After the Associated Student Government vice president used the term “illegal alien” in a post that endorsed Kris Kobach for governor, there was student outrage on social media.
Michaela Todd, ASG vice president, wrote in a public Facebook post that Kobach would “put Kansans first, not illegal aliens.” While she has apologized, we don’t think it’s enough.
This is a serious offense.
It might not seem like a “big deal” to use the phrase “illegal alien,” because not that long ago, it was regularly used.
However, there are a multitude of racial, sexual, homophobic and gender-based slurs that we don’t want to print that were once “acceptable.”
We were proud when Kansas decisively voted that this language was not okay when they elected Laura Kelly. The Kansas people have rejected the racism and intolerance of Kobach.
But this incident concerns us.
It’s never acceptable to call a person “illegal” and it’s important that we separate this word as something that only applies to acts, not people.
Since the beginning of time, groups have been put into “illegal” categories and are demonized with labels.
Women were threatened and called “witches” if they didn’t know their place.
Irish people were once considered “dirty” and “less than.”
Being a black person without an owner was once “illegal.” And even now black people are treated as second class citizens.
Homosexuality was once “illegal” in this country. It still isn’t supported by a sect in this country
Muslim people are demonized and scapegoated because of their faith.
Transgender people are persecuted and murdered everyday for just being true to themselves.
Hispanics are called “murderers and rapists” by our president, amongst cheering crowds.
Most of us belong to a group that was “illegal” at one point or another and using dehumanizing language is a tactic to create in-groups and out-groups and set up intolerance.
This is the first step on a not-so-long road to places where diversity and tolerance is outright rejected.
Michaela, it’s time you meet with Hispanic and other students of color on this campus and start to understand their point of view.
It’s time to start representing the people on this campus.
All of the people.
Not just the “legal” ones.