By COLIN SHEELEY
News Editor

In response to the several days of chaos that plagued Charlottesville, VA, this weekend, where white nationalists and neo-Nazis groups gathered to attend a Unite the Right rally, Fordham President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. released a statement Monday morning condemning the actions and messages of the “racist mob.”

In an email sent to the university community, McShane denounced the group of white supremacists, as well as the driver of a car that crashed into a gathering of counter-protesters on Saturday. “I am a historian, and I can assure you that the marchers, and almost certainly the person who drove into the crowd of peaceful demonstrators, are on the wrong side of history,” McShane said. “I say ‘almost’ because it is still possible, if unlikely, that the act was unintentional,” he added.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has since called the fatal collision an act of “domestic terrorism” on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” indicating that the attack was indeed intentional. The Justice Department also announced that it was opening up a civil rights investigation into the incident.

Continuing, McShane extended his sympathy to the victims of the car crash, including the woman who was killed by the vehicle and the 19 injured, as well as the two police officers who died in a helicopter accident responding to the events of violence that engulfed the city over the weekend. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and with the people who were injured and their loved ones,” he said.

“my heart goes out to the intended targets and victims of the march, victims who number in the millions, and who include marginalized people everywhere”

 

The email also addressed the victims of a larger system of injustice and violence staged against “people of color, LGBT people, Jewish people, [and] immigrants” in the country.

“As a priest, as a university president, and as a human being, my heart goes out to the intended targets and victims of the march, victims who number in the millions, and who include marginalized people everywhere, and anyone who cares about decency, compassion, and justice,” McShane stated. “Fordham University stands against everything the marchers represent—the hate, the bigotry, the profound ignorance, the casual cruelty, and the violent and vicious expression of those views.”

He maintained that the rights of these communities under attack “will continue to expand and be protected,” elaborating, “If this incident has a silver lining, it is the swift, bipartisan rejection of the marchers’ rhetoric, beliefs, goals and actions.”

Bipartisan rejection has also been swift in the criticism of President Trump’s own response to the bloodshed in Charlottesville, with many objecting to his statement on Saturday that accused “many sides” of an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.”

McShane offered his and the university’s support for “members of the university community who wish to come together for reflection and prayer in the wake of the events in Charlottesville” in addition to “those who feel targeted by the Charlottesville marchers.”

The statement came one day after Fordham’s Jewish Student Organization (JSO) issued their own response addressing the incident in addition to the torchlit march held Friday at the University of Virginia where protesters chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

JSO co-president, Brandon Satz-Jacobowitz, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’19, wrote on behalf of the the organization. “We will work together to fight bigotry on our campus and throughout the country,” Satz-Jacobowitz said.

Responding to the university president, Jacobowitz said “Father McShane’s email calls out the protests as fascism, racism, and Nazism which is extremely important in highlighting the face of this crisis. One cannot overstate the importance of strong support for marginalized communities and of the Fordham community supporting and protecting each other in these trying times.”

Another university organization was not as commending in their reaction to the president’s email. President of the Black Student Alliance at Fordham, Mikaela Peyton Berry, FCLC ’18, said in a statement Monday morning that they are “tired and unimpressed by his response.”

“I need action and I need a commitment from those who follow the motto of being ‘men and women for others’ to actively practice what they preach”

“As a senior at Fordham, I have seen several violent and racist acts occur on our campuses that have not elicited such a response from our president,” Berry said. “This commitment to protecting students feels hollow…When a hate crime occurs on our campus or nationally, I need more than an email that expresses heartfelt concern and compassion to the victims. I need action and I need a commitment from those who follow the motto of being ‘men and women for others’ to actively practice what they preach,” Berry said.

             Click the button to view the full statement by the Black Student Alliance at Fordham.

The College Democrats of Fordham University also released a statement Sunday rebuking the protesters in a Facebook post. “We are disgusted and appalled by the events that took place in Charlottesville. Racism and white supremacy have no place in our country and we must do better,” the message said.

Fordham University College Republicans responded similarly. “We are disgusted and appalled by the events that took place in Charlottesville,” Sebastian Balasov said on behalf of the organization. “Racism, white supremacy, and any form of ideology that is channeled through violence should not be tolerated. We stand with President Trump in saying, ‘Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

At the same time, the university president remained hopeful. “Though it may not seem so in moments like this, decency and compassion do prevail,” McShane concluded. “We will get through this trying time together.”

 

Full text of Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J.’s University Statement on the violent events in Charlottesville, VA:

Dear Members of the Fordham Family,

You have likely heard of the ugly events that took place in Charlottesville on Saturday. Fascism, Nazism, and Racism were literally on the march, and at this point we know of one person killed and at least 19 injured, believed to be the victims of the action of a deluded and hateful member of the racist mob that gathered in Charlottesville for a white supremacy rally. I know you join me in mourning both the woman who was killed, and the two police officers who died when their helicopter crashed that afternoon. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and with the people who were injured and their loved ones.

I am a historian, and I can assure you that the marchers, and almost certainly the person who drove into the crowd of peaceful demonstrators, are on the wrong side of history (I say “almost” because it is still possible, if unlikely, that the act was unintentional). I believe that rights for people of color, LGBT people, Jewish people, immigrants—and all of the would-be targets of Saturday’s marchers—will continue to expand and be protected in our country. If this incident has a silver lining, it is the swift, bipartisan rejection of the marchers’ rhetoric, beliefs, goals and actions.

As a priest, as a university president, and as a human being, my heart goes out to the intended targets and victims of the march, victims who number in the millions, and who include marginalized people everywhere, and anyone who cares about decency, compassion, and justice. Fordham University stands against everything the marchers represent—the hate, the bigotry, the profound ignorance, the casual cruelty, and the violent and vicious expression of those views. Such ideas and sentiments have no place in a civilized society, and of course are completely antithetical to both the Gospel values and Jesuit beliefs that have always guided the University.

I know many of you will not be back on campus for another ten days or so: the University will certainly support events for members of the University community who wish to come together for reflection and prayer in the wake of the events in Charlottesville.

Finally, to those who feel targeted by the Charlottesville marchers, know that the Fordham community supports you and is here for you. Though it may not seem so in moments like this, decency and compassion do prevail. We will get though this trying time together.

Sincerely,

Joseph M. McShane, S.J.

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