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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Letter to the readers

Photo illustration by Tyler Hillis
Photo illustration by Tyler Hillis

To the readers of The Western Front,

My name is Tyler Hillis and I will be the opinion editor throughout this summer session. It will be my first time holding this position and it is one I am rather unfamiliar with. To further complicate things, my first assignment is to write an opinion about the Orlando tragedy which occurred on June 12, 2016.

This is a daunting task. I am now the opinion voice of a newspaper, which is, in a sense, the voice of the student body. So I must try to give my opinion on an issue with that in mind.

Deep down, I feel like I am the wrong person to give an opinion. I am a heterosexual, white male who grew up in a Christian family. The victims in Orlando primarily belonged to the LGBTQ+ community. The shooter came from a Muslim background. At first look, I am of the most unaffected group of people in this whole situation. And yet, there are things that need to be said.

In the past academic year, Western has had its problems with race and identity. There have been threats made to our fellow students. Groups on campus have felt underrepresented by the university. Our publications, this one included, have failed to put forth the maximum effort in identifying individuals correctly.

To say that I am unaffected by this tragedy is wrong. The same issues we have dealt with on our campus were the root of this horrible shooting. If we don’t tackle bigotry, racism and preconceptions head on, we allow them to manifest within extreme individuals. We are in the opposite corner of the country, but the problems we face are the same.

As President Obama said in his official statement from The White House on Tuesday, June 14, “This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation – is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.”

As I remind myself, I want to remind you, the reader, of this fact: We are all affected by this attack. We are all trying to make this country a better place. This attack should not slow progress, but increase it.

 

Thank you for reading,

Tyler Hillis

 

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