Letter to the Editor February 2, 2010 1 Comment Share tweet Letters to the Editor By: Letters to the Editor Dear Editor, I know that irony is one of the main privileges granted to college students, but even so, the bad vibes emanating from Wyndam Makowsky’s Feb. 1 article (“Why So serious, Stanford?”), disparaging Friday’s counter rally to the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest, shocked me. Makowsky bemoaned the fact that “instead of…a morning of creative responses, the lone recourse was a gathering in the name of “unity,” “tolerance” and “diversity,” and everyone had to play along.” He also charged that “it was only Westboro’s presence that prompted a gathering, and it was undertaken as a form of crowd control as much as anything else.” Finally, he attributes the slashed tires to the fact that “instead of showing the public our ingenuity, we bottled it up until someone broke in a criminal way.” I’d like to answer these complaints in turn. “Everyone had to play along.” At the rally, I felt an atmosphere of excitement and even joy that I’d never felt before at Stanford. Am I biased? Sure. But it seemed to me, at least, that the vast majority of people at the rally did not feel forced into anything. Makowsky compared our rally to one at the University of Chicago, where students mocked the WBC by staging an imitation protest against figs, based on the biblical passage where Jesus smites a fig tree. I agree that that was a creative and hilarious stunt. But did it have any impact on the WBC? The Chicago Maroon, in their article about the protest, quoted Shirley Phelps as saying, “I truly and dearly love [the counter protest]. It is so awesome when you juxtapose this little group of servants of God [The WBC] with this restless mob of humanity.” The point I’m trying to make is that nothing any counter-protest can do will change these people’s minds or message. “It was only Westboro’s presence that prompted such a gathering.” Of course it was. When there’s no threat to members our community, why would we all gather in solidarity? Isn’t it worth celebrating that when the WBC targeted Hillel, and the LGBTQ community, the rest of Stanford came out to show support and love? And, in fact, student groups such as F.A.I.T.H. and the QSA have been quietly promoting interfaith and inter-sexuality action for some time. They do not need the WBC to spark their desire for pluralism and love. “It was undertaken as a form of crowd control as much as anything else.” Guilty as charged. I was at the planning meeting for the rally, along with representatives from all of Stanford’s religious and ethnic communities and the police department. It was brought up that the church tries to provoke people to attack them so that they can sue for damages. We decided as a group to organize a peaceful, positive rally to prevent such an event from happening. Finally, about the slashed tires. Is that really the most “ingenious” thing a repressed Stanford student could come up with? Just as members of the various email discussions around campus considered ignoring the WBC, so as not to win them any media attention, I considered not responding to Wyndam’s article. For one thing, I knew how much social cachet I’d lose by being so self-righteous. But I have to believe that sometimes it is important to be earnest, and that facing the world with irony alone will do nothing to alleviate the serious problems on earth. So even if the counter-rally meant nothing to Wyndam or the Westboro Baptist Church, it meant something to me. Sincerely, Nathaniel Eisen Class of 2011 Westboro Baptist Church 2010-02-02 Letters to the Editor February 2, 2010 1 Comment Share tweet Subscribe Click here to subscribe to our daily newsletter of top headlines.