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Letter to the Editor: Apology

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Last Friday a letter appeared in the Brackety-Ack concerning the Palestinian flag that the college began flying on the back quad flag poles. Due to a miscommunication the article appeared to be a personal letter from myself instead of a political statement from College Republicans. For that reason and because of my position within College Republicans I feel that it is necessary for me to publically comment concerning this matter. During this past week a large number of students and other members of the Roanoke College community have expressed support for the flying of the flag and opposition to the aforementioned letter. This is a commendable action and I strongly support their decision to do so for that is what living in this country is all about. The rights of all people to express their opinions no matter what side of an issue they are on is an important one. In doing so however numerous people have stated that they or someone they know was offended and for that I apologize. I can assure you that the letter was never intended to insult anyone or to make anyone feel unwelcome here at Roanoke. Instead it was intended to be a political statement and not a weapon to offend people. When politics are involved we can all understand that sometimes things are written or said which sometimes appear to be a personal insult against a person or a people. In this case that is what happened; the passion and vigor of the political debate caused the letter to be written in a way that certain people felt offended.  While I, and numerous other people on campus, still have reservations over the recognition of Palestine at this time and the decision to fly the flag that does not excuse the fact that people felt hurt. No matter how strongly someone believes in something, if someone else is insulted an apology is warranted. Therefore, both as a member/leader in College Republicans and personally, I apologize to everyone who felt that we were personally attacking them with this letter. I can understand how one might feel offended by what we said and I can only hope that those of you among the community who felt attacked can understand we meant no harm and were instead were only trying to present an alternate viewpoint to the situation.

During the time since the letter in question appeared in the Brackety-Ack the debate over the issue has grown into a loud fervor. While, this is an important part of the political process, some of the things said on both sides have been totally inexcusable. Though I do my best to refrain from such comments personally I feel the need to apologize for persons on my side of the argument who have made disparaging remarks, as well as to my friends here at Roanoke who have been attacked for being associated with me. Though I was not personally involved in these actions I feel that an apology is still warranted.  At the same time I also call upon everyone who has taken a stand on this issue to return civility to the discussion and to apologize for the insulting personal comments that have been made on both sides. There is no place for personally insulting words in political debate and I know that personally and speaking for numerous other people words like this are hurtful and insulting. The members of College Republicans on campus are some of the smartest, most caring, most accepting members of this campus and they do not deserve to be insulted simply for expressing an opinion. No one should be forced to either renounce their beliefs or to be labeled a racist. In this matter no one side is to blame; instead we are all responsible for the harsh words, personal insults, and scathing criticisms that have flown and I feel that an apology is needed from all of us.

In conclusion I would just like to say that I have written this letter with the purpose of achieving several things. First and foremost, I wish to express my remorse and to apologize to the people who may have been offended. While I support the general intent of the letter, I feel regret that people were offended. I in no way supported or meant to belittle or insult anyone. Secondly to return a call of civility to this debate that has become one of the most hostile I have seen on this campus. Thirdly I wish to apologize for all of the hurtful comments that have been said by both sides and to call on everyone else involved to issue a similar apology. Finally I also wish to encourage everyone to get involved in this issue, no matter what side you stand on. Political activism is important in our country and it’s up to all of us to bear that burden. I look forward to a continued debate on this issue and I hope for everyone’s forgiveness, understanding, and also for the return of compassion.

 

–Zachary Hottel