WASHINGTON, D.C. – All Lives Matter.
The phrase was scrawled on a flyer and posted to the door of a faculty member’s office at American University’s Washington College of Law and it’s creating a huge controversy, The Washington Post reports.
The situation prompted professors at the law school and the dean to pen letters to students and staff about the March 4 incident that likened the “All Lives Matter” message to white supremacist hate speech, and accused the messenger of harassment and intimidation.
The school’s over-the-top reaction caught the attention of Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow – two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights – who chastised school leaders for the “nonsensical” letters.
Washington College of Law Dean Claudio Grossman first alerted students to the “very disturbing incident” that occurred during spring break, noting that the flyer was left on the door of a faculty member “with a national reputation for doing important work on issues of racial justice in the criminal justice system,” according to the Post.
“Although the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ may sound benign, it sometimes has been used as a rallying cry by some groups who oppose the Black Lives Matter Movement and seek to silence it,” Grossman wrote.
Another letter, signed by law school faculty, essentially made the same point – that “the message appears intended … to be an attempt to silence and intimidate an opposing viewpoint, not an effort to communicate a different perspective.
““… The ‘All Lives Matter’ sign might seem to be a benign message with no ill intent, but it has become a rallying cry for many who espouse ideas of white supremacy and overt racism, as well as those who do not believe the laws should equally protect those who have a different skin color or religion,” the profs wrote, according to the Post.
Heriot and Kirsanow called the letters are an embarrassment, the Baltimore Post Examiner reports.
“We write as two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and not on behalf of the Commission as a whole. And while we are required to begin our letters with the preceding sentence under the Commission’s rules, we would have preferred to open with: What is wrong with your faculty and staff members?” they wrote to the school late last month.
“The response of American University faculty and staff was nothing short of Orwellian. Nearly sixty members of the law faculty and staff signed a letter calling this an ‘act of intolerance,’ because it refers to ‘all lives’ rather than only ‘black lives.’ This makes American University look foolish. Even sillier, the letter calls this obviously true statement—that the lives of all members of the human species are valuable—‘a rallying cry for many who espouse ideas of white supremacy,’” the commissioners continued, adding that they’re unaware of any “white supremacist” groups using the “All Lives Matter” battle cry.
“The letter further states that it is unacceptable for a student to make such a statement anonymously. But what would anyone expect in an environment in which faculty members will accuse a student of uttering ‘a rallying cry for many who espouse ideas of white supremacy?’” Heriot and Kirsanow wrote.
“We are embarrassed for your law school, especially because it is a law school. We hope that you share our sentiments.”