Mizzou students get it right, but will that change hateful culture?

by Kent Sterling

Protesters at the University of Missouri brought down the president and chancellor, but hate and stupidity are a tougher foe.

Protesters at the University of Missouri brought down the president and chancellor, but hate and stupidity are a tougher foe.

Since human beings stood upright, we have hated each other for confoundingly silly reasons – religion, nationality, color of hair, jealousy over intellect and wealth, and many more.

For a few minutes less than the history of our species, people who were hated expressed their dislike for being hated.

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Every generation feels like they are the lynchpins in finally winning the battle against hate, and leading our society into an era of enlightenment as though they have embraced a level of wisdom heretofore unseen from humans.

The latest smart people are students on the campus of the University of Missouri who finally became fed up with the relentless racism for which that state is very well known.  A protest, hunger strike, and boycott from football activities by Gary Pinkel’s Tigers led to the ouster of the university president, who was admittedly slow to act when students expressed racism in a variety of rancid ways.

Students are celebrating as though the war has been won, but sadly, evidence is lacking – again – that a single mind has been changed.

In the 1960s, cities burned because of race riots, and still there was hate.  Peaceful marches were met with fire hoses and beatings.  Still there was hate.  In the 1990s, riots exploded after the acquittal of those who beat Rodney King.  Still there was hate.  Hell, it wasn’t until 150 years ago that people in the southern states of America were prohibited from owning African Americans.

Enlightenment comes much harder than hatred to human beings.

I love what the students at Mizzou did because it reflects a hope born of ignorance that changing the wiring of humanity can happen.  That violence either in protest or in trying to quell the protesters was never used shows small-step evolution toward reason.

Because I have seen generations of Americans do the same thing, and read about many more stretching back to the dawn of man, I know the result will be a reversion to the mean, and that’s a tragedy.

The impulse to argue with those permanently burdened by an impulse to respond with anger to virtually everything is strong.  There is nobility in banging your forehead against that wall of loathing, and maybe one day in another millennium it will come down.

But as long as people fly planes into buildings to express a belief, shout racial epithets from pickup trucks at students in Columbia, Missouri, or hire only those who best resemble themselves, we will be a poor reflection of our potential as forces for love and goodness.

When some of us show we know better, all can bask in their light.  Hopefully the rest take a moment to learn from them, but I wouldn’t bank on it.

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Universities are places where learning happens, and the Mizzou students who can rightfully claim victory over administrators who refused to see what has always existed as wrong and repellent are going to learn an unpleasant lesson the next time a pickup truck full of morons shout the n-word at a black student.

People are dumb, and many of them hate because they too lazy not to.

6 thoughts on “Mizzou students get it right, but will that change hateful culture?

  1. Steven Brown

    I certainly don’t deny the fact that Missouri did not act in a way that it should have to address racism on campus. However I have a real problem with letting a football team to dictate university policy. This is an issue for the Trustees and the President.

    I really cringe at the aspect of a group of students who dictate university policy. I think that they should have a voice certainly. However, running the show is not in their purview.

    Look out universities across our land, 1930 German politics are alive and well in our country. Due process according to our constitution is on the wane.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      That’s an interesting perspective, but if not the customers of a university dictating policy, then who? I think listening to the serious concerns of the students is long overdue. It’s difficult to evaluate this issue if you haven’t lived in Missouri for any period of time. I was dumbstruck man times by the acts and words reflecting racism that I witnessed there. Indiana is the birthplace of the Klan, so I’ve seen idiocy up close, but this was a different level of insensitivity.

  2. Mitch Conner

    So true, so true. Black people are NEVER racist are they? They have it so much worse than the greedy ingrate American Indians huh?Pffft, please…..Save the Monkey Luthah Stink crap for February.
    Trained Police with teargas and thick riot gear are the best answer to gutless sign wielding idiot protesters.Some dogs never hurt either.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      I hope you were sarcastically expressing the level of stupidity being decried. Otherwise, you need to take a deep breath, examine your core beliefs, and seek a higher level of empathy for humanity.

  3. Friends of Clay Travis

    By Clay Travis
    Nov 11, 2015 at 1:09p ET
    The first column I wrote on the Mizzou controversy analyzed the allegations and pointed out that firing a president had zero connection to any of the allegations or the demands for the protesters. In that column I accepted the protester’s allegations as true. But as the week has gone on and the protesters have been exposed as anti-first amendment, selectively racist, and, last night, willing to perpetrate actual lies to get more attention, isn’t it time to examine whether these incidents are actually real?

    That is, what if there’s actually zero basis for the strike in the first place? What if these alleged incidents never happened and the media just accepted them without asking any questions at all? The entire protest is based on three things, none of which have been independently verified, a poopswastika, an off-campus racial slur, and an on campus racial slur.

    So let’s examine each of them in order.

    1. There is no evidence of the poopswastika.

    In this modern era, when college kids take photos of everything, when video emerges of virtually everything that takes place on campus, how is that there is no eye witness who can say that a poopswastika ever even existed?

    Not one person.

    Read the article linked above, it’s exhaustive reporting. There’s not one shred of evidence that a poopswastika ever existed. As the article said, it’s an immaculate defecation.

    Yet it has been reported as truth by every major media outlet in the country.

    And, by the way, if the poopswastika did exist, isn’t it evidence of a really deranged individual more than its evidence of a campus overrun by racism? Isn’t the first thing you think of when you hear of a poopswastika, who the hell put their hands in poop and used it to write on a bathroom wall? If it happened, which there’s no evidence that it did, isn’t that person who did it probably insane?

    2. Mizzou’s student body president, Payton Head, a gay black man, accused unknown and never found perpetrators in a red truck of hurling racial slurs at him off campus.

    Assuming that this incident even happened, how is Mizzou responsible for what a non-student says off campus?

    Isn’t it more significant that Mizzou students elected a gay black man campus president? And that Mizzou almost universally supported Michael Sam, a gay black man who became the first athlete to go public with his homosexuality? Does that sound like a campus with inclusiveness issues to you? Would a divided, racist campus have a gay black student as its top representative and have offered nearly universal support and acceptance to Sam?

    Moreover, given that Head also reported that the KKK was on campus last night and that he’d been in contact with the national guard — it’s totally normal for a student body president to be the top liason for the national guard, right? — isn’t it also fair to question whether this story is awfully convenient for someone who has political ambitions and gains a ton of positive coverage for it? That is, Head gained an awful lot here.

    And if he’ll make up the KKK on campus — and then be forced to retract that comment after he’s terrified thousands on the campus and his allegation can be proven to be false — why wouldn’t he also be capable of making up an off campus racial slur?


    I mean, that sucks, I wish racism didn’t exist, but how is this Mizzou’s responsibility?

    One racial slur happened on campus — it was a drunk dude stumbling around on campus — but, again, why is this this the president’s reponsibility? And, as much as it might suck to be insulted, racism isn’t illegal. Mere words are not crimes. At least not yet.

    (In the wake of all the attention, one 19 year old non-Mizzou student has been arrested 75 miles from campus for making threatening comments on Yik Yak, a popular anonymous site on campuses across the country. The only possible way to handle this comment by a non-student is by firing the CEO of Yik Yak, right?)

    3. The hunger striker, who claimed he was hunger striking based, at least initially, on grad school health care costs, is the son of a man who made almost seven million dollars last year.

    He grew up in a $1.3 million dollar mansion in Omaha. For reference sake, that’s a big house in Omaha. Warren Buffett, one of the five richest men in the world, lives in an Omaha house worth $500,000.

    Now, merely being rich doesn’t mean you can’t advocate for social justice. But when the first platform of your demands for social justice is that the president of Mizzou should publicly denounce his white privilege, shouldn’t you also have to acknowledge and denounce the fact that you are wealthier than 99.99% of the people on earth?

    Moreover, on the privilege flow chart, doesn’t being worth over $20 million rank an awful lot higher than merely being white? In other words, is there anyone out there who wouldn’t trade their race in exchange for $20 million? Because I 100% would. Black, white, asian, hispanic, green, blue, I will be any color for the rest of my life if you give me $20 million to do it.

    On top of that, the “hunger striker” — I question whether he was actual hunger striking too, by the way, what evidence do we have of that? — said he was hunger striking because of increased graduate school health care costs. YOUR DAD MADE NEARLY $7 MILLION LAST YEAR, BRO. Check your privilege. Do you really think he didn’t have the money for health care?

    The hunger striker has also been on campus for nearly eight years. If Mizzou was such an awful, racist place, wouldn’t you go somewhere else for grad school?

    Finally, how am I the only person talking about how rich the hunger striker is? Isn’t that kind of a big detail when your hunger strike is attacking the privileges of others? You are literally one of the most privileged people in the world. Infinitely more privileged, for instance, than the man you demanded be fired from his job.

    Oh, and the hunger striker was also spreading lies last night on campus. So much so that the university’s official Twitter account felt obligated to respond to him because so many people were terrified.

    My point here is pretty simple: When you add all this evidence up, there is actually no tangible evidence of anyone at Missouri doing anything wrong or ignoring anything improper. No crime has occurred on campus, no one has been physically harmed. At the absolute worst a small number of students have been subjected to mean words. That’s it.

    Yet two people have lost their jobs over this protest and the protesters have received almost universal praise in the media.

    So why is no one else in the mainstream media pointing out these facts or asking these questions?

    Because if everyone else starts asking the same questions I’m asking it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than this one: this entire University of Missouri protest is a manufactured sham.

    If you want more discussion, check your privilege, bro and also check out last night’s Periscope session on Mizzou, the first amendment and politics. And just to blow your minds, I’ve worked in Democratic politics my entire life — on Presidential, congressional and Senate races — and am a white dude from the South who voted for Obama twice.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      I’m sure there were similar stories written in the media in 1964 about protests in Alabama and Mississippi. I haven’t lived in Columbia, but I did live in St. Louis. I was dumbstruck by multiple incidents of blatant racism, and knew that Ferguson was going to happen at some point because the last straw was going to fall at some point.

      Maybe the Mizzou protesters are actually pranksters – brilliant strategists who decided that an inane and baseless protest might cause the firing of the president of their university, and wouldn’t that be fun, but I believe the more logical explanation is that the tonnage of racism of time finally became enough to bring action.


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