To the Editor:

In response to the removal of the banner reading “Kill ’em all. Let God Sort ’em out.” (“Hate sign removed from Durfee Hall,” 10/30), many have questioned whether the banner’s message constituted hate speech.

I pose this question to the Yale student or students who conceived of and implemented this banner campaign: specifically whom did you want us to kill? The terrorists? The Taliban leaders and their friends? Or perhaps you even were urging our Yale community to commit violence against people like me and my family — after all, I have been told countless times by my peers that I “look like an Arab terrorist.”

The sentiments of this banner are by no means original; hate speech rarely is. During the turbulent Vietnam War days, the slogan “Kill ’em all” offered a simple solution to American soldiers’ difficulties in separating the “good Orientals” from the “bad Orientals.” Do we now urge our soldiers to “shoot all brown people?”

While I firmly believe that the promotion and defense of free speech is integral to the goals of our University, I also recognize that the displaying of these hateful sentiments on Old Campus can make many members of our community uncomfortable. As a freshman counselor, I am especially concerned for our first year students who live on Old Campus. A University building which people call home is no place for such hateful displays.

Just as we at Yale champion our rights to freely voice our opinions, we must also recognize our social obligation to vocally object to offensive and irresponsible hate speech. I urge the Yale community to reject misguided sentiments such as those suggested by this Durfee banner as ignorant and divisive.

Swaroop Samant ’02

OCTOBER 31, 2001

The writer is a freshman counselor in Trumbull College.