Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Homophobic slurs on Whitman blackboards.

"Blackface" in Forbes.

Anti-Semitic pictures in Bloomberg.

The word “beaner” in the Daily Princetonian.

And let’s not forget the whole Lian Ji affair.

Is it just me, or is it time for the University to do more than hand out ridiculous fliers decrying bias? And for the record the word isn't bias (bias can be a good thing. Personally, I'm biased against the Nazis). The word, depending on the circumstance, is bigotry and/or insensitivity.

To be honest, I don't think Josh Weinstein meant to be either offensive or racist by donning black face paint. I also don't think Jonathan Baker knew what the word "beaner" meant when he used it. (Actually, the only time I'd come across it before was in Mencia's "comedy" but I know better than to parrot ethnic comedians.)

Still, it seems that Princeton University students (and alumni) are not attuned to the history or significance of minority issues--which in turn must reflect badly on our own attitudes towards universal human dignity. Let me echo "The fact that so many here are unaware of what goes on even inside the 'orange bubble' makes me rue the day when these individuals will be unleashed on the real world."

If the University truly wishes for its alumni to abide by its unofficial motto: Princeton in the Nation's Service and in the Service of All Nations, then it must take significant steps to educate its students about these issues, and it must do so beyond the scope of the completely optional, and therefore, optionally invisible student body groups. Either a significant part of orientation must be devoted to the issue, or some change must be made to the graduation requirements to prohibit an individual from leaving Princeton without knowledge and understanding of these issues.