‘Nova grad returns for campaign against hate

Andrew Whalen

Villanova welcomed Brent Scarpo of New Light Media last week, when he appeared in Connelly cinema to promote his film and cultural programs. Scarpo’s documentary, “Journey to a Hate Free Millennium,” takes a close look at the victims and perpetrators of hate-crimes. In order to discuss his work and open up the floor to his audience, Scarpo chose to preview the condensed “teaching” version of the film.

Though he hails from Pennsylvania, Scarpo told those in attendance that he knew from the youngest age that he was destined for Hollywood. Scarpo never planned on going to college, but did so to placate his mom. Upon graduation, his mother presented him with a congratulatory gift – a thimble, which she told him to fill with love, hope and respect so that when he carried it out into the world with him she would never have to worry.

Scarpo tells this story at every presentation because he thinks this message could eliminate hatred from the world. He is especially concerned with the United States and its policies, revealing to the students that when he started his documentary in 1999, he thought that hatred was the biggest threat facing America in the 21st century.

“Journey to a Hate Free Millennium” highlights the Matthew Shepard murder, the James Byrd Jr. murder, the Columbine High School shootings and the Holocaust. Students were reminded just how horrific and tragic these events were. Scarpo interviewed many people associated with different facets of these crimes, noting that his thimble has traveled with him “more places than you can imagine.”

Scarpo’s film emphasizes that while anyone can be victimized, minorities in particular are targets for hate crimes. Scarpo repeatedly asked those in attendance whether they were part of the problem or part of the solution.

Following the viewing, Scarpo asked those in the audience what they had done in the past or present to distinguish hatred. Scarpo said that it was his goal to raise $250,000 so that three copies of his film could be sent to every high school in the country. He believes that American high schools are the most dangerous hate-filled environments in the world, and that the Internet has forced younger and younger students to deal with greater societal issues. He wants to reach them before it is too late.

Several people in the audience offered accounts of their own experiences or informed others of activities or on-campus support groups. Students from the Special Olympics student committee were quick to inform the speaker that Villanova is second to no one when it comes to community focus and service.

Scarpo concluded his presentation by handing out thimbles to everyone. He urged students to go out of their way to say hello to people they do not know. He also recommended that students attend activities or clubs that they might not normally consider.

Until he returns in the spring with his “Why do you hate me?” program, Scarpo leaves it up to the students to make a difference for the better on a daily basis.