Brandeis remains haven from violence
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 20:08
I took a trip down to Washington, D.C. at the beginning of the summer. While there, I was confronted by a group of protestors proclaiming that Sept. 11, 2001 was God’s punishment for the people of our country living a sacrilegious lifestyle.
Growing up in an area of New York where many people were deeply affected by the attacks on Sept. 11, I guess I had been spared from people using the horrendous attacks as a means of promoting enmity. Doing so seemed inconceivable. It suddenly hit me how far people will go to perpetuate their hatred.
Since that experience, it seems as if the summer has been filled with ideas of hate. From the perpetual catfight between politicians, to the slew of shootings, violence in all of its forms has been inescapable. No matter where you go, when you plug yourself in to the rest of the world, you are confronted with animosity that seems completely ubiquitous.
But not Brandeis. Brandeis is the light at the end of the tunnel; a respite from the hatred that lives all around us.
After that, other stories began to pop up, like when protestors chanted “Monica” and threw tomatoes and shoes at Hillary Clinton during her visit to Egypt in mid-July or the continuous stream of political attack ads in the months leading up to November’s election.
Or a more explicitly violent incident: a shooting at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. Many of the shootings of this past summer, including the one at Texas A&M University on Aug. 13, can be attributed to mental illness. But the attacks were not confined to madmen shooting without reason. On Aug. 5, a man walked into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and killed six people.
This is a type of crime you can’t dismiss with a plea of insanity: it’s a hate crime. The man, Wade Michael Page, killed himself after being wounded in police gunfire and was later connected to a white supremacist movement.
It’s mind-boggling to even try to understand how people could be so filled with hostility. Instead, you just have to pray for the victims who fall at the hands of such hurtful, abhorrent people. In response to the tragedy, the University’s Interfaith Chaplaincy sent out an email to the Brandeis community condemning the violence and expressing sympathy for the Sikh community. But, tellingly, the Chaplaincy also extended its condolences to the entirety of society, which hurts as a result of this one individual’s blind and remorseless hatred. The email also harkened back to our founding as a school that was created to serve as a place free from hatred or prejudice. Brandeis was, and is, a place where everyone is embraced, accepted and loved.
It is particularly telling that minutes after the shooting, according to The Huffington Post, Fred Phelps, the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, sent out a tweet saying, “Beautiful work of an angry God who told Wisconsin to keep their filthy hands off his people (WBC)!” The Church, commonly recognized as a hate group posing as a church out of Kansas, is known for targeting homosexualities and Jews, as well as picketing the funerals of American servicemen.
Only people so filled with malevolence like those in the Westboro Baptist Church could, like the protestors I found in Washington, D.C., delight in the killing of innocent humans for their own perverted pleasure and goals. And yet, in 2010, when the Westboro Baptist Church protested at our University, we did not give in to their hatred.
Instead of dignifying such behavior with a response, we celebrated who we are as a school. We celebrated love. Violence and hostility will not go away, this much we know. But if this summer has shown anything, it is that our world is constantly at the brink of being consumed by them.
As a society, we seem to have forgotten what it means to be human and to accept how precious life is. However, luckily for Brandeisians, we have a haven away from this violent reality.
After a summer filled with such pervasive violence and hatred, it is a relief to go back to a place that I can count on to love.
Brandeis has not strayed from its ideals and it has not given in to the bigotry that seems to have taken over the rest of the world. As I go into this upcoming semester, I can only hope that it stays this way. I think we can all do our part to make this the special community it is, where hate is not tolerated because we recognize that everyone is special and unique.
Let us all pledge to maintain and continue the Brandeis tradition of accepting one another no matter how far from that path the rest of the world strays. Let’s keep Brandeis the way it is. In a world so concentrated on hatred, we choose to love.