Congratulations, Mizzou, UM System President Wolfe has resigned. Apparently, Chancellor Loftin is also on his way out. Due to the idiocy of a few despicable people, “change” has been imposed on everyone, both the innocent and guilty.
This result wasn’t a triumph of liberal ideals overcoming repressive conditions, but conversely, a renunciation of our Enlightenment heritage, a victory of sheer will and puerile emotivism. It wasn’t democratic deliberation but mob justice, pure and simple.
I submit it’s this dereliction of reason, not racism, that is the insidious threat that goes bump in the night at MU.
Are there significant numbers of racist minds, conscious or otherwise, on campus? Does MU’s collective culture foster these bigoted or “insensitive” attitudes and thereby “oppresses” – whatever that means – black and or minority students?
Perhaps, but neither activists citing a handful of events, no matter how unfortunate, unacceptable and publicized, over a span of several years on a campus of tens of thousands nor their allusions to personal anecdotes sufficiently demonstrates these alleged conclusions.
Moreover, their appeals to Michael Brown’s death and when MU enrolled its first black student compared to other universities, as presented, does not seem pertinent to the question whether MU is “institutionally racist” in the here and now.
Despite the insistence to the contrary, MU’s culpability is not at all obvious, as the accusations against the university are not particularly clear. A comprehensive and strong case that does not conflate individual acts of racism with an overarching system of racism must be given to substantiate the claims of “institutional” or “systemic racism,” “privilege,” “implicit bias,” etc. – whatever those phenomena are. They are frequently posited but hardly ever defined, perhaps except in self-serving ways that circumvent debate rather than contribute to it.
See, Jonathan Butler and company like to do a lot of telling but not a lot of showing, and to paraphrase a translation of a Latin proverb, what is gratuitously asserted, can be gratuitously denied.
As glaring as this inability to put forth an argument that does not suffer from equivocation, red herrings or other fallacies is, it’s all outdone by Butler and company’s habit of avoiding them all together as exemplified by their flair for begging—I mean burying the question underneath an avalanche of innuendo and demagoguery.
They have a great preference for sophistry over rationality, a tendency to resort to hashtag slogans instead of arguments and a fondness for ad hominem invective as a substitute for “respect” in dialogue, as apparently our institution’s value they clamor for only applies to them on their narrow terms.
For example, in the Missourian story headlined, “How MU has come face-to-face with racism on campus,” there’s the following quote: “’If you are white and you don’t recognize that there is oppression and you don’t do anything about it, you are part of the problem.’”
Within such a proclamation — the content of which has been similarly regurgitated in several places — there is no effort to convince or reason but to bludgeon. It’s not an argument. Even if constructed into one – “You’re not me (black); therefore, you’re wrong and the scum of the earth – is sheer Bulverism. Alas, this encapsulates the contemptible state of the one-side discourse surrounding this subject at MU.
Truly, Butler and his associates seemingly have no qualms about denouncing the community as being on “the wrong side of history” or resorting to other inflammatory epithets that, by implication, link us as morally comparable to the likes of Selma or Bull Connor. Yet, they don’t have the courtesy to provide a single fire hose, attacking dog or piece of evidence that typically or clearly characterizes a society built to disenfranchise, demean and or exploit a minority.
Hence, the calls for “discussion” are a mendacious joke, as most of everything that’s been uttered is a sweeping indictment that borders on calumny and seemingly is intended to engender compliance. If not assenting to our accusers’ narrative is an act of harm, i.e., “white silence is violence,” given their penchant for drama, then my dissent is likely to be construed as “genocide.”
Indeed, if not ignored, I expect to be excoriated as a racist, my subconscious “supremacist” impulses divined from my syntax, jargon and tone in a form of perverse literary psychoanalysis.
It does not matter that I don’t find the color of their skin appalling, only their methods and disdain for the truth by eschewing civil debate. My impassioned opposition would still be rushed forth as proof that further “change” is required, i.e. that #racismliveshere, but on the contrary, their zeal to demonize me only would vindicate my words.
Yet, instead of holding Butler and his cohorts accountable for their abhorrent discourse, as in forcing them to cease with the personal attacks, reconsider their assumptions and positions, nuance their claims — you know, thinking and not solely emoting – we’ve coddled their inanity and taught them the lesson that if one finger-points and cries “racist” loud enough, one gets to remake MU in his or her image.
In a whole institution supposedly systematically predisposed against them, constituent institution after constituent institution here rallied to Butler’s call, assuredly a siren song for any university founded on the liberal pillar of freedom of thought and expression in the pursuit of knowledge.
As our conduct over the last couple months, especially last week, shows, MU seemingly no longer values this principle. Instead of training critical thinkers inoculated against rhetorical manipulation, we are more interested in inculcating chronic feelers, who are not only susceptible to but enamored by it.
As such, I suspect the climate for academic freedom is about to get “chilly” here.
Undoubtedly, Wolfe lost his job not because MU did not seek and punish the perpetrators in those high profile incidents of racism, nor did it refrain from looking into legal repercussions when appropriate. The drunken student who interrupted the Legion of Black Collegians has been long removed from campus, the bizarre “Poop Swastika” prompted an immediate investigation by MUPD, Payton’s Head’s account of his drive-by slurring lacked details for any sort of lead. The university, in no way, tolerated these high-profile acts of racism.
Rather, he was excommunicated because he did not partake in Butler and his allies’ level of outrage; he was not a true believer, and for them to catalyze their “change” onto the rest of us, they needed someone more amenable to their views as system president.
Now who’s to say this episode can’t and won’t happen to anyone here again. Apparently, Wolfe’s failure to acknowledge them as legitimate by not getting out of a car was the proximate cause for the calls for his head, yet, at the time, these activists, with their diatribe delivered by bullhorn, seemed intransigent to interruption of any kind during Homecoming.
If Wolfe’s example is any indication, each member of the faculty, staff and student body better take care with every glance, word and thought. And yes, our mental contents have been deemed inappropriate, as diversity training always justifies itself on the supposition that those in need of it have both “offensive” thoughts and subconscious urges in need of purging, lest we create an “unsafe” environment manifested by our speech, actions or lack thereof.
Make no mistake: We’ve just abdicated MU to ideologues who not only see a mere hint of disagreement with them as tantamount to a hate crime but find racism, discrimination and insensitivity anywhere and everywhere. They perceive “prejudice” in body language, such as how fast one walks while acting to assist them. They feel “oppression” from Thomas Jefferson’s statue off the Quad. No amount of catering to their demands, e.g., diversity re-education, hiring quotas or Wolfe’s resignation, more social justice centers, will ever make this institution suitable to their totalitarian standards.
Moreover, it’s safe to presume they have no idea what an ideal MU looks like. Whether Butler and his compatriots realize it or not, “change” for the sake of “change” has become the end in itself for everything they do. As their behavior and linguistic mischief illustrates, they’re about subversion, not transformation. They’re destroyers, not reformers. By appeasing them, we’ve shackled ourselves to their capricious will and its increasingly insatiable and punitive whims searching for higher education utopia.
To borrow from Arthur Miller, “We are what we always were in Mizzou, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”. We are flirting with a puritanical hysteria that might not make Joseph McCarthy blush, but I find my face flushed in a couple of ways for a multitude of reasons.
Butler is finally eating food again, which, of course is good. No one wanted to see him starve to death, but he, his allies and enablers really never stopped feasting, as this institution cannibalizes itself.