Re: "‘Palestinian Roots’ shall remain in Student Centre” by Ryan Moore   

The following is a community editorial expressing the opinions of community members. The views do no reflect Excalibur, its publishers or masthead.

The controversial art work depicting a rock-holding Palestinian eyeing a bulldozer clearing the way for Israeli settlements has implications beyond freedom of expression at York. The mural’s controversial nature has sparked coverage in various media outlets, including The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. Mr. Moore’s coverage of reactions as to whether the mural should remain or be removed has led me to reflect on the following. We are all well aware of the expression, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Equally, we might consider that “ugliness is in the eye of the beholder.” The quip, that “a picture is worth a thousand words” enjoys wide currency. Further, the phrase “hate speech” has been used to describe certain forms of expression that may serve to malign certain persons or groups.
I ask myself, where does “Palestinian Roots” fall? Given that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” does this mural “speak” in such a way as to arouse passionate attitudes that demonize one group while holding another group as victim? Does a certain group of students have no legitimate claim to question the value of the mural’s intent by virtue of recent history at York, threatened by what the mural communicates, which makes this group feel uneasy and perhaps unwelcome? Does this mural inspire reasoned debate about certain political issues or does it further polarize and exacerbate divisiveness? The language we use to communicate, whether in words or in the form of a pictorial expression, needs to be clearly understood as a language that informs and inspires discussion. Or is this language a form of propaganda that does no more than to arouse unruly passion and leave reason out of the picture? Mr. Moore, I am still pondering the issues.
Frank  J. Marchese, PhD
Faculty of Health
Dept. of Psychology
York University

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