KNOWLES AND TAYLOR: MSA demands respect

In his Feb. 20 response to the New York Police Department’s monitoring of the Yale MSA, President Richard Levin paid mere lip service to the founding ideals of our beloved alma mater. As co-presidents of the Mustached Students Association (MSA), we go further and condemn the New York Police Department’s actions as baseless facial profiling.

President Levin is at least correct to acknowledge that, for decades, Mustached Americans have “too often been the target of thoughtless stereotyping, misplaced fear and bigotry.” The evil deeds of a few mustached individuals — Hitler, Stalin, Dave Navarro — do not speak for a majority, or even a plurality, of our community. Contrary to the ignorant, face-ist rhetoric that has sprouted across our nation and at our University, the vast majority of Mustached Americans strongly oppose violent hair-orism. The Yale MSA has been accused of no crime (except for looking good), and the NYPD’s surveillance is unwarranted.

The right-wing media have perpetuated the false notion that everybody sporting an organic soup-strainer is a Navarro-facist who advocates the implementation of hair’ia law in the United States. In the Wall Street Journal in October, reporter Ruth Graham asked, “Is America ready for its first hairy-lipped commander in chief in a century?”

The answer should be obvious, and it’s just this sort of chaetophobic language that has kept Mustached Americans out of the White House since William Howard Taft 1878. Today, mustached candidates like Jimmy McMillan, Vermin Supreme and Ambassador John Bolton are cut short and swept to the fringes of the 2012 campaign.

We ourselves have been victims of face-ism. Since embracing our Mustached American heritage, we have received insults and threats from some of our closest friends and relatives. Our cookie-dusters and flavor-savers have been called everything from “trash stashes” to “nose bugs.” Bigots use the stereotypes common in face-ist culture to portray us as mass murderers, pedophiles and lovers of NASCAR. Face-ist bigotry here at Yale even prompted our own provost, Peter Salovey, to shave his famous crumb-catcher in the face of community pressure in 2009.

Face-ists ignore the facts. Contrary to popular belief, recent American Mustache Institute (AMI) research has shown that mustaches improve attractiveness by more than 38 percent. Furthermore, by shaving less frequently, Mustached Americans save water and assist conservation efforts. Yet despite such aesthetic and environmental contributions to our community, AMI studies show mustache acceptance in the United States has declined by over 60 percent since 1969. This trend is unacceptable, and we must reverse this pattern of intolerance.

That’s why the Yale MSA will be joining with MSAs from across the country in the AMI’s Million Mustache March on Washington. First and foremost, we will show the NYPD and the American public that we have nothing to hide (except our upper lips). More importantly, we will lobby Congress to pass the Stimulus to Allow for Critical Hair Expenses Act. The STACHE Act will stimulate our stagnant economy by providing a $250 tax refund for Mustached Americans, who currently bear an unfair burden for their work looking good and preserving the environment. The STACHE Act would be a critical step toward facial equality, showing facial minorities nationwide that Congress will protect our civil rights and end the war on men’s health.

For years, mustached luminaries like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi have fought for peace, tolerance and respect. As Yale students and perhaps future leaders ourselves, we must not sit idly by as our public officials trim away at our civil liberties.

After quickly combing the News’ comment boards, we’ve found that this clean-cut issue has been clouded by ad hominem attacks and an almost religious fervor. We know that politics can get hairy, but we nonetheless hold out hope for the day when true facial equality will emerge. In the meantime, we’ll just have to keep a stiff upper lip.

Michael Knowles and Nate Taylor are seniors in Davenport College and co-presidents of the Mustached Students Association.

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