Mock Flier Creates Controversy Over Intolerance
Posted Tuesday, October 9 2007 02:03:40 am
More than 100 fliers posted around GW Monday mocked a conservative student group's upcoming events and drew outrage for their offensive language.
The posters, which were headlined, "Hate Muslims? So Do We!!!," claimed to promote Islamo-Fascism Awareness week, an actual week-long series of events sponsored by the Young America's Foundation (YAF) that intends to denounce radical Islam.
However, the fliers are credited to the "Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness," a fictitious and unregistered student organization. The fliers also include this post-script: "PS Seriously, do a google video search for 'The Power of Nightmares.'"
"The Power of Nightmares" is a 2005 BBC documentary that compares the American neo-conservative movement to the radical Islamist movement.
The parody has sparked a discussion about tolerance at GW, prompting University President Steven Knapp to issue a statement reaffirming the GW's commitment to racial and religious tolerance.
"This flier does not represent, in any way, shape or form, the views of the administration of GW. For that matter, I believe I am safe in saying it also does not represent the views of our faculty or student body," said Knapp in a statement sent out earlier in the day.
Fifteen student organizations led by the GW Muslim Student Association, and including YAF, the Islamic Alliance for Justice and the Jewish Student Association, signed a statement expressing that they were "appalled at this incidence of hate and Islamophobia."
The Student Association announced late Monday that the issue will be discussed at Wednesday's Town Hall meeting.
"The deep frustration expressed by the community...is testament to the strength of our community and our passion in preventing future acts of hateful natures," said SA Chief of Staff Steve Glatter '08, in the press release.
Wednesday is also the sixth annual GW Iftar, an interfaith celebration that invites all members of the community to a meal breaking the Muslim Ramadan fast.
The University Police Department confirmed that the posters were not approved by the University, according to GW spokesperson Tracy Schario. She said that UPD has launched an investigation, but would not go into details.
It is unclear what individual or organization is responsible for the posters. Though the flier promotes YAF's upcoming event, that organization denied making or posting the fliers. The student group has also denounced the anti-Muslim message of the fliers.
"We don't condone hate crimes. We do not stand for that," said Jordan Neidig '10, YAF's correspondence director. "It was very upsetting, and if someone had concerns with our plans [for awareness week], they should have brought them up with us. Instead they acted cowardly."
Local news affiliates reported live from campus Monday night in response to media reports and University statements condemning the poster's racist message. However, several failed to note the group who signed the posters and the Web video they promoted.
Emma Zayer and Lainie Frost contributed to this report.