02 February 2012

Hate Escalates At Montclair State

Last Thursday, anti-gay graffiti was found by the LGBT Center of Montclair State University in New Jersey.  The following day, a threatening note was left under the door of the center.

The other day, "Fags will die on 2/7" was scrawled on a wall of a women's restroom in the student center.

Any message of hate is threatening and disturbine enough.  But in this case, the ante was upped in each incident.  The downward spiral from anti-Semitic laws to Kristallnacht to the arrest and deportation of Jews from countries the Nazis invaded, to the execution of so many of those Jews (and the use of others as, essentially, guinea pigs) should teach us that when haters feel free to escalate the manifestations of their hatred, things cannot be good for those they hate--or anyone else.

Fortunately, many Montclair students have expressed their disgust and outrage at the incidents on their campus.  I don't doubt that they represent a large segment, if not the vast majority, of campus sentiment.  After all, today most young people who are not in the closet themselves will acknowledge that at least one of their family members, friends, classmates or other peers is one of the hues in the LGBT spectrum. 

However, unless something drastically changes in the physiological makeup of young males or the psychological construction of the human race, there will always be some homophobes on any college campus.

Some have speculated that one or more fundamentalist Muslims are behind the acts of bigotry.  Back in October, some students attending a meeting in the LGBT center found a note that said, "You will feel the wrath of Allah/Your thoughts are immoral/homosexuality is sin/Allah says you must pay."

Now, I don't doubt that some Muslims share such sentiments.  Then again, change "Allah" to "God" and you will see what some fundamentalist Christians believe.  However, I don't want to insult Muslims, Christians or members of any other religion, for one does not need those, or any other, religions to rationalize his or her hate. 

In fact, it may very well be that someone was who sent that message simply used "Allah" as a smokescreen.  Something very similar happened to me once:  Someone left an anonymous complaint about me and couched his/her grievances in terms of religious (Islamic) objections to my gender transition.  It turned out that it was a student who was upset at receiving a grade that reflected the kind of work he did (or more precisely, didn't) do in my class.

Likewise, someone may be sending threats against gays because of some beef he has with a specific gay person.  Or, more likely, he might be in the closet,  or simply feeling insecure--for whatever reason--about his place in this world as a young man.  And the age at which young men traditionally attend college is about the age that many young men experience their inner conflicts about their sexuality or gender identity most intensely.  They might be living in dorms with other males like themselves; in such an environment, they try to show who has the biggest one of all.  And a young man who is not comfortable with himself feels that he has the most to prove, and will do the most extreme things in his attempts to prove that he is a man or "the man."

Then again, whoever made the threats and scrawled the graffiti may not be a student at Montclair (or at all). Or those acts may not be the work of the same person.

Whoever is responsible for those actions, and whatever his/her/their motives, it's still alarming when acts of hate can be repeated and escalated as they have during the past several months at Montclair State University.

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