Honestly, I thought this was a hoax story. I still hope it might be, and if it isn’t, it should be. If it is true, the episode all by itself is signature significance proving that the U.S. race problem has turned into cultural insanity.
Last weekend, leaders from the University of Mississippi’s Greek Life group held a three-day at Camp Hopewell in Lafayette County, designed to “build leaders and bring the campus closer together.” It went spectacular wrong as a result of a banana peel. It really did.
The group included student members of the Panhellenic Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council. The retreat was organized by Fraternity and Sorority Life and the national group IMPACT, a campus-based leadership institute designed to foster improved relationships among campus leaders through such events. Saturday morning, the participants ate breakfast together, and the breakfast options included various fruit, including bananas. Breakfast was followed by a discussion session on race relations at Ole Miss.
Shortly thereafter, three students noticed a banana peel in a tree. This was taken as intentional racist symbolism. and the rest of the day was occupied by heated debate regarded racist symbols. Senior accounting major Ryan Swanson eventually stood up and admitted that he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trash receptacle nearby.
[Aside: I once did exactly the same thing on a Boy Scout hike.]
Never mind. It didn’t matter that this was not a racist act. The banana peel continued to be the focus of intense debate. Like a good social justice patsy, Swanson fell on his sword. “I want to sincerely apologize for the events that took place this past weekend,” Swanson told the college paper afterwards. “Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community.”
There is no excuse for engaging in a completely innocent act as long as someone finds a reason, however contrived, to take offense at it. Yes, this is what we are teaching our young at institutions of higher learning.
Because of the vile banana peel and the resulting discussion, the retreat fell apart. The discussion of the episode “took an unhealthy direction”—they are lucky I wasn’t there—and students began leaving, “some in tears, some in frustration.” The remainder of the retreat was canceled. “At that point, we didn’t feel welcome; we didn’t feel safe,” one black student said. “If we didn’t feel wanted or safe at the camp, our best option was to leave.”
Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, now says her office was asked to put a plan together to respond to the incident campus-wide.
1.African American students are being acculturated to actively seek reasons to see racism and hostility where there is none. This isn’t education. It is a process that is crippling young adults and making them paranoid, suspicious, and infantile.
2. A student tossed a banana peel in a tree (if you throw it on the ground, people slip on it, you know) and hypersensitive African American students immediately took it as a racist symbol, and even after this was revealed to be a ridiculous misunderstanding, the effort by the students to claim victim standing not only continued, but was encouraged. Now the entire campus is going to create some kind of sensitivity event around a hysterical over-reaction to what everyone agrees was a mistake.
No wonder college students don’t learn anything.
3. Said the hapless student who put the peel in the tree: “We must all keep in mind how our actions affect those around us differently.”
No, we must not. As this idiotic story proves, you can’t predict how ultra-sensitive, political-correctness addled, victim-mongering opportunists will react to anything, literally anything. They will work overtime, considering every possible angle, to place you on the defensive and make you grovel for forgiveness for a word, a look, an opinion, a joke, a gesture, a choice of fruit. Anything can be called a microaggression, and to respond as I would (and have, when seminar participants occasionally play political correctness “gotcha!” with my ethics seminars), “I’m sorry that you are taking offense at something that was neither intended to mean what you are claiming or can reasonably be argued to mean what you are claiming, but it is your problem, not mine. Serious discourse is impossible with such hair-trigger sensitivities, and I will not cater to it. Moving on…” will only lead to an escalation of the power games.
To censor ourselves according to what the most easily upset, offended, alarmed or inflamed individual might think or feel means paralysis, and constant terror of action or expression. This is oppression. This is intolerable.
4. Human beings can only co-exist productively if they give everyone the presumption of good will and beneficent intent. Today’s young African Americans are being taught to do exactly the opposite. Meanwhile, conduct like that exhibited by the African American students reasonably leads to a presumption by others that they assume the worst about their white colleagues.
5. If the University of Mississippi wants to have a productive and positive outcome from this fiasco, it would hold a campus wide program that sent the message, “Grow up. If you spend your life “feeling unsafe” at the drop of banana peel, you will be weak, useless, a burden on everyone you encounter.”
6. I do not think this will be the thrust of the program, however.
7. Rod Dreher at the American Conservative was properly apoplectic:
“This idiot country is losing its damn mind. Our universities are training students to be total neurotics. If you are an actual adult who wails and gnashes her teeth at the sight of a banana peel, you ought to question whether you are mature enough for college. And if you are an actual adult who lacks the spine to tell students who freak out over banana peels to grow up, you ought to question whether you might be Stuart Smalley.”
8. Finally, I will point out, as I do often, that such a reaction as Dreher’s should not be confined to conservatives or conservative publications. This mindset that generates this kind of reaction to trivia is objectively tragic and absurd, and it will not improve until the left side of the spectrum says, “Enough.”
Pointer: Charisma News