The family of Mark Hoffman, a college student and progressive activist, report that he has been out of communication for more than a week. He is currently traveling across the war-torn nation of Syria by foot to challenge the belief that muslims are violent.
According to his family, Hoffman has a “ready smile” and is an advocate for oppressed groups around the world. “He completely dedicated himself to dismantling white privilege since he started his philosophy degree at Sarah Lawrence,” said his mother, Anne Hoffman.
Only a year shy of graduation, Hoffman is the president of Kaboom, a campus organization dedicated to fighting misconceptions about Islam in the United States. “White supremacists are far more likely to commit terrorist attacks than muslims,” he wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “Islam is a religion rooted in tolerance, and I intend to prove that in March when I walk across the nation of Syria.”
Friends say that Hoffman is an advocate for oppressed groups across the world. “He’s a feminist with a big heart who knows how to make a difference,” said one classmate. Many say that Hoffman became active in social justice causes due to the influence of professor Angela Granger, who herself disappeared in Pakistan in 2015 while planning the first-ever Syrian slut walk.
Various feminist organizations have spoken out in support of Hoffman’s journey. Kim Frankle, a gender studies scholar, wrote that she hopes his walk will highlight xenophobia towards Islamic fundamentalists. “An attack against Sharia is an attack against women,” she said on her website. “Men carpet bomb the hearts of women on the street with catcalls everyday, yet somehow Americans consider muslims the terrorists.”
Critics have contended that Hoffman’s walk across Syria is both dangerous and founded on the false notion that criticism of Islamic fundamentalism is inherently rooted in intolerance. Others have noted the clear incompatibility between American feminism, which purports to encourage multiculturalism, and the social realities of Sharia Law.
College feminists, however, have continued to support Hoffman’s message of blind acceptance. “The answer to terrorism is love and girl power,” said one comment on Facebook. “We feminists will continue the fight against injustice to protect the children we don’t want to have.”