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Op Ed: A Message From Eric Cote ’18 on the Events in Charlottesville, VA

Photo Credit: Tsuf Baumflek

The following is an excerpt of the speech I gave at the Candlelight Vigil on September 10, in order to reflect on the recent tragedies in Charlottesville, VA:

In recent weeks, we have been inundated by constant events that call on us to think critically on our own lives and how to move forward together. Events that happen in far and wide-reaching places continue to touch our community and it is extremely important that we reflect and build off of these moments to encourage strength and growth in our country. I wish to share a quote that I recently came upon that spoke to me.

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. THEN THEY CAME for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

This quote comes from Martin Niemoeller, a Lutheran Pastor who was captured by the Nazis after he opposed Hitler after years of his terror. When he chose to speak out, it was too late. I stumbled upon this quote as I was leaving Quincy Market one evening. This quote is on the Holocaust Memorial on Union St. in Boston. Reading this made me take a moment to reflect and recall that only days before, heinous acts occurred when vandal’s broke panes of the glass defiling this important monument.

We, as students and educators at a liberal arts institution recall, research, and write about history to learn from it, and to ensure we never repeat mistakes made in the past. But at the same time, we see events such as Charlottesville happening on a more and more frequent basis. And while we continue to see more violence, it is now, more important than ever that we come together as a community to condemn white supremacists and alleged Nazis.

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As Sister Janet so accurately put in her letter, “How sad that, after decades of advances in equality and civil rights, we continue to see such unabashed expressions of hate-filled ideologies.” We at Emmanuel do not tolerate those who look to suppress different groups based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities and so on. We look to stand together as one community to grow together to make the world a stronger place. Through my time at Emmanuel, I have seen opposing viewpoints from both sides but what makes Emmanuel and the United States so great is that at the end of the day we come to a consensus as to the best way to act or go about a certain issue.

Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane to form in the Atlantic in recorded history, has torn through Florida at a level 4, leaving families displaced, businesses and jobs destroyed and people killed. But as Hurricane Irma quickly disbands, we continue to see selfless acts of courage and people of different backgrounds putting their lives on the line to save others. So, I ask you all to take a moment to reflect on the events of Charlottesville and the acts of hatred that have stunned our country and our campus, but to recognize the acts of courage that have triumphed whether it be in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the ongoing devastation of Hurricane Irma or the continuous backlash white supremacists receive as they come to realize that those beliefs are not congruent with American values.

As the Student Government Association President, I stand firmly alongside of Sister Janet and Emmanuel College as they continue to build a community which dismantles the hatred within this country and comes together to support each other in times of need. I will continue, in my time here at Emmanuel, to support those who seek to bring awareness to issues which impact us all. Our community is strong and as students and educators, we will continue the mission of social justice well into our futures.

I look forward to ongoing discussion this semester as we work to provide opportunities for each other to grow and succeed. We will overcome.

Eric Cote ’18

SGA Executive President


Posted by on September 11, 2017. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.