Opinion

Open letter regarding racist graffiti at Macalester

Editor’s note: The following letter was created by visiting professor Althea Sircar of the Political Science Department on Nov. 4. The Mac Weekly has agreed to publish the letter and the signatures to the letter as of print time.

We, the undersigned, condemn in the strongest terms the repeated appearances of swastikas and other racist symbols and markings (such as recent anti-Arab graffiti) on the Macalester campus. Regardless of the intention of the perpetrators, the swastika is one among many symbols inextricably linked to beliefs, actions, and campaigns of hatred and genocide—in the case of the swastika, against Jewish people, along with other historically oppressed groups such as people with disabilities and LGBTQIA2+ persons. The swastika, although it originated in heterogeneous religions and indigenous cultures, was appropriated by the Nazis and put to tragic, unforgettable use as a key political tool in the Shoah and the entirety of the German National Socialist project in the mid-twentieth century of the common era. The ongoing deployment of the swastika by anti-Semitic, white nationalist, xenophobic, and neo-Nazi movements in the U.S. and around the world underscores its continuing power as a racist, violent symbol of hatred against Jews, black Americans, non-Europeans, and Muslims, among others.

Fighting the swastika and its ilk is about more than erasing something that makes us uncomfortable. Opposing hate-speech and hateful acts is about more than watching what we say or being polite. Even if we aren’t members of groups attacked under the sign of the swastika (and some of us are), it and all other forms of hate speech must be named, called out, and halted, whether or not they meet the legal definition of a criminal act. If Macalester is to be a place where prejudice cannot flourish, we must commit as a campus to engaging in rigorous and sustained critique of and opposition to hateful words and actions. As an academic community, we have a particular imperative to draw from our diverse expertise while remaining aware of how our knowledges and experiences are limited. We must also keep in mind the mixed historical record of intellectuals regarding oppressive practices and institutions.

What does it mean to not only condemn the swastika but to learn about the ways it as well as other symbols and speech-acts, such as national flags and anthems, have functioned as tools or emblems of imperialism, genocide, and oppression? How do we grapple with differences in the histories of such symbols and with variations in how individuals perceive them? How can we better understand imperialism, settler-colonialism, genocide, xenophobia, and enslavement with historical, geographical, philosophical, and political specificity, so that we can confront their present-day legacies and manifestations? Why do some forms of hate-speech persist and recur? Why, in this place and at this time, are we witnessing these specific acts? What other forms of hate-speech or hate-acts are members of our community experiencing, on or off campus? And, most difficult of all, how do each of us and our institution support and continue oppression, even if inadvertently? How can we root out our own oppressive practices?

Having these conversations—learning from one another—is imperative, because hate speech and genocide endure. They may take public form or they may hide, cleverly playing on contested symbols, but we must remain even more committed to having difficult conversations about these things, listening to the persons affected, analyzing and studying past and present, and supporting all those standing against hatred, whether visible or hidden.

by Althea Sircar

asircar@macalester.edu


Althea Sircar, Political Science Lian Duan, MSCS Megan Vossler, Art and Art History Lisa Mueller, Political Science Crystal Moten, History Alicia Muñoz, Spanish and Portuguese and IGC Olga González, Anthropology and Latin American Studies Alexis Logsdon, Library Ernesto Ortiz-Díaz, Spanish & Portuguese/ Latin American Studies Eloá França Verona ’18 Erin Lynch, ’18 Patty Anderson, Asian Languages and Cultures Hana Dinku, Residential Life Kyoko Honma Peterson ’18 El Hadji Diop, French and Francophone Studies Devavani Chatterjea, Biology, Community & Global Health, Neuroscience Paul Cantrell ’98, MSCS Jesse Zarley, History Rachael Huener, German Studies Corie Hammers, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Samantha Manz ’19, Proud Indigenous People for Education Co-Chair Hannah Whittle ’19, Proud Indigenous People for Education Co-Chair Logan Tootle ’17, Proud Indigenous People for Education Co-Chair Brian Lozenski, Educational Studies Susanna Drake, Religious Studies I-Chun Catherine Chang, Geography Nadia Berriel Miranda ’18 Joan Ostrove, Psychology Claire Menard, Proud Indigenous People for Education Jennings Mergenthal, Proud Indigenous People for Education Teresa Mesa, Spanish and Portuguese Jake Mohan, MAX Center Ximena Silva-Avila ’20, Adelante! Co-Chair Sayira Silverio ’20, Adelante! Public Relations Officer Cristina Martin ’20 Melanie Guardado ’20 Phuc Nguyen, ’18 Elida Zaldivar ’18 Samia Osman ’18, Muslim Student Association (MSA) Vice President Chris Pieper ’18, MCSG Katrina Phillips, History Elizabeth Roten, ’18 Seán Bartz, Physics Paul Dosh, Political Science and Latin American Studies Carmen Bustamante ’18 Ophir Gilad ’19 Anna Fineanganofo ’18 Diane Michelfelder, Philosophy Shilad Sen, MSCS Mark Knierim, Art & Art History Joanna Inglot, Art & Art History Jaine Strauss, Psychology Sarah West, Economics Suveer Daswani ’18, 2017-18 Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) President Joëlle Vitiello, French and Francophone Studies Wang Ping, English Erika Aguiluz Ramirez ’19, Adelante! Co-Chair Geneva Gaukel ’19 Morgan Adamson, Media and Cultural Studies Eric Carroll, Art & Art History Susanna Morales 20’, Adelante! Historian Lutfe-E-Noor Rahman ’18 MSA; Multifaith Council, MCSG Diversity and Inclusion Officer Saakshi Daswani ’18 James Doyle, Physics and Astronomy Julia Chadaga, Russian Studies James Heyman, Physics and Astronomy Taylor Schey, English Fatiya Kedir ’21 Penelope Geng, English Michael Griffin, Media and Cultural Studies Alexander Johnson ’20 Blair Cha ’20 MCSG Sophomore Representative Henry Aoki ’19 Chris Willcox, Art and Art History Elliot Wareham ’21, MCSG Representative Sarah Boyer, Biology Ruthanne Kurth-Schai, Educational Studies Andy Han ’19 Darcy Burgund, Psychology Khaldoun Samman, Sociology Chesterfield Polkey ’18 Serdar Yalcin, Art and Art History Jonathan L. Hamilton, Educational Studies Sean O’Brien ’18 Aedan Helweg ’20 Giulia Girgenti ’18 Cheryl Moore Brinkley, Theatre & Dance Brigetta (Britt) Abel, German Studies Anna Bruijn ’18 Virginia Flurry ’18 Shintaro Iwai ’18 Anna Lane ’18 kate bond ’21 Brittany Lewis ’09 Andy Overman, Classics Eleanor Benson ’18 Molly Flerlage ’18, MCSG Kate Raybon ’17, Mac Protestants Co-Chair Ariana Hones ’18 Abigail Crispin ’18, Europa Co-President Hans Han ’19 Ana Diaz ’18, Pi Sigma Alpha Co-Chair Sahra Abdirahman ’21, MCSG representative Karin Aguilar-San Juan, American Studies Sedric McClure, Department of Multicultural Life Amanda-Rae Barboza Barela Isabela Escalona ’18 Mike Curran ’18 Bill Moseley, Geography Joshua Koh ’18 Keara Berlin ’21 Miranda Harris ’18 Jonah Giese ’19 Ailya Vajid, CRSL Lisa McCarthy, The Stem & Chemistry Paul Barsz ’20 Janet Folina, Philosophy Samuel Asarnow, Philosophy William Ummel, ’21 Tate Munnich, ’21 Xin Yang, Asian Languages and Cultures Spandan Buch ’21 Nolan Wages ’20 Theo Jacobson ’18 Aman Rai ’19 Beth Cleary, Theatre & Dance Andrew Vrabel Miles ’19 Samuel Liberman ’20 Emma Kippley-Ogman, CRSL Summer Hills-Bonczyk, Art & Art History Kelsey Porter ’18 Corey McGinnis ’18 Kori Suzuki ’21 Hilary Chart, Anthropology Eric Mosinger, Political Science Galo F. Gonzalez, Hispanic Studies Corey Pieper ’21 Kai Arnone ’19 Nanette Goldman, Classics Jasmine Davidson ’20 Molly Olsen, Hispanic and Latin American Studies Logan Stapleton ’18 Margaret Poulos ’18 Caroline Peters ’18 Morgan Malatesta ’18 Ali Mahad ’18 Andrew Billing, French and Francophone Studies Marco A. Hernández, MCSG Junior Class Representative Charlotte Schiller, ’18 Classics Jack Schultenover, ’18 Tina Kruse, Educational Studies & Institute for Global Citizenship Elizabeth Ruvolo ’18 Jake Sawyer ’18 Vivian Bauer ’21 Bade Turgut ’19 Bret Jackson, MSCS Charlotte Houghton ’20 Joshua Stephenson ’21 Asia Sageman ’18, Donna Maeda, Institute for Global Citizenship and American Studies Brian Adams, Physics and Astronomy Kate Himonas ’18 John Cannon, Physics and Astronomy Sophia Jones ’20 Malik Earle ’18 Basit Hammad Qureshi, History Orion Dick-Neal ’19 Isaac Gamoran ’18 Ernie Capello, History Conor Galvin ’19 Isamu Bix, ’19 Zeynep Gürsel, International Studies Malin Palani, Theatre and Dance Brigid Freed ’19 Dianna Shandy, Anthropology and Institute for Global Citizenship Wessam Elmeligi, Classics Isabel Velazquez-Acero ’18, FIA*STARSA co-chair Daylanne English, English Dan Trudeau, Geography and Urban Studies Mark Mazullo, Music Geoffrey Gorham, Philosophy Arjun Guneratne, Anthropology Yuri Smith ’18 Midori Hasegawa ’19 Christie Manning, Environmental Studies Erika Busse, Sociology Jayne Niemi ’79, Registrar Sam Greenstein ’19 Arnold Sanginga ’19 Sasha Mochida ’20 William David Hart, Religious Studies Joan Maze, Campus Activities and Operations Julie Dolan, Political Science Tonnis ter Veldhuis, Physics and Astronomy Ashton Horsley ’19 Kate Ryan Reiling ’00, Entrepreneur in Residence Fabian Bean ’18 Marina Brendel ’20 Lizeth Gutierrez, American Studies Greg Suber ’18 Classics Michael Vieaux, Library Joe Trier ’18, Economics Spencer Fugate ’18 Craig Burke ’19 Sam Rosevear ’21 Kendra Roedl ’20, MCSG Class Representative Leola Johnson, Media and Cultural Studies Ethan Moskal ’20 Bobby Shepetin ’21 Cárol Mejía ’15, Department of Multicultural Life Anitra Budd, English Kevin Kuczynski ’19 Kara Warren, ISP and Disability Services Beth Severy-Hoven, Classics Martin Moore ’18 Liam Edwards-Gaherty ’20 Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Art and Art History Emma Foti ’18 Sam Hollenbach ’19 Eleanor Noble ’19
Calvin Dretske ’19 Ilana Duby ’18 Graham Low ’19 Mia Smith ’19 Tiffany Gleason, History Jacob Simpson ’20 Zachary Fried ’21 Ruthann Godollei, Art and Art History Laurie Adamson, Campus Activities & Operations Emma Greenberg-Bell ’19 Leonardo Bucello ’21, Applied Mathematics Nathan Titman, American Studies Jake Greenberg ’21 Thomas Shogren ’19 Alexander Denzler ’21 Arif Zamil ’21 Max Starks ’21 Emma Pickett ’18 Ellen Holt-Werle, Library Aveline Marshall ’19 Juliette Rogers, French & Francophone Studies Lerren Tyler, Campus Activities & Operations Suzy Houser ’19 Ben Castagnetti ’18 Stephanie Gandy, Alumni Engagement Karin Trail-Johnson, CEC/IGC Toan Thanh Doan ’19 Mary Moninger ’21 Jane Whitley ’21 Desteny Pineda ’21 Maddie Schmitt ’19 Alex Baretta ’18, Economics Sam Simon ’21 Kristi Fackel, Art & Art History Rachel Lieberman ’18 Maddy McKeown ’18 Lily Stein ’18 Dave Collins ’85, Library Kaden Bieger ’21 Theo Kaufman ’20 Alice Heeger ’18 Colette Sime, ’18 Celeste Wellin ’18 Jenny Shin ’19 Hunter Gutierrez ’19 Daniel Shinbaum ’18 Meghan Roffler ’19 Min Hee Cho ’19 Holly Barcus, Geography Ruby Elliott Zuckerman, ’20 Aminata Sall, French & Francophone Studies Natanya Schnyer ’20 Andy Williams, Campus Activities & Operations Matt O’Brien ’19 Robert Ford ’19 Leon Swerdel-Rich ’18 Ariana Jahiel ’19 Ellie Janda ’19 Mariah Shriner ’18 Rory McColum ’21 Ian Cummings ’19 Derek Johnson, Civic Engagement Center Juliana Lord, ’18 Brian McNamara ’18 Ariel Hasak-Lowy, ’21 Michael Zis, Political Science Frances Matejcek, ’19 Hannah Chonkan-Urow ’21 Abe Asher ’20 Jessi-Alex Brandon ’20 Jessie Lee-Bauder ’18 Emma Friedman ’21 Maddie Tuggle ’21 Maija Olson ’21 Lauren Forrow ’18 Libby Eggert ’18 Zach Anderson ’18 Zachary Busby ’18 Helen Meigs ’21 Sarah Matzdorf ’18, Program Board Sophie Freedman ’21 Henry Smith ’20 Sofia Parmelee ’21 Mina Kianovsky ’21 Sophie Kurschner ’18 Adam Clark ’21 Wren Hess ’19, Queer Union Co-Chair Charlotte Gorham ’21 Zarra Marlowe ’21 Hannah Whipple ’21 Kate Massell ’21 Andrea Kvietok ’18 Giselle Lora ’18 Cecilia Caro ’18 Jonathan Amezquita ’18 Abbey Feola, ’18, Feminists in Action Co-Chair Abby Massell ’18 Benjamin Hyde ’18 Therese Deslippe ’18 Wanda Barradas ’21 Sheena Diong ’18 Emma Wise, Macalester Women’s Lacrosse Sarah Aldama ’18 Jonathan Alvarado-Gomez ’21 Avik Herur-Raman ’20 Ellie Rudner ’19 Julia Morgan ’18 Iris Parshley ’18 Sophia Alhadeff ’20 Lucy Hollister ’20 Nicholas Fuselier ’20 Herta Pitman, Classics and History Zoё Schopick ’21 Katie Grahn ’19 Elliot Cassutt ’18 Max Abramson ’18 Ionatan Kuperwajs ’18 Cynthia Kauffeld, Spanish & Portuguese Peter Hall ’18 Robert Noël Chiagoziem Anigbogu ’21 Addy Perkins ’19 Soniya Coutinho ’19 Dongmin Park ’18 Floyd Krom ’21 Fangze Li ’19 Mikayla Ferg ’18 Julia Record ’21 Dan Szetela ’19 Sierra Campbell ’21 Jacob Geers ’21, Program Board Louisa Bradtmiller, Environmental Studies Colby King ’18 Kristen Tuttle ’18 Clayton Smith ’19 Alya Ansari ’19 Alejandra Acevedo ’19 Yoonjin Shu ’21 Alex Foster ’20 Juliette Verlaque ’20 Gabriel Swinth ’19 Jin Kim ’19 Elena Gottesman ’19 Cade Fink ’21 Michelle Buse ’18 Marc Anderson, CRSL Gianna Brassil ’20 Nahla Almbaid ’20 Laura Kigin, Geography Sonita Sarker, WGSS/ENGL Ryan Bremseth-Vining ’20 Gianella Rojas ’21 Ellory Wolin ’20 Olivia Doe ’18, Program Board Maxwell Kent ’20 Justin M. Secor ’20 Lesley Lavery, Political Science Mari Riffle ’19, Mac Catholics Ginny Moran, ’90, Library Alex Komanoff, ’20 Greg Pentz, ’19 Sophia Schlesinger, ’20 Tom Halverson, MSCS Nora Stewart ’21 Zach Moore ’18 Kelsee York ’18
James Cooke ’20 Satoko Suzuki, Asian Languages and Cultures Zoelle Collins ’21
Bob Dignazio, Athletics Malini Basu ’21 Donna A. Lee, Student Affairs Emmet Hollingshead ’18 Kova Walker-Lecic, Archives James E. Rosenbury II, Athletics Tucker Weisman, Athletics Sarah Graves ’04, Macalester Volleyball Marc Davies, Athletics Deanna Brabant, Athletics Tim Whittle, Athletics Lucia Hunt ’18 Gregg Olson, Men’s Soccer Coach Marshall Mullenbach, Football Scott Hintz, Athletics Kelly Roysland, Athletics Beth Whittle, Athletics Angi Faiks, DeWitt Wallace Library Scott Reed, Athletics Wilson Josephson, Athletics Connie Karlen, DeWitt Wallace Library Rachel Weaver ’06, Information Technology Services Terri Fishel, DeWitt Wallace Library Denise Tyburski, Library Nadia Mezic ’19 Ron Joslin, DeWitt Wallace Library Eleanor Beaird ’19 Lee Olson, Psychology Jamie Thompson ’21 Maya Shenoy ’20 Julia Lagos ’19 Charlotte Fowler ’19 Elston Adelaide ’19 Margaret Breen ’20 Marley Higbee ’20 Ruby Kinnamon ’19 Aaron Albertson, Library Ana Gvozdić ’21 Meg Hinson ’19 Robin Brooks ’20 Jason Kohn ’20 Nathan Vinehout Kane ’18 Maggie Mischka ’19 Mason Martinez ’19 Alex Hilton-Watson ’20 Gianna Bortoli ’19 Grace Reardon ’21 Sadie Nederveld ’20 Jesse Claire ’20 Allison Leopold ’20 Robbie Angarone ’20 Ellie Hohulin ’19 James Cannon ’20 Melissa Kingue ’20 Rebecca Edwards ’21 James Hartzer ’20 Alex Abramson ’18 Isabel Taylor ’21 Wayne Glass, Residential Life Brighten Jelke ’19 Jaime Hasama ’18 Connor Thompson ’20 Amy Plambeck ’21 Chloë McWhirt ’21 Sadia Mohammed ’21 Anni Clark ’21 Xiomara Lozano Torres ’21 Yiping Zhong ’21 Fiona Odum, ’21 Will Hamlin, ’21 Claire Grace ’19 Margaret Moran ’21 Lauren Adams-Plehal ’21 Jason Jackson-Lealtad-Suzuki Center (DML) Yousuf Quraishi ’21 Brooke Offenhauser ’21 Carina Ramorino ’21 Tess Mueller ’20 Madi Taylor ’19 Linnea Prehn ’21 Isaac stovall ’21 Jarett Baker-Dunn ’21 Elinor Jones ’21 Maria Arreola ’21 Anja Beth Swoap ’19 Izzy Hart ’20 Midori Williams ’21 Raili Sharp ’21 Lia Yamasato ’21 Greta Eherenman ’21 John Meyerhofer, DeWitt Wallace Library Ema Erikson ’20 Lane Centrella ’21 Cari Gillen-O’Neel, Psychology Hayley Zacheis ’21 Hannah Catlin ’21 Morgan Hess ’20 Gus Dexheimer ’20 Kelly J. Stone, Chaplain (CRSL) Chloe Swenson ’18 Abrielle Dillon ’21 Abby Gore ’21 Henry Beimers ’20 Zuofu Huang ’21 Margaret Gehring, Athletics Sebastian Eising ’19 Juliette Parmentr ’19 Elizabeth Everitt ’20, Queer Union Co-Chair Allegra Berman ’21 Emelie Beattie ’21 Sophie Gleason ’21 Anna Skalicky ’21 Evan Unruh-Friesen ’21 Katy Gabrio, Library Carla Granados ’21 Betsy Emerson, Athletics Claire Howland ’20 Jasper Crocker ’21 Kasia Majewski ’19 Quinn Rafferty ’20 Hannah Gilbert ’21 Anya Lindell Paulson ’21 Oliver Kamholtz-Roberts ’21 Ciara Hughes ’21 Esther Jones, Library Lily Irvin ’21 Lilliana Kay ’20 Keaton Belbas ’20 Emma Harrison ’21 Abby Lawrence ’21 Andra Boca ’20 Jemma Kloss ’19 Anela Galić ’19 Camille King ’21 Deirdre O’Keeffe ’20 Kristijan Peev ’19 Robin Webb ’18 Marlee Yost-Wolff ’19 Joshua Benjet ’20 Olivia Chew ’19 Ally Kruper ’21 Josh Roy, Men’s Soccer Assistant Coach Peroushini Villiamma ’20 Joanna Seifter ’20 Steve Murray, Athletics Jake Dunn, ’19 Tulsi Patel ’20, Queer People of Color Collective co-facilitator Maya Crowl-Kinney, ’21 Brad Belbas ’88, ITS and Educational Studies Euijin Kim ’19 Morgan Abbey ’18 McKinley Thompson ’21 Harrison Werrell ’21 Saif Ali Sukhera ’20 Colette Mahr ’21 Tony Jennison, Head Football Coach Maija Hecht ’21 Race Cleveland ’20 Valentia Sundell ’19 Nikhil Smith, ’20 Charlie Roux, ’19 Abigail Thomsen ’20, CEC Coordinator for Arts and Social Change Amy Pascoe ’19 Jason Muhl, Head W&M Tennis Coach Kate Weithers ’21 Garrett Schoonover ’19 Sabine Peterka ’21 Mariana Montbriand, ’20 John Leiner ’21 Dennis Sotelo Martinez ’18 Jesse Crosby ’20 Jacqui Tobar Jiménez ’19 KP Blake-Leibowitz ’19 Joselyn Angeles-Figueroa ’21 Isaiah D. Sonnenfeld, CAO Kayla Beckham ’19 Hannah Murray ’21 Santiago Padrón ’21 Yanyan Rena Zhang ’21 Nicole Frey ’21 Katia Sievert ’21 Ann Minnick, Academic Programs and Advising Clara von Dohlen, Political Science Liv Gigliotti ’21 Nicolle Flores ’21 Anisha RajBhandary ’21 Abigail Poole ’19, Queer Union Co-Chair Valeria Bustamante C. ’20 Liz Marquez-Gomez ’21 Siddhant Singh ’21 Stephanie Konadu-Acheampong ’21 Jim Smith ’21 Rachel McCaffery ’21 Kennedy Kechely ’21 Liam McMahon ’20 Betsy Barthelemy ’21 Rebecca Lewis ’21 Hannah Visti ’21 Yushu Zhang ’20 Mikayla Smith ’21 Marleigh Jenkins-Morse ’20 Isabella Molano ’21 Katie Hunter ’20 Madelyn Osmon ’18 Em Hayward ’21 Finn Kreidler ’21 Livvie Avrick ’19 Brooke Schneider ’20 Maya Benedict ’17 Lidija Namike ’21 Mari Adams ’18 Julia Joy ’20, Co-founder 86 Mag Charlie Pham ’20, Co-founder 86 Mag Ben LeBlanc ’20, Co-founder 86 Mag Lauren Weber ’20 Ethan Greene ’21 Mary O’Hara ’21 Kira Pollack ’18 M.L. Kenney ’18

November 10, 2017

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1 Comment on "Open letter regarding racist graffiti at Macalester"

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David Hunt
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The drawing of swastikas, or other hateful symbols, is never acceptable. Good for you for condemning it.

On the flip side of that, though, needs to be the consideration that this might be a false-flag. “Hate crimes” have been faked across the country; most recently, the racist messages at the Air Force Academy have been shown to be fake.

A black student wrote those racist messages that shook the Air Force Academy, school says
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/11/08/a-black-student-wrote-those-racist-messages-that-shook-the-air-force-academy/

Racism has no place in our society. But before you assume these are genuine, ask – as the Romans did – Qui Bono?

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