The Georgetown University College Democrats and Georgetown University College Republicans unequivocally condemn the senseless and hateful violence that occurred last week in Charlottesville, Va., at the hands of anti-Semitic white supremacists with an entirely un-American agenda. We stand in solidarity with the people and communities who were targeted and continue to be discriminated against by these bigoted groups in Charlottesville and across the country. We also extend our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, who lost her life far too soon in the pursuit of basic equality.
In addition, GUCR and GUCD specifically denounce members of the self-described “alt-right,” who masquerade as conservatives yet abandon true conservative ideology through actions and rhetoric that are counter to freedom of expression, freedom of religion and equal opportunity for all. The College Republican National Committee has called on any members of college Republican leadership who support the ideology of the rally organizers to resign, and GUCR strongly rejects the “Unite the Right” movement and associated groups. Our vision of conservatism does not degrade people based on their religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or race and instead propagates equality, diversity and respect.
It is sadly not enough for individuals like us to condemn these people and these ideologies, especially when many of our political leaders refuse to do the same. This is not a time for silence and moral ambiguity. The events in Charlottesville offered our leaders a chance to unify the country across the partisan divide; while most did, others notably did not. With far-right rallies continuing to be planned — in addition the already-rising prevalence of hate crimes since the election — the white supremacist movement is sadly still alive. Our leaders continue to have a vital responsibility to unite the country in the face of such hatred. While it was reassuring to see White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon removed from the administration on Friday — a clear step in the right direction — one action is not sufficient without a genuine commitment to unifying this entire country.
These issues hit close to home for Georgetown students, as our campus has been the subject of many of these debates concerning inclusivity, diversity and expression. Georgetown will always have a history of slavery: It was founded by a slave owner, John Carroll, and profited from the sale of 272 slaves.
However, the past few years have shown us that students can lead the efforts to approach our history more constructively and that the university administration can work with us in those efforts. Isaac Hawkins Hall, Anne Marie Becraft Hall and the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation are monuments to the progress that can be made when we work together to accurately commemorate our history. Perhaps our university can serve as an example to similar situations across the country and demonstrate that it is possible to peacefully and collectively make a positive impact.
To be abundantly clear, we do not support ignoring or removing negative aspects of our campus or nation’s past, but instead advocate for carefully and inclusively selecting the parts of it that we wish to celebrate. This would not be an attempt to rewrite history, but a conscious decision to not honor the flaws of our founders’ pasts.
If the events in Charlottesville have taught us anything, it is that we cannot pretend that this country has moved beyond our history of racism and anti-Semitism. We need to tackle this hate head-on, publicly and together. Irrespective of our disagreements, GUCD and GUCR are working together to fortify bipartisanship and common understanding on campus through constructive dialogue and debate. Through shared programming this fall, we hope to create a productive, positive space for Georgetown students across the political spectrum to engage in discourse on important policy issues.
Beyond policy, we hope to build relationships with people unlike ourselves, so we are able to confront these issues as a unified force. As Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Eli Wiesel said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” We invite Hoyas of all backgrounds and political perspectives to join us in these efforts and ensure that we remain on the right side of history.
Allie Williams is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. She is president of Georgetown University College Republicans. Lawrence Huang is a junior in the college. He is chair of Georgetown University College Democrats.