The Gatepost Editorial Board
Eleven people were murdered at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. This tragedy marks the 294th mass shooting in the United States in 2018 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The shooter, who does not deserve to be named, reportedly shouted, “Kill all Jews” before entering the synagogue and murdering the congregants inside.
The shooter, whose hatred of Jewish people had been made clear time and time again through posts on his social media accounts, took aim at a minority population in our country in the name of “justice” for his people – his people being white Americans.
In his violence, the shooter came to embody the ingrained prejudice against Jewish communities throughout our country.
America has a history of anti-Semitism that is often ignored and swept under the rug. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there were “1,986 anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated throughout the United States in 2017. This is an increase of 57% over the 1,267 incidents reported in 2016.”
Instances of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the U.S. are more prevalent than all other religious-based hate crimes combined.
These hate crimes might seem as if they are occurring far away, but anti-Semitic hate crimes have been committed on the FSU campus as well.
In April of 2015, a swastika was found carved into a student’s car in Salem End Lot. In that same year, a swastika was carved into a door in Horace Mann. Less than a year later, in November of 2016, swastikas and the phrase “white power” were found in the men’s bathroom on the third floor of May Hall. And in 2018, swastikas were found drawn on windows in West Hall.
We are not immune to anti-Semitism.
While The Gatepost reported on all these occurrences, there seemed to be few efforts to further educate the community regarding the history and impact of the swastika.
A forum was held in the Center for Inclusive Excellence in response to the November 2016 incident, and the ADL visited campus in 2018 following the incident in West Hall.
There should have been more widespread attempts to educate our campus and provide resources for students who felt unsafe or targeted.
Last fall, our University administrators responded quickly and publicly against the hate crimes targeting people of color. They planned public forums, hosted trainings, and distributed press releases not only to the FSU community, but to the larger Framingham community.
While the University’s prompt response was necessary and appropriate, we can’t help but notice it failed to provide the same coverage and response to the many reported incidents of anti-Semitism.
Following the racially motivated hate crimes, the University is implementing a bias training for students, akin to the Haven sexual assault training and AlcoholEdu. This new training was based on students requests to include a bias training for current and incoming students.
We hope and expect that this training will include modules that will address anti-Semitism among the other biases students might encounter.
The environment that allowed for these symbols to be rampantly spread across our campus is further evidence that the persecution of Jews is neither taken seriously enough nor properly addressed.
Moments of tragedy lead to clarity, and while we are devastated it took the murder of 11 Jewish Americans to prompt an open conversation regarding anti-Semitism in our country, we hope our campus community can take action to address it on the home front.