Vail Daily column: Safe spaces needed
February 2, 2017
To Butch Mazzuca, "It Takes All Kinds" (Monday's Vail Daily):
On the morning after a Quebec City mosque shooting that left six people dead, the Vail Daily published your article poking fun at "pampered" college students seeking a safe space from President Trump's crusade of reckless hatred. Without your opening and closing remarks, your article would have stood as a touching tribute to a heroic and honorable man who made great sacrifices for the country he loves. Instead, you used his inspiring story to bully normal, hardworking people seeking solace from intolerable acts of racism, which, thanks to a dangerous mainstream rhetoric, will play a key role in our daily lives for several years to come.
It's 2017, and you choose to go with the "Gee, why can't everyone in the world be as tough as our troops" argument? I apologize, sarcastically and insincerely, on behalf of everyone who lacks the mental strength of tough, confident men like yourself. Maybe some, such as myself, suffer from serious anxiety and depression when we think of a malicious tyrant systematically destroying the very foundation that this country was built upon. Maybe we can't help but feel this way, maybe it's in our DNA, how we were raised, where we come from. Maybe we can't sit down, shut up and accept the "Life's tough, kid" argument anymore.
Is it really difficult to imagine that these "pampered" kids are possibly children of a creed deemed dangerous, desperately searching for a way to make sense of the current maelstrom of indecency that currently plagues this nation? Do you honestly believe that all college students in this country are lazy, Xbox-addicted white males that waste their parents' hard-earned money on cheap whiskey and escapism? Maybe, just maybe, some of these students are women and minorities. Maybe some have fought their entire lives, facing indecency, hatred, misogyny, racism and death in order to come to this country. Maybe after seeking refuge from genocide and unspeakable atrocities, fighting and clawing their way out of their homeland in order to face the "freedom" of hatred and misguided racism in this country, Muslim men and women are in desperate need of these safe spaces that colleges provide. Maybe women have had enough of being told what they can and can't do with their bodies by aging male billionaires. Maybe the millennial generation is sick and tired of the condescending stereotypes placed upon us by Gen Xers.
I suggest picking up a book. Maybe "A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah or "Slave" by Mende Nazer, to educate yourself about modern genocide and slavery against women. Maybe the Ishmaels and Mendes of the world are in your country's schools at this very moment — walking the halls with your children, struggling against memories of grief and death, studying for 10 exams while building up mountains of debt — all simply for a shot at a life worth living. Maybe they've never had a safe space in their entire lives, and maybe they're the ones who need it now more than ever. Maybe.
Speaking as a former "pampered" student, I can proudly say that your ignorant bullying is the sole reason these spaces exist in the first place.
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Quote of the day: "We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We're kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people." — Roger Ebert.
Tom Cohen lives in Vail.
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