The Upside-Down World of Race on Campus

American race relations daily grow more bizarre yet things keep occurring that seem even more beyond belief. Consider how the University of Illinois -- Urbana-Champaign has reacted to two recent instances of alleged racial insensitivity, one involving a “cultural appropriation” at a frat party, the other was a pro-Trump “chalking.” 

Some background first. I spent many years teaching at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and while I no longer live there, I still keep up thanks to a steady stream of e-mail messages from my old employer. When I first arrived decades back I immediately observed a large underclass African American population living about a 20-minute walk from the campus. Like similar ghettos elsewhere, it is a hotbed of crime. 

U of I students were often the target of assaults from this population and even if newspaper accounts (or e-mail alerts) fail to identify the perpetrator’s race, the location and details of the crime made the perpetrator’s race – black -- obvious. That landlords rented apartments close to these criminally infested areas to newly arrive naïve students exacerbated the black-on-white crime. This crime was especially commonplace during summers since local blacks felt more comfortable roaming Campustown polar bear hunting, playing the knockout game and otherwise preying on white students. All and all, hardly an unusual situation and many urban campuses have similar problems.

As fitting our PC era, the university has done little beyond the legal minimum in shielding students from this criminality. Yes, the university has finally, finally installed security cameras but admits (p. 12) that these currently do not cover well-known high crime areas. A further new anti-crime measure is monitoring social media like Facebook and dealing with community groups. There is even something called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, among other measures.

Much of the anti-crime effort just focuses “making students aware” and, of the utmost importance, carefully tip-toes around the race issue. Not even feminists with their “Take Back the Night” marches could bring themselves to openly acknowledge their fears -- black predators. When I followed events in the local and school newspapers, along with what I could observe personally, I failed to observe any aggressive policing to let local thugs know that they were being monitored and that criminal acts would be punished severely. To be sure, this aggressive policing, for example, stop and frisk, might have occurred, but if it did, it was never publicized. From all outward appearances, at least to me, regular robberies, assaults, occasional rapes and the like were comparable to sporadic bad weather -- something that happens, and within historical limits, a condition to be tolerated.   

But matters are quite different when the victims belong to a protected class. Here, regardless of how slight the harm, even if invisible to most observers and unambiguously lawful (including First Amendment protected), the U of I switches into overdrive to protect hypersensitive at-risk students. 

The first triggering incident occurred when two Greek organizations hosted a Spring Break party and some students wore culturally-themed apparel -- traditional Arab Keffiyehs and Mexican sombreros, behavior deemed culturally insensitive and racist by campus activists. Then, supposed Trump supporters chalked “Build the Wall” and “Trump Deportation Force” near the Latino/Latina building. There were also claims of somebody posting up a swastikas and a university employee leaving a noose on a table in a work area

As a result of these allegedly threatening, tension-producing behaviors, the University is now requiring all students to take at least one course in Non-Western/U.S. Minority Cultures as part of their General Education requirement needed for graduation. These courses, according to The College Fix, will “substantially address the experiences, conditions, and perspectives of U.S. racial minority populations.” Included topics will be sexuality, gender, religion and disability. Courses already approved to fulfill this requirement include “Muslims in America,” “Race and Cultural Diversity,” and “Black Music and Social Justice” (to decipher its focus, read here). And let’s not forget “Leadership Ethics and Pluralism” that explores “power, oppression, and privilege”

Whether such exposure will prevent future cultural appropriations let along using chalk to express constitutionally protected speech is an open question though I am doubtful (having taught at the U of I all I can say is good luck at imparting anything to today’s students).

But pedagogical issues are irrelevant, at least here. The real dare-not-speak-its name issue is the double standard -- black crime, much of it violent -- can safely be addressed passively while anything perpetrated by whites, no matter how innocuous and perfectly legal, requires university action to stop a supposedly incipient a race riot. Indeed, the school’s Interim Chancellor when condemning the chalking used the phrase “an attack” though, of course, no physical act occurred and the perpetrator is still unknown (and there’s a fair chance that it was a hoax). Here’s the overarching principle: the feelings of most sensitive person on campus drives policy and protecting bruised feeling outrank physical harm depending on skin color and ethnicity.   

What if matters were reversed -- drunken frat boys late at night driving into black neighborhood searching for inebriated African Americans to go “Black Bear hunting”? How about a black fraternity putting on a skit in white-face mocking whites as crude, foul-mouthed racists? The latter would surely go unnoticed but the former might ignite demonstrations, even Department of Justice investigations of the Urbana police department to ferret out police bias. Conceivably, even a failed black bear hunt would be sufficient for a campus “Day of Dialogue” to award activists a soapbox to condemn White Privilege and all the rest.   

Pushing this alternative reality yet further, envision white and Asian students organizing a self-defense gun club, building a practice shooting range and seeking open carry permits so as to patrols crime “hotspots” currently neglected by the local police? What if co-eds embraced armed self-defense leaving their feminist sisters to inconsequentially march and chant to condemn date rape? Worse, what if the university itself offered gun-based self-defense and made it a graduation requirement? No doubt, the Black Lives Matter folk would have a field day depicting it as a genocide-in-the making, a prelude to swarms of “angry” white students pouring into black neighborhood to exterminate communities of color. Perhaps even more unPC would be to compel young ghetto blacks to attend classes teaching them the downside of violent criminality.

Contemporary American race relations have sadly come to show signs of collective mental illness. A frat boy who wears a sombrero becomes a threat and thus an expensive excuse for the university-mandated political indoctrination under the guise of soothing some vague racial tensions. Nor, outside of a few skinflints, does anybody worry that the cost of the brainwashing will undermine the university’s well-deserved reputation in the hard sciences, engineering, and agriculture. After all, what’s the point of perfecting a SuperComputer (a U of I specialty) if insensitive young men wear sombreros? Meanwhile, black-on-white crime is treated with kid gloves and largely passive policing lest the University of Illinois-Urbana be accused of racism by effectively stopping criminal acts against its own students. 

I would like to say that matters can’t get any crazier but we’ll have to wait.     

American race relations daily grow more bizarre yet things keep occurring that seem even more beyond belief. Consider how the University of Illinois -- Urbana-Champaign has reacted to two recent instances of alleged racial insensitivity, one involving a “cultural appropriation” at a frat party, the other was a pro-Trump “chalking.” 

Some background first. I spent many years teaching at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and while I no longer live there, I still keep up thanks to a steady stream of e-mail messages from my old employer. When I first arrived decades back I immediately observed a large underclass African American population living about a 20-minute walk from the campus. Like similar ghettos elsewhere, it is a hotbed of crime. 

U of I students were often the target of assaults from this population and even if newspaper accounts (or e-mail alerts) fail to identify the perpetrator’s race, the location and details of the crime made the perpetrator’s race – black -- obvious. That landlords rented apartments close to these criminally infested areas to newly arrive naïve students exacerbated the black-on-white crime. This crime was especially commonplace during summers since local blacks felt more comfortable roaming Campustown polar bear hunting, playing the knockout game and otherwise preying on white students. All and all, hardly an unusual situation and many urban campuses have similar problems.

As fitting our PC era, the university has done little beyond the legal minimum in shielding students from this criminality. Yes, the university has finally, finally installed security cameras but admits (p. 12) that these currently do not cover well-known high crime areas. A further new anti-crime measure is monitoring social media like Facebook and dealing with community groups. There is even something called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, among other measures.

Much of the anti-crime effort just focuses “making students aware” and, of the utmost importance, carefully tip-toes around the race issue. Not even feminists with their “Take Back the Night” marches could bring themselves to openly acknowledge their fears -- black predators. When I followed events in the local and school newspapers, along with what I could observe personally, I failed to observe any aggressive policing to let local thugs know that they were being monitored and that criminal acts would be punished severely. To be sure, this aggressive policing, for example, stop and frisk, might have occurred, but if it did, it was never publicized. From all outward appearances, at least to me, regular robberies, assaults, occasional rapes and the like were comparable to sporadic bad weather -- something that happens, and within historical limits, a condition to be tolerated.   

But matters are quite different when the victims belong to a protected class. Here, regardless of how slight the harm, even if invisible to most observers and unambiguously lawful (including First Amendment protected), the U of I switches into overdrive to protect hypersensitive at-risk students. 

The first triggering incident occurred when two Greek organizations hosted a Spring Break party and some students wore culturally-themed apparel -- traditional Arab Keffiyehs and Mexican sombreros, behavior deemed culturally insensitive and racist by campus activists. Then, supposed Trump supporters chalked “Build the Wall” and “Trump Deportation Force” near the Latino/Latina building. There were also claims of somebody posting up a swastikas and a university employee leaving a noose on a table in a work area

As a result of these allegedly threatening, tension-producing behaviors, the University is now requiring all students to take at least one course in Non-Western/U.S. Minority Cultures as part of their General Education requirement needed for graduation. These courses, according to The College Fix, will “substantially address the experiences, conditions, and perspectives of U.S. racial minority populations.” Included topics will be sexuality, gender, religion and disability. Courses already approved to fulfill this requirement include “Muslims in America,” “Race and Cultural Diversity,” and “Black Music and Social Justice” (to decipher its focus, read here). And let’s not forget “Leadership Ethics and Pluralism” that explores “power, oppression, and privilege”

Whether such exposure will prevent future cultural appropriations let along using chalk to express constitutionally protected speech is an open question though I am doubtful (having taught at the U of I all I can say is good luck at imparting anything to today’s students).

But pedagogical issues are irrelevant, at least here. The real dare-not-speak-its name issue is the double standard -- black crime, much of it violent -- can safely be addressed passively while anything perpetrated by whites, no matter how innocuous and perfectly legal, requires university action to stop a supposedly incipient a race riot. Indeed, the school’s Interim Chancellor when condemning the chalking used the phrase “an attack” though, of course, no physical act occurred and the perpetrator is still unknown (and there’s a fair chance that it was a hoax). Here’s the overarching principle: the feelings of most sensitive person on campus drives policy and protecting bruised feeling outrank physical harm depending on skin color and ethnicity.   

What if matters were reversed -- drunken frat boys late at night driving into black neighborhood searching for inebriated African Americans to go “Black Bear hunting”? How about a black fraternity putting on a skit in white-face mocking whites as crude, foul-mouthed racists? The latter would surely go unnoticed but the former might ignite demonstrations, even Department of Justice investigations of the Urbana police department to ferret out police bias. Conceivably, even a failed black bear hunt would be sufficient for a campus “Day of Dialogue” to award activists a soapbox to condemn White Privilege and all the rest.   

Pushing this alternative reality yet further, envision white and Asian students organizing a self-defense gun club, building a practice shooting range and seeking open carry permits so as to patrols crime “hotspots” currently neglected by the local police? What if co-eds embraced armed self-defense leaving their feminist sisters to inconsequentially march and chant to condemn date rape? Worse, what if the university itself offered gun-based self-defense and made it a graduation requirement? No doubt, the Black Lives Matter folk would have a field day depicting it as a genocide-in-the making, a prelude to swarms of “angry” white students pouring into black neighborhood to exterminate communities of color. Perhaps even more unPC would be to compel young ghetto blacks to attend classes teaching them the downside of violent criminality.

Contemporary American race relations have sadly come to show signs of collective mental illness. A frat boy who wears a sombrero becomes a threat and thus an expensive excuse for the university-mandated political indoctrination under the guise of soothing some vague racial tensions. Nor, outside of a few skinflints, does anybody worry that the cost of the brainwashing will undermine the university’s well-deserved reputation in the hard sciences, engineering, and agriculture. After all, what’s the point of perfecting a SuperComputer (a U of I specialty) if insensitive young men wear sombreros? Meanwhile, black-on-white crime is treated with kid gloves and largely passive policing lest the University of Illinois-Urbana be accused of racism by effectively stopping criminal acts against its own students. 

I would like to say that matters can’t get any crazier but we’ll have to wait.