Oft used and heard phrase this week on BSD I am sure – “Long time reader, first time poster”. Well true here as well. Been lurking around, and religiously reading the blog since at least pre-2008 Rose Bowl season. I am often told I have two religions – Penn State Football being one of them. When my fiancé and I got engaged this past summer, her (and my) friends’ first reaction to her was – “You know during fall season – YOU are the mistress”.
Having said that, I am also Muslim (albeit a barely practicing one). This vilification of an entire mass of people, wrongful accusation, scapegoat-ing, and guilt by association is something I have been through painfully in the past decade including my actual years at Penn State (I was a student at University Park when 9/11 happened). One thing is for certain, the media’s rush to judgment is not something new for me and in our world of “Nancy Grace-ification” (love the new term), unfortunately, I do not see it changing anytime soon. I know I will be told its not on the same scale etc, but we have seen some absolute absurdity come out from the national media and even educated people during this Penn State scandal. We have seen people out of Austin, TX saying they will not hire Penn State grads. We have seen fathers tell their children in Ohio supermarkets on seeing a Penn State fan “ stay away from him, they are pervs”. It’s tough. But it is something I have been through. Extra screening at airports, not being served at a restaurant on I-80 on my way to an interview during my Penn State days (that one especially hurt) and as recently as last year a small town in TN not allowing a bunch of Muslims to build a mosque on private property. But I have learned to take that in stride (partly maybe because I do not experience that anymore in New York and partly because I do not really wear my birth religion on my sleeve).
My Penn State faith unfortunately will come under the same scrutiny and as much as I want to be optimistic I do not see that changing. We will forever have our detractors and we will forever be told we can no longer subscribe to “Success with Honor”. What will make it tougher for me? I wear my Penn State pride on my sleeve and have for years been aggressive about it. Vilifying Miami fans, telling SEC fans they have athlete-students and not student-athletes, telling Ohio State fans that they sold out on their traditions. Maybe that’s why I am getting more grief at work, social circles and when I wear my Penn State sweatshirt out on the streets. To see your faith being questioned is not easy. You feel angry, you feel depressed and you even turn on your own kind.
But I will tell you one thing. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. To let ignorance win is just as wrong.
We are and forever will be... Penn State.
p.s. (the three day wait to post was agonizing!)