The Theater of White Guilt

 

1447095148_tim-wolfe-lgThe President of the University of Missouri resigned in a dramatic, televised speech this morning. He must have done something really bad, right? If you’re like many people out there, you may be reading the news articles trying to figure out exactly what the bad thing was.

We are told there is a racial controversy at the university. Did the president get caught using the “N” word? Did he fire someone due to her skin color? Was he outed as a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?

Answer: None of the above. Mizzou’s ousted president, Tim Wolfe, seems to have been forced out of his half-million dollar per year job — not for what he did, but rather for what he didn’t do.

The students who drove him out have been complaining that Wolfe did not respond forcibly enough in the wake of certain racist incidents on campus. The most scandalous of these several incidents involves the student body president, who is black. He says that several months ago someone drove by and insulted him with a racial slur. I also read that someone made a swastika out of feces in a campus bathroom. Black students who organized protests in recent days say they feel “marginalized” on campus.

But what did Tim Wolfe have to do with any of this?

Let me tell you a little story: Some years ago, a professor at Claremont McKenna college in Southern California who identified as Jewish (although she hadn’t officially converted) reported that someone had vandalized her car with a bunch of anti-semitic slurs, swastikas, and the like. Students, understandably, were alarmed, scared, and galvanized. There was a huge campus protest — a great show of solidarity — where students gathered by the hundreds, holding hands on the campus quad, and “intolerance” was condemned.

About a week later, this lady was proved to be a fraud. She had faked the hate crime and vandalized her own car. But the worst part of the story was that was revealed that college administrators already knew she was under investigation for lying to police about the incident. In other words, they already knew that, in all likelihood, she had faked her own hate crime. Yet those administrators went along with the anti-intolerance rally, helping to organize it and standing by silently while throngs of tearful students unknowingly battled the fake racism in their midst. Those administrators were happy to set up a theater of white guilt.

And that, my friends, is what Tim Wolfe, apparently was not willing or shrewd enough to do. He apparently didn’t take seriously the idea that the University of Missouri was plagued with institutional racism. He didn’t realize that one or two anecdotes might be enough to cost him his job if he did not act out his part in the play.

When it comes to race relations, what’s important on most American campuses today is not the facts, but rather the narrative of the social justice struggle. If you are perceived as not taking racism seriously enough, it’s off with your head. That’s why at a big football school like Missouri, where this weekend’s game is worth $1 million in revenue to the school, 30 black players could be convinced to go on strike unless Wolfe stepped down — despite the fact that Wolfe, to the best of our knowledge, has never said or done anything that could be construed as racist.

Wolfe did not realize that his job, as president of a prominent university, requires him to participate in the drama of racial grievance that saturates our college campuses — despite the fact that they are, typically, far more insulated from racism than the real world.

If someone called the student body president by the “N” word earlier this fall, that’s a bad thing. But that really isn’t what the protests (and, yes, even hunger strikes) at Missouri were all about. Wolfe released a few public statements, condemning racism and intolerance. But what he didn’t do was show his belief that the University of Missouri was in the midst of a racism crisis.

Perhaps now he wishes he had organized a rally or two. Never mind that the very existence of a black student body president would seem to disprove the idea that the University of Missouri is inhospitable to people of color.

We live in a day in which Harvard requires its staff to refer to an individual transgender student by the plural pronoun “they” if the student says that’s how he wants it. And we live in a day in which a university president can lose his job if he does not agree that a couple of racist incidents aimed at apparently unconnected individuals call for a public display of outrage and the acknowledgement of an institutional crisis.

I once heard the civil rights leader Shelby Steele say something that’s always stuck with me. “Racism will always exist,” he said. And wherever it does exist, it is worthy of our unqualified condemnation.

But what we have witnessed today in Missouri has nothing much to do with racism, at least as it concerns Mr. Wolfe. It has everything to do with his unwillingness to play the leading role in the great theater of white guilt, where our universities are the main stage.

There are 57 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Member

    CulturalRevolution.StruggleSession.1

    Any questions?

    • #1
    • November 9, 2015 at 1:44 pm
    • Like
  2. Member

    His departure is proof that the rape crisis on college campuses is real.

    • #2
    • November 9, 2015 at 1:49 pm
    • Like
  3. Coolidge

    Great article, perfectly stated. I hope we can look forward to more. Glad to see you back at Ricochet, Nathan!

    • #3
    • November 9, 2015 at 1:49 pm
    • Like
  4. Inactive

    Specifically, what he failed to do was meet some crazy and possibly illegal (in the case of hiring staffers based on race) demands from a black student group. The demands include:

    1. That Wolfe admit and apologize for his own personal white privilege.
    2. That he resign.
    3. That all students, faculty and staff complete a mandatory “racial awareness” curriculum, as approved by a panel of students and staff “of color”.
    4. That faculty and staff be 10% black by 2017-18.
    5. That funding be increased for campus counseling centers and social justice centers.

    I think we can expect the next UM President to institute these moronic demands as their first action in office. If I were a student at Missouri, I’d be thinking about transferring away immediately. Where else might be safe from something like this, I don’t know. It’s pretty scary that a small but angry and misguided group can completely hold a school hostage like this.

    • #4
    • November 9, 2015 at 1:57 pm
    • Like
  5. Coolidge

    So the catalyzing incident appears to be someone smearing a swastika or something similar in poop on campus, and the president not speaking up vociferously enough about it. How much do you want to bet a leftist group did that in order to force the issue?

    http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2015/11/08/missouri-protest-list-demands-issued-to-university.html

    • #5
    • November 9, 2015 at 1:57 pm
    • Like
  6. Inactive

    The intersection of social justice theater with the absurdly disproportionate power of college sports is alarming. I wonder how many more athlete strikes we’re going to see now that threatening football revenue has been shown to work.

    • #6
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:02 pm
    • Like
  7. Member

    Well, a college education is supposed to prepare one for “the future.”

    How’re young persons going to learn to stamp their feet, throw tantrums, and make demands to get what they want in the real world without some training in college?

    • #7
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:04 pm
    • Like
  8. Member

    Why do I see a President-of-Color in the University’s future?

    • #8
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:07 pm
    • Like
  9. Member

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    I am continually skeptical whenever the claim is made that someone is “forced” to resign their post.

    Unless extraordinary evidence is presented that force/coercion was used, I instead have to assume that the subject’s resignation was, ultimately, voluntary.

    This reduces my sympathy for the subject, especially when they are in a position of power/authority making a half-million per year, because it means they failed in their duty to stand up for what is true and right.

    When you’re in that sort of position, making that sort of money, I expect you to stand your ground and force ’em to fire you.

    Resignation is surrender. It’s something you do, not something that is done to you.

    If Kim Davis can tolerate a stint in a jail cell, you can tolerate some collegiate whinging.

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    • #9
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:08 pm
    • Like
  10. Inactive

    Misthio, I’m guessing the people who “forced” him likely included members of the college board and/or rich boosters of the football team.

    • #10
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:14 pm
    • Like
  11. Member

    zepplinmike:Specifically, what he failed to do was meet some crazy and possibly illegal (in the case of hiring staffers based on race) demands from a black student group. The demands include:

    1. That Wolfe admit and apologize for his own personal white privilege.
    2. That he resign.
    3. That all students, faculty and staff complete a mandatory “racial awareness” curriculum, as approved by a panel of students and staff “of color”.
    4. That faculty and staff be 10% black by 2017-18.
    5. That funding be increased for campus counseling centers and social justice centers.

    I think we can expect the next UM President to institute these moronic demands as their first action in office. If I were a student at Missouri, I’d be thinking about transferring away immediately. Where else might be safe from something like this, I don’t know. It’s pretty scary that a small but angry and misguided group can completely hold a school hostage like this.

    Welcome to the 1960s.

    • #11
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:23 pm
    • Like
  12. Member

    Thanks Nathan for the post. After learning what the incidents were I fully agree with your conclusions.

    To Misthio: Often these forced resignations are coerced by threatening things like pensions or promised compensation, or by under the table bribes such as: we will pay out your current contract at some rate as a severance.

    • #12
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:24 pm
    • Like
  13. Member

    It’s short notice to fill a university presidency, but I understand Rachel Dolezal may be available.

    • #13
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:27 pm
    • Like
  14. Member

    I can’t wait for all the copycat protests at other universities and mass exodus of all white administrators. They brought this on themselves. Then white students can start suing the universities for being marginalized by an all minority administration.

    • #14
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:56 pm
    • Like
  15. Member

    Welcome to the 1960s.

    68-18

    • #15
    • November 9, 2015 at 2:59 pm
    • Like
  16. Contributor

    When in America will false allegations of racism be dealt with just as severely as actual acts of racism?

    If racist is a truly bad thing to be, is not a false accusation of racism just as bad?

    • #16
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm
    • Like
  17. Reagan
    iWe

    In that situation, I would have fully used my 5 minutes of fame denouncing the spoiled rotten little idiots who are trying, on the side of the villagers with pitchforks, to relive the Salem Witch Trials and the McCarthy hearings.Ideally, I would do it with humor, to really rub in how much I don’t give a flying figurehead about such vacuous students. I would condemn the students, the Admissions staff for letting them in, and society for coddling them.

    • #17
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:02 pm
    • Like
  18. Reagan
    iWe

    I would also condemn the students as racists of the first order, since they are measuring success purely by the color of a person’s skin.

    • #18
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:03 pm
    • Like
  19. Member

    zepplinmike:Misthio, I’m guessing the people who “forced” him likely included members of the college board and/or rich boosters of the football team.

    All the more reason to stand his ground and dare them to fire him. Why should he take responsibility for their lack of fortitude?

    • #19
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:12 pm
    • Like
  20. Member

    Z in MT:To Misthio: Often these forced resignations are coerced by threatening things like pensions or promised compensation, or by under the table bribes such as: we will pay out your current contract at some rate as a severance.

    Hey, at no point do I argue that it’s unheard of. I merely require evidence of coercion before having any sympathy.

    • #20
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm
    • Like
  21. Member

    I came across the video below on Twitter, where the “student” protesters were even turning on a photojournalist. Apparently they’ve even gone anti-media. Notice the white lady in pearls and who looks like a professional. Also notice the older lady at the end of the video barking orders to the other goons to get rid of him from their circle. This seems fishy to me. I’d bet a lot of money that there’s somebody or a group behind all of this hoopla.

    • #21
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:23 pm
    • Like
  22. Member

    Misthiocracy:

    zepplinmike:Misthio, I’m guessing the people who “forced” him likely included members of the college board and/or rich boosters of the football team.

    All the more reason to stand his ground and dare them to fire him. Why should he take responsibility for their lack of fortitude?

    Yep. So, we’ve learned from this incident that A) a real or imagined slight of one or another non-white group holds the trump card on any college campus, and B) the football team (as long as they don’t violate A) is the most powerful force on any big college campus.

    • #22
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:24 pm
    • Like
  23. Inactive

    RightTurn:The intersection of social justice theater with the absurdly disproportionate power of college sports is alarming. I wonder how many more athlete strikes we’re going to see now that threatening football revenue has been shown to work.

    Wasn’t it Northwestern football players a few years ago that voted to unionize?

    • #23
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm
    • Like
  24. Inactive

    Bereket Kelile:I came across the video below on Twitter, where the “student” protesters were even turning on a photojournalist. Apparently they’ve even gone anti-media. Notice the white lady in pearls and who looks like a professional. Also notice the older lady at the end of the video barking orders to the other goons to get rid of him from their circle. This seems fishy to me. I’d bet a lot of money that there’s somebody or a group behind all of this hoopla.

    I read an article at a semi-serious source earlier today saying that some of the same names and faces that were in Ferguson were showing up at Mizzou. Additionally, there seemed to be a lot of conflicting reports about whether or not these protesters or the ones at the homecoming parade are even students.

    • #24
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm
    • Like
  25. Inactive

    Basil Fawlty:Why do I see a President-of-Color in the University’s future?

    I thought that was an explicit demand of the aggrieved protestors and football team.

    • #25
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:44 pm
    • Like
  26. Member

    BrentB67:

    Bereket Kelile:I came across the video below on Twitter, where the “student” protesters were even turning on a photojournalist. Apparently they’ve even gone anti-media. Notice the white lady in pearls and who looks like a professional. Also notice the older lady at the end of the video barking orders to the other goons to get rid of him from their circle. This seems fishy to me. I’d bet a lot of money that there’s somebody or a group behind all of this hoopla.

    I read an article at a semi-serious source earlier today saying that some of the same names and faces that were in Ferguson were showing up at Mizzou. Additionally, there seemed to be a lot of conflicting reports about whether or not these protesters or the ones at the homecoming parade are even students.

    I certainly don’t think the girl in this video is a student. It’s a surprisingly revealing look into the temper tantrums.

    • #26
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:47 pm
    • Like
  27. Member

    Bereket Kelile:I came across the video below on Twitter, where the “student” protesters were even turning on a photojournalist. Apparently they’ve even gone anti-media. Notice the white lady in pearls and who looks like a professional. Also notice the older lady at the end of the video barking orders to the other goons to get rid of him from their circle. This seems fishy to me. I’d bet a lot of money that there’s somebody or a group behind all of this hoopla.

    Well heck, it’s not like professors would ever stop teaching that the mass media is a tool of the right-wing military-industrial complex. You really think the communications studies textbooks would have been updated since the Clinton years?

    When I was at university (1994 to 1997), my public relations and comms studies textbooks still used magazine ads from the 1980s as examples.

    • #27
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:55 pm
    • Like
  28. Inactive

    I am a Mizzou ’89 grad and this will probably be the last time I admit it.

    When I was still attending the school’s reputation was largely made on the strength of its journalism school with an honorable mention for EE and econ.

    The irony of it being a leading j-school is righteous.

    • #28
    • November 9, 2015 at 3:57 pm
    • Like
  29. Member

    Furthermore, and to be fair to college students in general, always remember that the activists are a minority on campus. Now as in the past, the majority of students just want to get their education and get out, not to “smash the system”.

    I’ve read that back in the 1960s, the demographic that supported the Vietnam War the most was actually college students.

    The thing is, in the 1960s and in the 2010s, there’s a huge bulge in the total number of college-aged kids, so while the activists are still a minority percentage-wise, they are a bigger group numbers-wise, since they’re the same percentage of a larger total.

    This demographic bulge will begin to subside around 2020.

    (Once again, here’s the graph I will never stop harping on about:

    Current US Population Pyramid)

    You will note, however, that the post-bulge trough isn’t quite as deep as the previous trough (my generation, currently 35-49).

    Either my generation is having way more babies than our parents did (unlikely), or else the 0-to-19 group is being propped up by other means. Immigration?

    For comparison, here’s Canada’s graph:

    screenshot.1

    The bulge of college-aged people is the same, but the post-bulge trough is WAY deeper. Like, catastrophically so, which may help to explain why the new government wants to bring in so many refugees.

    • #29
    • November 9, 2015 at 4:02 pm
    • Like
  30. Member

    BrentB67:

    Basil Fawlty:Why do I see a President-of-Color in the University’s future?

    I thought that was an explicit demand of the aggrieved protestors and football team.

    I’m not sure what else they want. Their former president was decidedly yellow.

    • #30
    • November 9, 2015 at 4:07 pm
    • Like
  1. 1
  2. 2