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OP-ED: Amy Gutmann Isn't Muslim, but I'd Have No Problem With It if She Was


Photo by Stuart Watson / CC 4.0

To be clear, Amy Gutmann is not Muslim. Dr. Gutmann is Jewish, which is fine. All I'm saying is that if she subscribed to the teachings of Islam, instead of Judaism, that would be fine too! It wouldn't affect me. As long as her beliefs bring her peace and purpose, I'm happy.

In this hyper-polarized climate, in which people (especially Muslims) are viewed far too often with contempt, scorn, or fear, it's important to be an ally. Today I am officially declaring that if Penn's president Amy Gutmann was Muslim, I would be totally cool with it. What she believes is none of my business!

Bigoted people would have a problem with it, probably. Islamophobes would hate it, I bet. Me? I'd be chill about the whole thing. Islam is a religion like any other, and she's welcome to practice whatever she likes. That said, I wish her religion made her give us free printing! I'm just joking. Is there one like that?

Dr. Gutmann's Judaism is deeply important to her identity. I respect that infinitely. It's hard to imagine what Amy Gutmann would be like if she wasn't Jewish, because her religion has heavily informed her own experiences and those of her family. One thing is certain, though: whatever her religious affiliation, I would admire and respect her just as I do now.

Whether she was Sunni or Shiite, I would trust Dr. Gutmann to lead this university. Same goes if she was an Alawite, for that matter. Whatever divine authority Dr. Gutmann believes in, or which specific interpretation of that authority she buys into, has no bearing on her ability to fulfill her duties as president.

You know what? I'm just going to say it. I wouldn't mind if she was Bahá'í. Screw it, she doesn't even need to believe in an Abrahamic religion at all. Taoism. Sikhism. Zoroastrianism. Atheism. Norse Paganism. If she's cool with it, I am too. 

Not everyone will be as tolerant or open-minded as me, I know that, but I'm doing my part. Are you?