Over the past week, white supremacists have launched repeated death threats against Washington’s The Evergreen State College in Olympia. At least three sets of threats were sent or phoned to the campus by white supremacists, who said they planned to bring weapons to the school and massacre students and faculty.
Evergreen is known as one of the most progressive campuses in the nation. Rachel Corrie studied at the school and interrupted her studies to travel to Gaza where she was killed by the IDF. The Black Lives Matter movement is heavily supported on campus. The Olympia Food Coop began the movement to boycott Israeli products, which led to a lawsuit sponsored by the Israeli government and Standwithus. That suit, after being dismissed, was reinstated by the State Supreme Court, where it has returned to the Superior Court.
In a strange convergence of interests, white supremacists hate Evergreen almost as much as the Israel Lobby does. For years, SWU and the Israeli foreign ministry have targeted the students and faculty for opprobrium, falsely claiming they are anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic.
But the recent spate of massacre threats has taken the hate to a new level. Given the atmosphere of hysteria and fear in this country in the aftermath of Trump’s election victory, his targeting of Muslim refugees, and the imputation that leftists are traitors to the nation, these threats are ominous and deeply disturbing. There have been numerous shootings and mass murder over the past few years directed against Muslims, foreigners, the LGBT community, and Blacks. At the University of Washington, a white supremacist shot an Antifa protester and nearly killed him during a protest against Milo Yiannopoulos. No one can doubt that an institution like Evergreen would make a choice target for these types of individuals.
As with similar previous incidents, FoxNews, Breitbart and other right-wing media outlets have focussed on perceived outrages on campus, promoted them, and outraged their listeners into taking matters into their own hands. The incident began when students held a day-long discussion on race which was restricted to students of color. Non-minority students and faculty were asked to leave campus to their minority colleagues. A white (Jewish) faculty member refused. This led to an angry confrontation between students and administrators. The aggrieved professor proceeded to regale the right-wing news cycle with serial interviews, ginning up the controversy even further. That is how the matter reached its current fever pitch.
It is clear that the Trumpist news media are directly responsible for these outbreaks of mass white supremacist hysteria. They’ve done it before. They’ve gone on the rampage against individuals and made their lives a living hell. While there is a First Amendment right to free speech, when media irresponsibly provoke threats and actual acts of violence they must accept responsibility.
Whatever incident provoked the ire of the right-wing media, this result can in no way be justified. It’s one thing to tussle over issues of race in a contentious, hot-headed manner and quite another to provoke homicidal maniacs to break out their weapons and converge on an American college campus to take justice into their own hands. Will FoxNews’ new Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, only be satisfied when he sees the limp bodies of coeds riddled with bullets on College Walk like Kent State in 1969?
The school administration has banned anyone on campus from carrying weapons or any sort of self-defense equipment. This is to guard against a white supremacist entering campus intending to engage in mayhem.
This article was published at Tikun Olam