Opinions

Editorial: Poster vandals crossed the line

Racial stereotyping unacceptable

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Grafitti on Students' Union election candidates' posters is par for the course. Unfortunately, this year the graffiti has gone farther than mere obscenities.

Ola Mohajer and Hara Madri, two visibly Muslim candidates, had their campaign posters vandalized with racial slurs. Mohajer, running for the Faculty of Science representative position, had her slogan changed from "I am science" to "I am a terrorist." The poster has since been taken down.

Other posters were also defaced, including a Caucasian candidate's, which was vandalized with "vote white, vote right." Ironically, that particular race was contested entirely between Caucasian candidates.

Now, the written attacks are completely and utterly unacceptable and, frankly, ignorant. Whether it be groups like the FLQ or deranged individuals like Joseph Stack -- the man who crashed a plane into an Austin, Texas IRS building February 18 -- and Timothy McVeigh, North American terrorism has been mostly committed by Caucasians. It's despicable that such a slur would be used on anyone, and even sadder considering that terrorist acts are blind to race and creed.

Now it's important to note we don't know who did this. There's a palpable difference between drawing a penis and throwing around slurs. This attack was completely anonymous, so it could be a group of students, a racist group who took a stroll on campus, a clerical worker or even a professor. It could be a single person or a group. Until we know for sure, we should not and cannot blame anyone. Unfortunately, that's highly unlikely.

What we need to discuss is what we can do about it moving forward. One of the most incredible things to see was the grassroots support for Mohajer. Anonymous individuals scrawled and crossed off the slur, writing words of encouragement in their place. This kind of support is exactly what's needed to show these ignorant scumbags that this is completely unacceptable at the University of Calgary and, despite our city's reputation, we will not let these kinds of slurs go unanswered.

U of C students and staff need to be on the look out for these kinds of acts. We need to shine a light on these anonymous cockroaches and let them scurry off to their ignorant, racist corners. It's that simple. We need to stand up and show people that this isn't acceptable -- we've done that, but need to remain vigilant and constantly show we don't accept that here. We need to show only shame and derision to the perpetrators.

While some people may whine and gnash their teeth at how that can lead to the dreaded political correctness, they're wrong. It's not political correctness to show respect and common decency to another person and group of people, and unfortunately, those anonymous attackers lacked that simple courtesy.

These kinds of attacks are not just against one singular person, but an entire group. While the defacing of the poster is troubling, at least there's some comfort in knowing that people are willing to stand up and fight against this kind of ignorance. Let's keep it up, U of C.

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Comments

It\'s racist because the author\'s wordview also places \"Muslim\", \"terrorist\", ethnicity and skin color in the same category, and therefore attributes the same worldview to the vandals he criticises. This is revealed with the \"visibly Muslim\" remark which equates headscarves with a particular faith, or olive skin colour to a particular race.

It\'s worrying that the author simultaneously admonishes the vandals for being racist because they refer to terrorism, while making the claim that terrorism is unconnected to race.

Unfortunate truth: If terrorism is unconnected to race or religion, and if the author doesn\'t know the motives behind the vandalism, then the only individual who is connecting terrorism to race and religion is the self-righteous author.

And even that fallacious connection is not put to good effect. The only call to action the author makes can be summarised: Go out of your way to convince some entities we cannot know to change their perspectives and actions from the unfavourable set which we assume but cannot test, to another set which we assume is better, but also cannot test.

The call to smite the evil vandals may not be an unreasonable message, but it could benefit from being clearly framed as such, and not as a tangent in commentary presented as socially and politically objective. There\'s an important history of such things not mixing well, of which Salem, the Third Reich, and Iraq are fine cases.

You can\'t place \"Muslim\" in the same category as \"race\", however badly you want to attribute the word racism to the vandals actions. The author said \"visibly Muslim\", not \"visible minority\", so the basis upon which the defacement was made, according to the author, was a religious one and not a racial one. It is unacceptable prejudice to be sure, but not racism.

@Devin: I don\'t think we disagree here.

The author places religion in the same category as race, so to him or her, an attack against one is an attack against the other. Confusion on the author\'s part is a sign that she or he is aware that there is a broader cultural and spiritual world, but lacks the cognitive skills to deal with that diversity.

The author\'s reasoning shouldn\'t make sense to the rational secular world, but Gauntlet editorials have been pretty irrational this year (I mean more factually and logically faulty than in recent years). Refer to its disastrous tuition editorials...

While I\'ll agree that slander, prejudices, and vandalism are terrible things, this entire article seems blown out of proportion. As the other posters already stated: How in the world is that \"racist\"? It\'s mean and hurtful, it\'s a stereotype based on religious faith, but I don\'t see the racism here... Who is the journalist who wrote this article and which cereal box did they pull their english degree out of? It seems that the author has taken personal offense to what transpired and has turned a nasty bit of slander (welcome to elections?) into a serious crime.
Sorry if this comment is a bit off the cuff, I\'m just so sick of seeing people pull the racist card in situations where it\'s uncalled for and waving it around like someone was just murdered. Maybe if people stopped screaming \"off with their heads\" at each prejudice we come across, the bigots wouldn\'t be so keen on expressing their own close-minded beliefs.