Washington College reacts to violence Charlottesville
CHESTERTOWN — Washington College released dual statements on the recent events in Charlottesville, Va., denouncing the violence and hate that led to three deaths.
Marchers — comprising white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and KKK members — were at the University of Virginia campus Friday, Aug. 11, carrying torches and chanting slogans such as “white lives matter.” to protest the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee the following day, they clashed with counter-demonstrators.
A speeding vehicle crashed into a group protesting racism as the “Unite the Right” rally continued Aug. 12, killing 32 year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. A police helicopter also crashed while en route to the rally Aug. 12, taking the lives of two Virginia state troopers.
On Aug. 17, Washington College President Kurt Landgraf and the faculty issued statements denouncing the violence and hateful rhetoric of the “Unite the Right” participants.
“For centuries, race and intolerances have been complicated elements in defining who are we are as a nation. Now, the world has witnessed the events in Charlottesville, and it’s time for all of us to speak out, loud and clear: ‘This is not who we are,’” Landgraf said in a statement.
“I am disgusted by the violence and hate that we have seen and continue to endure. There is no place for this in our country. No matter your political views, all of us could agree that these actions threaten the foundational values of this great country and who we are as a people. Our history demonstrates there is power behind nonviolence, progress in rational dialogue, and mutual understanding in compassion,” he said.
Landgraf made clear the college “will not tolerate this movement of anger and hate — on campus or in the community.”
“As the first college in a new nation, we have an important role to play in educating our students that their future role as thoughtful citizens and leaders of this country requires courage and a moral compass. We can begin by making clear that today, silence is not an option when faced with intolerance, racism, hate and violence,” he said.
The college’s faculty council, led by Chairman Clayton Black, an associate professor of history, joined Landgraf in condemning the intolerance on display by supporters and participants of the “Unite the Right” rally.
“In light of the incidents at the University of Virginia on August 10-12, 2017, we, the faculty of Washington College, reaffirm our adherence to the values of integrity, determination, curiosity, civility, leadership, and moral courage expressed in our Mission Statement. We condemn all efforts to masquerade bigotry and prejudice as merely expressions of ‘free speech’ and commit ourselves and our institution to acting as a force for securing and furthering the equality of all peoples, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, physical ability, or class,” the faculty council’s statement reads.
“As scholars, we accept that the free and open exchange of ideas from multiple perspectives is the surest means of achieving truthful propositions. Tolerance of alternative views is a precondition for such an exchange, and Washington College will always be a place where ideas are challenged and debated. We affirm the equality of all peoples; but we reject the equality of all ideas or ideologies as simply different-but-equal ‘points of view’ when they promote discrimination, exclusivity, or intolerance. Obscurantism and appeals to prejudice are not welcome at Washington College,” the faculty council wrote.
The president of Washington College and the faculty council have released statements condemning the hate groups that marched Aug. 11 and 12 under the “Unite the Right” banner in Charlottesville, Va.