Tuesday, March 10, 2015

University of Oklahoma Racist Frat SAE Suspended

By now you may have seen the video of some members of the SAE chapter at the University of Oklahoma and their friends allegedly singing a racist ditty about how they would never ever ever have black members in their Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter. I am not surprised by this even though I suppose in some quarters it's almost expected to say you're not surprised by these events. People usually drop their masks and speak and behave more honestly when they are surrounded by those that they consider their own kind. This is true across racial, religious, ethnic and gender lines. It's just the way that human beings are constructed. So no surprises here. But it does provide some anecdotal contradiction to the notion that the United States as a whole and as a collective is always moving forward when it comes to racial animosity. These young white people on the bus are future CEO's, hiring managers, jurors, judges, professors, FBI agents, realtors, venture capitalists, university administrators and many other future leaders who will have plenty of opportunities to put their prejudices into practice. So that's the real issue here. These are not people who grew up under segregation or explicit white supremacy. These are people who were for the most part born after 1994 or so. And yet they are behaving just as their grandmothers and grandfathers would have behaved back in 1964. So it goes. Racism is an ugly weed that will always continue to bloom anew. The other thing that comes to mind watching the below video is that we should remember that there are limits to integration and very good historical and current reasons for the establishment and maintenance of black political and social organizations.
It is common in some conservative circles and even many liberal ones to bemoan, criticize or question any such black organizations, whether they be fraternities or sororities, charities, beauty pageants, television stations, newspapers, etc. This is often raised as the question of "why are all the black kids in the cafeteria sitting together?". It's blaming (gleefully in the case of conservatives) or (ruefully in the case of liberals) social segregation entirely on black people and ignoring the reasons why such organizations exist in the first place. All I can say to that is who enjoys hanging around people who have made it crystal clear that they don't like you? Most psychologically healthy people avoid such scenarios. Earning your daily bread may require you to work with, report to or otherwise interact with various sorts of bigots or otherwise unpleasant people but that's work. You're being paid to do something. Your choices may be temporarily constrained. But when your choices are free, as they are in areas of social intimacy, people generally don't wish to associate with people who have contempt or hatred for them. This is why black Greek organizations or business associations or other such entities exist. People want to be able to relax without having to be constantly on guard for the kind of bigotry expressed here. Living in a state of continuous fight or flight response is quite unhealthy. The people on the bus appear to be having a good time. If you ever wondered about the people who arrived to lynchings and burnings with smiles and grins on their faces captured for posterity well these are their spiritual and no doubt in some cases lineal descendants.

The progress that the country has undertaken is ongoing. It was demonstrated by the fact the university and the national fraternity immediately distanced themselves from the local chapter, suspending the chapter and closing the house. A black college football recruit decommitted from the school. The head football coach joined in protests with his team. 
The University President put out a statement which left no doubt about where he stood.
"To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves “Sooners.” Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members.
Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between the university and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed. I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for positions shall contact the Dean of Students.
All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community. We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue. There must be a zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.
Other people have pointed out that the chant is not that unusual among other chapters of SAE or similar fraternities. They just happen to be the ones who got caught. Some people are calling for them to be expelled. I wouldn't shed tears were that to happen. We shall see. 

Are you surprised?

Should the students be expelled?

How long before one of the students is hired by Fox News?

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