HANOVER — Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon has apologized for an email he sent after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that some perceived as apathetic.
Hanlon reportedly apologized for the email Monday night during a presentation on anti-Semitism with Rabbi Moshe Gray and Professor Susannah Heschel.
Hanlon was criticized by the school newspaper, The Dartmouth, which found his email “astounding in its vagueness and passivity.”
“In an email meant to provide support for ‘people in our community [who] are feeling afraid,’ it is disgraceful that Hanlon cannot legitimize these people’s fears by naming, with specificity, why they are afraid,” the editorial states. “It is disgraceful that the only emotions he seems to find worth mentioning are sadness and concern — not outrage, not disgust, not moral indignation.”
Hanlon’s email offered support for students who were alarmed after the “recent national events,” presumably referring to the synagogue shooting.
Eleven people were killed on Oct. 27 when an armed man stormed into the Tree of Life synagogue and opened fire as worshipers gathered for Saturday morning services.
“The violence, intolerance, and toxic divisiveness that seem so prevalent in our national discourse right now must be resolved, but can only be addressed through careful listening and understanding across difference,” Hanlon wrote in the email.
The Dartmouth editorial board considered that statement “a lazy cop-out.”
“Hanlon’s comment implies that it is polarization itself that fueled last week’s violent attacks, rather than the atypically destructive actions of a few deranged individuals. Under this model, nonviolent protesters with strong ideologies are held morally equivalent to violent extremists,” the editorial states.