‘ROFL.” A simple acronym, used on an Internet forum or in response to a hilarious story. But on top of a cross, it is nothing less than sacrilegious. Yesterday, on Cross Campus, someone replaced the iconic INRI of Easter with those four letters — they cruelly and offensively maligned a significant part of our community, even worse given the proximity of Easter. I know that I was not alone in the repulsion I felt. I was not the only student filled with a sense of injustice, shocked that anyone felt it acceptable to so blatantly mock another’s beliefs. And, as I stood stunned for a moment in disbelief, others passed by with the same consternation splashed across their faces.
One of the saddest aspects of the prank was that it was entirely inimical to all that Yale represents. As a university that strives for diversity in every sense of the word, we aim to foster and cultivate an open and inclusive environment. From the day we step foot on campus, we are taught to be tolerant, to be accepting, and most importantly, to understand differences. But incidents such as these accentuate the limits of our tolerance education. Not once during my freshman orientation was derision towards Christianity deemed unacceptable, but it was forcefully impressed upon us that we should disavow all antipathy to Islam, homophobia, sexism and xenophobia. We are a campus that responds aggressively to most forms of discrimination, but this kind of disrespect was ignored. At an institution like this, we are taught daily about the world the panorama of human experience, with the goal of expanding our minds, ostensibly to edify the future leaders of society. How can we, as a university, ignore the ignorance and disrespect in our midst?
Just two days prior to the incident, I had the opportunity to enjoy my first Passover Seder and observed a culture and religion that was completely foreign to my own. I found it neither oppressive nor offensive, but saw it as it truly was: an expression of faith by a community that sincerely believed in the God of their ancestors. Is it naive to expect the same of others? Is it folly to anticipate that all people — Yalies included — would act in a similar manner and appreciate a religion with which they might not agree, but at least respect? It seems I have been mistaken.
If it were Ramadan and someone displayed a blasphemous picture of Mohammad, the university would be up in arms. Professors would decry the latent antagonism that Americans hold towards Muslims — Mary Miller’s expected email condemning the action would be in our inboxes right now. But somehow, I do not think that this will happen. The most disheartening thing is that nothing will be done. No one will contact the government and argue that Yale is creating an environment that violates the fundamental religious rights of its students. No one in the Dean’s Office will erect a committee to address the problem. Nobody will utter a word in condemnation. For at Yale, it seems that the only rights worth defending belong to women and sexual and ethnic minorities. And all others are cast aside.
Jordon Walker is a sophomore in Calhoun College.