In the tradition of Socrates who remarked that all Greeks are liars, I often say that I am only prejudiced against prejudiced people. Recently my inbox has been flooded about the decision at Tyson Food's Shelbyville, TN plant to allow Muslim workers to substitute a Muslim holiday for Labor Day. However, the emails don't say that. Instead they say that Tyson Food's is dropping Labor Day for the Muslim holiday which is the Fox News headline (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,397645,00.html). I wonder if Fox's headline said "substitute" rather than "drop" if the response would have been the same. I am now being urged to boycott Tyson products. Give it a break: read the article and tell me what is unreasonable here. The article states that 250 of the 1,200 employees are Somali muslims and their union (a member of the AFL-CIO) negotiated with Tyson to substitute the holiday for Labor Day (only for the muslims) and provide them a prayer room. The rest of the employees will still have Labor Day as a holiday. This all sounds eminently reasonable to me. The union contract calls for 8 paid holidays a year and Eld al-Fitr becomes one for the muslims and not labor day. Therefore, the muslim workers do not get 9 paid holidays. Note that they still get all of the all-American holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and the ultimate irony Christmas. As I responded to the emails, why boycott Tyson? Maybe they should urge a boycott of the AFL-CIO because the union negotiated the provision which was then ratified by all the workers. The hackneyed reaction is by people who have become intolerant toward a religion that advocates intolerance toward other religions, ergo, I am only intolerant against the intolerant. This may be perfectly understandable but I am disappointed nonetheless.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com