It’s not enough to be outraged

18 Nov

Here’s the headline: “Conservative students to stage ‘immigrant game'”  (http://www.boston.com/news/education/2013/11/18/conservative-students-stage-fake-immigrant-game/jj6YVNpQTGzK72CcQ2IqtM/story.html).

Maybe, like me, you’re experiencing shock, outrage and a little too much déjà vu right now.

As in… here we go again with another group of college students dehumanizing and mocking a group of people who happen not to enjoy the first group’s privilege [see innumerable stories about racist-themed college parties, for example: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/04/racist-party-picture-land_n_2240638.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/duke-kappa-sigma-party_n_2630598.html]. This time, instead of just telling us it’s just a joke and no big deal, the students, University of Texas at Austin’s Young Conservatives, are taking cover under the claim that all they want to do is “spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives.” So there.

And so we all take sides: for or against the Young Conservatives, outraged at their ‘‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game’’ or outraged that people are outraged at their “game.”

And I can feel it. Happening again.

So here’s what I’m thinking: if you talk about this as-yet-still-upcoming debacle (scheduled for Wed) with anyone, whether students, your own children, colleagues, family or friends, I ask you to help them, whatever side of this debate they’re on, and especially if they’re strongly on one side versus the other, to consider how this isn’t just about us versus them. How many of us can identify with crossing a line, and how some of our outrage comes from our own fear of admitting what we really think to ourselves, let alone to other people. How this “game” indicts us, not just the students at UT. And how it’s not enough to be outraged.

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