"Brothers or Fools"
The most conspicuous fact of life around the Clemson campus has to do with racial separation. The existence of past prejudice is painfully evident in the history of the state, county and university. Had South Carolina persisted in its beliefs, the arguments of the “See the Stripes” group, and their faculty supporters, would have some credibility.
That didn’t happen, and as a result they have none.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s moral encouragement to, “take the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” resulted in the Clemson Board of Trustees integrating the university in the face of widespread public opposition. Events tumbled in a host of improvements, the latest being that South Carolina became the first southern state since Reconstruction to elect an African-American to the office of U.S. Senator.
You won’t find mention of that, or many other things, in the proposed “See the Stripes” curriculum because it isn’t interested in facts that run opposite to an ideology. Instead the individuals involved want power over many things, including the curriculum, admission, buildings, hiring practices and the atmosphere on campus.
The main difference between the “See the Stripes” beliefs and Martin Luther King, Jr. is that the latter had a moral premise for his actions, “…it was not a doctrine that made this offence yearn for revenge,” he wrote, “but one that asked for change.” The only pastor to have a national holiday named after him emphasized forgiveness, not retribution.
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
Hatred confuses life: love humanizes it.
Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
As a scholar who has taught Southern Politics for years on the Clemson campus, and has a book in the field, I find the curriculum of the “See the Stripes” people to be: shallow, narrow, uninformed as to historical events and unworthy of scholarly consideration. I know of no journal in the field that would even consider it for publication or distribution.
Yet, the “See the Stripes” curriculum is on the verge of becoming a required course at Clemson. If that happens, we should change the name of this place from “University” to “Indoctrination Center.” The administration has an uneven hand when it comes to student conduct on campus, sending out five emails about an embarrassing display after the Saturday football game, and then suddenly dropping that matter and turning on a student for posts on the internet.
The “See the Stripes” group is fixed on revenge, on embarrassing the university and they have little or nothing to fear from the administration. Meanwhile, the rest of the campus is persecuted by their antics, which have virtually no intellectual or scholarly merit. Their words and actions have none of the markings Martin Luther King, Jr. had when he said, “We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish as fools.” We’re perishing, and the ghosts of 1,500 students who decided not to attend the University of Missouri next fall in reaction to the antics of the faculty are watching to see what Clemson does.
J. David Woodard
Professor of Political Science