Swastikas at The New School

13 Nov

How much do you guys know about The New School University, formerly The New School for Social Research? I know a few of my readers (oh hey, GPIA!) know this little tidbit but for the rest of you, I just want to fill you in on a little history. It’ll tie in. I swear. The New School was founded in 1919 by a bunch of progressive educators unhappy with the direction academia was going in the United States. In 1933, it was set up as a University in Exile; a graduate division that was set up as an academic haven for scholars who had been fired from jobs in fascist Italy or were fleeing from Nazi Germany. The University in Exile had later incarnations and some of the notable scholars associated with it include Hanna Arendt, Erich Fromm and Max Wertheimer among others.

So let me just, real quick again, say something which is actually probably more for me than for any of my readers because this shit has been violently banging against my head all night. The New School for Social Research, my alma mater, with the motto “To the Living Spirit,” acted as a University in Exile during one of the darkest times in this world’s history for academics fleeing certain death. For academics fired by Stalin and fleeing Hitler. And last night someone drew a series of swastikas in one of the dorms. There were four large swastikas scrawled on four separate dorm room doors. Each of the rooms housed at least one Jewish student.

Open anti-semitism in New York fucking City at a school that has acted as a safe haven for scholars fleeing totalitarian and fascist governments at home.

And so I guess I have to say this because, I don’t know, I feel confused that some people maybe are missing the point.

This election is different.

This isn’t that someone won that we didn’t like. I mean, listen, I will be the first to say I would have been massively disappointed if Jeb Bush or John Kasich won. And I would have cried if it had been Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, but especially the latter. But this is not just about someone who isn’t “our gal” winning. This is that the forces of hatred have been awoken and they have been thrust into the middle of our cities and our towns. The hate is coming from the darkest depths of the internet and appearing on the dorm room doors of young, Jewish students at a progressive university in a progressive city. The hate is coming from our peers. It is everywhere, all around us, and it is fucking scary.

So for those people who keep telling everyone to stop protesting? I mean, sure, you are welcome to your own opinion and of course and I respect that. But I think you should read this article by Teju Cole. It was in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend and it is everything. It basically lays out, in words so beautiful I could never manage to formulate them on my own, let alone get them to flow from my brain and onto a piece of paper, how easy it is to normalize and excuse what is going on all around us. It says what so many of us have been trying to say. It says that this election is different. And so again, while I respect your beliefs that the protests are getting in the way and setting us back I have to disagree with you, and strongly. This is a democracy in action. And it has to happen this way, it has to continue. For most people it isn’t about contesting the election, it isn’t about being sore losers and not accepting a result or anything like that. It is about communicating that we simply cannot stand by and watch as our government, our country, our goddamn home is coopted by hate and fear. We simply cannot let this stand. We must refuse. Because the alternative is simply too hard to imagine. When we stop fighting, when we stop protesting, when we stop organizing and writing and talking that is the moment when we let the fear and the hatred take hold of us, that is the moment that we throw our hands up and say, “well, the people have spoken.”

No.

So I don’t know about you but I am not about to let that happen. I have spent a lifetime being active in my social circles and in my small space on the internet but more or less complacent the rest of the time. But enough is enough. If we needed this to awaken us all, then we needed it. But we sure as hell better take this as an opportunity to fight for change and for equality and for the end of hatred and abuse, otherwise we are no better than the rest of them. So, yeah, protest. Keep protesting. Protest for the next four years, no matter what form that protest takes. I am finding mine.

Swastikas at the fucking New School. This shit has got to stop.

2 Responses to “Swastikas at The New School”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. This is NOT a Peaceful Transition, Stop Playing. | franklyrebekah - November 19, 2016

    […] start off, please read this article by Teju Cole. I know that I already linked to it the other day, so I am sorry for being repetitive. But, honestly, sometimes things are good enough to require […]

  2. New Orleans Diary: Week One | franklyrebekah - December 2, 2016

    […] elections, Jessy and I hopped in my car and started on a two-week long trip down South during which we cried on and off about the election. We zig zagged a bit, to put it lightly. And then last Friday, after a really fun Franksgiving […]

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