Dean Neil B. Guterman on Opposing Hate

August 5, 2019

Dean and Paulette Goddard Professor Neil B. Guterman sent to the following message to the NYU Silver Community.

I am saddened to be writing in the wake of yet another wave of hate-fueled gun violence. This weekend's mass shootings in Texas and Ohio make especially clear that the toxic combination of hateful rhetoric and easily available weapons present a national crisis. We stand in solidarity with those who seek to disrupt these conditions and extend sympathy to those who have lost loved ones in their time of unimaginable grief.

As of this moment, media reports indicate that the recent shootings in Gilroy, California, and El Paso, Texas (like a number of other recent shootings) were influenced by white supremacist ideology, the aim of which is to annihilate "others," in this case, immigrants and communities of color (or "invaders" as the El Paso perpetrator said). Hateful supremacist doctrine is an affront to us and to our social work profession. Indeed, right in the crosshairs of these shooters and those who inspired them are our most cherished professional principles: we value life and the worth of every person, embrace difference and diversity, and share the resolve to empower and elevate individuals who are marginalized and "othered."

As social workers, we must support one another and affirmatively stand in opposition to hate. It may be tempting, given the recent stream of similar such events, to succumb to a sense of powerlessness but there is much we can do to respond to these tragedies. After the Parkland High School shooting in February 2018, many of us in this community and other communities around the U.S. took action that resulted in the passage of new gun control legislation in seventeen states. We marched, rallied, and joined with established organizations that are focused on ending gun violence. We must continue that advocacy as well as our efforts to challenge white supremacy, and to fight hatred.

Students who are struggling to process these attacks may seek support from the NYU Wellness Exchange, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone (212-443-9999) or chat (through the Wellness Exchange app for iPhone or Android), and during drop in hours on the third floor of 726 Broadway.

We live in especially challenging times, and moments like these remind us not only of our vulnerability, but also of our strengths as individuals and as a collective community and profession. Let us resolve to continuously and actively work to extinguish hate and violence wherever it occurs, and in so doing, step forward toward a more just and humane society.

Type: Article