Languages of hate and indifference

The differing statements made defacing the Washington Ave Bridge.

Chance Wellnitz

When I saw “ISIS” scrawled over the Muslim Student Association’s panels on the Washington Avenue Bridge, I knew some people would draw similarities between the vandalism of MSA’s panels and College Republicans’ panels, which were also defaced earlier this fall.

There would likely be accusations of hypocrisy in the administration’s response and the news coverage of the event — criticisms I believe are not entirely unfounded. However, it’s important to consider that while the act of defacement may be the same, the content and context surrounding each is very different.

It’s a reasonable assertion to view both events as acts of vandalism that target groups on campus. I think there’s a thoughtful discussion to be had which dissects the experiences of both groups; however, comparing aspects of oppression is a tricky task and one that is often fruitless because nobody is receptive to the idea that personal struggles are less than someone else’s.

Regardless of whether you see “Build the Wall” as an assertion of racist and xenophobic attitudes or simply a position on immigration policy, there is a still a statement being made.

Writing “Stop White Supremacy” over “Build the Wall” is one statement meeting another — a collision of two differing ideologies.

Now, I would argue that one ideology is certainly more prevalent on a liberal college campus, and defacing a mural may not be the best means of confronting difference of opinion, and it’s definitely not — for many — a good starting block for necessary conversation.

However, writing “Stop White Supremacy” over “Build the Wall” is not a direct condemnation of the College Republicans, themselves.

On the other hand, writing “ISIS” over “Muslim Student Association” is, if not a direct condemnation, certainly an unfounded accusation.

We can endlessly speculate on the intentions of whoever wrote “ISIS” on the mural. But is it even necessary?

Until someone comes forward as responsible for either act of vandalism, our judgments based on speculation are useless. All we have are actions and outcomes. But even if someone did come forward with their motivations, would that even change your mind?

The words “Muslim Student Association” shouldn’t provoke the heinous response we saw earlier this month, and labeling a group of U students as “ISIS” is not the same as criticizing Donald Trump’s proposed wall as xenophobic.

But if in fact the first mural tagged on the Washington Avenue Bridge wasn’t indicative of xenophobia, this second marking certainly is.