You know, I’m not entirely certain this whole SAE mess isn’t a free speech issue. I was neither shocked nor particularly surprised by the racist chanting, nor do I believe it was some extant incident. Like many blacks in America, I just assume this is what white folk do when we’re not looking. I don’t chant anti-white stuff when whites aren’t looking, but I and many of my friends are far from Emily Post when not in racially mixed company. I’m shocked—shocked, I tell you—to discover racial slurs are bandied about behind closed doors.
Expelling two students from the University of Oklahoma for the racist chant seems, to me, not only unfair but possibly illegal. They have a right to free speech, no matter how offensive. It’s the price we all pay in order for all of us to have the right to say whatever we want… right? I mean, if these guys were Nazis, would we even be talking about this?
Shutting down the fraternity was certainly a crowd-pleasing thing to do but it was the wrong lesson. It sent a terrible message and, rather than address the real problem, merely forced it back underground. America, it seems, is good at that: burying real so-cial schisms until, say, a black guy is elected president or a lesbian is appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. I remain shocked and unnerved at how deep racism continues to drill into the American ideal, that such ignorance is shockingly alive and well. I tend to blame the Republican party for using racism as a political tool, thereby desensitizing the nation to such matters and bringing racism flagrantly, baldly out into the open where it is, for the most part, accepted.
Frankly, I think being exposed as idiots was punishment enough for SAE. The University of Oklahoma took a black eye over the incident, as it should: I hardly believe nobody in any position of leadership at that campus was aware of the brazenly racist attitudes of SAE.
But the University should have stood up, first and foremost, for the principles this nation was founded upon. I honestly wasn’t all that offended and believe well-meaning white folks perhaps acting on my behalf—and thus treating all blacks like children incapable of expressing their own outrage—grossly overreacted to what this was: sophomoric stupidity by a bunch of knuckleheads. In their headlong rush to defend me, us, whomever, they trampled the U.S. constitution that actually freed us in the first place.