A Letter to Those Who Hate and Those Who Standby

Two weeks ago, at the University of Wisconsin, a student taped pictures of swastikas and other hateful images on the door of a Jewish student in a public dorm hall.  Two weeks ago these symbols of anti Semitism were posted for anyone who walked down the hall to see.  Two weeks ago the University isolated and contained the incident, asking the student who committed this hate crime to apologize.  The dorm confronted the issue by sending out an email to students living in the tower, but the incident was squashed just as quickly as it happened. 

Two weeks later students are finally finding out about what happened.  How could such a disturbing action go unaddressed? The incident didn’t get the attention it warranted.  This was an instance of anti Semitism.  This was an instance of hate. The University should have taken this opportunity to speak up for what it stands for, to address behavior it doesn’t condone and more importantly to educate its students.  Whether or not this act was intentional or meant to be a joke or prank is irrelevant.  Ignorance is everywhere and its necessary that steps are taken to inform others of its severity.  Every action and every word has a consequence.  Whether you intend it or not, there is meaning behind everything.

 

To those who hate,

Think before you act.  Every decision you make in this life is a reflection of who you are.  It’s so easy to tear people down, to make fun of or target something that means nothing to you.  But often times the things you make fun of, mean everything to someone else. 

One stupid, ignorant remark, a picture, or Facebook post can affect someone in a way you’d never expect it.  Anything you say or post in a public forum can affect anyone who has access to it, not just the person it was intended for.

Don’t waste your time and energy on hate. Instead become educated and don’t joke about something you know little about. 

 

To those who standby,

You are honestly just as at fault.  To watch someone else become a victim or a target and you simply do nothing?  You are being given a chance to stand up for something you believe in. Take it.  It doesn’t mean much to know what’s right unless you do something about it.  Teach others just how important it is to take action when hate arises. 

Standing by is the worst you can do.  You are actively condoning hate; in fact you are continuing the cycle.  The world has become a scary place and if no one steps up, if no one informs others, well, we are just digging ourselves into a deeper and darker hole. 

When you stand up for something you believe in you are making a change.  Bring an instance of hate to attention.  Who knows what one simple act of hate could turn into if it’s not put to a stop?  By standing by you are letting us find out the answer to that question.  We need to create a campus community where we know we will stand up for each other.

 

The incident that occurred on campus is a disgrace and should have been acknowledged by the University. The response did not meet their vision for a campus founded upon mutual respect.  Open communication and education is the key in addressing hate crimes. History tends to repeat itself and it is up to us to put an end to hate now and to foster a safe and educated environment.