Black privilege and free speech at the University of Missouri

Summary. Recent events at the University of Missouri (MU) threaten to harm it for years to come. The loss in one day of the President of the Four-Campus System and the MU Chancellor by forced resignation was bad enough –who of any competence would want those jobs? But the remedies proposed by the black student protesters would further bring the University down the path of political correctness gone amuck, with accelerated erosion of the academic values of truth, open debate, and honest respect. There is no racism on the MU campus. Many students, taught by faculty radicals, believe it is everywhere, sustained by an ether-like substrate of white privilege. Their claims largely result from indoctrination and hurt feelings, not the real racism faced by their grandparents and earlier generations. It is simply astonishing that baseless protests could so quickly bring down the administration and hurl the campus into chaos. This could only happen if MU’s core were not weakened and corrupt. MU is on the path to becoming a transuniversity, a radical political organization believing it is really a university. The protesters are well aware of their power and have issued further demands concerning sexism, homophobia, transism etc., echoing the litany of progressive grievances. The two resignations demonstrate once again that successful revolutions will hunt down their insufficiently radical members. One wag commented that MU has gone from Animal House to Animal Farm.

This is sad, very sad.

For more discussion, click the link and read on. 

By now most Americans have heard of the “racial unrest” at MU. What happened? There were many protests at MU after “Ferguson,” although the shooting there was justified and had nothing to do with MU. (See our commentary here.)

The narrative of an epidemic of unarmed black men being murdered by white police was circulated and raised the blood pressure of the Black Lives Matter movement. A few incidents of name calling on and off campus were used to justify demands that the MU administration take radical steps to make students feel safe. See here.  The complaint of feeling unsafe has circulated widely on campuses nationwide recently. Name calling is a far cry from physical violence and in any case has been a very rare phenomenon at MU, one the administration has nothing to do with or could conceivably sprevent. The next step was that a small group of students interrupted the MU Homecoming Parade last month by physically blocking President Tim Wolfe’s car. They insisted that he should step out, listen to them, and then act on their grievances. He culpably remained in the car; police cleared away the protesters so that the parade could continue. This apparently enraged the protesters, who then commenced what they termed a camp-in. A student then decided on a hunger strike. Both claimed their protests would continue until President Wolfe apologized for not talking to them during the parade and not acceding to their demands; after which he should resign. This snowballed into a boycott of many football players, threatening a very expensive cancellation of the next game. The mishandling of graduate student subsidies and health insurance owing to ObamaCare, plus the ethic of students never criticizing each other, particularly if black, contributed to support for the protesters.

At this point it was obvious to experienced observers of American universities that the President was in serious trouble and his resignation inevitable. Not because of anything he had done or not done or conceivably could have done, but because black student protesters have great power stemming from their race. Protests of this kind have been going on since the 1960s and universities have almost uniformly caved to the outlandish demands of black privilege. No other group would have the chutzpah or the power to issue demands for career-ruining resignations. This is because the accusation of racism is unanswerable. Like Lady Macbeth’s blood stain, the accusation will not come off. Since the grounds for the accusation are subjective, there is no acceptable defense. Unless one imitates Rachel Dolezal and becomes black, expunging one’s white guilt is impossible. To the liberal mind challenging black protesters is unthinkable and racist. In this upside-down atmosphere a small group claiming victimhood can successfully bully an innocent President out of office, helped by the threat of missed football games and the loss of millions of dollars.

In our view while there may appear to be racist smoke at MU, there is absolutely no fire. Racial and racist are not the same. Racism involves concrete, not subjective, damage provable by reasonable scrutiny. (Here only the President and the Chancellor suffered concrete damage.) The raising of racial eyebrows or counter-protesters driving past the camp-in demonstrators with a Confederate flag on their truck is racial (and free speech,)  but not racist. Racism causes more harm than hurt feelings. All the racist episodes adduced are of the hurt-feelings variety. They had nothing to do with MU as an institution. We note the long history of hate crime hoaxes on American campuses, including by radical professors. There may not be any of that here, though the “poop swastika” does not fit into any common narrative. It has not gone unnoticed that these acts of hateful racism paradoxically tend to occur on the most left-wing and radical campuses. No one has any cause to feel ‘unsafe,’ though this claim is all the rage on campuses nationwide. This unfortunate episode is rooted in leftwing theory and a hard left agenda. The usual narrative is that institutions of higher education serve the purposes of white privilege. The students have been brainwashed into thinking their imaginary Emperor is fully clothed. In fact the forced resignation of the University System President reveals the power of black protesters coddled by the university. No other group could get away with what they did, only a privileged group could, thus the term ‘black privilege.’ No one believes that racism is rampant at MU, nor believes that the forced resignations of President Wolfe and of Chancellor Loftin would have happened had they been black women. The University’s response to protests through the decades has been to become progressively more leftwing to the point that doctrinal uniformity is being enforced through barely concealed speech codes. Despite administration statements supporting intellectual pluralism, people on campus know what they must never say. Political correctness, according to Alvin Rabushka, “means that you cannot speak the truth on any controversial topic, because someone or some group will say it is hurtful.” What we see here is political correctness raised to a higher power. MU has already crossed the line from speech policing to attitude cleansing. The demands of the protesters will only result in intensified and more one-sided efforts of this kind, with required PC training overtaking academics. This will continue until universities stand up to bullying intimidation and mob rule. President Wolfe called for ‘healing’ in his resignation statement. Any healing to be done is the responsibility of the black students and their white enablers in the professoriat.

Most black students likely went through K-12 schools in which they were told that white people hate them. (The case in the Ferguson area.) At university they were taught by radical professors that American culture is repressive, biased, racist, bigoted, and responsible for the miseries of black people. One theory holds that our culture is one of white privilege, so entrenched and fundamental that whites are largely not aware of it. But this is only a symptom. The real problem is “whiteness,” and since race is largely a social construct created by whites for repressive purposes, white society is guilty and at fault. Thus just about any action taken to repair this noxious culture is laudable. If you do not see the truth of this theory, you have false consciousness and need re-education. (Whence the University’s universal and mandatory diversity training.) This is the theory in brief. We recommend Jason Riley’s book Please stop helping us, in which he laments the attitude that Blacks cannot be held responsible for their plight so long as someone somewhere in white America is still using the N-word. As racial progress has increased and the civil-rights struggle won, from the era of Jim Crow through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the present, the breathless protests have grown in intensity. Why is this? When one’s theories start to unravel, they can be abandoned or one can intensify them. So it is with true believers that space aliens monitor us surreptitiously or there is a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. The utter lack of evidence is taken as a sign the enemy is enormously intelligent and clever in concealing his designs.

Recent history at MU shows that the campus administration supports all efforts to banish every last remnant of a repressive culture and in the process is going way overboard. Racial preference in student admissions and faculty hiring under affirmative action is decades old. The Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative has created a culture of repression for anyone who questions liberal orthodoxy in certain not well specified ways. Thus the orthodoxy-enforcing MU Equity Office will investigate complaints “without the constraints of a formal process.”  In addition to this Star-Chamber like process, there is also a way to report – anonymously –“any act of intolerance” or “name calling” “regardless of severity. ” Talk about a chilling effect. Non-minorities complaining of bias – but only in the classroom – only have recourse through the Provost’s Office.  MU’s claim to support intellectual pluralism and free speech is empty, limited as it is by university-defined codes of respect, non-hurtfulness, and making everyone feel comfortable as defined by unaccountable bureaucrats and faculty. The diversity enforcement apparatus is closed to conservatives and fair hearings questionable. There is a separate office to investigate sexual crimes and oppression of women. Entering Freshmen and all faculty and staff are required to take and pass diversity training courses, promoting a one-sided and tendentious view of discrimination. One cannot receive a passing mark without being forced to give PC answers many believe are false. This is not free, but coerced speech. There is nothing more MU can do to promote its support for black grievances. That a few drunken students, white men, who object to these one-sided campaigns, should resort to name-calling is not surprising. That the backlash is covert and very mild is also not surprising, given the repressive atmosphere for those who do not accept the party line as well as the good sense of most students.

What should MU do? Three things. First, adapt a statement of principle similar to the one at Yale:

Yale’s commitment to freedom of expression means that when you agree to matriculate, you join a community where “the provocative, the disturbing, and the unorthodox” must be tolerated. When you encounter people who think differently than you do, you will be expected to honor their free expression, even when what they have to say seems wrong or offensive to you.

This means that Yale expects its students to be grown-ups. No one has the right not to be offended. No one has the right to demand a “safe space” after being confronted with “microaggressions.” Freedom of expression or of speech is vitally important in and of itself and particularly in an environment of intellectual development and research. We of course cite Yale now because of its failure to live up to its own ideals with the episode of the possibly offensive Hallowe’en costumes. (See below.)

Second, MU should add to the statement a prohibition of coerced speech. Speech codes of any kind must not be tolerated. What the President and the Chancellor said was coerced speech. It is unclear how much they believed and how much they did not believe, but were compelled to say. It is true that it is cowardly to give in to coerced speech. But liberal university administrators who agree with many of the protesters’ demands will not find the courage to fight back against bogus protests and disruption of the university’s mission.

Third, MU should add that in protecting  freedom of expression and speech, it cannot and will not tolerate threats and near violence such as boycotts or blocking traffic.

A propos of Mizzou and Yale here is a link to an article tying the two together. More on the Yale debacle and its disregard of its own free-expression values here. MU’s pathology is no different from Yale’s.

Finally, to the parents of MU students disturbed by these events, we recommend the book Letters to a young progressive, by Prof. Mike S. Adams.   Troglo



One thought on “Black privilege and free speech at the University of Missouri

  1. Pingback: The Missouri Legislature and the University of Missouri | The Missouri Intelligencer

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