Statement by USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman on Hate Speech, Violence, and Bigotry
Baltimore, Md. (May 27, 2021) – In the days since the deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas, the U.S. has seen escalating anti-Semitic hate speech and violence. It’s wrong and reprehensible. Of course it is. There’s no excuse for allowing criticism of the actions of a nation—whether or not one believes the criticism is valid—to metastasize into assaults and slurs against individuals. Hate is malignant and dangerous. Always. And it has no place on our USM campuses or in our country.
And yet we confront hate again and again. This week, we remembered George Floyd on the one-year anniversary of his murder, an act that galvanized this nation and begged us to prove—as we hadn’t before—that Black Lives Matter. In March, six women of Asian descent were murdered in Georgia, amid rising pandemic-era violence against AAPI communities. We’ve seen escalating violence against Latinx people, Muslim people, and LGBTQ+ people—violence fomented and inflamed by irresponsible rhetoric on immigration and terrorism; violence incited by homophobia and transphobia.
Our outrage at these acts is genuine. But it’s also easy. It’s easy to condemn hate, and racism, and bigotry, and stubborn ignorance. It’s much harder to do the work that resists them—the work of education, love, and tolerance. That is the work to which the USM is committed: securing equity for all members of our communities, demanding justice on their behalf, and defending the principles on which this country was founded and which it struggles still to honor.
The only valid response to hate is not more words denouncing it, but sustained action that starves it of fuel, that renders it weak and, in time, irrelevant. To everyone within the University System of Maryland taking up that action—day in and day out—I thank you.
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Contact: Mike Lurie