Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Editorial: In the face of hatred, the campus comes together

Friday morning at 8 a.m., at a time when you would usually be hard-pressed to find many students awake on campus, over a hundred students, faculty and community members gathered on the front lawn at Hillel to make a united stand for tolerance. When word first reached campus that the gay-hating, Jew-hating, America-hating zealots of Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church were coming here to protest, there was an immediate sense that Stanford must come together to counter their hatred. And counter is exactly what we did–in such great force that the handful of Westboro protesters looked even more pathetic by contrast.

In our first statement of the new editorial volume, the Editorial Board would like to commend all of those who came together on Friday to show that diversity and tolerance are among Stanford’s highest values. In the face of the Phelps clan’s animosity, the different segments of the Stanford community–gay and straight, Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Gentile, etc.–came together to reinforce the unity of the University. And in traditional Stanford style, we met hatred not with additional hatred, but with camaraderie, song and positive celebration. It was a proud moment for the campus.

Even now, it is unclear exactly what the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) was thinking in coming to campus in the first place. Perhaps they sincerely thought that they could have an effect on students’ thinking and round up a few converts. Or maybe they just hoped that they could incite the campus to impede on their rights, thus allowing them to file a lawsuit to raise money for future protests. Whatever the case, their efforts failed to attract any new support and instead backfired to such a degree that members of the LGBT community were brought together in solidarity with representatives of campus religious groups. The outcome of the protest was one of the most positive expressions of commonality we’ve seen on campus since we upset USC.

The term “commonality” can be accurately used in reference to the Stanford community, not to be confused with “conformity,” the ideal which the WBC flock seems to hold up as the will of God. It makes sense, really, that a place like Stanford should attract the ire of an organization like WBC–whereas Stanford, like many universities, works hard to embrace diversity of belief, thought and lifestyle, Fred Phelps and the rest of WBC see this kind of diversity as an affront to their absolutist worldview. Their hatred is born out of the belief that they have a perfect understanding of what God wants, and thus how the world should be. It is a view that stands in philosophical opposition to the principles of a modern university, in which ideas and ideals alike are evaluated with open skepticism, and in which there is often no single correct answer. In standing up against the zealotry and rigidness of the WBC clan, the Stanford community showed the world that, though we may often disagree with each other, we can still come together for each other.

About Editorial Board

Editorials represent the views of The Stanford Daily, an independent newspaper serving Stanford and the surrounding community. The Daily's Editorial Board consists of President and Editor-in-Chief Victor Xu '17, Executive Editor Will Ferrer '18, Managing Editor of Opinions Michael Gioia '17, Desk Editor of Opinions Jimmy Stephens '17, Senior Staff Writer Kylie Jue '17, Senior Staff Writer Olivia Hummer '17 and Senior Staff Writer Andrew Vogeley '17. To contact the Editorial Board chair, submit an op-ed (limited to 700 words) or submit a letter to the editor (limited to 500 words) at eic@stanforddaily.com.
  • A closer look

    Something occurred to me recently: there were probably people at the rally (read: NOT PROTEST) on Friday who voted FOR proposition 8. There were, very probably, intolerant people at this rally, many of whom would be very uncomfortable having a gay friend, much less standing up for gay rights.

    The fact is that Fred Phelps spouts a hate so powerful that almost anyone can object to some facet of it. Consequently, we can hardly say we were “united” in our opposition to this group. I can guarantee that while everyone at this rally may have objected to the harsh statement “GOD HATES FAGS”, or any one of the other myriad over-the-top spewings of this idiot group, there were some there who might argue “Gays do not have the right to marry,” or “My religion tells me that these people are living an unnatural lifestyle”. They can rephrase this mantra any way they like.

    Ultimately, the protest against this group is inconsequential. At best, it is a self-encouraging pat on the back for people who like the idea of nominal tolerance. At worst, it is a testament to the ridiculous lengths people can go in the name of self-deception. Let’s talk less about unity against idiocy and more about the substantive issues here.