Don't Blame Hillel

THE SWASTIKA COMES DOWN:

TWO weeks ago, Jacinda Townsend '92 hung a swastika outside her window in Cabot House in an outcry over the display of Confederate flags around campus. Her motive, she said, was to provoke the University to ban such forms of hate speech.

On March 4, she took down the swastika--an action that was welcomed, but long overdue. Then, after this apparent turn toward greater sensitivity, she sent a letter to The Crimson expressing unfounded bitterness toward Harvard Hillel and the campus Jewish community.

In a letter explaining her reason for taking down the swastika, Townsend charged the Jewish community with unfairly criticizing her and the Black Students Association (BSA). She said Hillel chose "not to see the more important goal" of combating the racism embodied in the display of Confederate flags. She further claimed that "Hillel and other members of the Jewish community...have chosen not to unite with other communities to eliminate the displays of such racist and odious symbols."

IN making such an attack, Townsend belittled the efforts of BSA and Hillel to foster greater cooperation between Black and Jewish students. In fact, Hillel and BSA have responded in concert to the spate of insensitive symbols on campus.

Hillel and BSA are not teetering on a "precarious relationship," as Townsend claimed. If anything, communication between the two groups has enhanced and strengthened a united effort to combat hatred on campus.

The two groups issued a joint condemnation of the offensive displays immediately after they were hung. Events sponsored by BSA later in the week, such as the eat-ins and the protest march from Kirkland to Cabot, also saw participation of many Jewish students, either representing Hillel or acting on their own out of disgust for racial insensitivity.

Although Townsend said she hung her swastika in defense of racial sensitivity, her deeds and words have offended many members of the Harvard community.

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