“Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” Georgetown Students Unite Against Bigotry

By: Brittany Neihardt

April 28, 2015

On Monday, I attended a celebratory luncheon for the Doyle Engaging Difference Fellowship. Doyle fellows in attendance excitedly shared their research with representatives from the Berkley Center and departments across Georgetown University. The Doyle initiative focuses on diversity, tolerance, and understanding. As I walked back to campus from an inspiring lunch, I was shocked to see neon signs with vitriolic slurs bobbing outside the front gates of Georgetown. Members and supporters of the Westboro Baptist Church shouted anti-homosexual hatred toward Healy Tower.

However, their harsh words could not make it far. The insults were drowned out by music blasted from speakers and nearby apartments. And, just in case the ignorant and offensive words of the protestors slipped through the wall of music, chants of “Hoya Saxa!” resounded loudly. Then, our own signs began to pop up. Georgetown students proudly waved posters reminding the Westboro Baptist Church that “God hates no one” and “Love is love.” The Bible says that love is the most fundamental law in Christianity. While the Westboro Baptist Church tried to spread hatred today, the Georgetown community smothered their message with love. Regardless of their faith and sexual orientation, students joined together to defend the rights of everyone— including all Hoyas
to choose whom to love.

The Berkley Center promotes understanding and tolerance. They teach that diversity is something to applaud and cherish—not condemn. Initiatives within the Berkley Center intend to overcome the same type of ignorance that leads people to use their freedom of speech to hurt others. Perhaps my favorite sign this afternoon asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I ask myself the same question all too frequently. It truly shouldn’t be so difficult to reconcile our beliefs and live side by side. However, history proves that this is, indeed, a monumental task. I feel optimistic that it is possible, though. Slowly, society is making progress. From one side of the front gates, today may have seemed like a step back. However, on the other side, one saw joined hands and a crowd that far outnumbered that of the protestors. This is why I am hopeful. There can be change if we continually reject such vitriolic claims made in the name of religion.

I will not repeat the words of the Westboro Baptist Church that inspired such a campaign at an institution of higher learning. I refuse to offer them the satisfaction and publicity of reiterating such venomous speech. Georgetown University was targeted as a Catholic organization that lovingly accepts and supports its LGBTQ students. In fact, we were singled out for the very reasons I am proud to call myself a Hoya.

I am a proud Georgetown Hoya because my peers channeled their intellect and wit into respectfully rejecting the insidious bigotry we faced today.    

I am a proud Georgetown Hoya because hundreds of my fellow students surrounded insensitive negativity and silently turned their backs on the protestors.

I am a proud Georgetown Hoya because an entire community came together this afternoon to stand in solidarity with our classmates and support equality for our fellow Hoyas.

Photo Credit: Preston Moore, '16. Georgetown students came out in large numbers to counter the efforts of the Westboro Baptist Church on Monday.

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“Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” Georgetown Students Unite Against Bigotry