“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” These were, according to several reports, the words of a recent Facebook post by Heather Heyer, killed yesterday in an act of domestic terrorism. White supremacists marched in Charlottesville threatening violence while evoking their Nazi heroes; with torches and fascist salutes, they call for the restoration of regimes of racial terror. “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

“It is disheartening for black folk to see such a vile and despicable replay of history,” writes Michael Eric Dyson. I know that Jews, gays and many other Americans also feel disheartened — we feel our hearts ripped apart when we watch the torches, the Nazi “Heil!” salute, the sickening displays of resentment and anger. Prof. Dyson goes on to say that “facing this unadorned hate tears open wounds from atrocities that we have confronted throughout our history.”

But face it we must, and we must reject the rise of unadorned hate and American style Neo-Nazism. As educators and students, as participants in our local communities and in our national polity, we must confront those who would restore violence and terror as mechanisms for fulfilling their contemptible fantasies of white supremacy.

And we must remember Heather Heyer, whose outrage led to action in Charlottesville, and who lost her life fighting for what she believed. May her memory inspire others and be a blessing to her fellow Americans.

3 thoughts on ““If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.””

  1. It is amazing to see such righteous indignation displayed in the faces of white supremacy and Nazism. It is good to know that there are still some morally courageous people in this world who are willing to die for a cause and stand on principle. I’m talking about people who empathize and/or are willing to empathize with a person’s struggle, pain, and suffering—those persons who connect with another’s anguish and agony. In an age of escalating spiritual malnutrition and moral constipation, Heather Heyer’s example seems to be almost revolutionary. She will be gone but her spirit will remain.

  2. Unfortunately, you have given way for immoral atrocities to sweep Wesleyan’s campus, through a new affirmative action program for “conservative ideas and traditions,” at arguably the country’s most vulnerable moment for this generation. Many of these traditions have emboldened educated minds in a way that makes them feel like they can freely murder, brutalize, and spew hateful speech at minoritzed communities. We will know you are outraged and paying attention when Ethnic Studies becomes a university priority; when appropriate measures are taken to retain tenured & tenure-track faculty of color; when the Office of Equity & Inclusion restores its purpose; when the equity task force is reinstated because equity is at the center of everything. You have an opportunity to lead by example amongst small liberal arts institutions; choose wisely. The fate of your students, faculty and staff’s lives depend on it.

  3. In view of your previous support of freedom of expression on college campuses and the right of editorial expression in forums such as the Argus,what is your current stance on the right of a theoretical campus alt-right group to invite an alt-right leader like Spencer? You encouraged folks to be courageous about dealing with opposing views.In view of Charlottesville, how far is Wesleyan willing to grant campus access to parties articulate and adept at anti-Semitic or racist dog whistles?Are we courageous enough to withstand the firestorm. No one hides behind a mask anymore and campus Weimar torch ceremonies are no longer fictitious … in this new era of moral amnesia, courage does not exist in an agnostic first amendment vacuum. Sometimes we need institutional glasses to see the edges of the infra-red lines of neofascism.

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