A student told me that Barack Obama is actually a Muslim and after he loses the election, he is already prepared to become king of Kenya. No kidding ... this guy actually said this to me with a straight face.
He went on to say that all the problems in the world (including any future wars between nations) are the fault of banks and since banks are controlled by Israel, all problems in the world are caused by Jews.
After a brief pause to figure out the best response, I just shook my head. I was at a stand still because I knew anger would not accomplish the changing of his mind. Anger was my first response.
As I continued to think of an appropriate response, my attention was drawn to the fact that this student is an educated person. He is a well read and well travelled human being with a varied background in life. I kept thinking how could he be so ridiculously misinformed and ignorant? Where is he getting his information? Did he read this nonsense somewhere?
Since my class with him was close to ending, I realized that whatever challenge I make to his belief on this matter will result in an even longer discussion. I normally don't mind and even sometime enjoy the talks in our class. But this time, I really did not want any part of it.
So, my question became just how do I handle this? Do I just let it go? I couldn't and I can't.
As a Black man (and especially as a Black man living here), I feel an obligation to negate and correct to to the best of my ability any and all misinformed individuals. And I use the term "misinformed" very gracefully ... I can think of many other less pleasant words. I know I cannot change people, but bigotry is bigotry in all its disguises. What also sits in my head is that this man has seen first hand the damage and carnage bigotry can do. He is well aware of the history of his country as well as the history of Europe. Hate and fear destroyed this place not too long ago.
My decision? I ended that class and scheduled the next one. In the upcoming class, we will have a guided discussion based upon all the "myths" he believes. I am prepared to gently but assertively guide his mind to a place that is open ... and then, plant some seeds of knowledge and truth. He needs it. My hope is that he will pass it on to any of his friends who share his sick thoughts.