BUT OTHER THAN THAT IT'S OK, RIGHT?

Most of the (almost inevitably white) people you find making excuses for racism have a limit. Like, anything that could conceivably be argued to fall into some kind of gray area they will litigate and downplay until the cows come home. But if you ask them, point blank, "If a pickup truck full of white fratboys drive past a black university student and scream 'NIGGER!' over and over, that would have to qualify as racist, right?" They might not admit that anything short of that counts as racism, but unless they're really deeply disturbed, don't understand the definitions of words, or are trolling you hard, they'll give you that one. That would count as racism.

It is nothing short of amazing, then, that the above incident actually happened to the student body president at the University of Missouri in Columbia and there are still (white) people complaining about those uppity negroes demanding that everyone cater to their prima donna needs. You know. Like the desire to attend a public university that is not openly hostile to their presence (in small numbers). Go around the internet reading comments (never do what I just told you to do, ever) and count the instances of balding white men with tits using phrases like "playing the race card" and "whining" in reference to, just so we are clear, a truck full of presumably drunk white guys screaming racial slurs at a black student walking by himself. A reasonable individual might feel like that behavior and more importantly tacit condoning of that behavior by the community and the authorities constitutes a hostile environment in which personal safety is by no means assured. How many emboldened gaggles of drunk white hillbillies do you think it would take to graduate from screaming insults to physical violence?

That such a thing is even being mentioned in conversation in 2015 underscores just how badly the alleged "leadership" of the U of Missouri system has failed. I'm starting to think that being a moron may not be a prerequisite to serving in such positions but it certainly does seem to be an asset. The level of tone-deafness that leads a person to describe a swastika of human feces as "some graffiti" is difficult to comprehend, yet there you have it. Much commentary has focused on the role of college athletes at Missouri in applying pressure (It's an SEC school, the billion-dollar NCAA football conference for those overseas). I'm neither surprised nor bothered by that. If that's what it takes, that's what it takes. And I'm already on record supporting the idea of shutting down athletic programs or having walkouts/sit-downs/whatever you want to call it by football and basketball players to hold state legislators and university administrators over the fire.

By the way, is Missouri actively campaigning for Asshole of America status or did it stumble into the lead accidentally? We see the problem inherent in people in The North or the Coasts making fun of the Deep South; it's not that they don't deserve the mockery down there in Mississippi, it's that the rural parts of any state are every bit as bad. Or in Missouri's case, the urban areas too. Pretty much just the whole thing.

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23 Responses to “BUT OTHER THAN THAT IT'S OK, RIGHT?”

  1. HoosierPoli Says:

    Missourians poured over the border into Kansas to ensure its status as a slave state. They started the Civil War WAAAAAY before South Carolina got around to shelling Fort Sumter. In other words, don't let geography fool you into thinking Missouri isn't The South.

  2. H.M.S. Blankenship Says:

    This would never have happened if the greedy & ambitious ADs had not broken up the big 8. Well, OK, it would have happened anyway, but the athletes would have had even more leverage in a smaller conference.

  3. Tim H. Says:

    I'm guessing that the administration failed to distinguish that "Carpet N-bombing' was something more significant than run of the mill gauche behavior by nearly housebroke young men. Running a university campus would seem to require a talent for connecting the dots and an ear to the ground for building trends. And I must disagree with the last sentence, the Saint Louis suburbs and Columbia aren't the whole place.

  4. Hazy Davy Says:

    Not here to add anything of substance. It's just that I ignored your directive and found this gem in the comment section of the Chicago Tribune's article:

    "conservativemaster
    One user threatened to "shoot every black person I see."
    ——————————–
    And the IP probably traces back the BLM headquarters.
    The university is a gun free zone, could never happen anyway."

  5. Greg Says:

    Shorn of context, "swastika of human feces" just sounds like crappy 80s conceptual art, created to give Rudy Giuliani a shit-fit. Pun intended.

  6. FMguru Says:

    It's the birthplace of Rush Limbaugh, isn't it?

    Missouri is one of the only states (WV is the other) that has been tilting more towards the Republicans and away from the Democrats in national elections, unlike pretty much every other state in the nation which is getting bluer and bluer. Something is going on there.

    Also, props to Mizzou's football programs. First Michael Sam, now this.

  7. Fred Says:

    @FMguru,

    WV politics is insane. But what do you expect from a colony?

    Anyway, the response may seem tone-deaf, but I'm confused as to how the president of the University was supposed to respond. I listened to an interview of one of the members of the 1950 group that basically complained that the President didn't directly engage them WHILE THEY WERE BLOCKING A PARADE ROUTE and reading a list of grievances over a megaphone. I listened to the President give a real shit definition to the question of what constitutes systemic oppression to a group of students that essentially cornered him and demanded engagement. This is a real shitty tactic when Bill O'Reilly sends his flying ass monkeys to do it, and it's a really shitty tactic when students use it. I haven't seen a single example of the students engaging in anything that could remotely be considered a discussion, just demands.

    SnakePeople, errr millennials, must have their demands met NOW. Hey, at least they're organizing?

  8. Nate Says:

    Hey! I grew up in Missouri and… well… ok, fine.

    There's a reason I don't live there anymore.

  9. Totoro Says:

    What didn't the President do that he should have done? I haven't read any details. If he denied that pickups full of assholes were in fact racists then yup, gotta go. If the perps were students he can (and should) expel their sorry asses. If not he can say "we will insist that the perps be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law". That seems about as far as he can go without standing on a street corner and putting an M79 into any truck adorned with a confederate flag that drives by. The tragedy of this story is that people seem to think the president of a university actually has the power to change things. He can stand for moral clarity, but that and $2 will get you a cup of coffee.

  10. Skipper Says:

    There are a lot of overlapping problems here. One is obviously the racism that comes from white privilege. Another is the encouragement of this "fuck you" attitude from right-wing talk radio and TV. Another problem, which goes beyond this, is the current trend for colleges and universities to hire presidents with zero academic experience. The notion is that if you have an MBA, you can run anything — a taco stand, a university, a newspaper. That's just wrong.

    In fact, I saw this creep into the newspaper field back in the '70s, when I encountered a guy at a conference. He was about to take over the operation of a newspaper without having ever been in a newspaper office. As a news person, I was appalled. This guy was going to be someone's boss, but had no idea what they did for a living. We all know where newspapers ended up.

    The same thing happened to hospitals in the '70s also. Once the ban on for-profit healthcare was lifted, hospital administration was handed over to "businessmen." The ones I encountered were all former military. Don't know why. We all know what's happened to healthcare. I was in to see my doctor two weeks ago. A really nice guy, a good doctor. He was tearing his hair out because "the people who run this place don't know what the fuck they're doing." Businessmen — no medical experience.

    Back in the '80s, when everyone was fretting over the USSR, I worked with a guy who said we shouldn't worry about them. If the US is destroyed, he said, it won't be by the USSR. It will be by the Harvard Business School. I laughed at the time, but he's been proven right — over and over and over.

  11. Chicagojon Says:

    Missouri voted for the presidential winner in all but one election from 1904-2004. Sometime ~2005 they went batshit crazy and it may as well be Alabama at this point.

  12. TAGinMO Says:

    Mizzou grad here. I was born and raised in central Kansas and now live on the Kansas side of the state line in metro KC, but I'm a Missourian at heart.

    FMguru and Chicagojon are right; something is definitely going on in my adopted home state, and it makes me ill. It's affecting the entire interior Upland South. Kentucky and Tennessee have also been trending rightward, in addition to Mo. and W.Va.

    Time was, having two Top 30 metro areas (larger than any in those other states) provided enough of a liberal counterweight to keep the place purple-to-blue in both state and national politics. And KC and StL are really the only reason Missouri turned red later than the other 3 states.

    I don't know if city and suburban dwellers are just getting more conservative, the Outstaters are becoming more politically involved, or both. But sadly, I don't see the trend reversing itself anytime soon.

  13. nonynony Says:

    I'm surprised that you're buying the "students forced him out" line Ed. You work at a university – do you really think that the football players could do this without having the approval of everyone up the chain from them? I don't.

    Besides the students, Wolfe had pissed off the faculty, the staff and many of the legislators in the state. He did not have a higher education background and apparently never bothered to figure out the differences between running a university system and running a corporation. Note this article from the Missourian from a few days ago (before he resigned) where there is a bi-partisan call for him to resign coming from Missouri lawmakers:

    http://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/higher_education/two-republican-state-representatives-call-for-um-system-president-tim/article_9da836a4-8658-11e5-a2f8-4327d145fdfd.html

    And in addition to Wolfe, the Chancellor Bowen Loften also resigned – and there had been an ongoing political struggle between him and Wolfe for a while. Wolfe was apparently trying to get the Board of Curators to fire him. (I also read that the Board of Curators were unhappy with Wolfe as long as a year or so ago, and had told him to clean up his act on a number of things, but I can't find that article now so I can't confirm it).

    The daggers were out for Wolfe. This provided an opportunity to force him out. And the same kind of student protest would only work again in another situation where the person at the top was politically in a very tenuous situation. A university president that has the support of his Board and at least one group in the state legislature could probably weather it.

  14. el mago Says:

    Thanks to Skipper and nonynony for bringing up the obvious, which is why's this corporate guy academic prez in the first place. Many issues here.

    ". . . balding white men with tits . . ." ha ha, Ed's the man.

  15. Ursula Says:

    On my "I Will be Home for Christmas" road trip from Houston to central Wisconsin last year, Missouri went from being amusingly backward when I crossed the border from Arkansas to seriously pissing me off with it's rightwing billboards.

    On the way back down to Texas, I wanted to avoid the state altogether, but my preference for avoiding the unknown stopped me from plotting another route. Instead, I decided that I would not spend any money in the state, so I stopped at a truck stop in East St. Louis to fill up my gas tank and belly, then set out, straight on for Arkansas. Fuck Missouri.

  16. S M McBean Says:

    FWIW, our "Public Ivy" is getting a new president. A billionaire benefactor has already taken control of the trustees and imposed a "business model" on the whole institution. A "search commitee" is clearly subservient to the hired headhunters.
    The faculty petitioned to learn the top names to assist in vetting and were told the trustees will announce the new pres. Period! They don't want to scare off applicants whose current employers might be miffed, they say. Not exactly the tradition in academics. We've feared a CEO type to further the takeover. This may give them pause, but I doubt it.
    Around appearence trumps reality, and in the newspeak of the realm, appearence is what we say it is.
    And, no: the football team would never theaten to boycott. I think football is why the billionaire bought the university.

  17. JustRuss Says:

    I graduated from Mizzou a long time ago, and have attended/worked at a number of universities on the west coast. The racism I've witnessed wasn't limited to Mizzou, but it was certainly more prevalent and open there. I'd hoped things would improve there with time, very sad that doesn't seem to be the case.

  18. Huego Says:

    Can we please have a full FJMing of this excretion from Jason Whitlock. This is likely the single dumbest thing written on a topic about which dozens of incredibly dumb things have been written.

    http://j.school/post/133025099640/crying-wolfe-exposes-real-problem

  19. Gretchen Says:

    It's nice of MIsssouri to take the heat off of us in Kansas as the worst state. We appreciate it, guys!

  20. Kaleberg Says:

    This makes me have some sympathy for those Missouri denialists.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2011/01/25/anti-missourian-best-sellers/

  21. E* Says:

    Do I smell a contender for the 2015 Lieberman Award?

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