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Campaign poster insulted blacks, trivialized Holocaust (2)

Once again, an ignorant member of the MIT community has found a way to publicly insult his peers. This time, however, MIT claims to be powerless in addressing the situation.

This week's racial slur can be found on the original campaign posters of Mark M. Lee, a candidate for freshman publicity officer. The poster asks Lee's classmates not to vote "blindly" and to listen to the "representatives from around the world [who] have the same opinion." We see Abraham Lincoln, a Chinese panda, and an Australian kangaroo all asking us to vote for Lee. The problems arise when Lee uses Adolf Hitler as his European representative and some unidentifiable creature to speak for Africa. The Hitler image's insulting nature is self-evident but the African depiction needs further description.

Lee shows a person with an inflated jaw, expansive nose, and a small head (implying small brain). Whereas everyone else in the picture can speak English, the African is quoted with a jibberish made up of x's, parentheses, and periods. Finally, the inscription below the monkey-man reads "Africa/We are the world." Bargain shoppers should take note that Lee is offering three insults at the price of one.

I heard of these posters from a non-black, non-Jewish friend who also found them quite offensive. I immediately called the appropriate Undergraduate Association officials who must have alerted Lee to the situation, because he quickly changed his poster. The new advertisement retains the Hitler image but changes the African to a narcissistic lion with a mirror and hairbrush. If anything the members of the black community were more insulted by this feeble attempt to change. If Lee knows so little about the peoples and the cultures of our homeland that he must insult us, or patronize us, I recommend that he quickly educate himself.

This act demonstrates so much ignorance and insensitivity that one wonders from what sort of mind such thoughts could flow. Doesn't Lee recognize that Hitler represents the attempt at the annihilation of a people, and that his playful receipt of this endorsement trivializes Hitler's acts? Doesn't Lee know that his African drawing is reminiscent of negative depictions from the 1930s, 1940s and sometimes today, of the mythical, animalistic African savage? Africa is full of great historical figures form Adam and Eve to Nelson Mandela, whose endorsements would have meant infinitely more than that of a lion. And every American knows that Europe offers more great people to our collective history than just Adolf Hitler.

The UA claims that it cannot do anything to censure Lee so that they may continue to foster freedom of speech. But this tired scenario of insult, letter to The Tech, and apology has played itself out too many times. Isn't it apparent to the UA that many people here will take this right to speak freely and use it recklessly? The UA's silence is a passive endorsement of this, and similar acts, The UA currently has no sort of policing agent to prevent incidences like this and I hope that one day they will take positive action towards ending this sort of offensive public behavior.

Jason Vickers '90->

Political Action Committee->

Black Student Union->