Addressing racism on our campus
That did not take long.
Less than two weeks after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States of America, the intolerance that propelled him to victory has landed on the McMaster campus.
Coming to work at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, I was greeted with posters advocating for “alt-right” websites. They were in the hallways; they were on our office door.
To clarify, alt-right is the term for a political movement that “emphasizes cultural and racial homogeneity within different countries” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is an organization that monitors hate groups and extremists.
The person who coined the term, Richard Spencer, refused to condemn those who drew graffiti swastikas following the election, said it was okay for people to wear Ku Klux Klan garments if that is how they wanted to express themselves, and said “hail Trump” while putting up a Nazi salute at a recent alt-right conference. Spencer writes for a website that was linked on one of these posters.
The Silhouette has a duty to report on hate crimes on campus. And make no mistake, these posters are hate crimes. The links on those websites argue “mass immigration is destroying the Anglo/French/European character of Canada” and that whites are better than “all other races combined.”
This is white nationalism and white supremacy.
However, our coverage could have been better. I should have blurred out the links on the posters because I was inadvertantly promoting their cause. This is something we will use as a learning opportunity moving forward.
For those who believe we should not have covered it and simply ignored it, I suggest that you read a book, maybe even a history textbook from high school.
Racism and intolerance is fuelled by the ignorance of those who believe they are not affected. If you sit passively and hope that the hate will subside, you haven’t been paying attention.
The United States Holocaust Museum’s words from a press release condemning the references to Jews and other minorities at an alt-right conference are poignant: “The Holocaust did not begin with killing, it began with words.”
The Silhouette will continue to report on these instances should they happen, and I expect McMaster University to be as vigilant as ever in preventing and addressing these acts.