Attention national figures and media: buzz off. This school has been around for 186 years and been doing just fine without you. It will continue to do well long after your attention has turned elsewhere. Everyone seems to know how to run GW, but why do not we let the people paid to do that give it a shot. And if they do poorly than those of us paying them can complain.
Some conservative groups are still calling for Adam Kokesh, and others who made the infamous “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” posters, to be expelled. The recent revelation that freshman Sarah Marshak drew several of the swastikas on her door has only given conservative pundits and blogs more things to complain about. During GW’s investigation into the swastikas, there were national figures, apparently along with Marshak herself, who were irritated at the pace at which GW was going. Harry Jaffe of The Examiner blasted GW on Nov. 2 for not calling the swastikas a hate crime.
In his online article Jaffe asked, “What does it need (to call the swastikas a hate crime), smashed windows and burning crosses? Students in brown shirts and kids cowering in their dorms?” Three more days would have revealed to Jaffe the fact that Marshak was the one drawing swastikas.
Meanwhile conservative bloggers such as Michelle Malkin are calling the incident an example of how fast and loose with the truth liberal journalists can be. Ace of Spades HQ wrote that Marshak has gotten off “scot free” and Hot Air is asking why GW still has not punished Kokesh.
These bloggers ignore the differences between the cases and even the status of the case at hand. By ranting about the situation while getting the facts wrong they contribute nothing towards a constructive dialogue and often detract from it. This may score them points with people on the extremes, but where does that leave the rest of us?
Instead, bloggers should take the same angle as Emil Steiner of The Washington Post’s OFF/beat blog. Rather than yelling until his face went red, Steiner looked at the implications of the swastika incident on how we define a hate crime. He said, “The real question is whether she should be punished differently if she weren’t Jewish?” I have to ask if Marshak is somehow able to actually succeed in her “raising awareness” defense, would the student implicated in the New Hall incidents be able to use the same defense? Taking a more measured approach while still asking tough questions is a way to approach this problem.
Part of the problem may also be that the national media is taking their cues from us. When the satirical posters were put up last month there was a rush to assume that it was racist and put up by the Young America’s Foundation. No one bothered to read past the headline or YAF’s name. Reading the descriptions, or reading the bottom of the poster would have revealed the satirical nature of the posters. For example the statement, “Brought to you by Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness,” should give the hint that YAF did not put the posters up. Instead, there was outrage on campus and that night University President Steven Knapp sent an e-mail to students saying, “There is no place for expressions of hatred on our campus.” Many students believed it was a clear example of racism without really looking at the posters.
The swastikas produced a similar overblown response. While potentially a serious issue, the first swastika was drawn on a whiteboard. It may have been a drunken freshman making a very unfunny joke.
Remember, the world is smaller and more connected than ever. What makes it into one news source can travel the nation in a matter of minutes. In the future, we should make sure the things that anger us are truly worthy of outrage before we make an issue of it. Hopefully outsiders will take their cues from us and show some more restraint as well. And we can all go back to taking pride in GW.
The writer, a junior majoring in conflict and security, is a Hatchet columnist.