Conflict Resolution

Nov. 30, 1979 — Mustang Daily (Cal Poly SLO Letter)

The Mossadegh Project | March 20, 2016      


The Iran hostage crisis, which began on November 4, 1979, had an electrifying effect in the United States. Consequently, Iranians in the USA — who obviously had no control over the situation — bore the brunt of much of the American outrage. College students, in particular, suffered discrimination on campus.

The following Letter to the Editor by Gary Brozio addressed this very matter. It was published in the student newspaper of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo on Friday, November 30, 1979 — about three and a half weeks into the crisis.

Not their fault

The situation in Iran has certainly come as a shock to we Americans and to the other nations around the world. There is no doubt that the Iranian government and many of its citizens are in gross error, however, I don’t think that this is the major issue here at Cal Poly. Our attention has been centered mainly around our own Iranian students. I feel that we have acted with severe prejudice.

Prejudice when dissected means to pre-judge. This is in effect what we have done here at this school. As a wise teacher once told me, prejudice is a way of orienting quickly and becoming safe when one feels endangered or angered. The result is that the hostility is directed toward the race, nation or religion being stereotyped. This restricts our ability to view the person or situation objectively. We tend to see what we want to see regardless of what is really there.

We cannot in any way say that the students here are at fault for what is happening in Iran. However, we have cornered them, labeled them and deemed them undesirable. Perhaps there is real reason for criticism and action against some of these individuals, perhaps not, but by being prejudiced the truth of the situation will never be found. One thing that I am sure of is that national affiliation does not make an instant enemy. But unless our present actions are changed there is no doubt these students will become our enemies.

I think that it is time we view our Iranian students more objectively. If we treat each of them as individuals instead of foreign antagonists we will all be more capable of more responsible decisions and actions. Who knows, this type of thinking may even prevent a little violence in this world.

Gary Brozio


Related links:

U.S. Supports Worthless Dictators, Says University of Iowa Student (1980)

Shah of Iran’s Methods Opposed — Cal Poly SLO student letter, January 24, 1972

Name Calling in Politics Harms Democracy, Writes Concerned U.S. Citizen (1953)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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