“May that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
–Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
Every time something terrible, unthinkable, and awful happens in this little, fenced off area we call our nation, I am always amazed not by the heroism, compassion, and spirit shown by people but by how quickly, decisively, and maddeningly things often turn to fear, paranoia, racism, homophobia, and violence. In all of my classes, we talk about things like popular culture, politics, ideology, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation, and other narratives, logics, and institutions. So it is important now to remember that even if the worst of the worst is what happened, the response should never be even more destruction, violence, persecution, or oppression. I am heartened that people are caring for one another. But I am saddened and starkly dismayed and disappointed by the worst kinds of thinking, wishing, and even doing. Let me take the time to wish everyone a safe and restful evening, to hope that everyone and those you know here and elsewhere are also safe, and to pay respects and condolences to everyone touched by these dark and desperate events. These horrors and machinations may be novel to most of us, but we cannot forget that violence, destruction, and death are everyday realities for many, many people and communities–even inside our borders. I hope for curiosity, not fear. I hope for honesty, not hate. I hope for critical thinking, not blind patriotism.
To my students, I am happy to talk about these things with people during class, during office hours, or during an appointment.