I first heard that a hate crime against Muslim students at Wellesley had occurred As a Muslim Wellesley alumnus, my anger, frustration and urge to speak out immediately rushed through me. As an American who grew up feeling victimized in the aftermath of the hate expressed against Muslims and any deemed as ‘exotic/foreign other’ in the nation’s discourse after 9/11, I felt paralyzed. In the past, I might have sat down and shut up while the events played themselves out naturally. In the face of the hate now, I refuse to be quiet any longer. I refuse to allow this discourse to only affect Muslim students on campus. I refuse to allow Wellesley to tacitly allow hateful speech, intolerance, racism and to color any student’s experience, regardless of their background.
The need for a respectful, open discourse on differences, power and an accepting environment must be recognized, and this instance of hate only serves to underscore it.
The initial tweet occurred on Saturday, one that fed in to the general, uninformed discourse that promotes hate against a group of people due to the identification of the bombers as being Muslim.
One thing differed, however, and that was that the person behind the tweet was a Wellesley student, and a senior, at that.
Accompanied by the tweet was an earlier blog post, iterating 10 signs of going to a college ‘rife with liberal pestilence’. Of all the points, the tenth stands to be related to the tweet. The student had felt this way for a while, and it was only when her tweet was made (publicly) that people began connecting the dots.
In response, College Government’s Multicultural Affairs released a statement both condemning the attacks as a tragedy and acknowledging the effects of hate speech, while discussing the need for solidarity and pushback against intolerance. The MAC did so in spite of initial pushback by some students on campus as it being a case of freedom of speech. A section is included below.
… I cannot express in words what it means for me as a Muslim to see people so determined and committed to making people aware of xenophobia and Islamophobia and that they not only are not okay, but that Wellesley is better than them. As a Wellesley student, I see this allyship happen against homophobia, racism, sexism, and so many other negative reactions to happenings. As a MAC, this allyship just confirms to me how amazing Wellesley siblings are at standing up and saying something in the face of anything that threatens the safety and respect of our community.
At Wellesley, there have previously been instances of hate speech and we need to be prepared to address any that occur now and in the coming days. The response to these statements has always been with the intention and commitment to making these instances teaching moments not only for individual people, but for the campus community at large. That is why I am reaffirming my commitment to all communities on campus and to making Wellesley as safe an environment as possible for all communities: because a threatening statement or a feeling of insecurity to one of us or to a group of us, however small, is actually a threat to all of our abilities’ to feel safe and to come together in the face of external conflict and issues…
When the student learned that Al-Muslimat, the Muslim Students Association, actually did take offense to this so-called incident of ‘freedom of speech’ and that they were working to file an Honor Code violation, she deactivated her social media and wrote them personally an apology, one that could frankly be seen as half-assed, to say the least.
Hello there Al-Muslimat,
This is [name removed]. I am writing to apologize to you about the immature, inflammatory nature of a tweet I sent out the other day. The tweet was written hastily and carelessly. No one should be proud to be prejudice. I have a hard time dealing with Wellesley’s culture, so sometimes I lash out. I want to be the type of person who thinks for herself and draws her own conclusions. But prejudice is not the way to do this. Please email me if you have any more concerns or would like to talk to me more about my political beliefs.
To further underscore my point, she went ahead and blogged about the tweet making her infamous for speaking ‘the uncomfortable truth’.
There is no excuse for speech found to be hateful against a group of people.
In moving forward, a few things need to be considered and discussed. Why was this instance initially pushed aside as a ‘matter of free speech’? Must the only students to feel the pain of this occurrence be Muslim? Ultimately, what are constructive steps that Wellesley College can take in moving towards not only a more respectful and open discourse, but in also instilling a socially conscious and less indiscriminate mindset in its students?
I am tired of having to explain to individuals why their hateful speech against the Islamic faith is nothing more than hate, an expression of which is furthest from freedom. Having opposing opinions on the gun control debate can be recognized as freedom of speech. Expressing intolerant beliefs on a faith or group of people cannot be recognized as such. To fall back on this weak excuse, for example, is not allowed if we were to replace the word ‘Muslims’ with ‘African Americans’ or ‘gay students’. Intolerance is intolerance, across the board. As a college focused on instilling power and self-acceptance within its students, we cannot allow for hate of any kind to be passed off as anything more than it is: hate.
An event like this affects more than the Muslim students on campus. It affects any self-respecting, forward-thinking Wellesley woman, because an event like this has, in effect, marginalized, devalued and pushed aside a group of students who identify with the Muslim faith.
As a college priding itself on educating strong Wellesley siblings, we cannot sit idle any longer. It is certainly telling that even with the current multicultural requirement set in place, a senior felt it within her current mindset and place to publicly instigate feelings of hate towards Muslim students on and off campus. Short of anything, this only serves to underscore the dire need for a strengthened, affirmative multicultural requirement, focusing not simply on fluffy topics akin somewhat to Disney’s ‘It’s a Small World After All’. Students must be given the chance, during those four incredibly short years, to be presented with concrete and pressing issues of race, minority struggles, othering and power.
Wellesley College purports to instill in its students the power to WILL. It’s telling when it instills in only some of its students the power to will, while they marginalize and disallow other students to be nothing more than others on campus. Wellesley, I call upon you to make a difference in the world, by instilling the passion for open discourse and true diversity acceptance within your own students. Make a difference. Take a stand.
Two explosives went off at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013. There are reported casualties and many more reported injured. Information is still coming in and no one is sure who is behind the attacks. Domestic terrorists? Foreign terrorists? A lone, disturbed individual? WE JUST DON’T KNOW!
But, minutes after the explosions, internet tough guys and girls were already pointing the blame and ready to kill. Posted below are some of the horrible shit that was said online, all posted no more than a couple hours after the tragedy happened. And I stress SOME. Most of the posts on here, I’m able to look through and post the very “best” of the worst. I couldn’t even keep up with all the shitty tweets today.
Blame the Muslims / Arabs / Anyone who looks or sounds Middle Eastern because we are uneducated dimwits:
The weird as hell people who actually think North Korea is behind this. (Dammit, how did we not catch that one guy on the one plane coming in from North Korea!?):
The internet tough guys/girls who really don’t fucking care who did it, whether it be an Arab, a Korean, or Mickey Mouse, they’d just really like to kill:
There’s king of the conspiracy theorists, Alex Jones, who thinks the U.S. government is behind the bombings. Why? To manipulate the American people into submission so those in power can form a one world government for the lizard people to control while Obama simultaneously takes all your guns by personally entering each and every home himself, of course!:
And then, of course, is the “THANKS, OBAMA!” crowd:
“I’m going to talk a lot of tough shit about going to war & then follow it up with the fact that I will not be one of those going to war.”
And, hell, I don’t even know how to categorize this one:
I just can’t with these people.
Mr. Rogers and Koko.
Fred Rogers on facing sadness and anger
Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.
From “20 Gentle Quotations from Mister Rogers” over at Mental Floss.