Message from Kroc School Faculty

Mar. 1, 2017

Dear Campus Community,

We, the faculty of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, feel it is incumbent upon us to speak forcefully to the incident of 22 February in which a  swastika was found drawn in a common area of the building in which we devote so much of our time and energies to the promotion of peace.

First, we want to state unequivocally that we abhor this act and utterly reject the ideology it evokes.

The swastika is a potent reminder of what is perhaps the darkest chapter in our species' history, in which the Nazi regime was directly responsible for nearly 21 million deaths between 1933 and 1945: a brutal, systematic, and relentless campaign of executions, massacres, imposed famine, bombing, and "euthanasia" targeting especially Jews, but also other minority and ethnic groups deemed genetically inferior. These acts and the world war they provoked later galvanized the international community to create the institutions we rely on today to protect civil and political rights; uphold cultural, economic, and social rights; promote economic development for the poorest; and attempt to ensure that genocide will never happen again.

But the swastika is not just a reminder of the past; it is also a threat of what could happen again. The current political climate has encouraged the manifestation of hateful, racist, and xenophobic ideologies in the United States. Thinly veiled neo-Nazi groups have literally hailed President Trump's election. January of this year saw a wave of bomb threats target 48 Jewish Community Centers in 26 states, and Jewish cemetaries have been desecrated. Other minority groups including Muslims, African Americans, and Latinos have endured increasing incidences of harassment and bullying from peers, teachers, government employees.

For all these reasons and more, we will not tolerate acts of intolerance at the School of Peace Studies. It is insufficient to not condone acts of hate. Such acts are not, and should not be, protected as free speech; indeed, their primary function is to strip the less powerful of their own voice by threat and intimidation. As peace scholars and practitioners, we are called upon to speak out against hate and violence in all their forms, lest our silence be mistaken for acceptance or acquiescence.

Second, we stand in solidarity with any student, faculty, staff, or visitors disturbed or frightened by this act. We at the Kroc School aspire to be a force for peace in the world. This aspiration rests on inclusivity and a willingness to be challenged—and ultimately enriched—by the fabulous diversity of perspectives and people we represent and come in contact with. You are welcome in this building, in our offices, in our lives.

Third and last, our aspiration to build peace also entails a willingness to understand conflicting viewpoints and reimagine human interactions. So while we maintain an abhorrence of the act committed, we want to acknowledge simultaneously the fear or sense of insecurity that may have motivated the responsible individual. Any one of us would invite a discussion with this individual in the hopes of understanding his or her original reasons, and current potential interest in reconciling with our community. We welcome you, too.

In peace,

Kroc School Faculty