The Reed Incident: The Second Apology, September 26

To learn more, read Peter Kranitz’s full story.

 

From: studentbody-info-bounces@lists.reed.edu <studentbody-info-bounces@lists.reed.edu> on behalf of Student Body Info <studentbody-info@lists.reed.edu>
Sent: Monday, September 26, 2016 3:09 AM
To: studentbody-info@lists.reed.edu
Subject: SB Info is ready for restoration

 

This week’s Senate Meeting at 4:15 in the SU will be an open space for conversation and dialogue regarding this past Wednesday’s SB Info. Please, if you feel comfortable doing so, come and talk, have your voice heard, and share in a collective energy and strength that I hope will begin, proceed, and end positively.

I would like to start off by saying how sorry I am and acknowledging how utterly not-okay my behavior was. Words, however, are no proper medium for expressing true sentiment or enacting real change. The only adequate apology is a continued pattern of altered behavior, and I am here to say that I am ready and willing to undertake such a change. I do already feel as though a difference is starting to be made. This has been brought about not only by my reflection (voluntary or involuntary), but also by the amazing words, support, and criticism from the brilliant and beautiful people who populate this campus. I have had conversations and exchanges that have been difficult, productive, confusing, and any combination of the sort. I have had conversations and exchanges that have moved me to tears for any and every reason under the sun. Mostly, it is just so heartening to see how much you all care about each other and this community. Still, it pains me so to know that I have wronged such a significant population of people (who are not just Jewish), and that I have put the Peace of this wonderful place into jeopardy.

That being said, I would also like to apologize for the way that my careless words may have impacted any and all people who are in any way connected to the religion and/or Nation of Islam, and for the unjust and apparent conflation that it may have appeared I made between such a faith and the militant group ISIS.

The more I think about it, and the more I am writing about it, the more I realize that my voice and my point of view might be taking up space and detracting from a dialogue that should involve people from across the community. Yes, it is my responsibility to acknowledge and address my mistakes and shortcomings, but it is also my responsibility to (attempt to) represent the Student Body as a whole. And, as such, I cannot speak for everyone — especially since it is not my identity that has been directly involved, implicated, and subject to both scrutiny and hardship.

Also, I would like to address my first apology that was sent out on the night of… I did not at all intend to push off the blame onto the friend who suggested the quote, though, of course, intent doesn’t mean shit anywhere, and especially here. The fact of the matter is that people were hurt and that it appeared as though I was deferring my agency. I was trying to explain the events and the process by which the title manifested itself as it did, and I apologize profusely for the way it came off to others. It is my fault. It was, in the end, I who pressed the “send” button, and as such I shoulder full responsibility for the dissemination of the message and the way it was subsequently construed. As Student Body President, and as one who is supposed to, or who purports to stand as the representative voice of Reedies and of the Student Body, the reality is that my words and my actions held and will hold a particularly and especially severe weight to them. I realize that this made what I have said all the more hurtful, offensive, and alarming.

Thus, your feelings of hurt and disrespect are absolutely and completely valid. It is more than valid to feel hurt, in fact, it is perfectly reasonable and more than expected. Anyone who attempts to tell you that you are unjust in your emotions is simply incorrect and is speaking/acting cruelly and counterproductively. Please, feel your feelings. There are enough people on the day-to-day who tell other people that their feelings are invalid, and that is fucked up and unjust in itself. Be there for each other, listen to each other, and just be a good friend and an available set of ears.

Anyway, I already feel like I have taken up too much space with my own individual thoughts and impressions. While I have certainly erred, and it is certainly up to me to at least attempt to repair some of the (most likely irreparable) damage I have done, it is also imperative that with the authority and privilege I have that I give an outlet and a voice to the people who need it most — to the people who deserve it most. So, here are some some words from your peers, the people whose opinions really matter and need to be heard — the people who have been slighted, confused, bewildered, and inspired:

Calling people names and pointing fingers doesn’t solve issues.

We’re all here at Reed on a path towards being more educated human beings…Help each other out don’t shove each other down. Especially in times of oppression….

Idk any simpler words…
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <#

by Anonymous

______

Hi Lucas,
It was definitely jarring to see such a blatantly anti-Semitic email in my mailbox, but not entirely surprising. My Jewish community in Indiana was often targeted by anti-Semites and white supremacists, but I suppose it might have been too much to expect for things to be different at Reed.
I think this particular problem is larger than anti-Semitism though.  I have often felt like there’s a stubborn unwillingness at Reed to try to understand our classmates’ feelings/perspectives.  I’m referring to religion, race, and gender, but also class, privilege, and politics. Honestly since I’ve started going here, I’ve had heavy doubts about the whole “Reedies help Reedies” thing.  We’re an opinionated bunch, and that’s a good thing. However, we’re also callous, aggressive, and thin-skinned.  This email is not the first time I’ve felt alienated by intolerance in the Reed community, and I doubt it will be the last.

by Anonymous

______

 

Please, if you care, for the love of god read beyond the first paragraph otherwise I’ll seem to make the exact argument I’m arguing against.

Anti-semitism sucks. The Jewish people (which I’m part of, look at me I have an ethos argument backing this) have been the target of such an unbelievably massive, continuous, and everlasting amount of persecution and violence. As a Jew you are born with a mark that gives you both the benefit of a community and the potential detriment of exclusion and hatred from innumerable sources. We have gotten shoved out of everywhere we’ve tried to go at some point, sometimes due to simply being unwelcome and sometimes as part of an institutional act.

Jews of Reed, this is our identity. This is our history. We’ve endured genocides and fought wars. We are not weak, not remotely. We are (well, should be) the most resilient fucking people in this whole fucking planet. We’ve had so, so much worse thrown at us than a fucking email. I know you don’t like signs of anti-semitism, I know you want to feel safe, but we have better, greater things to worry about. If you worry about the state of the Jewish people, worry about real dangers. There are states and individual people who want us dead, there is no sense in you being preoccupied with a tiny joke.

Non-Jews of Reed, we’re fine. We really are. We’ll survive this. It might be hard, but I think we might just use our resources well and pull through this menace of email titles. There might be casualties, but they will be neccessary. But seriously, though, you’re not even Jewish. When your identity is facing discrimination and you sound out distress at that I won’t judge you a single bit, hell I’ll help out your cause to the extent that you desire for me to do so- but meanwhile chill the fuck out. Lucas apologized. I would say let us fight our own battle, but this isn’t even a battle. It’s the title of an email.

We’re fine. Chill.

by Noam Bentov

_______


SB Info: Is this what it means to be Jewish? Lmk
by Halle Young (to be published in The Quest, soon. The author would like to stress that they do not, in any way, shape, or form, purport to speak on behalf of all Jewish peoples.)

Wednesday night was maybe the first moment in my time here so far that I have felt completely and wholly solid in my choice to come to Reed. My morning started with an incredibly engaging hum lecture and conference, I spent my afternoon delighting in sunlight on the lawn practicing chinese characters, and my night concluded with an inspiring display of artistic expression and love in the Paradox. In short, I felt Reed was graciously providing me with the experience I had envisioned a year ago when I decided to ED. Wednesday came as a major relief. As I am sure every one of my freshmen peers anticipated, this first month has been rocky. What I did not anticipate however was the reason for the turbulence I felt daily: my jewish identity, which I have been desperately trying to reconcile within the context of this new community. You can imagine my frustration and defeat when I awoke to an email in my Reed inbox the next day with the subject “SB Info: Hasidic Jews are the Jewish Version of ISIS.”

Let me be frank. I write this piece not to point fingers, or make accusations. This is to open a dialogue that I, as a Jewish New Yorker, am appalled to find not present already. I am aware that having grown up in Manhattan, I have had incredible access to diversity that just isn’t present in other communities. I am aware that Oregon is one of those places. I am also aware, and was actively conscious of when I applied, that Reed prides itself on being accepting of different identities, and welcoming of diversity. So with all this in mind, I really didn’t think too much about how my identity as a liberal jew, dare I say liberal zionist, would be problematic for me here.

What I have found is instead a real lack of knowledge about the jewish community, that if exists here, is incredibly inaccessible. During O-week in a panel on getting involved in Reed, I asked about Jewish spaces. To my surprise Reed is only home to Chabad. Though lovely for a Shabbat dinner and to fill a familial void, is not home to the kind of Judaism I resonate with, which is rather political and reform. When I asked if there was a Hillel or J-Street on campus, I received a quiet “no,” but was quickly encouraged to start one myself. Having only been at Reed for the lofty length of 3 days, I admit that I was not ready to take on that project. Without an accessible reform Jewish community, it has been quite challenging to navigate the decisions of how “Jewish” to be alone. Do I need to take off class for the high holy days, or can I just quietly fast? And if I do take off, do I attend a service at Chabad where I may not be able to practice in the way I am comfortable, or do I have to look to the broader Portland community? How quickly should I jump to involve myself in every conversation about Israel? Why is it that every time I mention this to another student I am greeted with the response “Word it is really crazy how no one here ever talks about this…”? I am confident that I am not the only person on this campus who has grappled with/is grappling with these questions. I also am confident that many people on campus have never considered that others are grappling with these questions, and therefore might be confused at the “sensitive” response to the comments made earlier this week.

For context– this is the week in the Hum curriculum where students are discussing the Torah. With these discussions and the high holy days approaching, tensions for many were already high, and this email was all too timely.

I do not expect every student to understand the nuances of the Jewish religion, and the many sects it includes. There are people here who don’t know what hasidic jews are, and that is understood and okay. I do expect however that such ignorance should not be trivialized, and grouped under the same umbrella with witty quips and puns. Equating anything to ISIS is an incredibly inflammatory comparison, and to do so with no context or agenda at all, seems royally… misguided? Unnecessary? Confused? I don’t know if there is an appropriate word.

For me though, the most troubling point was not the comments themselves, but the deafening silence that followed. The first time I even began to hear conversation about these comments was Friday, two days later. If these comments had been about any other marginalized group, I have no doubt that the discourse would have commenced immediately. If you disagree, take a look at a Reed facebook group any time a remotely provocative/discriminatory/ conservative comment is made. The backlash and display of solidarity is prompt. It is worthwhile to note that if this happened in another institution, one that participates in public rankings and media more readily than Reed does, this would be on the cover of the New York Times. In a school that engages with conversation over safe spaces, trigger warnings, and most importantly honor as frequently as we do here, it is essential that we treat this situation with the same seriousness and spirit.

I think many Jews are reluctant to speak up knowing that perhaps the Jewish experience of oppression is not considered “comparable” to that of other groups represented at Reed, and thus requires them to keep their mouths shut, and wait to speak if anything truly reeking of anti semitism is thrown at them. No one wants to seem like they can’t take a joke, or have a tendency to blow things out of proportion. Even though anti semitism is not at the forefront of American media, this trend does not deny the history of marginalization inextricably tied to the Jewish narrative. How oppressed a group is determined to be has no bearing on whether or not it is acceptable to use bigoted speech, or hateful rhetoric.

To Lucas- I appreciate your apology and your promise to reflect in the next SB email. I am readily waiting. Over these few days a lot of people have apologized to me that this has happened. Am I sorry? No. I think if anything the Jewish community at Reed has recognized that we need to join together in a more public and vocal way. It appears currently to be fashionable to exclude Jewish narratives from conversations about oppression and discrimination. Perhaps this was needed to remind our community that to truly be intersectional in advocacy, we need to make antisemitism our issue too.
_________

The promotion toward “free thinking” in a traditional intellectual secular realm such as Reed College that once had a slogan that idealized and emphasized atheism contributes to an atmosphere that suggests it is (at least sometimes) acceptable to debase, negate, and mock other people’s religious or spiritual beliefs.
I believe this should not be tolerated on the Reed Campus just as much as we do not tolerate issues of discrimination against race, gender, class, age, disability, and all other protected statuses. We should have the right as students to feel comfortable in our learning and living environments at Reed without any aspect of our identity, including our intrinsic values and belief systems, being attacked or trivialized. What can possibly be done about this, and is the final resolution always going to be deferring to the outdated founder’s wills? Talk about a fallacy of tradition. Did they really promote an atmosphere that insidiously encourages debasement, invalidation, and mockery in their “ideal” educational community byany account, particularly those who have religions or religious experiences? Why does this continue to remain unprotected?

–  by Anonymous

_______

The Eleventh Plague by Rachel Kennelly:

Are you Jewish?
Yes I am.
They said he asked people that before he shot.
Yes, I am Jewish.
Yes, I would have been shot.

Gunshots are easy to ignore when they’re far away,
but I heard them loud and clear
when they were in my own backyard.
The day before we celebrated our freedom as Jews
Freedom from slavery
Freedom from fear
Freedom to be Jewish
we were thrown back into Egypt,
with a few simple bullets.

This Pesach, we are reminded of the oldest plague,
the plague they don’t tell you about as a kid,
the plague you learn about the first time “Jew” goes from a simple fact to the punch line of a joke
the plague you learn about when you ask your mom what “kike” means because someone called you one
the plague that has been afflicting the Jewish people forever:
Hatred.
This year, we were not passed over.

It is 2014, but there are still those who hate me,
those who want people like me dead.
My message to them?
You’re not the first ones.
People have wanted the Jews dead since our Exodus from Egypt,
but we live.
Through tragedy after tragedy,
deaths, tortures, expulsions,
We still live.

So the next time I snap at an anti-Semitic comment
or a Holocaust joke
Tell me I’m overreacting.
Because to you, they may be just jokes
but to me, they’re a reality.

They say he yelled “Heil Hitler” from the police car.

Do not Heil Hitler.
Heil Anielewicz.
Heil Szold.
Heil Rabin.
Heil the liberators
Heil the negotiators
Heil the peacemakers
but do not heil the man with the blood of six million of my people and five million more on his hands.
Do not heil hatred.

To Nazis everywhere,
from Auschwitz to Warsaw to neo-Nazis around the world today:
Look at me.
Tell me why you hate me.
Look at me in the face
Tell me why I don’t deserve to live.
Look at me in the eyes.
Tell me why I am lesser
than you.

Baruch dayan emet
Blessed is the True Judge.

It did not stop pouring rain that day.
God could not stop crying for our world’s loss.
But the sun came out the next day.
We cannot dwell in our darkness for long.
The strong outstretched hand that led us
out of Egypt, out of the pogroms, and out of the camps is still here
to guide us out of this tragedy.
Though we cannot undo the tragedy,
we can learn from it.
Learn that hatred still exists.
Learn that life is fragile.
Learn that in sadness, it is important to celebrate life.
Learn that tragedy shows the true strength of community.
Learn that we must never forget.

He asked people if they were Jewish before he shot.
I don’t want to fear for my life when I hear the simple question:
“Are you Jewish?”
because I wouldn’t have survived.
I will not say no.
I will not be silenced.
I will not hide.
I am no martyr, but
I am Jewish,
and I am proud.

___

My point here is to say that through this I know you have learned things. At my high school our motto discere vivendo means learning through living, that is, making mistakes and learning from them. You have learned not to compare Hasidic Jews to ISIS. You have learned and will continue to learn more nuanced things in this general topic. But you have not learned, I hope, to stop sending us your insight and bundles of your mind. At least from me, I can say that you are forgiven, and I wish you the best in moving through and over.

by Anonymous

____

Again, while I know that mere words of mine will never be sufficient in mending the hurt I have created, I hope that this email and the sentiments expressed have at least started to make a stride in the right direction. Again, I implore you to come and show up to the Senate meeting this Wednesday at 4:15 in the SU and speak, hear the voices of others, and show your support and solidarity for a community that needs it — your community, your friends, and your loved ones.

Thank you, and, again — I am so gravely sorry. My love is extended to you all in any and every direction, and I hope that we can, as a collective, grow stronger from and as a result of these unfortunate circumstances that I have wrought. Thank you, also, for your consideration, compassion, and criticism. It is the only way I, and anyone else, can truly learn and grow.

Until next time,

__________________________________________

All Love,

Lucas “Be Lit, Don’t Belittle” Binion

Thoughts, Feedback, Questions, Criticisms, and Comments of all sorts are always encouraged. Please, seek me out in person or email me at lwbinion@gmail.com if you want to seriously follow up with me regarding anything I have ranted about in the above message, or if you have “deeper,” “more serious” concerns about specifically SB Gov-related things. If anything, I’m here to listen and help.

—————————————————————————————————-

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Student Body News:

  1. Senate

New semester means New Senators! (And some old ones as well). This semester, Public Senate Meetings will take place at 4:15 PM ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOONS! Really the one true place where y’all, as students, can have your voice heard and contribute to the public conversation regarding current goings-on, issues, etc. involving the immediate Reed Community. Come hangg.

  1. Trea$ury

FINANCE COMMITTEE meets on Thursdays @ 8:15 PM in Eliot 207!

Audrey Dannar: Tuesdays from 1:00 to 2:00 PM in the Treasury Office (behind bong loft in the SU)
Josh Cox: Fridays from 12:00 to 1:00 PM in the Treasury Office
Natasha: Mondays from 6:00 to 7:00 PM & Thursdays from 12:10 to 1:10 PM in the Treasury Office
Chad Malcolm: Mondays & Wednedays from 1:15 to 2:15 PM in the Treasury Office

  1. Appointments Committee

For questions related to the positions, or the appointments process more generally, please contact Dylan Holmes at dylholmes@reed.edu.

RENN FAYRE CZARS

(**application extended**)

Applications due Friday, September 30th at noon, available on sin.reed.edu

The Renn Fayre Czars will put on the biggest party of the year! They organize two Thesis Parades (Spring/Fall and Fall/Spring), book performers (and plan the Surprise), coordinate students to plan Glo Opera, the Lodges, Feast, and other traditions, file paperwork, and coordinate with numerous college offices and administrators… all to ensure that seniors (and the rest of us) have the damn good time everyone deserves. Interested students are strongly encouraged to apply in teams (typically four members), should have strong management and organizational skills, and must be ready to work under time pressure and stress. Current freshmen and seniors need not apply. Up to one member of a team can be studying abroad during the Fall semester. Candidates are encouraged to talk to the previous year’s Czars when applying. Applicants will be asked to sign a Release of Information form.

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