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Letter to the editor

As students with various religious, cultural, and national backgrounds, as individuals living in an extremely diverse country, and as citizens of the world, we send our condolences to the families of Srinivas Kuchibhotla of Olathe, K.S., and Harnish Patel of Lancaster, S.C., who were shot dead recently and our prayers for the speedy recoveries of Deep Rai of Kent, Wash. and Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot of Olathe, K.S., all of whom were wounded in shootings in the past two weeks. We condemn in the strongest terms these acts of violence as well as the exclusionary rhetoric that preceded them. 

We are saddened at heart to know that Americans, who look like many of us and whose names sound like ours, were told to leave the country of their livelihood and the land of the free (in one case, as the last words they ever heard). As of now, the shooting in Kansas has been classified as a hate crime and local police are investigating the incident in Washington as a possible hate crime. While the motive in South Carolina remains unclear, we are shaken to the core by the normalization of racially charged anti-immigrant rhetoric at the highest offices in government and we cannot help but wonder whether such a divisive and xenophobic atmosphere contributed to all of these incidents.

As cultural or religious organizations, we often turn to our individual communities or to prayer in order to process these tragedies. However, in all of our cultures and traditions, we see a common celebration of peace and love and see harmful acts inflicted upon others as despicable sins. Given these commonalities, we must unite in these times to affirm that our various cultures are what make us beautiful and valued. We must turn to one another to offer and receive support and solidarity. We must remember that though there are people who respond to differences with fear and aggression, the people who embrace and welcome differences are far more abundant.

What is crucial is that our messages and acts of solidarity do not simply surface in response to these terrible tragedies. We must continuously exhibit the kindness and love that we hope to see from everyone in the future. Our outrage and resistance towards injustice should be similarly continuous and we cannot allow for acts like these to go unnoticed if we are to prevent this division and violence from becoming the new normal. A verse from a Hindu text states that there is no greater sin than bringing pain to others and no greater act than to bring benefit to others. For us, ensuring that we act in a way that benefits those around us and stand up against actions and policies which bring pain to our fellow humans, especially in these trying times, is the best manner in which we can go about our lives rooted in righteousness.

In solemn solidarity,

Duke Hindu Students Association

Duke Muslim Students Association

Duke Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Duke Presbyterian Campus Ministry

Buddhist Meditation Community at Duke

Duke Jewish Students Union

Duke Voices for Interfaith Action

Duke Diya

Joint Youth Organization of Indians at Duke

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