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Open Letter to the SLU Community: In Opposition to Hate and Hate Crimes

November 29, 2016

On Monday, November 14, 2016, the FBI released its 2015 report on hate crimes. The statistics included crimes based on race, ethnicity, ancestry, gender (identity and expression), sexuality, religion, and ability. They identified "5,818 single-bias incidents that involved 6,837 offenses, 7,121 victims, and 5,475 known offenders." These crimes did not include the "32 multiple-bias incidents...[that] involved 48 offenses, 52 victims, and 18 known offenders." We shudder to think what the hate crimes statistics will be for 2016. After all, each one of these numbers represents a person, a human being who is loved and needed by family and friends like other human beings.

Since the beginning of this November there has been an uptick in these bias incidents, including a particularly disturbing one involving a University of Oklahoma student and first-year African American students at the University of Pennsylvania.

In any democratic process or structure, disagreement across a wide variety of ideologies and issues comes as no surprise. Civil disagreement, in fact, is necessary to the health of democracy. There exists no case, however, when the expression of hate — physical, verbal or virtual — because of difference is justified. Difference of ideology, race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexuality, veteran status, religion, and ability is no cause for hate.

We, the undersigned members of the Saint Louis University community, stand today in strong opposition to hate and hate crimes. And we stand in strong opposition to the fear that fuels hate. We stand firm against racism. We stand firm against sexism and misogyny. We stand firm against anti-Semitism. We stand firm against Islamophobia. We stand firm against homophobia. We stand firm against xenophobia. We stand firm against any phobia or -ism that promotes hate and division.

We encourage every member of our community to join us. We encourage every member of our community to rise to the challenge of working for political, ideological and social goals in a way that moves us closer, with all of our differences, to a beloved community in which hate has no place.