After yet another long season of unpredictable snow and trudging through muck to get just about anywhere, last weekend finally brought along sunny, 60-degree weather just in time for FSU’s Science on State Street. Students and faculty gathered with Framingham residents to soak in the sun and take part in the hands-on STEM activities held around campus.
Nearly 1,000 miles away, at the same time as our campus’ celebration of science, members of the National Socialist Movement were gearing up for a celebration of their own: a white supremacist rally in Newnan, Georgia, followed by a swastika-burning in Draketown, Georgia.
To those of you whose first thought was, ‘not so unpredictable for Georgia,’ I initially had the same reaction. But, think again: the only difference between the white nationalists in Georgia and the unknown perpetrator(s) of the six racist hate crimes in Framingham is a face and name linked to the hate.
Saturday’s neo-Nazi celebration might have occurred nearly 1,000 miles away from Framingham, but the University must not ignore the eerie parallels between the nation’s escalating racism and our own campus’ escalating racism.
Earlier this month a swastika drawing was found on the window of West Hall’s fourth floor lounge. Though the drawing was not accompanied by the phrases, “white pride” and “America 4 whites” as it’s been depicted in graffiti on our campus in the past, the incident is nonetheless racist and anti-Semitic.
All too often we’re fed the ideas that those who conceal their identity and commit “isolated” acts of racism “don’t know any better” or “were just joking around.”
It’s 2018. “Not knowing any better,” is not an excuse when a majority of the nation is walking around with access to the internet sitting in their pockets. It literally takes the Google search engine .55 seconds to retrieve the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s (USHMM) “History of the Swastika” page.
There, you can learn the swastika existed thousands of years before Adolf Hitler and is actually Sanskrit for “good fortune” and “well-being.” Despite its positive origin, when Nazis gained control of Germany it became “a potent symbol intended to elicit pride among Aryans, it also became a symbol of Nazi racial ideology that called for the elimination of Jews and other groups deemed inferior.”
A symbol that calls for the elimination of any race or religion is not a joke.
Not one bit.
Though I commend President F. Javier Cevallos for addressing “the rise in racism and anti-Semitism that has occurred nationally, including on our own campus last semester,” in his public letter to the University published in our last issue of The Gatepost, I think addressing the racist drawing in a school-wide email sent to the entire campus population would have reached additional audiences.
Despite the University’s efforts through “No Room for Hate” posters crowding the walls of almost every building on campus, despite the “Hate is not a Framily value” hashtag at the bottom of most faculty emails and despite the work of the Bias Education Response Team, the hate our campus has no room for still finds ways to rear its ugly head in our dorms and classrooms.
It’s easy to believe hate and racism do not affect liberal Massachusetts. But racism is an institutionalized ideology – though it may not be a “Framily value,” the racism running rampant across our nation and our campus proves it’s time to seriously confront racism within institutions such as our own, and truly educate those amongst our Framily with racist ideologies.