Turning blind eye to swastikas does even more harm to campus

To the Editor:

I write in response to Peter Johnston’s letter to the editor, “Response to snow-made swastikas should have ended at clearing of defamed trees” (2/27), which argued that administrators should not have publicized the swastikas that appeared on Old Campus during Friday’s snowstorm – and, rather, should have “just rub[bed] the snow off the trees.”

For Johnston to claim that the campuswide reports on the swastikas have resulted in nothing more than “anxiety” is itself a prejudiced, selfish and truly reprehensible statement. The swastika carries with it incontrovertible connotations of hatred and prejudice to an extent that few other acts of hate speech can claim. The swastikas may have been created in poor judgment, certainly, but taken with other recent incidents of hate speech towards women and African-Americans on campus, there are few beside Johnston who would be so contrarian as to argue that this campus would be better off turning a blind eye.

Rubbing the snow off the trees would not have “frustrate[d] the designs of would-be saboteurs” (disregard momentarily that Johnston is capable of referring to such bigots as mere “saboteurs”). Instead, public investigation — if not public humiliation — is the means of bringing this string of events, however infantile and however hyped, to an end.

I am aware that Johnston often positions himself as a misunderstood moral example on campus. I could also understand this letter if Johnston had put forth an alternative approach to dealing with the hate speech. But such an ignorant perspective instead reflects nothing more than his own self-importance in finding some News coverage and an e-mail from Dean Salovey to be so … bothersome.

Caroline Savello

Feb. 27

The writer is a junior in Calhoun College.

Comments

  • A.C.

    Why do we have to be so caustic towards people we disagree with? I hate to be one of those "we need to be able to have a dialogue" people but I can't help it when I see a guy called "prejudiced, selfish and truly reprehensible", not to mention ignorant and self-important, simply for having a different opinion.

    What's so wrong with saying that we disagree with a certain idea, or even to say that it is flawed, short-sighted or misguided? The English language is full of ways to express our disagreement and discontent without making someone out to be a huge asshole.

    You'd think that Johnston was the one who painted the swastikas -- though, in all fairness, I suppose, who's to say that he wasn't?

  • Anonymous

    Wait a minute, did I hear you right? Public investigation? Public humiliation? For speech? Is it 2008 or 1984?