up in our Religion and History classes to make sure that our students know that there is a distinction. We also want to help them process the emotional content of these outrages, the irrationality of which can seem impossible to imagine.
Yes, indeed. JSCHS students need to “process” the “emotional content of these outrages.” But, apparently not from the perspective of what Christians and Catholics are being compelled to endure, but from what some JSCHS students interpreted Mrs. Tiamoorazy’s message to imply about them and their families as well as what some JSCHS students felt compelled to do to some of their fellow students.
To punctuate his message of contrition, Reidy closed his email, stating:
I hope that you know that JSerra welcomes all families of all religious beliefs and does not equate Islam with ISIS. Nor do we or will we at any time tolerate taunting, harassing, belittling or bullying of anyone based on their ethnicity or religious beliefs. As followers of Jesus Christ we find any such behavior inconsistent with the dignity of the human person and morally unacceptable.
What does “taunting, harassing, belittling or bullying” have to do with Mrs. Taimoorazy’s presentation in a Catholic school about what Christians and Catholics are enduring at the hands of Muslims (or, must it be said because people don’t already understand the distinction, radical Muslims)? If some JSCHS students left her presentation believing she was encouaging them to engage in thuggery, then those students should be dealt with as thugs should and ought to be dealt with.
But, to blame Mrs. Taimoorazy for their conduct and to apologize to the point of telling the JSCHS student body that she had been one-sided in her presentation?
That seems to be inclusion run awry.
What will be next? Apologizing to those who claim that Junipero Serra was a prejudiced, bigoted anti-Native American who thought they needed to be imprisoned and brainwashed if they were to be civilized?
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