Editorial: Poster vandals crossed the line

Grafitti on Students’ Union election candidates’ posters is par for the course. Unfortunately, this year the graffiti has gone farther than mere obscenities.

Ola Mohajer and Hara Madri, two visibly Muslim candidates, had their campaign posters vandalized with racial slurs. Mohajer, running for the Faculty of Science representative position, had her slogan changed from “I am science” to “I am a terrorist.” The poster has since been taken down.

Other posters were also defaced, including a Caucasian candidate’s, which was vandalized with “vote white, vote right.” Ironically, that particular race was contested entirely between Caucasian candidates.

Now, the written attacks are completely and utterly unacceptable and, frankly, ignorant. Whether it be groups like the FLQ or deranged individuals like Joseph Stack — the man who crashed a plane into an Austin, Texas IRS building February 18 — and Timothy McVeigh, North American terrorism has been mostly committed by Caucasians. It’s despicable that such a slur would be used on anyone, and even sadder considering that terrorist acts are blind to race and creed.

Now it’s important to note we don’t know who did this. There’s a palpable difference between drawing a penis and throwing around slurs. This attack was completely anonymous, so it could be a group of students, a racist group who took a stroll on campus, a clerical worker or even a professor. It could be a single person or a group. Until we know for sure, we should not and cannot blame anyone. Unfortunately, that’s highly unlikely.

What we need to discuss is what we can do about it moving forward. One of the most incredible things to see was the grassroots support for Mohajer. Anonymous individuals scrawled and crossed off the slur, writing words of encouragement in their place. This kind of support is exactly what’s needed to show these ignorant scumbags that this is completely unacceptable at the University of Calgary and, despite our city’s reputation, we will not let these kinds of slurs go unanswered.

U of C students and staff need to be on the look out for these kinds of acts. We need to shine a light on these anonymous cockroaches and let them scurry off to their ignorant, racist corners. It’s that simple. We need to stand up and show people that this isn’t acceptable — we’ve done that, but need to remain vigilant and constantly show we don’t accept that here. We need to show only shame and derision to the perpetrators.

While some people may whine and gnash their teeth at how that can lead to the dreaded political correctness, they’re wrong. It’s not political correctness to show respect and common decency to another person and group of people, and unfortunately, those anonymous attackers lacked that simple courtesy.

These kinds of attacks are not just against one singular person, but an entire group. While the defacing of the poster is troubling, at least there’s some comfort in knowing that people are willing to stand up and fight against this kind of ignorance. Let’s keep it up, U of C.