Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Letter to the Editor: What neutrality means in 2017

Posted on February 25, 2017 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

I was privileged and honored to have acted as an ally to black and brown student leaders and their supporting community members at the February 16th protest against Representative Larry Lockman. More than two hundred people showed up and spoke out against the wanton peddling of xenophobic white nationalism on our University campus. An important thing to note is that the student organization that invited Lockman, the Young Americans for Freedom, has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its national ties to Neo-Nazi organizations through prominent past members such as Kyle Bristow and Preston Wiginton. The shared ideals of diversity and inclusion that the protesters championed Thursday night in the face of naked white supremacy filled me with a hopeful optimism for the future of our university.

Unfortunately, that idealism must be tempered by the realization that some groups and individuals are not our allies, and actively seek to delegitimize our essential personhood. The administration’s “neutral” position to the hateful and dangerous rhetoric Representative Lockman utilizes lays bare the spineless and cowardly nature of their political compromises. To quote the famous anti-Apartheid activist Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Perhaps most disheartening was President Glenn Cummings’ speech to the Student Senate, advising the Student Government Association to back the administration’s position of established neutrality, silence, and inaction. If we consider the fact that the number of lecture attendees was only half that of the protesters, we realize the Student Government Association and the University administration are not fairly or proportionately representing our needs and desires as a community. If these institutions and individuals wish to be trusted as our representatives, then they absolutely must stand firm against xenophobic white nationalism on campus and join us on the front lines the next time a bigot comes to town.

Leave a Reply

Please fill the required box or you can’t comment at all. Please use kind words. Your e-mail address will not be published.

Gravatar is supported.

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>