Rosemary Chesney, Campus Carrier arts and living editor
After dozens of antisemitic fliers were passed onto peoples’ front lawns in west Rome last fall, Berry College decided to host a triple event series titled “Hate Has No Place” educating people on the reality of discrimination and racial hate against the Jewish community. The first event showed a movie titled “Denial” about a court case in 1995 proving the existence of the Holocaust, the second event featured Brendan Murphy, speaking against the recent surge of antisemitic actions and the third event will have a panel of various faculty and staff discussing discrimination against Jews.
In the fall of 2022, dozens of fliers promoting hateful misinformation about the Jewish community were thrown onto unsuspecting peoples’ driveways. While the fliers were clearly discriminatory against a group of people, they did not technically violate any First Amendment rights, and therefore the people passing them out were not able to be prosecuted. Professor of history Matthew Stanard said he was deeply troubled by these incidents and wanted to find a way for Berry to respond to them.
“I think that the event series is a good way Berry can address this type of thing,” Stanard said. “We could do a major press release, but it would be unfortunate if that highlighted the anti-Jewish haters instead of calling attention to the issue itself.”
Stanard said he emailed various professors and faculty to organize the event series and Office and worked with Logistics Coordinator Callie O’Neal to make the event series happen. Some of the sponsors for the event include: The Evans School, Office of the Provost, Memorial Library, the Berry’s Phi Alpha Theta Chapter, Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership (BCIL) and Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
“My view is that colleges and universities are places to help produce and transmit knowledge to a younger generation,” Stanard said. “Berry transmitting knowledge about the reality of antisemitism through this event is a very good thing.”
The first event took place on March 2 at 5 p.m. in the Evans Auditorium. Stanard began this event by speaking about the misinformation about the Holocaust across the world. Then, the movie “Denial” was shown which gave the true story of a professor named Deborah Lipstadt who was put on trial against Holocaust denier David Irving who sued her, saying that she ruined his career as a historian. Lipstadt won the trial proving in court that the Holocaust did happen, and Irving was wrong. Sophomore Peter Merrill worked by the event helping to check in students, for CE credits.
“I thought the movie was very good, but with Dr. Stanard’s presentation it was very insightful as well,” Merrill said. “It was alarming how many people thought either the Holocaust didn’t happen, or the Jews somehow perpetrated it.”
The second event took place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the McAllister Auditorium. Speaker Brendan Murphy gave a lecture exploring the history of antisemitism to better understand how and why the Jewish people have been discriminated against through the centuries.
“In the past few years there has been heightened attention to certain marginalized groups,” Stanard said. “Something that gets left out sometimes is the hatred towards Jewish people. People aren’t always aware of how common and pernicious this hatred is, so helping educate people is really important.”
The third and final event in the event series will take place on April 10 at 6 p.m. This event will feature a panel of Berry professors, Curt Hersey, Bob Reimer and Whitney Adams, discussing the rhetoric of antisemitism. Each professor will discuss the topic from their own area of expertise and research.
“I hope the students just recognize the impact and power of language and how, if conditions are right, it can lead to something horrific and tragic,” Adams said. “We need to be aware and ethical with the language we’re using.”