Following weeks of tension at the University of Missouri over the administration's response to incidents of racial insensitivity on campus,one student went on a hunger strike and others joined him in support. Predictably, the administrators shrugged off the complaints and offer a few platitudes about doing better when it comes to diversity.
Most of this went unnoticed by the world at large. After all, students clash with their respective faculty and administrators regularly on college campuses. Last year there were even student protests over the appointment of Glenn McConnell as the new president of the College of Charleston.
However, the case at Mizzou was noticeably different for one reason and one reason only: a few members of the school's football team announced they would not play until university President Tim Wolfe stepped down. It was then that the story became national news and ignited a series of discussions about America, race, protests, and the media.
Much of the early discussion centered on the incidents students were concerned about, such as a post on the Yik Yak app calling for white students to "burn down the black culture center and give them a taste of their own medicine" or the appearance of a swastika drawn on a bathroom wall in feces (which, honestly, says a lot about the person that did that). At any rate, the administration's response was viewed as lackluster at best. Wolfe made matters worse when he told students that the "systematic oppression" they face is "because [they] don't believe [they] have the equal opportunity for success."
The former president's "equal opportunity" comment is inexcusable for someone in a position of power. The truth is there isn't equal opportunity in America for blacks and other minority groups. All you have to do is look at the very nature of the outcomes in our society — i.e. the disproportionate incarceration rates of blacks and income inequality that is wildly skewed to a very small number of predominantly white families — to see that either equal opportunity does not exist or that there is something very, very wrong with most people.
Conservatives will have you believe that the answer is the latter. In their opinion, most people just aren't trying hard enough. The fact that so very many of them are arguing that point from a position well outside the top fifth of the nation's "winners" — in other words, they are the very people they put down as not trying hard enough — is somehow lost on them.
Many have decried the ouster of Wolfe as some sort of crime against civilization, perpetrated by student terrorists who learned everything from the radical political correctness police and goodness knows who else. Of course, these critics don't stop to think that maybe these students were simply behaving in the same way that another long-ago group of American protestors did when they illegally boarded a ship and dumped tea into Boston Harbor.
Yes, I felt uneasy at the sight of members of the media being pushed out of a public space while trying to cover the protest. It was even more unpleasant to see members of the University of Missouri communications faculty actively attempting to prevent the press from doing its job. Then again, the perspective of the black community about how the media does its job is one that apparently isn't worth considering, certainly not by the sort of conservatives who just a few weeks ago were screaming about how the mainstream media mistreated those poor, disenfranchised multimillionaires who are running for the GOP nomination and who are now the loudest champions of the First Amendment and a free press, despite blasting the media just days ago.
What we're seeing here isn't the end of America, despite what some hysterical people on the right want us to believe. These folks will tell you this is all part of a Stalinist purge to rid us of the Constitution. Well, I honestly believe they haven't really read that document. If they had, maybe they would know that it starts off by telling us it exists "in order to form a more perfect Union."
The people in power, and those who support them, don't believe in a more perfect Union. Despite all facts to the contrary, they think we already have one.