I am among those who reacted with dismay after reading “Why We’d Rather Be Here Than Choate” in the November 11 issue of The Scroll. I entirely agree with the views expressed by Mr. Merriam and Ms. LaScala in the Letters to the Editor. However, I think there is a larger issue of which the Choate-hatred box is just one representation.
Throughout history, the baser actions of humans have been inflamed by considering groups of people to be “Other.” Differences in skin-color, religion, ethnicity, nationality, and socio-ecomomic level have been behind the most heinous of human acts, slavery and the Holocaust being the two most obvious. For a great deal of humanity, seeing people as Other justifies their abuse.
It isn’t just the box in the newspaper that demonstrates DA students’ view of kids at other schools as Other. Choate week itself is full of events that are grounded in the same sentiments expressed in the paper. Holding a mock funeral for a Choatie and burning a giant C, in my opinion, come too close for comfort to being reminiscent of the lynchings and burnings of the South not many decades ago. An extreme view, perhaps, but I don’t think there is any denying that the acts legitimize at least thoughts of violence towards Choate students.
The school has a tradition of encouraging extreme competition in athletics. I know that DA wants to preserve traditions as much as possible, but I think the extreme to which athletic competition is practiced is a tradition that warrants a great deal of thought and discussion—and far more action than letters about the Choate insert box in The Scroll. The extreme to which rivalry is taken is the kind of traditional behavior that reinforces arrogance and violence. Education should never be solely about teaching academics, and lending moderation to rivalry should be an important part of any child’s education.
Giving students a sound moral basis means teaching them not to see any human beings as “Other.” I would venture to say that this is the tenet that is the basis for all morality. DA should take the Choate box in the paper as a wake-up call to examine in what ways it can change to prevent this kind of attitude in all aspects of its culture.
Hilary Zaloom P ’12