Love, gratitude and empathy above all else
Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, August 28, 2018
I have never written a letter to the Observer before criticizing anything written by one of our students, and I regret having to do it now. But what a sad representation of our otherwise wonderful student body in this our first week with the publication Friday of an op-ed piece allegedly summarizing “nightmare” statistics on “dreamers.” This was not just offensive to our DACA students, but to all of us. The letter, and the intent behind it, is an affront to what our Lady’s University stands for. It is a letter full of contempt, hate, mockery, entitlement, sarcasm and, of course, patent racism at its core. Universities must, of course, protect if not encourage the expression of differing viewpoints but this op-ed piece wasn’t written to inform thoughtfully and respectfully but to hurt. Using the descriptor “illegal aliens” over and over repeatedly was a rhetorical device, meant to dehumanize or to make the reader think of those referred to as no more than monsters from outer space, or as inherently evil abstractions without personhood. This is a case where the student editors of the Observer attempting to be “neutral” overlooked the vitriol and the intentionally erroneous use of misinformation. Disinformation, especially when couched in hate, can be dangerous. And hate is what is patently clear, simmering beneath the cruel words and highly problematic “stats” presented. In these times where such hatred and contempt for others seems to be passing as the “new normal” we must seek with all our hearts to call it out, to disown and reject it. Perhaps we professors need to work harder, and more vociferously, in our classrooms to model more honorable and respectful modes of public discourse, disagreement and debate for our students. I think our Lady would most heart fully approve.
James J. McKenna
Professor of Anthropology
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.