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Pelton to Emerson: "We Must Resist" Efforts to Make Bigotry Mainstream

In light of last weekend's hatred, racism, and bloodshed on display in Virginia, and ahead of a rally on Boston Common planned for Saturday, August 19, that includes speakers with extremist views, President Lee Pelton wrote the following letter to the Emerson community: 


Dear Emerson Community,

In Charlottesville, hate, bigotry and racism have reared their ugly heads once again for all the world to see. Television and various forms of social media captured the immediacy of its raw violence. Those of us with hearts to feel and eyes to see understood sadly the degradation of the nation’s most cherished values in this grand and evolving experiment we call American democracy.

The academy witnessed these awful events through the lens of history and critical thinking, understanding in an instant that this was not a time for moral equivocation, but strong and swift denunciations of these tripartite evils.

As you know, our campus has been visited before by the National Vanguard and White Genocide Project, purveyors of hate, bigotry and racism. 

The purpose of these groups is to incite the kind of violence, provocation and intimidation that we saw at the University of Virginia in order to recruit and broaden their membership. Their ultimate goal is to make their organizations mainstream, a goal that we must vigorously resist. 

University and college campuses are seen as fertile ground by these groups as they seek to take strategic advantage of what they see as the tension between our expressed diversity and freedom of speech values.  This summer, I asked a group of senior administrators to begin a thoughtful process in the fall, when students and faculty return to campus, to make clear that what we say and what we do with respect to both is consistent and unambiguous.

While we must not be seduced by these groups to overreact, we must also make clear that we will not be intimidated by them, that we will stand together as a community no matter our political affiliations, whether one is a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent and that all of us should denounce these hateful acts without equivocation, and with a strong united voice.

The College has begun planning with local law enforcement officials to ensure that those who live, work and study at Emerson are safe in anticipation of the so-called “freedom of speech” rally scheduled on the Boston Common this Saturday, August 19. Jim Hoppe, Vice President and Dean of Campus Life, will provide more details very soon.

I also note that the Orchard Stage in the Paramount Center will be open on Monday, August 21, from 9:00 – 11:00 am for reflection.

I look forward with gratitude to the opening of the upcoming school year, especially as we welcome the newest members of our undergraduate and graduate classes to Emerson College.


Lee Pelton

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