Statement Concerning the Climate of Political Intolerance: A voice vote was taken on the statement below at the December 9, 2015 Faculty meeting and passed by overwhelming yes vote with one abstention.
We, members of the faculty at The Evergreen State College, are deeply troubled by the extreme intolerance of the present political scene in the United States. Particularly worrisome are some of the demagogic, hateful and openly racist statements emerging from the field of Presidential candidates, echoed by members of Congress, governors, and other officials. In recent months we have seen rhetorical slanders against Mexican immigrants, Muslims, refugees, Black Lives Matter activists, women, and even people with disabilities. The Paris attacks of November 13 prompted discussion of closing mosques, mass surveillance, and the creation of databases of refugees—and perhaps all Muslims. Many governors demanded a ban on all immigration of Syrian refugees to the United States. One presidential candidate compared them to “rabid dogs.” Another has proposed that we kill the families of terrorists. Such inflammatory comments, appealing to deep-seated prejudice and fear, can only serve to degrade public discourse, weaken the defense of cherished civil liberties, and prepare the ground for authoritarianism and violence.
To combat these troubling developments, as part of our stated mission to further social justice, we at The Evergreen State College:
- Applaud the statement by Governor Jay Inslee welcoming Syrian refugees to the State of Washington. We further encourage an increase in the proposed number of those refugees allowed into the United States during this period of humanitarian crisis.
- Encourage, to the extent possible, our own Evergreen State College to be a part of the process of resettlement of these immigrants. We also endorse tuition support and an expedited admissions process to allow Syrian students to attend Evergreen.
- Condemn the wholesale scapegoating of members of the Islamic faith, and those of Middle Eastern ethnicity, because of the reprehensible acts of a few. We denounce the exploitation of public fears by political figures seeking to build support at the expense of whole groups of innocent people.
- Condemn the abusive political rhetoric against African Americans, Black Lives Matter activists, undocumented Mexican and other immigrants, people with disabilities, women, and others. We deplore this uncivil and intolerant discourse, and encourage our community members to publicly defend the rights and liberties of those under attack.
- Promote an ethics of welcome towards all refugees, recognizing their right to human dignity. We are also mindful that climate change, war, and economic crises will continue to produce migrations for a long time to come.
- We welcome and echo this November 21 statement issued by the American Academy of Religion, the world’s largest scholarly society devoted to the critical study of religion:
The American Academy of Religion is deeply troubled by the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States and around the world. Hate speech and intemperate political discourse aimed at Muslims and other religious groups are opposed to the values of our learned society and to the most cherished commitments of American civic culture. We call on our members, other scholars of religion, and all Americans, to reject that divisive and dangerous speech and to reaffirm our shared commitment to a free and open society where all residents’ rights are recognized and protected.