There’s an episode of the Twilight Zone where the denizens of a small town waiting for space invaders rip themselves apart with their own paranoia and viciousness.
The ironic twist, the aliens never come and the town folk themselves become the monsters.
UCSB is in that same state of anticipation. The news filtering into our campus about heated clashes throughout the world between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups has many worried. In the most recent episode, at San Francisco State University on May 7, police escorted pro-Israeli students away from the scene of a confrontation with pro-Palestinian students.
UCSB is hunkering down, either hoping that the monsters won’t come to this campus or naively believing that such hate could never happen here.
About a month ago, an unknown lunatic spray painted anti-Semitic messages on the newly constructed Manzanita Village. Wednesday night at Leg Council, pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students clashed over a proposed position paper that called for students to support the state of Israel.
The monsters are well on their way.
The Israel-Palestine conflict has polarized a great number of UCSB students. While the few incidents of hate have been relatively isolated, the fact that even one occurred is frightening.
It is important that we behave like the civilized adults that we are. If we lose control of our emotions and degenerate into creatures of hate and malice, no one is served and everyone is harmed.
So far, we’ve been doing okay. Students are educating themselves on the Israel-Palestine conflict, trying to get as much information as possible before making a decision.
This doesn’t mean that we’re safe from the hate that’s infected other cities and campuses worldwide. In order to prevent it from invading our home, there are a few things that everyone can do.
Just as you have your right to your own opinion, so does everyone else. It’s possible to support Palestine without being anti-Semitic. It’s possible to support Israel without resorting to racial epithets about Arabs and Muslims.
Chances are slim that anyone who disagrees with you is a racist or a hatemonger. Don’t confuse a difference of opinion with malice. If you see someone browbeating others for their views, either call them on it or just don’t pay attention.
With such sensitive issues, it’s important for everyone to use their indoor voices. Louder doesn’t mean better. In fact, if you have to speak above a whisper to get your point across, then the problem is in your content and not your delivery.
The UCSB administration can do its own part to ensure that hate doesn’t touch our campus. If students start spewing hate or silencing others, then the administration should stay actively neutral, cracking down on those causing trouble or calling the police if necessary without taking sides. To do otherwise is irresponsible.
Increasing the number of courses on Middle Eastern politics is a good start for the university, they might want to consider augmenting it with a lecture series and open forum that presents an unbiased view of the conflict.
Here at UCSB we have a lot of freedom, freedom that other people don’t have. Enjoy what’s around you. Walk on the beach, play Frisbee, lay out in the grass and watch the clouds. If we allow for conditions conducive for hate, the monsters are sure to come.