You know how in my last post I overanalyzed stuff? Not here. Not necessary. The writing is on the wall, clear as a swastika on a bathroom door.
Yesterday, a friend on Facebook posted an Op-Ed in Swarthmore College’s newspaper, The Gazette, entitled “A Response to Yesterday’s Anti-Semitic Hate Crime from a ‘Whiny Brat Jew,’” by a student named William Meyer. I hope you’ll take time to read it, as he says many things I feel about some of the difficulties of being both Progressive with a capital “P” and Jewish – the difficulty of challenging anti-Semitism without being accused of having an agenda, among them.
As for the hate-crime, I was shocked – not that it had occurred, but that I hadn’t heard about it given I’d spent much of the day checking in with the Huffington Post, New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post – you get the idea. I’m often checking to see what’s going on – particularly in matters of social justice.
Another friend commented, asking – not in a doubtful way, but in a careful way – “Are we sure this happened? I can’t believe we’ve not seen this anywhere else but in this school’s newspaper.” She and I both had been scouring for second sources and found absolutely nothing. I was convinced from the comments section that it had been real – there was serious and high-level discussion about the event, and no one was saying it didn’t happen… but we were incredulous it wasn’t more widely known. After all – by now it was Thursday night, and this happened on Tuesday night. Meyer’s op-Ed was written on Thursday morning. In a world where a mother’s funny late note goes viral in a matter of a few hours, we were looking for confirmation of the incident and were pretty surprised we weren’t finding any.
Still nothing this morning. Friday. So, like the pseudo-journalist I fancy myself, and the one who cares deeply about matters like this, I started making phone calls. I called the McCabe library at Swarthmore and spoke to an employee there. She spoke quietly and used general and non-descript terms when I asked about what happened, and then referred me to the library director, for whom I left a voice mail. Within 10 minutes I received a phone call from the director who was absolutely lovely and spoke to me for about 5 or 10 minutes, confirmed it had happened – and we commiserated about the sadness and scariness of such things. She referred me to the Communications Office, who handles media inquiries.
Within 15 minutes of my calling and leaving a message with the coordinator who answered the phone at the Communications Office, I received an email from the Director of Communications who was kind enough to send me a copy of the letter the school president sent out to the Swarthmore community about this. I asked via email for permission to make it public, and she responded immediately, thanking me for asking and saying that I could. That’s how easy it was for me, a small-time blogger with a minimal platform, to find out about this.
Now, I realize, William, that you were writing that letter to your surrounding Swarthmore community, but here in Baltimore, that first line is killing me.
“By now you’ve probably already heard that on Tuesday night students discovered swastikas graffitied in McCabe.”
No, William. Unless we get the Swarthmore Gazette, we haven’t heard about it. And if that doesn’t add weight to the arguments in your pointed and poignant letter about anti-Semitism on the left, I don’t know what does.