Over the past 10 days, America has been visited by some of the varied manifestations of hatred. Murderous attacks on Jewish people in Pittsburgh. White supremacist murders in Kentucky. Alarmist lies about immigrant bands of criminals and terrorists at our doorstep. Politically motivated pipe bombs, mailed to some of the most prominent critics of the Trump administration--or, in some cases, targets of President Trump's ire.
There is a horrible clarity in the simultaneity of these attacks. Taken individually, they call attention to one or another strain of virulence in our current political climate. Taken together, however, they underscore the inescapable contagion of hatred: where grievance and fear are coaxed into existence for the mere sake of exciting division, they will not be contained. The anti-semite will also be a white supremacist, will also turn from reasoned political debate to the criminalization of disagreement, and will surely weave a dangerous "other" in every new person they encounter.
Speaking as a political scientist for a moment, I will say that we have seen this before. Political and social leaders seeking authority that is unfettered by custom or the rule of law move with a kind of ponderous predictability to a mobilization strategy clustered around hatred. Foreign threats, the enemy within, political subversives, racial or religious enemies, global conspirators: all have historically been scapegoats for social ills, real or imagined, stirred to life to cultivate political or social support. There is an undeniable intent to the dark turn in our political rhetoric, and those chickens are coming home to roost.
Our only response can be solidarity. If this poisonous rhetoric and the violence it begets is inherently contagious, our response must be the broadest possible embrace of the whole people, a solidarity with every last person who has been "othered," indeed, the denial of the very concept that a diverse community, the community of which we so proudly talk, contains anything like an "other." The true values of our nation are the values of our college, and these values demand the broadest and most energetic expressions of solidarity that we can muster. We stand with any Jewish person who's ever been threatened by the shadow of white nationalist paranoia. We stand with anyone who has been the victim of a racist attack, or felt the chill of a racist insinuation. We stand with people who worship in mosques, or synagogues, or churches, or not at all. We stand with you, no matter where you came from or how you got here. The whole people is not a divided people, and our embrace must be as wide as our wildest imaginings.
Find a moment, over these next few days, and throughout your life, to stand with someone, and express sympathy and solidarity. These times will test us all, and we are surrounded by people who need your support and understanding. Find them, and give them your assurance, as I now give you mine, that only together can we be the whole people, and only as the whole people can we heal the sickness creeping across our land.