C-ing Clearly: It’s time to stand up

Speaking up is hard, but necessary


Cece Giarman, Editor-in-Chief

A series of photos of high schoolers at a house party went viral earlier this month. The pictures show a group of students around pull-out tables as they extend their arms in the Nazi salute and stand in front of a swastika formed out of what appears to be beer-filled, red Solo cups.

Understandably, local and national communities became outraged after the photos surfaced on March 3. Like many others, I was repulsed by the outright display of bigotry and revolting reminder of crimes committed against the Jewish community throughout history.

The teens were students at various private and public high schools in and around Newport Beach, California and are facing different levels of punishment as a result of their involvement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Paul Nussbaum, President of the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum, responded to the incident by saying similar attacks can be avoided if young people are not only taught the history behind hateful symbols like swastikas or signs like the Nazi salute, but are also taught to appreciate faiths that are not their own.

We have been fortunate to attend a high school where there is an emphasis on the importance of valuing others’ beliefs. That said, world religion classes and diversity assemblies alone will not teach young people to appreciate opposing opinions.

If we strive to be empathetic and mindful of those different than us, we need to be aware of situations in which individuals are treated with disrespect and stripped of their human dignity.

Even more so, we must recognize when it is our duty to stand up and say something when a derogatory comment is made — be it about religion, race, gender, sexuality, politics or heritage.

That, however, is a task easier said than done.

Speaking up to friends, peers or family is uncomfortable. It’s easy close to our ears to a friend’s sexualized joke or a classmate’s slight racial slur, but being a bystander in a questionable situation is not that different from being the perpetrator.

While the Newport Beach students have released apologies saying they know what they did was wrong, we should ask ourselves the question: Would I have said “This is not okay” if an attendee at the party?