Cultural Insensitivity

Just when I think we got it right, teaching about the importance of cultural awareness and sensitivity in our increasingly intercultural world, I find an article in the New York Times (5/19/08, p. A6) entitled, “U.S. Regret at Koran’s Desecration”. Apparently a U.S. soldier had “used the Koran for target practice at a shooting range.” The letter of apology—from the soldier (unidentified) and read by General Hammond—said “I sincerely hope that my actions have not diminished the partnership that our two nations have developed together.” Is he serious? This is not, I fear, a simple misstep by one soldier but a pervasive insensitivity and cultural ignorance that can only create more problems than we already have.

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