When Hate Finds Passive Neglect

When your phone rings with simultaneous notifications from the Associated Press, BBC, New York Times, and every other media application, it indicates a news event of imperative importance. Unfortunately, on October 28, our phones rang with grim news of yet another incident of gun violence fueled by twisted ideology. An armed man opened fire at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 people and wounding six others. The suspect, Robert Bowers, frequently posted anti-Semitic threats online before the incident. 

In the 21st century, American society looks down on racism and anti-Semitism, as we are constantly reminded of the potential horrors resulting from these ideas.    

At our top-level institution, where reputation is paramount, it is necessary that we demonstrate a clear rejection of such hateful ideologies. Considering the number of events that have occurred at this school in the past two years related to the appearace of swastikas on school property, and other instances of hateful acts, our school is at the danger of an association with certain individuals’ unfortunate behavior.

Hateful and anti-Semitic incidents occurring at the school have been either individual acts or linked with a small group of people. Thus, any actions taken against anti-Semitism at our school should be focused on interactions within a small group; after all, it is unlikely that any person would come out publicly as an anti-Semite at the school considering the immense negative attention that would be focused on that person. 

Therefore, there must be an integral, protective system in place within the student body to report any hate to any close member in the faculty: not just Deans. Also, we as a school must take a much more aggressive stance against these reports of hate speech and action. First, the Administration should make it a key goal should anyone use Nazi symbolism, they are dismissed with repercussions. Second, the student community as whole should start taking even the slightest racist “joke” as a potential for harm against our entire community. 

In an interview, recent Jewish alum Nick Fleisher stated “As a Jewish alum, it saddens me to hear that students on campus are committing such heinous acts. I loved my time at Hotchkiss and hope that the Administration is able to find and expel these students, so that others can enjoy their time as I did.” 

We must, no matter how painful it is, recognize that the issue of anti-Semitism is present, not only in the US, but also here — at Hotchkiss. And after this bitter recognition, we must take active steps to better the status quo.