Heartbreak. That’s the feeling that washed over me when I heard of the hate crimes on GC’s campus.
Three hate crimes occurred on the weekend of Nov. 15, 2019. One occurred on Saturday with “white power” written in dust on a car. The other hate crimes were swastikas drawn on two students’ dorm room doors.
While Georgia does not have any hate crime laws, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken measures against hate crimes on campus. The Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, among other statutes, allows for the FBI to investigate hate crimes.
CNN reporter Faith Karimi wrote that at least five hate crime incidents occurred across campuses including UGA and Syracuse in late November. Similar to the crimes at GC, these crimes included racist and anti-Semitic graffiti.
While this news flashed across headlines from other college campuses, I never believed, or did not want to believe, this sad “trend” would come here to the GC community.
The hate crimes also occurred a month after The Colonnade published my first article dispelling anti-Semitism on the first anniversary of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. I was in a state of shock when I first heard the news. I did not want to believe these hateful things could happen on our close-knit campus we have here.
I immediately wanted to see justice for these hate crimes. I wanted the campus to find the perpetrators and punish them.
But that should not be the only reaction. I think we need to hold a deeper and more open conversation about Judaism, other religions, and the commonalities and shared ideals of all religions.
These hate crimes stem from ignorance. People are frightened of what they do not know or care to understand. I believe the first step in changing these awful trends is a call for more education. If people were exposed to more diversity and an array of outlooks from a young age, ignorance would not breed this sort of hate.
The hate crimes might have shed light on an even bigger problem at GC: the question of diversity on our campus. Why are these groups being targeted and why now?
Swastikas represent the Nazi regime, and have been adopted by white nationalist groups to symbolize their hatred for minority groups, including Jewish people.
To put it in perspective, the amount of people killed during the Holocaust, including Jews, Gypsies, gays, disabled people, just to name a few, is more than the population of New York City.
Let that sink in. It would be like the entire city was eradicated from the earth.
I can’t even imagine and don’t understand why anyone would back the ideals of this belief. That is what you do when you draw a Nazi symbol. Not to mention bringing up the loss of family members who were torn apart and never saw each other again.
For me, it’s personal. I had family killed in the Holocaust. The swastika brings up these feelings of loss every time I see it, and I would say most Jewish people as well. A reminder of the worst time in my culture’s history.
These hate crimes might be students trying to get a laugh or attention, but they do not realize it is deeply personal. This hate must stop.
I truly hope going forward after these hateful crimes, that there will be a change. A change in the larger conversation on campus about minorities their safety while at GC, as well as the importance of diversity and mutual respect.
I also encourage people to learn about the traditions and beliefs of communities different from their own. It might be surprising, how similar and connected we all are to each other. So why is there still hate?