Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis

Anti-semitism at Texas A&M

Thu, 21 Nov 1996 17:15:43 -0500

Last week a preacher invited to the Texas A&M University by a student organization slurred two Jewish students to their faces.

Tom Short, an itinerant evangelist brought to campus by the A&M Christian Fellowship, told one student that, because she is Jewish, she is going "to burn in Hell." He told another Jewish student that "Hitler did not go far enough."

The incident has been reported to the Houston office of the Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith and to Ray M. Bowen, president of the University. The Faculty Senate has also been asked to condemn Short's comments and to demand a stop to all Christianizing activities at Texas A&M.

The Battalion, student daily at Texas A&M, reported the incident in a letter to the editor over the headline "Preacher violates common courtesy."

With an overwhelmingly Protestant student population of over 40,000, Texas A&M is a common locus for Christianizing activities that would be deemed inappropriate at most American universities and colleges. The weekend before Short's appearance, for instance, a revival meeting called Gospelfest was held in Rudder Auditorium, the largest theater on campus. In the spring, an annual Passion Play is staged in the quadrangle outside the Memorial Student Center. Every semester a group of Christian faculty purchases a full-page ad in The Battalion, urging students to seek their aid in coming to Jesus. (The faculty list their department affiliations, and the names are then alphabetized by department.) Student government meetings are routinely opened with a non-denominational Christian prayer, and local bookstores sell T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like "Aggies for Christ," which some students make a point of wearing to Jewish professors' classes.

The antisemitic preaching of an evangelist brought to campus by a student organization, in short, might be interpreted as the culmination of a clear pattern of religious intolerance at Texas A&M.

Subscribers to the H-Holocaust list are urged to protest this outbreak of antisemitism to the Regents of Texas A&M University, members of the Texas state legislature, and Texas representatives to the U.S. Congress. I would welcome other suggestions for courses of action.

This was posted by:
David Gershom Myers
Department of English

Added several days later:

From: D G Myers
Subject: Antisemitism on campus, cont.

Subscribers may be interested to know that I have spoken with both the adviser and student president of the A&M Christian Fellowship, the organization that invited the antisemitic preacher Tom Short to campus. Both claimed that his comment about Hitler was "taken out of context," and that Short "is not that kind of man." "He thinks that what Hitler did was wrong!" I was told. That is big of him, I was tempted to respond. Instead, I responded by arguing that Short's theology is not Christian at all, but Nazi. The logic runs like this. Since all Jews are going "to burn in Hell"--that is, since God Himself has condemned all Jews to burning--it follows that "Hitler did not go far enough," because he only managed to condemn *some* Jews to burning. The second comment is unnecessary to establish that Short is an antisemite. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, anyone who tells a Jew that she will "burn"--anyone who uses "Jew" and "burn" in the same sentence--is an antisemite.

One correspondent has suggested privately that I distinguish "the comments of this one lunatic from the other proselytizing activities on campus, which the Christians should be free to pursue and the non-Christians free to ignore, as long as the activities are not intrusive."

Let me be clear, so I am not accused of "censorship." That Christians should be free to pursue their proselytizing activities is something with which I agree, and I would never call upon the University to use its power to coerce Christians into stopping. At the same time, I think Christians--on campus and off--should voluntarily forego their efforts to convert the Jews.

In The Fatal Embrace, Benjamin Ginsberg argues that there is nothing very mysterious about antisemitism; it is merely a form of xenophobia. But in contemporary America, where the Jews are not visibly strangers--where neither speech nor dress nor eating habits nor even conviction separates Jews from the majority culture--one means of forcibly identifying and therefore isolating Jews is by targeting them for conversion. Jews are considered ripe for conversion on no other basis than that they are Jews. And so the Jews must be seen as--must be treated as--different. In other words, conversion efforts are the first step toward a reawakening of antisemitism in the way that Benjamin Ginsberg understands it. When American Jews have been identified as strangers by attempts to convert them--and especially when they, a stiffnecked people, resist the attempts--xenophobic hatred is the likely consequence.

From: "Richard L. England, Jr."

David Meyers' article "Anti-Semitism at Texas A&M", dated Nov. 21, 1996 (sorry I didn't find it sooner), which you have posted on your Web site, is pure crap. I was not a member of A&M Christian Fellowship, but I had many friends who were. They are NOT anti-semitic.

The following statement was also way off base:

"Student government meetings are routinely opened with a non-denominational Christian prayer, and local bookstores sell T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like "Aggies for Christ," which some students make a point of wearing to Jewish professors' classes. "

This is also crap. I was a member of the Aggies For Christ for 6-1/2 years, and we were definitely not anti-semitic in any way. I doubt seriously that most of us would have any way of knowing which professors were Jewish and which were not. We wore our T-shirts because we LIKED them, not because we thought it entertaining to offend anyone. Also, our T-shirts were NEVER sold in bookstores. Most of them were printed for use in our service projects and fellowship activities, much like fraternity and sorority T-shirts are printed to commemorate their activities.

Please place some sort of disclaimer online with that libelous article.

Thank you,

Richard L. England, Jr. TAMU Class of '90

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