Anti-Semitic efforts can’t stand up against the strength and diversity of UIC
April 8, 2017


Twice during March, anti-Semitic flyers were found strewn about the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) campus. The flyers were upsetting to students, faculty, staff and campus leadership and resulted in swift and strong opposition to the cowardly acts.

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis issued a statement that “reaffirms our collective commitment to two fundamental principles: the first is the importance of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity to our university community, and the second is the right to free expression that ensures we are a place of open inquiry and learning.” Also quick to respond were UIC faculty who stood by UIC’s long-standing commitment to diversity and social justice.

“We condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, or any forms of hatred, phobia or dehumanization,” said the statement from the faculty. Numerous student organizations also responded.

On any given day, some 45 languages can be heard spoken among UIC students and faculty. The campus represents what is and always will be good about this country: hard-working students—many of them the first in their families to attend college, dedicated faculty, and a passion to create real change in Chicago, across the country, and throughout the world.

We hope that the above statements from their chancellor and faculty will show UIC students that all are welcome at Chicago’s largest and most diverse institution of higher learning. And, we hope that the hateful individual(s) who tried to put a wedge between the diverse communities that make up UIC will realize that they are wasting their time.

If this wasn’t so repugnant and outright despicable, we would shake our heads at the lameness of the argument of the flyers that said that its source was #BlackLivesMatter, #WeAreAllMusilm, and #StandWithPalestine.

The Gazette agrees with many at UIC that this was a “false flag” operation from racists intent on using Black, Muslim, and Palestinian groups as a false cover. Our public support and personal thoughts go out to the Jewish students, faculty, and staff at UIC, and across our City and nation, who have had to deal with a startling increase in the number of threats made against them over the past several months. There have been numerous bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers while vandals have desecrated Jewish cemeteries across the country and synagogues have been sprayed with anti-Semitic graffiti.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identified 867 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the ten days following the November 8 election. Think Progress identified 1,037 hate incidents in 2016—a 23.3% increase from the year prior—and 261 such incidents since November 9 alone. Think Progress also identified that 42% of the acts since the election included specific references to Donald Trump, his election, or his policies. The statistics are even more disturbing when you look at the breakdown of the groups targeted: 26.8% were against Jewish people; 22.9% were against African Americans; 13.7% were against the LGBTQ community; 11.8% targeted Latinos; and 14.9% were against other groups.

In our March 3 issue, we fervently asked that you rise up and do something to resist the troubling policies coming from the Trump administration. We asked that you get engaged with the many groups who are standing up for justice and fairness. You can find that editorial and list of groups by going to our website at www.gazettechicago.com and clicking on the “E-Edition” tab and going to our archives section.

We also ask that you find a way to reach out to friends in the Jewish community and let them know you stand with them, beside them, and in front of them to protect their rights and freedoms. By doing so, you will be protecting those of your own.

Fighting back against all things Trump

In just the few weeks between Gazette issues, we have found ourselves scrambling to keep up with all that the Trump Administration and the Republican-led Congress have done or attempted to do that would harm this community and our country at-large. This is like trying to keep your baseball
scorecard neat and tidy when your favorite team heads into the 17th inning of play and your sheet only has room for nine innings.

As the Gazette prepared to go to press here is what we were concerned about:

• Although President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan suffered a serious and humiliating blow when they were unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), they never quite did get it when polls showed that 84% of Americans were against the American Health Care Act. They were so proud of their effort to strip healthcare coverage from 24 million Americans, (a figure reported by the legitimate Congressional Budget Office), that neither Trump nor Ryan wanted their names anywhere near their bill.

• Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Ryan, had more than seven years to come up with a suitable replacement for Obamacare and that was the best they could do? When they realized that their bill had little chance of passing the House, they came up with a plan that would eventually peel away healthcare from 50 million Americans and add $250 billion to the deficit.

• All this was done as a way to mask a hefty tax cut for the top 1%. That’s right, while you, a family member, or a friend ran the risk of losing the benefits of Obamacare, the wealthiest 1% of Americans would have been given nearly $600 billion in federal tax cuts, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Gee, don’t you feel sorry for all of them?

• How troubling was it to look at the photo that Vice President Mike Pence proudly tweeted out from inside the White House when the Trump Administration and Republican leaders tried to determine what the new health care bill would offer or restrict in the area of women’s health issues. It was striking to see there was not one woman in the room. Not one. Just a bunch of middle-aged white men determining women’s health and women’s’ rights. Whatever you think of President Trump, don’t lose track of where VP Pence stands on all of this. He’s right in the thick of it pushing his far right, ultra conservative agenda.

• As we turn our thoughts to other issues, we have President Trump issuing executive orders that wipe away all of President Barack Obama’s efforts to address climate change. Reversals of the Obama policies could elevate carbon emissions in Chicago and a spike in asthma, lung cancer, and other health issues related to dirty air. Trump’s effort to save the coal industry and increase profit margins for the oil and gas industry come at the devastating expense of Mother Earth. The London School of Economics has said that unaddressed climate change will cost the global economy $2.5 trillion. That’s an incredible figure to ponder if it even matters—that is, if humanity can even survive the devastation of rising sea levels, insurmountable losses of crops, and a world that could be at war over food and fresh water.

Keep your scorecards and sharpened pencils handy. This long roller coaster ride is just beginning. Rise up, stand up, and make change happen. Each and every day.