EDITORIAL: No Joking Matter
CMU leaves questions following anti-Semitic Valentine's Day card incident
When we become desensitized to history, we lose empathy for others.
Last week, students, faculty and staff at Central Michigan University witnessed firsthand how dastardly a bit of desensitized “humor” can be.
CMU made national headlines on Wednesday, Feb. 8 after a Valentine’s Day card that contained an anti-Semitic message was passed out by a member of the CMU College Republicans after their meeting in Anspach Hall.
A photo of the card was posted to social media and it quickly went viral. The person who posted the photo reported the incident to the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity.
The College Republicans, a registered student organization, maintains that its membership was unaware of the card, nor were they aware that it was distributed among members at the meeting. Leaders of the College Republicans said the Valentine was printed from a sheet of "humorous" internet memes.
The anti-Semitic meme was then cut out, seemingly pasted onto construction paper and placed into members Valentine's Day bags.
According to a statement released by the university on Friday, Feb. 10, an official investigation found that a “non-student” was responsible for the card. The statement made this point several times. It also stated the woman was no longer in Mount Pleasant.
It did not, however, explain who the person is. It also did not shed any semblance of light or clarity on various other questions: Has this person previously attended CMU this semester? Why was she at the meeting?
They told us who she isn't, and where she isn't. That's not exactly the height of transparency.
After a stressful week, members of the campus community deserved clarity and a complete explanation of what happened. It seems odd that when the College Republicans released its statement the night of the incident, they never identified the woman as a "non-student."
To suggest this person is just a "non-student" doesn't tell the whole story. In fact, this was a stupid, immature act by a woman who clearly had many ties to our university.
In its statement, the College Republicans sufficiently apologized and emphasized the group's opposition to hate speech. Members of the RSO also attended a student-organized Anti-Hate Speech rally on campus the following day. It is important for them to continue, within their group, to discuss equality and tolerance so that hate speech and intolerance doesn't take root.
We commend the person who reported the card and its content to the proper authorities. We also commend the example set by nearly 200 CMU faculty members who released a statement Friday explaining their "unflinching" support for our Jewish community members and their objection to hate speech in any form.
Six million Jews being systematically exterminated across an entire continent is no joke — even in a "harmless" meme.
Speech that delegitimizes religions, races or genders cannot and should not be left unchecked.
Denouncing hateful speech is not being "politically correct." It's having common sense and being a decent society. On a college campus, stressing these ideals are part of our core values. To ignore these values in the protection of free speech is to ignore the standard we set for ourselves as Chippewas.
To Courtney, we hope you learn from this ordeal. Don't forget history ever again.
We must be steadfast in fighting hate speech. We must rally together to create an inclusive campus, not with words, or programs, or promises, but with actions.
We must not forget the lessons of history, and we must not allow ourselves to repeat them.