When President Donald Trump was elected, many Americans feared it was a sign that the United States was regressing on the country’s trend toward equality. Now, in mid-August, it appears that these fears have become a reality. In the wake of a rally that left three dead in Charlottesville, led by people bearing Nazi flags and chanting phrases such as “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and soil,” Trump has struggled to condemn white supremacy and neo-Nazism. While the former leader of the Klu Klux Klan may find the president’s response to the tragedy in Charlottesville to be courageous and honest, this publication — and NYU as a whole — has no tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism, or any other form of hatred.
In response to all of this, NYU President Andrew Hamilton issued a statement condemning all forms of hatred. While it is not usually necessary for universities to take a stance on individual political issues, Trump’s failure to speak out against the KKK and neo-Nazism left the rest of the country no choice. Trump referred to some participating in the riot as “very fine people,” and the rest of the country must declare that, on this issue, the president is objectively wrong.
However, President Hamilton’s statement is not enough. The entire student body must make it clear that hatred and bigotry have no place on campus. Despite what the current president thinks, there is no excuse to carry a Nazi flag, there is no excuse to chant racist and anti-Semitic phrases, and there is no excuse for someone to die. Because the president has not done the obvious and immediately renounced the bigotry in Charlottesville, the NYU student body must reaffirm its commitment to equality and human decency. As students and as decent human beings, we must explain that the current president of the United States does not speak for the people of this university. Hateful speech and hateful action are and always will be reprehensible.
Surely some will respond to this article by arguing that students can use their freedom of speech to express racist and bigoted views. And yes, everyone has freedom of speech, and this freedom means that no one can go to jail for expressing hateful views. However, that does not mean that this publication, our student body, or our administration will hesitate to call out racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry. Frankly, it’s unbelievable that this op-ed even needs to exist in 2017.
A version of this article appeared in the Sunday, Aug. 27 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected].