In debate over intolerance and the Yale experience, keep the positive — and the context — in mind

To the Editor:

Having read both Michael Pomeranz’s latest column, “Reality check: ‘Yale is not cultivating intolerance’ ” (3/3), and Luis Medina’s response, “Despite Pomeranz’s claim, Yale does not offer ‘idyllic lived experience’ to all” (3/5), I think there remains certain sentiments to be voiced.

First, nicely written piece, Mike. The endearingly random tidbits of humor aside, I think you’ve gotten at a sentiment a lot of us feel (even minority Yalies like myself): That bizarre — if excessively publicized — and isolated incidents ought not to define our experience at Yale.

I’m sympathetic to the remarks of Luis Medina; however, I emphatically disagree with the assertion that the University has done anything improper or inappropriate in all this. I’m not sure what the activists mean exactly by “redress” for being offended by [insert random stupid incident x], but quite frankly, if it’s something I can safely ignore, knowing it need not affect my life or experience at Yale in any bothersome way, then I suppose it might be at best innocuous, and at worst merely annoying.

Yale is an awesome place not really conducive to bigotry. (Although it does exist here, as it does everywhere, in more forms than any — or most — of us would care to count.) At the end of the day, I’m still feeling very comfortable here. More so, in fact, than in my very diverse (much more so than Yale) high-school community. I don’t really see the relevance of Medina’s use of the guy behind the desk controlling one’s mortgage or citizen status. Has someone at Yale thus discriminatingly used such things against some other Yalie? If so, then yes, that is a problem. If not, which is almost certainly the case, then I would advise unrelated incidents and scenarios be left out of otherwise-intelligent and -meaningful arguments.

I suggest the primary reason so many of our unity activists have to grasp at such straws to make their points is that, as Pomeranz (and several people who commented on his and others’ articles) noted, there isn’t much to point to with regard to hatred and bigotry at Yale.

So, yes, I will posit that perhaps our incredibly spoiled (though not necessarily in a bad way) treatment by the University thus far might have led some of us to think we’re entitled to much more than we actually are — e.g., not being offended, which as has been said before, is not and never ought to be a right.

I think some real progress will have been made in the minds of modern Elis when every incidence of vulgar speech or misrepresented and otherwise-private jokes (yes, I went there) doesn’t prompt uproars from those whose zealous activism is probably much less in touch with the average Yalie than they think. (Which is certainly a good thing.

This minority Yalie — who could easily claim personal offense at the racist and homophobic graffiti — wants the Yale community to remember to keep all things in context. I enjoy my experience at Yale and random, isolated incidents will never do more than fill an endless but irrelevant record of sad and desperate stunts of the innumerable cowards of anonymity.

Anthony LeCounte

March 5

The writer is a freshman in Timothy Dwight College.

Comments