A Unifying Cultural Model at Ball State

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The unity students have shown at Ball State is a model worth replicating.

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PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

Ever since the October 7th invasion of Israel by Hamas, there have been conflictual rallies on college compasses in the United States in support of either side. Insensitivity, especially to anti-Semitism, contributed to the job loss of the president of Harvard.

Among psychiatrists, conflict between Jews and Muslims has also been common. Some interfaith psychiatrist coalitions have fallen apart. I have tried to find some Muslim partners and other examples of cooperation and unification, and written other columns of continued cooperation, but that has been challenging. How much such mutual mistrust is seeping down into patient care is yet to be determined.

To little avail, I have also been calling for models of unifying rallies. Gratifyingly, a model recently happened at Ball State, sent to me by the proud grandfather of one of the students. It was covered in an article by Jose Padilla titled “Students share their experience with Antisemitism and Islamophobia through social media since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.”1 The article included many unifying statements.

Alanna Willenson, a first-year student, thought that the general peace vigil on November 1, 2023, was helpful amidst “hate and disregard for the sanctity of life.”

Amber Maze, a senior associate of the Indiana Jewish Relations Council, said: “Hatred against Jews and Muslims has skyrocketed in the past 4 weeks in social media, and that is deplorable.”

Fatima Hussain, a board member of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, described the atmosphere on most college campuses in Indiana: “A lot of students are feeling like many administrators at college campuses are not taking the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia seriously . . .”

There is a terrible irony that 2 minority groups who are discriminated against are in deadly conflict with each other. That may result in part from their prior historical conflictual connections, like an unending feuding family conflict. Or a divide and conquer intent of the powers-to-be. There may also be the need to protect one’s own culture first.

An antidote is to respectfully join together in mutual concerns, as has apparently happened at Ball State. That takes courage in this time of threats and danger when breaking ranks. It will also take courage among us psychiatrists to build or rebuild our own interfaith bridges.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

Reference

1. Padilla J. Students share their experience with Antisemitism and Islamophobia through social media since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Ball State Daily. January 25, 2024. Accessed January 29, 2024. https://www.ballstatedaily.com/article/2024/01/students-share-their-experience-with-antisemitism-and-islamaphobia-through-social-media-since-the-start-of-the-isreal-hamas-war

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