However common violent bigotry has been in the history of our nation—and it has been heartbreakingly common—this past Friday’s and Saturday’s events in Charlottesville will stay with us for a long time. We must not forget the repugnant image of racists marching by the light of tiki torches and then in daylight and polluting the air with their hateful slogans, initiating violence against those standing against their hate. We must not forget the carnage caused by a white supremacist as he slammed his car into innocent counter-protesters, injuring 19 and killing Heather Heyer, whose loss we mourn and whose name we must honor and remember.
Nor can we forget the outrage of President Trump’s unwillingness to immediately and unequivocally condemn the racism, anti-Semitism, and other poisons put forth by those who gathered for “Unite the Right.”
Our national union, the American Federation of Teachers, has sent out an eloquent response, which includes this:
We call on the president, the Justice Department and the FBI to conduct real, transparent investigations into terrorism from white supremacists. We call on elected officials and law enforcement from all 50 states to use all of the resources at their disposal to keep our communities safe. People in America need to know that laws will be enforced to protect them. White Americans get to presume the laws will protect them; people of color, Jews Muslim, and queer Americans deserve that peace of mind as well.
So what can we in TAUP do directly to address the hateful ideologies that pre-date last weekend but which Charlottesville has brought into high relief? We are eager to hear your suggestions (please email TAUP’s president, Steve Newman). But here are some preliminary thoughts, informed by a conversation yesterday with some leaders in AFT’s Higher Ed Division.
First, we must be aware that an organized hate-fest could come to Temple; colleges and universities have been and will continue to be targets of these groups. We should not cede an inch of space at our university to hatred or to allow any member of our community–faculty, librarians, academic professionals, students, staff, and neighbors–to be subject to violence. There are many ways we might resist, but if we plan to confront these groups directly, we will need to be disciplined. Nonviolence in the face of provocation requires training. We are working with AFT to figure out how to provide such training and will keep you posted. If you have expertise in this field and want to be involved, please contact us.
We must also not remain reactive. We need to choose dates and places of our own to articulate our vision of an inclusive, just, and diverse university and society. TAUP will join in support of events that strengthen the values of those who productively voice their opposition to hate, and encourage groups to inform us of actions.
And we cannot think only in terms of dramatic confrontations. We must also recommit to the daily labor necessary to counter hatred with love and justice. We must do whatever we can to assure our community that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, and other forms of hatred have no place at Temple. When we encounter it, we must raise our voices against it, strongly and firmly. AFT Higher Ed will also be putting out new materials on how to this most effectively that we will share.
If you are the target of such hatred, please report it to the relevant authorities at Temple. Also, please contact TAUP. Non-discrimination and the health and safety of the members of our union are guaranteed by our contract, and we will do whatever we can to ensure that those terms are met.
Finally, there are concrete things we in TAUP—and that, of course, includes you–can do through our Union to combat all forms of discrimination on campus, including those less overt than what we saw and heard in Charlottesville. A Fighting Institutional Racism Caucus has had some preliminary meetings and we are planning a Women’s and LGBTQ Caucus. Together, we aim to work with groups associated with the Faculty Senate and the administration to ensure that Temple is a truly equitable place to work and study. If you are interested in these efforts, please contact Steve Newman.
Together, we must work to rid our world of the scourges of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, ableism, and other forms of hate. That way, we can also do our part in affirming the promise made many decades ago by that great Union man, Woody Guthrie: “All you fascists bound to lose!”
Steve Newman, President
Jennie Shanker, Vice President
Norma Corrales-Martin, Treasurer