Apathy stronger weapon than words
Apathy is a powerful weapon. It has halted social movements, won elections and silenced voices the world over. It is exactly the tool that must be used to silence hatred.
This is meant to be directed toward the University population that plans to meet the members of the Westboro Baptist Church in the streets outside of Rutgers Hillel at 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 28. My best advice: stay at home. This radical hate group is obviously not welcome on the University campus. The only problem is that they do legally have the right to be here and make their voice heard at that site on that day. There is legally nothing that can be done to stop this event from happening. They followed the procedures to the T, as they always do, in order to ensure that they get their time in the spotlight.
We cannot silence their voices, but as a collective unit we can greatly minimize their audience. Groups like the Westboro Baptist Church have no political goals or policy objectives that they hope to achieve by peacefully protesting around the country; they simply wish to legally stand on the street corner and scream their messages of hatred to the world in order to get a reaction from the immediate vicinity. Why would they do this? Media Coverage. They want to be interviewed by Fox, NBC and CBS and have their 15 minutes of fame all around the country. They want to be seen as the devilish figures that most Americans are embarrassed about so that they can spread their message to a global audience.
What do media sources want? A good story, and what better story would there be then thousands of University students meeting 10 members of a radical group to denounce their dogma? If no one shows up to the "protest" of the church, the story is not as interesting and the groups' action begin to fade into obscurity. This is the most powerful weapon that we have, to force them to fade into obscurity by not reacting.
This group knows what they are doing, that is why they chose the University, one of the most liberal universities in the country, as the site for their next protest. They know we vehemently oppose their ideas and will react exactly the way they want us to. They want us to gather all our friends and family and meet them on the steps of Hillel. Shortly after they meet us, they will meet the news crews coming in to check the latest story, which will display the events of New Brunswick to the entire world. They want us to react irrationally and to think with our hearts instead of our heads so that they can achieve what they want.
This University was targeted specifically and is a calculated movement by a group that is getting less attention as time drags on. This is a chance for their small, radical chapter to step into the spotlight, if only for a few more moments.
Our strategy should be one of general apathy, to avoid the counter-protest and continue on with our day as if it was no different then any other day. This overall should not be that difficult, since most University students do not get up before 11 a.m. Stay in bed, study for exams, go to the gym, eat a fat sandwich, go on Facebook, do absolutely anything other then organizing and staging a counter protest to their legal protest.
If we ignore this group and let them pass peacefully through the city unimpeded, the news sources will not care and we will deal the Westboro Baptist Church a more powerful defeat than we could do standing across the street from them, yelling at them and saying they should go home. They are not welcome here and we know it, so do not give them a place at the University. Apathy is a powerful weapon — let's utilize it for good.
Brian Sadej is a Rutgers College senior majoring in political science and criminal justice.