This morning, a swastika was found on a note in an Eastman elevator.

This Nazi symbol was discovered less than a day after the horrific mass shooting of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. 11 were killed. Six were injured.

It’s not difficult to link these two events. The timing of this swastika makes its intolerance particularly acute. Because yesterday’s events reminded us how that intolerance can lead to loss of life. UR has a high Jewish population, though the act wouldn’t be less heinous anywhere else.

Regardless of how faint the symbol was, it was intolerance nonetheless. It doesn’t matter that there was no loss of life today. What matters is that certain people feel empowered by a culture of intolerance. Their worldview gets justified. And some of these people become ready to act.

At UR, we pride ourselves on diversity and tolerance. But bigotry is alive and well, and our campus is sadly no exception. This is not the first swastika found in recent months at the University. For example, some were found in Sue B. earlier this semester.

Bigotry is the norm in today’s news cycle. Trump says something more incomprehensibly insensitive every week. The media eats it up and spits it back out to the public, giving the bigotry a voice. If anyone can convince someone that something is normal and acceptable, it’s the leader of the free world.

Furthermore, the Trump administration announced a memo last week about a policy that, if passed, would completely align legal gender with genitalia at birth. The policy would completely marginalize transgender people. They would be completely prevented from legally identifying as their gender.

Many students here would be impacted as well. Their quality of life would worsen. There’s already transphobia on campus — this policy would give it legal backing.

Hate speech and hate crimes don’t always physically impact who they target, at least directly. But they perpetuate attitudes shared with people in power, whether that power is legislative or otherwise.

So, let’s not give anyone justification for committing bigoted acts. If you see it, or if you hear it, tell someone about it. File a bias report. You can take the opportunity to educate people. Or you can at least prevent someone from spreading hateful rhetoric to someone else ready to hear it.

If there’s any chance your actions can prevent marginalization or targeted violence, then they are more than worth taking.

Tagged: tolerance

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