Two Gramercy Green Residence Hall doors were defaced with blatantly racist and anti-Semitic post-it notes on Thursday. This vile act was reported to the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force and is currently under investigation. The identity of the perpetrators and their specific motivations are still unknown, but whether this attack was made with pointed malicious intent or was merely some sick attempt at humor does not matter. The effect on the targeted students was still the same. These residents had to come back to what should be a second home to them, only to find their door littered with hate. Regardless of intent, this was a hate crime and must be treated as such.
These events will be depressingly familiar to those who have paid attention to campus news in the wake of the presidential election. A similar hate crime was committed two days after the Republican victory when an NYU student scrawled “Trump!” on the door of a Muslim prayer room. It appears as if this was not merely an isolated incident, but part of a growing movement defined by xenophobia and white nationalism. The cruel NYU students who committed this crime may also have been emboldened by Trump’s recent appointment of Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon to Chief Strategist, given Breitbart’s history of anti-Semitic rhetoric. It is not hard to imagine why these crimes are being committed with such frequency when one of the most powerful people in the country is well-known for his explicit bigotry, sexism and anti-Semitism. The rise of individuals like Bannon has emboldened the alt-right and made deplorable actions more commonplace than ever in this country. Despite this, we cannot allow ourselves to become desensitized to these horrific events. Regardless of their frequency, actions like these are not normal and must not be treated as such.
In the wake of the shocking election, many were quick to say that the Trump phenomenon was not one fueled by hatred. Every passing day proves the opposite. Many believe that NYU is a place that is above bigotry, but it now seems depressingly clear that not even our campus is safe from the effects of the ever-growing alt-right movement. Now more than ever, NYU students must speak out against this brand of vitriolic hatred. We cannot allow events like these to become normal, no matter how often they occur. This was not funny. This was not a joke. This was a hate crime that must be viewed with the utmost seriousness. The community has to take a stand against this rising tide of bigotry, not just merely as a whole, but as individuals. This is a battle that is distinctively personal. We can no longer fall back on the false belief that every student is better than this. We must each take on the responsibility of holding ourselves — and those around us — to the standard we so aspire to.
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