Fall at Miami should be a spectacular time. With the trees changing and clear skies filtering through those leaves which bud on the branches, it’s no wonder Miami brands itself “the most beautiful college that ever was.” Unfortunately, there’s something which ruins that view. Some of you may not have noticed the rectangular red-white-and-blue stickers popping up around campus recently. Maybe it’s because the brisk summer-fall air makes you walk a little bit faster to class, or because you’re enjoying a stroll with your friends. But, notice them or not, these little pieces of hatred adhere themselves to every light pole and every message board: propaganda from the white supremacist, neofascist hate group Patriot Front.
These stickers espouse abhorrent anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, deeply racist ideologies which do not belong anywhere in the code of love and honor which our university so prides itself on. Has our administration addressed this matter in any meaningful way? After last year’s outbreak of xenophobic propaganda was reported on our campus, the university condemned intolerance. But here we are again.
Miami claims to have removed the stickers, when the real work was done by students in YDSA, BLM Oxford, and Rowan Hall. The university has yet to take any real action against the perpetrators, even last year leaving up the white supremacist stickers up but taking down anti-administration flyers that appeared complaining about the lack of action taken by the university. Again and again Miami contradicts itself, never doing anything than issuing condemnations.
These messages clearly violate not only the university’s beloved “code of love and honor,” but also their inclusion and diversity statements. Each of these stickers target specific minority groups with the intent to intimidate and harm these most vulnerable people. The Southern Poverty Law center deems Patriot Front a hate group, as do the ADL. Vanguard America, the group which Patriot Front was borne out of, has often been described as a terrorist group. Yet these stickers have routinely appeared on campus since my very first semester here.
It seems it’s on us to keep our campus hate-free. Carry something on you to scratch these ignorant and hateful messages off wherever you see them. Don’t use your hands; sometimes groups like this will put razor blades under to hurt those who oppose their views. Use your keys, a pencil, a credit card — be safe. If you don’t have anything on you, take a pen or permanent marker and scratch it out or write over it, and come back later to remove it.
We can remove the physical stickers from our campus, but the residue remains. Xenophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia: this is what these hateful messages leave behind on our campus. It creates a niche for distrust and bigotry to wriggle in and infect us; to tear us apart one by one. Don’t let it. Reach out to your friends. Condemn ignorance and prejudice when you see it. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what is right.
And to those spreading these hateful messages, to the members of Patriot Front, the Proud Boys, or their sympathizers who lay slumbering amongst us: lay on your laurels for now. But you have committed an act of hubris, and we, the world, are awake.