Pummeled by threat of a 1960s-style campus protest and poorly documented charges of a campus riddled by institutional racism, Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri system resigned Monday, with the hope that everyone would “use my resignation to heal and start talking again.”
News reports across the nation have spotlighted the turmoil, but a complete list of racist horribles that Wolfe was accused of committing where practically nowhere to be found.
The closest I could find anything resembling an itemization of racist incidents was posted on a student website, called Concerned Student 1950, laying out a list of "demands." The allegations are:
- Student government president Payton Head, who is black, was repeatedly called a "nigger" by a group of men in a pickup truck as he was walking down the street near campus.
- A white student approached 11 members of the Legion of Black Collegians, a black student governing body, during homecoming week and called them "niggers. " A campus security officer stood by and allegedly did nothing. The student has since been moved from campus, according to a statement from the Chancellor's office.
- Students at a campus residence hall found a swastika drawn in human feces on a wall inside their building.
As provocative, wrongheaded and indefensible as these acts were, do they justify the summary firing of the university president? Were they isolated incidents committed by a few blockheads or are they proof of a system-wide structure of racism on campus?
Fruitlessly, I've looked for evidence of the latter--an extensive record of out-of-control racist actions and the failure of the university to do a damn thing. Then I came across the the discussion of the recent campus fashion of spotting "microaggressions" lurking in every nook and cranny.
Huff Post offers a typical explanation of microaggressions.
These are microaggressions -- subtle digs and biases -- that permeate the culture. They could include something like a man rolling his eyes when a woman speaks, or people not wanting to be in study groups with those of different races.
Students said they also notice that white male students are called on in class more often than other students.
Microaggressions are said to erode self-esteem and diminish academic performance, among other things. Eventually, I found an influential study that supposedly documented microaggressions on four major college campuses. The Voices of Diversity study found: "Manifestations of racism, sexism, and the two combined were reported on all campuses in both overt and microaggression forms."
There's some irony regarding the study and events at Missouri. The University of Missouri was the only one of the four universities studied that was willing to be named, apparently from its belief that the actions the school was taking were addressing the problem. And those actions, apparently weren't imaginary. Paula Caplan, the study's lead author, told the Huffington Post that the steps that Mizzou was taking are the kinds of things that makes "you believe how much better things can get."
Apparently, not that much better, if the protestors are to be believed.
There's another side to the microaggression story that shouldn't be taken likely, but will be ignored by most of the media It's addressed in this article: "Have Microaggression Complaints Really Launched a Whole New Sort of ‘Victimhood Culture’?" Jesse Singal, writing on the Science of Us noted:
.... some university administrations seem to have flown off the rails a bit in their understanding of the concept. The University of California system, for example, published a guide (PDF) for faculty that listed sentences like “America is a melting pot” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” as possible microaggressions — not banning the use of these phrases, but strongly implying, the constitutional-law scholar Eugene Volokh has argued, that faculty who use them could be contributing to a “hostile” learning environment, which is in fact “legally actionable.”
Two scientists argue in a study that the growing emphasis on microaggressions can lead to the emergence of a new "victimhood culture." And we all know what that is: "It's not my fault; it's someone else's fault."
So, the bottom line: An undocumented series of perceived slights at the University of Missouri has forced the resignation of President Tim Wolfe who, by everything I could find, bought into the entire victimization scenario.
Could this be another case of BGI or Black Grievance Industry. The term was coined by Jack Cashill, author If I had a son, which documents the media lynching of George Zimmerman, who was falsely accused of murdering Trayvon Martin. You be the judge: I'm betting here that the media will be filled with plaudits for the students who drove Wolfe from his job, with only a shred of evidence of his guilt.
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