Powerful images have always been catalysts for change. From the civil rights and antiwar movements during the 1960s and 1970s to the modern movement against police brutality, powerful images have a unique ability to sway public opinion by portraying unjust situations exactly as they are.
Therefore, I direct the attention of liberals on the UCSB campus to two powerful images of injustice that have emerged from two different American college campuses over the past few days.
One of these images comes from Yale University. In late October, Yale administrators sent out an email requesting that students avoid “culturally unaware or insensitive” Halloween costumes. Some students felt that this email was too restrictive, and a few students in Silliman College (one of Yale’s 12 residential colleges) took the issue up with their Associate Master, Erika Christakis.
In response to these complaints, Christakis sent an email (www.thefire.org/email-from-erika-christakis-dressing-yourselves-email-to-silliman-college-yale-students-on-halloween-costumes/) to Silliman College students that offered a different perspective on the issue of offensive Halloween costumes. Christakis acknowledged the legitimacy of concerns about respect for diversity, but shared her view, based in her experience as an early childhood educator, that overly strict rules about Halloween costumes go too far. She asked, “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”
The uproarious reaction to Christakis’ email answered her rhetorical question better than she could have imagined. Hundreds of students and faculty signed a letter denouncing her, and there were calls for her resignation. On Nov. 5, students gathered in the Silliman College courtyard to protest Christakis’ email. Erika’s husband Nicholas Christakis, the Master of Silliman, went out to speak to them, and the ensuing confrontation was caught on video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLvIqJIL2kOMefn77xg6-6yrvek5kbNf3Z&v=NoxJKmuoBmE).
During the confrontation, Nicholas Christakis remained polite, reasonable and conciliatory, but stood firm in his support for his wife’s views. The students surrounding him jeered, derided and insulted him. When Nicholas Christakis tried to calmly explain to one of the students why he disagreed with her, she snapped at him to “Be quiet!” and began screaming at the top of her lungs that Christakis should resign his position. “IT IS NOT ABOUT CREATING AN INTELLECTUAL SPACE!” the student yelled. “IT IS ABOUT CREATING A HOME HERE!”
I challenge any liberal to watch the video of the incident and tell me they support this kind of behavior.
The other image I wish to present to you comes out of the University of Missouri. Amid growing racial tensions at Mizzou in recent weeks, the left-wing group Concerned Student 1950 staged a protest on Nov. 9. The protest occurred in a public space on campus. However, when student reporter Tim Tai attempted to document the protest, he found himself being physically blocked by the protestors. While Tai tried to politely assert his First Amendment rights, he was shouted at, jeered, menaced and physically pushed.
These interactions were caught on camera (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S3yMzEee18) by another student reporter, Mark Schierbecker. Shortly afterwards, a protestor tried to grab Schierbecker’s camera, and subsequently shouted to the crowd at large, “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here! I need some muscle over here!” This protestor was later revealed to be an assistant professor at Mizzou, Melissa Click.
Liberals on campus, I hope these videos prompt you to have a little “waking up” moment of your own.
The situation at Mizzou is still confused (and will probably take a long time to unravel fully), but at least some of the racial grievances there appear to be legitimate.
This does not, in any sense whatsoever, excuse the actions of the protestors.
And so I am writing this as an open letter to liberals on campuses all across America, but particularly on the UCSB campus. I might not consider myself one of you, but I respect the sincerity of your intentions. You have high ideals. You want to end racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry. You want to bring about a more progressive and a more just world, and you want to be on the right side of history.
Do you believe that these angry mobs at Yale and Mizzou are on the right side of history?
How does the ugly reality of their actions line up with the lofty rhetoric you espouse about greater equality, diversity and tolerance?
Throughout history, people on the side of injustice have had moments of “waking up,” where they realized that their actions were inexcusable, and they could no longer hide from this fact.
Liberals on campus, I hope these videos prompt you to have a little “waking up” moment of your own. Because the actions being taken by these liberal protestors are not the actions of a political movement cloaked in righteousness and driven by a hunger for justice. Their actions are those of bullies, not heroes.
Because the same idealistic campus liberals who once chanted “Make love, not war” are now calling for “muscle” to remove neutral observers.
Because regardless of ideals, regardless of the legitimacy of their concerns, the actions of these protestors clearly and undeniably overstep the bounds of civil behavior and basic human decency — and you know it deep down.
If you were watching a movie and saw characters acting like the protestors in these two videos, those characters would almost certainly be the villains of the movie, not the heroes. Why should you apply less discernment to real-life situations than you would to a movie?
Liberals, it is time to start doubting yourselves.
You may have, in the past, dismissed conservative concerns about liberal bias in the modern university. Can you watch these videos and tell me, with a straight face, that there is not a legitimate problem with liberal bullying on college campuses?
Yale and Mizzou are not isolated incidents. Countless instances of this sort of behavior have been documented on college campuses over the years, including here at UCSB.
Freedom of expression is a nonpartisan goal. There have been some instances of conservatives censoring liberals in college. This is wrong, too. But on the modern campus, the censorship and vitriol and bullying are coming overwhelmingly from one side — from your side.
Because the same idealistic campus liberals who once chanted “Make love, not war” are now calling for “muscle” to remove neutral observers.
Rather than looking for problems everywhere in the world, maybe you should examine the evil within your own hearts and souls a little more closely.
Liberal students and faculty, I challenge you: watch these videos with as open a mind as possible. Ask yourself how you would react if you saw right-wingers at, say, a Tea Party rally acting the same way. And ask yourself if this is the sort of legacy you wish to be part of.
And if the answer is yes, then you should be open to considering the possibility that you have become every bit as narrow-minded and bigoted as those you oppose.
Unfortunately some people are getting increasingly fed up with these protests. According to ABC News, five men were shot last night at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minnesota. It’s believed the shootings were racially motivated.
I’ve seen well intentioned protests reach the pinnacle of ridiculousness this week-forcing a college to cancel yoga classes because it’s “cultural appropriation?” As far as I’m concerned, this all is PC run riot and hidden in it is an effort by domestic terrorists to destabilize the country.
The people who are protesting are “domestic terrorists” but the people who are literally shooting at a peaceful assembly… aren’t?
You’re the only one who said that.
If that person is explicitly talking about how the protesters are domestic terrorists even within the context of (presumably) white supremacists shooting into a crowd of innocent people, there’s a strong subtext that the protesters somehow invited that violence upon themselves for the crime of speaking their minds.
I agree but that’s not what you said in your reply.
It seems to me that Amused Not’s parting words were an unwise choice and overly cutting (permission granted by anonymity). Please try not to just focus on those two words, and instead see the bigger picture that was being painted.
I’m sure you have spoken harsh and unwise words in the face of being exasperated. That is what Amused Not’s epithet sounded like to me.
Not pc brah. This triggers me.
Jason how hard is it for you to hide what a vile reactionary racist you are. How does it feel to be a laughingstock for being the worst writer at UCSB
How does it feel to be a sad, vengeful, “anonymous” commenter? You’re better than those kinds of words, and it breaks my heart to see you write something like that. Start living above that.
^Yeah!!! Cryblully this racist!!!!
The very concept of protesting comes from an internal need to have grievances addressed. Logically, if there weren’t any inequality issues protesting would be what white kids do after a major sports competitions, in other words, pointless. It is not up to the dominant group to decide how protesting is being done because the less dominant group neds to be heard. But if anyone wants to police anyone else’s actions, why can’t university leaders police their own and issue statements in which they do not condone culturally insensitive costumes and that they will seek to create a campus that represents… Read more »
I’m flattered you think I’m part of a “dominant group,” but I have every right to use my sense of morality to judge these protesters’ bullying actions, regardless of their race or mine. You don’t get to silence your opposition with ad hominem.
Unfortunately there’s not much of an argument to respond to here. The author seems unable to comprehend or critically engage with what is going on here and instead assumes that everyone will view these videos through the same lens he sees through. But you can infer how that lens was created. Both videos are often cited by conservatives claiming that students of color protesting racial oppression are abridging free speech. I think most people who support these protests are already familiar with these videos and believe that they display perfectly reasonable behavior on the part of protesters. I agree with… Read more »
Not all of them were people of color. In the Mizzou video, some of the most violent and thuggish protesters caught on camera were white, and the student reporter Tim Tai happened to be Asian-American. I never thought I’d see the day when liberals would describe anyone attacking anyone, let alone white people attacking people of color, as “perfectly reasonable behavior.” Bad behavior is the same regardless of race, and the protesters in these videos, both the white and black ones, were engaging in some very bad behaviors indeed.
“I think most people who support these protests are already familiar with these videos and believe that they display perfectly reasonable behavior on the part of protesters.”
Let me fix that for you. It’s mostly only dumbass 20-somethings that would call that reasonable behavior. The rest of us just see temper tantrums and bullying, even if we agree with the goals of the protesters. You will never accomplish anything if you behave that way.
MLK just turned over in his grave
Nice work Jason. Your piece does not have any bias. You make points that are certainly valid, and maybe these protestors should reevaluate the ways in which they choose to fight for their end goal in a manner that is more constructive. Emotions seem to be guiding these specific instances you have addressed rather than reason.
Well written and hey, it just goes to show how insane and self-righteous the PC liberals have become in this day and age. It’s a sad day when a mob of students cussing out an elderly man about children’s Halloween costumes is considered “social justice” but that’s where we are now.
Two points were being made: one, that people are getting fed up with what they see as a bunch of multi-generational welfare receipents protesting (that’s what’s being posted on numerous pro law enforcement Facebook groups) and that resentment probably led to a reprisal shooting the other night. Second, and entirely separate from the first point, it’s well documented that Occupy and Black Lives Matter were the children of anarchists and old Communists who see those movements as their best chance of overthrowing the government. Hence the domestic terrorist tag. Personally I believe political correctness has run riot. A millennial acquaintance… Read more »
A few reflections: over in the Central Valley, BLM has been fairly muted. There’ve been a few protests but our police chief made it clear anyone blocking traffic would end up charged. One of our anti police activists was convicted of vandalizing our police memorial. Fresno is the home of Three Strikes and there’s not much sympathy for criminals or for those seen as defending them. One thing that’s rearing its head (I don’t like the trend) are vigilante groups taking the law into their own hands. A bicycle thief was reportedly beaten severely in Fresno’s Tower District recently-and people… Read more »
Thank you Jason, I’m glad to see there are other level headed kids that go to UCSB among these self-righteous bigots. Obviously people are gonna call you racist but I’m sure you expected that anyways.Ignore them keep doing what you’re doing.
Nice work Jason. You write really interesting articles that challenge the status quo of our (very liberal) university and are not afraid to say what you think even though you know that your PC peers may attack you for it. Keep up the good work man!