Posted by: Danielle Freni, Senior Communications Associate on 12/14/2007 3:17:00 PM
I've never seen a swastika.
I know what they look like from television shows (most recently on "Grey's Anatomy"), WWII documentaries and my visits to Holocaust memorial museums. But aside from that, I've never actually seen a swastika drawn out of malice on a public building or a private home or even on a piece of paper.
Though I grew up in a home that wasn't Jewish, there was never the slightest hint of anti-Semitism in my family. One of my mother's best friends was (and still is) Modern Orthodox. My father, having been the only non-Jewish fraternity brother, had (and still has) exclusively Jewish friends.
I went to high school in a largely Christian town on Long Island. If anything, the few Jewish classmates I knew were "cooler" than everyone else. They were unique. They had blow-out parties three years earlier than the "Sweet Sixteens" and as we got older, it was their luxury SUVs that were the envy of the entire senior class.
In college (my university was 32% Jewish and ranked among the Top 10 schools with large Jewish populations), I worked for the campus television station. Not once, in my four years there, did we report a story on anti-Semitism.
So, if you were to ask me, I'd tell you that anti-Semitism is not really a problem. But clearly, I live in a bubble.
When I once remarked to my parents many years ago, that anti-Semitism was a thing of the past, they were quick to tell me otherwise. "You have no idea," my father said sternly "Just how ignorant people can be."
He went on to share an anecdote relayed to him by one of his Jewish friends who had joined the army in 1959. The friend's bunkmate was from Tennessee and appeared genuinely confused when he learned he was sharing a room with a Jew. His exact words, delivered without any ill-intention, were "You can't be Jewish. You don't have a tail and horns."
Nearly 50 years later, there still exists a great ignorance about the Jewish people perpetrated by common stereotypes. A poll conducted by Hillel revealed 51% of college students felt that they had experienced anti-Semitism either in college or in high school. How each student defines anti-Semitism varies. And whether the incidents were intentionally anti-Semitic, or personal pranks, is not always clear. But the fact that they occur at all is sufficient evidence that a problem exists.
Recently, a federal investigation into more than a dozen alleged hate crimes on a single campus recently concluded, essentially, nothing. Despite allegations that a Holocaust Memorial had been destroyed, a student wearing a tee-shirt that read "Everyone Loves a Jewish Boy" had a rock thrown at him, and that a number of swastikas had been graffitied on campus, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights determined there was "insufficient evidence" to prove the university had not responded appropriately.
I encourage you to read more about anti-Semitism on college campuses and join the conversation below.
RE: Ignorance is not bliss
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