Listening to some and reading some articles over the last few months, one could be led to believe that the campus of Clark College is a hotbed of white supremacy and racial unrest. For the most part though, students seemed unaware of such unrest.
Last evening, I was forwarded a “Bias-Based Incident” report from Clark College president, Bob Knight, a man well worth holding the position and one who seems to have had a target painted by on his back by a few. The report states,
“Security is continuing its investigation into a report that one or more individuals expressed a disparaging remark about people of color – a remark that was clearly audible to some students and faculty in Hanna Hall on the evening of February 2.”
We aren’t told exactly what this “disparaging remark about people of color” was and knowing the exact words really isn’t all that important. Obviously, something occurred and words were said that someone took offense to. The “investigation” should clear up whether it was a heat of the moment scuffle, misunderstanding or bigotry.
Knight came under fire just a few months ago in October 2010 for “not responding fast enough” to an incident that seems to “trouble some faculty members” where a National Socialist was passing out “White and Proud” flyers, due I believe in response to former Chief of Staff and founding member of the Black Panthers, David Hilliard being invited to Clark to speak.
An ex-convict, recovering drug addict and former leader of a violent racist group like the Black Panthers speaking did not seem to bother these same “faculty members” who leveled such accusations towards Mr. Knight like, “Where’s the leadership, here?” and “We really need to hear something. Bob Knight has done nothing. The message behind his silence is loud. It speaks volumes.”
The Columbian questioned several minority students and elicited responses of, “It’s a safe place. You see mixed friends walking around, relationships, too,” It’s not a bad environment. I haven’t experienced that with anyone,” and “No problem, that I can see. If I had any, I’d report it.”
The Columbian’s Howard Bush is quoted in his article saying, “[no] other minority students questioned… sense any campus racial tension.”
Perhaps in an effort to ward off what appears to be the desire of some to create another Jena Six debacle, president Knight sent out his report to students informing them, “the Incident Response Team has directed Security to make additional patrols of that area of the main campus for the next week” and “I encourage students or others who were troubled or frightened by Wednesday’s event to seek the services of our Counseling center.”
Here I’d like to insert word to our Politically Correct advocates who can’t bear the thought of an evil vulgar word coming off of their tongue and instead substitute the now famous “N-word” into their vocabulary. Whether it is stated or not, think of what word you just inserted into the persons head you are speaking to. What’s the difference? Why not just drop all reference to it if it really offends you that much?
Maybe because I’m old and grew up in another era, but counseling over hearing a word or words you find offensive? I know it is standard procedure today, but my mind returns back to the time our parents & teachers taught us, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
No, that is not carte blanche for the knuckleheads out there to throw around racial epithets freely. But it does put us in a precarious place of where is the line between hate speech and free speech? If it is considered hate speech for a white person to speak a certain epithet, shouldn’t it also be considered hateful for others to use it as well, if we are under a system of equal justice for all?
If we are no longer striving for a system of equal justice for all, have we swung the pendulum of prejudice to a point that others are now discriminated against openly and freely? Could that be why a teacher at Clark told a Hispanic student that they “are not a person of color” last October?
Most disconcerting was just who that teacher was.
I have no tolerance for racial hatred or for any group promoting themselves as better than others. Past societal wrongs cannot be corrected by merely changing who is being wronged.
But what many seem to miss in today’s air of Political Correctness, is that some of what is seen as “a disparaging remark about” others could very likely be a backlash against some being excused and tolerated for the use of certain words, while others face prosecution for the uttering the same exact word.
Acknowledging that the context such words are used in means much, where is the line drawn? Where do the ‘speech police’ excuse and where do they intercede?
Bob Knight concludes his report with “The college should never be a place for hatred or fear.”
I wholeheartedly agree and will take it further to include the community.
But at the same time I ask, wouldn’t that “hate and fear’ extend to forcing people to walk egg shells, measuring every word for fear of being snatched up by some “speech police” should someone cry offense at a word you meant no harm with, while another is overlooked for using the same word?
This is not what I heard in the words of a great man, Dr. Martin Luther King when, in 1963 he spoke,
“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
Later in the same speech he stated,
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
“[O]ne day… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
How do we ever achieve that mark by excusing some for the use of words we condemn others for?
I don’t envy Bob Knight for he has a tough job and as I said above, it does appear he has a target on his back. But, I am confident that he is fully capable of leading Clark College, evidenced by the Clark board of trustees extending his contract last August.
It does not serve Clark College or the community though, for some to continue to try to stir up contentions where none may exist or to build mountains out of molehills. As a commenter I strongly suspect is one of those who has painted the target on Knight’s back said in a subsequent article on last Octobers incident said,
“What do we need in Vancouver for the issue to become ‘real enough’ and warrant decisive action? A lynching? ‘Whites Only’ signs at the restaurants? Senseless beatings? Bombing a minority church?”
Such hyperbole serves no one and borders upon Godwin’s Rule, invoking the very abhorrent imagery that first stirred up claims of racial contentions.
As loathsome and disgusting as racial injustice is, race-baiting falls right down there alongside of it.
To that small handful of faculty that seems to have painted the target on Bob Knight’s back, pull the knives out and try working with him. You might be surprised just how much smoother the school runs.