A report from The Sun yesterday adds ballast to what many had long suspected: that pro-Hong Kong materials are being vandalized on campus, with Snapchat screenshots suggesting that students were responsible for vandalizing stickers stuck to a footbridge railing. It harkens back to dark memories two years ago when pro-Tibet human rights posters on Arts Quad were similarly stolen. The repetition of such an act of grave immaturity and irresponsibility puts into question the conscience of those perpetrators, widening the chasm within the larger Chinese community between the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong people. But one question lingers: why? Why would someone destroy materials meant to support those protesting an overbearing state?
One of the biggest culture shocks I faced coming to the United States was learning the term “political correctness.” I found it paradoxical that in this so-called land of the free people would euphemize and avoid using certain expressions out of a fear of upsetting others. I expected to be able to think critically and engage in open dialogue upon my arrival at Cornell. Yet, I could not help but feel as though many of my peers and professors attempted to protect me from what I could never fully be protected of. We condemn the numerous accounts of bias and hate speech that have taken place across campus and around the world. But we tend to forget that such actions stem from within our very own community.
The above conversation took place between my roommate and I a few weeks ago. To clarify, I used the pronoun she to refer to a mutual acquaintance of ours, and my roommate Troy corrected me, pointing out that the person I had mentioned uses they pronouns. One thing about Troy; he’s a very reasonable person. (Troy if you’re reading this, don’t get a big head. Also please take out our garbage.) After I said “whatever,” he proceeded to admonish me in a very fair and thoughtful way, which was more than I deserved considering how dismissive I was of him.