Eshawn Rawlley: Repairing our patchwork quilt

In a statement released last Thursday, the College Democrats expressed how “tremendously upset” they were that “the organization’s trust was violated” by the member of their executive board who perpetrated an act of bigotry in their office. Not only was the trust of the executive board violated, but so was the trust of our community as a whole.

When the CD executive board member desecrated the crosses that were part of an anti-abortion event, it was not simply an immature display of partisanship. This was an unpardonable act of hatred against a religious community, and a crime that must be condemned in the strongest of terms and punished by the strictest of statutes.

This crime was committed by a person entrusted to represent their party and its members faithfully, but who contravened this duty by espousing their ugly hatred through the defilement of a sacred religious symbol. This crime was a product of the same ignorant bigotry which drove others in the recent past to produce offensive posters and vandalism. Despite our outrage and our condemnations, hate persists.

But in a moment of anger such as this one, it’s important to remain measured in our response. We must remember that this act was not condoned by an organization but rather perpetrated by an individual acting in contradiction to what we know about our University. This moment calls for an effort on our part to demonstrate to each other through our dialogue and through our deeds that no organization seeks to persecute any community on this campus. Sadly, due to the actions of one individual, this truth is being questioned in our community and it’s one that requires our reaffirmation.

During the recent election, we dispelled the notion that our differences were too vast compared to the values which unify us. With deep conviction we bought into the belief that we could reject our easy instincts that spur us toward intolerance of people with whom we disagree. This behavior is contrary to the fundamental message of that campaign and is completely at odds with what our party stands for.

But above all, this act of hatred stands in opposition to the virtue we Americans ardently believe in: the virtue of tolerance towards our fellow citizen, regardless of all discriminatory criteria. As the president said in his inaugural address, “we are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers . our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.”

Despite our recent struggles with hate crime, I remain convinced that our community is an inclusive one, in which people of all threads can be interwoven. Let’s commit ourselves to mending the tears in our own patchwork quilt. Because as long as intolerance serves as an impediment towards a more tolerant society, we must continue to stand united as a community, firm in our resistance of hate wherever we see it and in whatever form it takes.

The writer, a junior majoring in political science, is communications director of GW Students For Barack Obama and vice president of the GW Indian Students Association.

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