Fix Features

racial politics

A student-organized group calling itself the “White Student Union” says it will begin night time patrols on campus at Towson University near Baltimore, MD, in order to combat black-on-white crime.

The controversial group, founded by a few students last year, has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The WSU published an article recently bemoaning the university’s “black crime wave.”

The group, however, claims that its planned night patrols are not racially motivated.

“We just want to make campus a better place. If we see a white person commit a crime against a person who is not white, we’re going to assist the person who was attacked every time,” WSU President Matthew Heimbach said in an interview with The Towerlighta Towson University student newspaper.

The WSU became the focus of controversy earlier in March during a panel on race at CPAC–the national conservative political action conference.

The host of the panel, K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who founded an activist group known as Frederick Douglass Republicans, spoke of a letter Douglass wrote later in his life offering forgiveness to his one-time slave owner.

At that point during the panel, Scott Terry, a member of the Towson WSU who was in the audience, spoke up, interrupting Smith, questioning what cause Douglass would have to offer forgiveness in the first place:  “For giving him shelter and food?,” Terry asked.

The remark prompted audible gasps from the audience. Onlookers appeared to be appealed that someone would openly challenge the idea that slavery was a great evil.

Terry said he believed Republican outreach to minorities was being done “at the expense of young, white, Southern males.”

Despite the isolated nature of Terry’s comments, liberal media outlets such as Think Progress and The Huffington Post were quick to publicize Terry’s remark as an example of racism among conservatives and Republicans.

Scott Terry seemed to be proud of his racist attitudes. He later told Think Progress that if he lived in a society where blacks were permanently subservient to whites, he’d “be fine with that.” He proudly claimed to be a direct descendant of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. And he openly advocated racial segregation.

In light of the controversy surrounding Terry’s remarks at CPAC, the announcement that the White Student Union at Towson–of which Terry is a member–will begin night patrols has naturally provoked concern at the university and among some outside observers.

The White Student Union is adept at provoking controversy and stirring up publicity for itself. Last year the group made national headlines when it wrote the phrase “White Pride” in chalk around campus. WSU founder Matthew Heimbach sometimes refers to himself as “commander Heimbach” in communications to other WSU members.

Is a ‘White Student Union’ really a good idea in the first place?

The entire White Student Union project may be designed to duplicate activities of “Black Student Unions” or “Latino Student Unions”–which are so common on American campuses. But attempting to appropriate the hyper-victimized racial identity politics of the left for the cause of white nationalism will do nothing to improve race relations in America.

The Towson group has consistently pointed to the issue of combating black-on-white crime as a primary purpose for its existence. In an interview with The College Fix, WSU founder Matthew Heimbach, who  “If there is a legitimate thug or criminal who is victimizing people, we can’t talk about it because of the color of his skin.”

On the contrary, Heimbach, Terry and the Towson White Student Union seem capable of talking about nothing but skin color. And their latest plan to conduct night patrols on campus appears to be designed, not to protect students, but to draw attention to their fledgling group and its half-witted ideas about white pride.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix.

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IMAGE: El Nagual/Flickr

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Oberlin College cancelled all classes on Monday after a “KKK figure,” wearing a robe and hood, was allegedly spotted near the African Heritage House:

OBERLIN, Ohio — Classes at Oberlin College were canceled on Monday after a series of “hate-related incidents” on campus, the school announced on its website.

Officials say the latest problem occurred Monday morning near the African Heritage House, where a person wearing a hood and robe resembling the KKK was spotted.

That event, in addition to other challenging issues that have faced the community in recent weeks, forced school administrators to suspend formal classes and all non-essential activities on Monday.

“We hope today will allow the entire community—students, faculty, and staff—to make a strong statement about the values that we cherish here at Oberlin:  inclusion, respect for others, and a strong and abiding faith in the worth of every individual. Indeed, the strength of Oberlin comes from our belief that diversity and openness enriches us all, and enhances the educational mission at its core,” a statement read on the school website.

Instead of class, students are encouraged to participate in a series of discussions planned Monday.

Read the full story here.

The shock of this alleged racially charged incident is compounded by the unexpected place where it occurred. Oberlin College is well known for its political liberalism. In fact, The Huffington Post listed Oberlin College as the third most liberal College in America in 2012.

It would certainly be risky for someone to walk around in public wearing a white robe and hood in one of the most liberal places in America, and in close proximity to thousands of hyper-connected students who own camera phones.

“When faced with difficult situations,” a statement on the college website read, “Oberlin has consistently met the challenges and affirmed its commitment to the highest quality of education and the noblest aspirations of its community members.” No word yet on when classes will resume at Oberlin.

The college’s official new release says the sighting took place in the “early morning” hours.

So far, no pictures or videos of the reported “KKK figure” have surfaced.

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Via Drudge

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Beyond classroom lectures and homework assignments, what professors assign as required reading is a clear indication of how they slant their classes.

With that, The College Fix presents the results of recent visits to two campus bookstores associated with Ohio State, a quintessential example of the modern-day public university. Each book listed below correlates to a course this spring at Ohio State:

In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age

Its online book description notes it “offers a ringing rebuttal to the rhetoric of ‘family values’ … including a strong new case for legal same-sex marriage.” A review declares the book acknowledges “concerns about the disintegration of the traditional family, while attacking the efforts of right-wing conservatives to reinstate the family of the 1950s through fear and advocacy of male dominance. Using studies of blue-collar, low-income families, single-mothers and gay and lesbian households, (it) illustrates that far from being examples of failure or despair, these families are models of ingenuity and flexibility.”

The Twilight of Equality? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy

Its online book description says it recalls the “shocking redistribution of wealth that’s occurred during the last thirty years,” then states “but economic changes like this don’t occur in a vacuum; they’re always linked to politics.” Who’s to blame? The book points the finger at neoliberals, loosely defined as a negative term for those who support economic and political policies that tout the benefits of free market systems.

Racist America: Roots, Current Realities and Future Reparations

Need we say more?

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

Well-written expose on Big Oil. Spoiler Alert: They’re the bad guys who pull the strings.

What a Girl Wants? Fantasizing the Reclamation of Self in Postfeminism

Here’s a snippet from its introduction: “What a Girl Wants? is about a popular culture that has just about forgotten feminism … To the extent that she is visible at all, the contemporary feminist appears as a narcissistic minority group member whose interests and actions threaten the family.” Postfeminism, the antithesis of the “shrill” feminist, is the solution this book proffers.

Development and Underdevelopment: The Political Economy of Global Inequality

The haves and the have nots. It usually involves a guilt trip.

GenderSpeak: Personal Effectiveness in Gender Communication

Secular views on what makes a relationship solid and successful.

Brothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women

The true story of Nevada prostitutes and their plight.

The History of Sexuality: Volumes I, II and III

Written by the late French philosopher and social theorist Michael Foucault, the books focus on the history of modern sexuality, and where and how it was derived. Special attention is given in parts to the ancient Greek’s obsession with man-boy love. Another section observes “if one wanted to assign an origin to those few great themes that shaped our sexual morality (the idea that pleasure belongs to the dangerous domain of evil, the obligation to practice monogamous fidelity, the exclusion of partners of the same sex), (it would) be a mistake to attribute them to that fiction called “Judeo-Christian” morality … (but rather) a history of “ethics” understood as the elaboration of a form of relation to self that enables an individual to fashion himself into a subject of ethical conduct.”

Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers

The online book description notes after oodles of research and interviews, the author concludes “religion may influence adolescent sexual behavior, but it rarely motivates sexual decision making.”

Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice

The book is written “against the backdrop of the … radical right agendas,” its online description notes, adding the work attempts to explain why so-called women of color supposedly want and need reproductive rights (a.k.a abortion on demand). “The book details how and why these women have defined and implemented expansive reproductive health agendas that reject legalistic remedies and seek instead to address the wider needs of their communities,” the book description states.

A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory

The book provides “a detailed overview of the complex ways in which queer theory has been employed, covering a diversity of key topics including: race, sadomasochism, straight sex, fetishism, community, popular culture, transgender, and performativity.”

Other titles found on the shelves included: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness; Memoir of a Race Traitor; The Psychology of Prejudice; Intimate Relationships; and many others along those lines.

Fix contributor Patrick Seaworth is a student at Ohio State University. Assistant Editor Jennifer Kabbany contributed to this report.

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IMAGE: Andrei.D40/Flickr

 

 

 

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Was Martin Luther King, Jr a conservative? The answer, I think, yes and no. As the face of the 1960′s civil rights movement King argued to advance the causes of organized labor and advocated civil disobedience as a means of resisting racial injustice. Those aren’t things we typically associate with conservatives.

On the other hand, King had no interest in the identity politics that make up so much of the racial politics of liberals today. He argued, most powerfully, for people to be judged by “the content of their character,” not the color of their skin. This argument meshes well with the modern conservatives’ emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility.

At CNN.com, John Blake posts some thoughts on the issue:

As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, a new battle has erupted over his legacy. Some conservatives are saying it’s time for them to reclaim the legacy of King, whose message of self-help, patriotism and a colorblind America, they say, was “fundamentally conservative.”

But those who marched with King and studied his work say that notion is absurd. The political class that once opposed King, they argue, is now trying to distort his message.

King’s most famous words are the crux of the disagreement.

“He was against all policies based on race,” says Peter Schramm, a conservative historian. “The basis of his attack on segregation was ‘judge us by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.’ That’s a profound moral argument.”

I think the answer lies partly in understanding that conservatism itself has changed since the 1960′s. The states-rights conservatism of that day has gone extinct in the mainstream Republican and Democratic parties, insofar as the abolishing of segregation via federal power is now universally celebrated. No major figure in either party today would argue to uphold segregation on the basis of state’s rights.

Yet the left has certainly abandoned King’s vision of a color-blind society, where all would be judged (and indeed all would judge themselves) on the basis of character rather than melanin. And it’s hard to imagine King endorsing the modern left-wing policy of perpetual racial quotas as permanent solution to inequality. And it’s impossible to imagine him doing the kind of blatant race-mongering and profiteering that passes for civil rights leadership among those several men who have sought to fill King’s place as the spiritual and political leader of black America. I don’t need to name names.

I don’t think King would fit perfectly today into either mainstream party when it comes to race issues. The fact is, mainstream liberals have moved away from King’s most enduring principle–that we should assess the individual without regard to skin color. Meanwhile, mainstream conservatives have moved toward him in several important areas–realizing once and for all that states’ rights are secondary to natural rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Was Martin Luther King a conservative?

Maybe that’s the wrong question.

A better one would be this: Are today’s conservatives more like King?

The answer is, yes.

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Image Source: U.S. Library of Congress

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