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        Thursday, September 20, 2007
        Whose tree is it anyway?

        It is tolerance month at the school of my children. My daughter's class has been studying tolerance in all its forms and shapes. We've been busy creating posters, collecting quotes and definitions. This afternoon when she came back with more tolerance homework, both of us were... well, intolerant saying "we get it. We have to be tolerant..."

        In the aftermath of the Jena, Louisiana saga, now I understand why it's extremely important to draw the message of tolerance home. The earlier we start hammering the message, the better I believe. I am convinced because of this. Working in an anti-racism organization in Europe, I was shocked to learn that the EU didn't have a law protecting its citizens against discrimination based on racism until 2000. Article 13 (the anti-racism clause) was adopted in the EU discrimination law with much drama, lobbying and bickering. Organizations like mine were crossing the Atlantic to take lessons from "the Americans".

        Now in the US, I learn that just having a law against discrimination is not enough. What happened in Jena, Louisiana is really the Katrina of race problems in the US. The DA of Louisiana doesn't see noose hanging by white kids to make a point against black kids is not a race issue. Whether the law is clear or not about the racist intentions of a bunch of white kids hanging nooses on a tree to intimidate a bunch of black kids shouldn't be the issue. The issue, as I see it, is that racial tension is barely under a very thin surface despite laws and political correctness in the US.

        So, my two cents - educate, educate and educate.

        "It is thus tolerance that is the source of peace, and intolerance that is the source of disorder and squabbling." -- Pierre Bayle

        "The highest result of education is tolerance." -- Helen Keller

        "Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others." -- John F. Kennedy

        Ultimately, America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired. -- Robert F. Kennedy

        "If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace." -- Franklin D.Roosevelt
        I think that's enough.

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