Silence isn’t Violence. Terrorism is.

In light of everything that has happened these last few days, it is time for us to take a moment to remember just how lucky we are to live in this country and attend the Claremont Colleges. Through all of the fighting, animosity, and inflammatory rhetoric, we who attend these schools still have the luxury of feeling safe as we crawl into bed at night. We have the luxury of not having to worry that our friends, parents, or loved ones will be the victims of barbarity––a privilege that many in this world are not accorded.

Multiple acts of terrorism took place in the last few days: in Paris, Baghdad, and Beirut. The Beirut attack in particular has drawn the attention of many; it occurred the day before the Paris bombings, was largely ignored by the Western media, and likely would have been forgotten had Paris not suffered a similar tragedy. I have heard rumblings and seen posts on social media concerning this seemingly callous oversight, interspersed with questions as to why the sufferings of Paris eclipse those of Beirut. The answer is quite simple; an attack on a Western city like Paris is a rarity, while the attack in Beirut is a common, almost daily occurrence. Events that are this common are not striking or newsworthy, especially in today’s 24 hour news cycle. They happen so often that we simply consider them the norm.

So with all of the troubles and inconveniences that we students have propounded in the previous week, try and let the brutal attack on Beirut sink in. Let it sink in that there are places on this Earth where death and destruction are so common as to warrant only a cursory mention by the media and virtually no mention by us students. Places where a parent burying their child is deemed a mere commonality. Places where there are no safe spaces, no free speech, and no support for people with “marginalized identities.” Cast in this light, what are our troubles but petty differences and trivialities? Can we not take a hard look at the inhumanity occurring around the world, decide to set aside our differences, and be bigger than our problems?

5C students, realize that evil does not sit next to you in a classroom. It does not eat in the same dining hall as you, sleep in the same dorm as you, or go to the same classes as you. Evil is not your fellow students. The attacks in Beirut, Paris, and Baghdad are evil. And it is against those atrocities that we should be protesting, against those savage acts that we should be fighting. We should not quarrel amongst ourselves because of foolish differences; we must recognize that there are problems in this world bigger than ourselves, bigger than our schools. Do not continue to fight and divide on the basis of race or creed, such things are insignificant compared to the suffering all around us. Every student, myself included, should realize that we all have privilege, we all have luxuries and––most of all––we are lucky to be students at the Claremont Colleges. 

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Image: Wiki Commons

9 thoughts on “Silence isn’t Violence. Terrorism is.”

  1. If I were more eloquent I’d write a long comment describing how sad this article is. It is sad to see that these horrible terrorist attacks are being used as a way to detract from and invalidate the concerns of students who feel marginalized at the Claremont Colleges.

    To imply that members of the community who feel unsupported should be content simply because they have it better than those in other regions of the world (which is all you say, basically) is BS. Should women have sat back and been content with not being allowed to vote simply because they had it better than people in other regions of the world? Hell no. Women in America deserved to be livid and protest and fight for equal treatment. And they did. And the country (and world) are better for it.

    Should all of the recent events at the Claremont Colleges have happened exactly as they did? Who knows. But to write an article which screams “these conversations make me uncomfortable so can you all just shut up and think about other people with different problems?” is pathetic.

    If a teacher gave you an F on a math problem set that you got 100% right, while they gave someone next to you with identical work an A, would you sit there and take it just because there’s starving kids in Africa? No. You wouldn’t. You’d whine and cause a fuss and say it isn’t right and demand the same grade as the person next to you.

    1. To Charles,
      If you did indeed receive an F for identical work that received an A, I certainly hope you approached the professor with your work and the work of the A and asked her/him to explain how he/she came to the conclusion with identical work. Then, if you did not receive an answer that made sense, I would hope you brought both papers to the Dean of the Faculty and asked him/her to review the work and open an investigation into this case. As a white cis-gender female who leans toward the right, I did this very thing when I received a low grade due to my opinion that Noam Chomsky should stick to linguistics not politics. You are your best advocate.

      As to the article, no one is invalidating the slights, micro-aggressions and outright discrimination students experience, the author is bringing perspective to the over use of the term “violence” when referring to slights, speech that is offensive or often what is simply a misunderstanding. It is not violent to ask a black person “how are you celebrating Kwanza”, it is just stupid and uneducated. It is not violent to host an exhibition dispelling stigma surrounding female genitalia (Scripps event shut down by people who were violated and hurt because “not all women have vulvas”. And, it is not violent to say “I don’t like you or what you stand for”. It is violent to walk into a night club and systematically murder people. It is violent to walk into a school and massacre 150 students. It is violent to rape and decapitate children who happen to be a different religion.

  2. +1 to everything Charles said. Extremely well put. The troubles that students of color face are real, regardless of the magnitude of injustices that other groups face as well. The gravity of one injustice does not in turn detract from the other–we are not drawing from some limited resource pool of the right to fight/protest. The belittling of the real inequalities that exist for students of color is atrocious in this article.

    In addition, the last paragraph presents a false dichotomy. It implies that students can only direct their protesting efforts to ONE of the following–either the racial inequality issues surrounding the Claremont Colleges or the violent atrocities taking place overseas. You present these options as binary, when in fact they are not. This is not a case of either/or. I’m 100% certain that students fighting for the rights of POC on campus are capable of also directing their actions and attention toward the atrocities overseas.

    And please. Please just stop with the holier-than-thou tone.

  3. “We have the luxury of not having to worry that our friends, parents, or loved ones will be the victims of barbarity––a privilege that many in this world are not accorded.”

    You should be very careful about your use of the word we. It is very clear who you think about when you write this article. For you to state that everyone (“we”) in this community has the luxury of not worrying about our families and friends, is discounting all of the international students, students who weren’t born here, students who have families in other countries, etc. You literally just discounted the experiences of so many people at the Claremont Colleges. Seriously have people proof read your shit for these ignorant ass comments.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bobp5OHVsWY

  4. Charles, Jessie, Maria, the Greatest Generation would be highly disappointed in you and this generation of mentally weak students. You guys highlight the reality that “higher” education has been hijacked by low rent community organizers masquerading as students. Evidence, due process, speech protection all give way before hurt feelings and emotional venting, as coddled and radicalized students seek to pout and tantrum their way to safe-space utopias. Austin, this article reminds me how often we fail to appreciate all that we have in this GREAT country. Thanks for the reminder. Awesome article!

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