News & Politics

UVA Prof Suspended for Comparing Black Lives Matter to the KKK

UVA Prof Suspended for Comparing Black Lives Matter to the KKK
Marcus Mulberry, of Steelton, marches with others down Third Street during a Baltimore solidarity rally, Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Harrisburg, Pa. (James Robinson/ via AP)

The liberal thought police have kicked into overdrive. A lecturer in science, technology, and society at the University of Virginia (UVA) posted one insensitive Facebook comment, and the fallout has proven tremendous. The lecturer has taken leave from the university while a local city councilman has called for a boycott of his restaurants and urged the university to suspend the professor until he has been re-educated.

Douglas Muir, a successful businessman in Charlottesville who teaches entrepreneurship at UVA and who owns the Bella’s Restaurant chain in Virginia, responded to a Facebook post about an upcoming event featuring “Black Lives Matter” co-founder Alicia Garza. Last Tuesday, he posted the offending comment from his personal account, which is not affiliated with the university in any way.

Black lives matter is the biggest rasist [sic] organization since the clan. Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!!

Although Muir deleted the comment, it was preserved for all the world to see in a screenshot on Twitter.

In a statement last Friday, Craig H. Benson, UVA Engineering’s dean and associate dean for diversity & inclusion, announced that “Mr. Muir has agreed to take leave and is preparing his own statement to the community.”

That’s one way of saying it. When the New York Post‘s Joshua Rhett Miller tried to reach Muir at his Charlottesville eatery, an employee said he has been unavailable since the controversy erupted. “He’s not available, he hasn’t been in the restaurant since all this happened,” the employee told the Post. “Obviously, people are upset, so he hasn’t shown his face.”

It is unclear whether or not Muir received death threats, but I would not be surprised.

This attack on “Black Lives Matter” should not be considered free speech, according to Benson. “While free speech and open discussion are fundamental principles of our nation and the University, Mr. Muir’s comment was entirely inappropriate. UVA Engineering does not condone actions that undermine our values, dedication to diversity and educational mission,” the UVA Engineering dean wrote.

He argued that the comment “has raised serious concerns about UVA Engineering’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and support of populations that are traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Besides being a huge stretch, this makes a mountain out of a mole hill. Muir’s comment was brief and ill-considered, posted via Muir’s personal account, and it was just a comment — not even a Facebook status. The idea that this comment could possibly represent UVA Engineering as an institution is laughable, especially since Muir deleted the comment afterward. Nevertheless, this was enough to get him to “agree to take leave,” likely under pressure by the university.

Next Page: Suspension was not enough, city councilman calls for a boycott, and re-education.

Even this (likely forced) suspension was not enough for some. Charlottesville City Councilman Wes Bellamy called for a boycott of Muir’s restaurants, and compounded his attack by insisting on Muir getting re-educated as well.

“I will NEVER frequent @Bellasrestaurant again,” Bellamy declared in a post on Instagram. “I would encourage everyone in the city to boycott the restaurant.” (Luckily, the restaurant has not received any hate reviews on Yelp, as far as I can see.)

The city councilman went on to explain why Muir was so wrong in his view: “The notion that #BlackLivesMatter can be comparable to the Klu Klux Klan is not only incredibly misguided, but goes to show the lack cultural awareness [sic] that still plagues many professors at our Universities across the country,” Bellamy wrote. Then he made an aggressive promise.

“If #blacklivesmatter offends you, makes you feel uncomfortable, or makes you believe that we are similar to the KKK…just understand this, times are changing, the movement is moving, and a people oppressed will no longer remain silent,” Bellamy wrote. “WE are here to STAY and WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO CREATE CHANGE!!!”

Then Bellamy addressed Muir, getting his first name wrong. “You have my number Frank Muir, I’ll await your call so that you can get the cultural training that you need.”

In comments to the Post, Bellamy doubled down. “I believe that the University of Virginia should not allow Mr. Muir to be placed in front of students again until he has had a great deal of cultural competency training and professional development” (emphasis added).

Then, the city councilman added this terrifying detail: Muir had already apologized to him, but he did not accept it, and insisted on Muir’s re-education.

“I have spoken with Mr. Muir, and he has stated to me that he is remorseful for his words, and I appreciate that,” Bellamy recalled. “However, that does not change the fact that he needs to be educated on just exactly what Black Lives Matter is all about; putting an end to systemic oppression and injustice, and the need for us to work together to break down these barriers” (emphasis added).

So a man who posted a comment from his personal Facebook page receives tremendous pushback, removes the comment, apologizes, and he still needs to be re-educated? Is this what our world is coming to? For crying out loud, the guy admitted his mistake and apologized. Will you still tar and feather him?

It actually gets better. Muir made a public apology on Wednesday, dragging himself through the mud in order to placate the anger of the masses. Here is the apology:

On October 4, I responded to a Facebook post about Black Lives Matter by comparing the organization to the Ku Klux Klan. I was wrong in my comparison and want to offer my profound apologies for my words. To my students, the University of Virginia, the citizens of Charlottesville and the thousands of responders, I am truly sorry. I have been saddened by the pain it has caused this wonderful community.

This careless post was called out by many for ridicule. I accept those criticisms and promise to take these hard lessons learned to heart as I go forward. Whatever my initial intention was from the post has been overshadowed by those who are rightly offended by it and others who want to use my words to further divide the community. It was never my intent for my words to cause so much turmoil.

Will this apology be enough for Mr. Bellamy? A rational person would hope so, but these social justice warriors have taught me better than that.

Next Page: The saddest part of the entire incident — could part of Muir’s original comment actually be true?

The saddest part of this entire incident might not be Bellamy’s unforgiving attitude, or the UVA Engineering dean’s rush to judgment saying that one Facebook comment would endanger an entire university. Rather, the greatest tragedy is the fact that Muir’s original comment — while certainly wrong in important ways — expressed a terrifying truth: “Black Lives Matter” has proven to have racist, specifically anti-white, undertones.

The movement is no Ku Klux Klan — the majority of those who consider themselves members have no ill will toward white people and merely wish to fix what they see as injustice. But in the worst moments of rioting in cities like Milwaukee and Charlotte, white people indeed have been targeted. And the man who shot police officers in Dallas was inspired by the angry ideology of “Black Lives Matter.”

Some of the ugly racism to come from the movement has been relatively harmless — the “kill white people” graffiti in Tampa, for example — but video of the Milwaukee riots showed a group of “protestors” targeting a white man they did not know, due to the color of his skin. Riots in Charlotte shut down the highway, which is “threatening and dangerous.” Finally, a man claiming to be the brother of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man killed by a black cop in Charlotte, declared on tape, “All white people are f***in’ devils!

“Black Lives Matter” is not inherently racist — although the angry response to the claim that “all lives matter” may suggest otherwise — but it has enabled some ugly racial violence. This is in no way comparable to the long and violent, indeed evil, history of the Ku Klux Klan, and Muir was right to apologize for suggesting so.

Nevertheless, the movement has spawned racial violence, and leaders should acknowledge this. No movement is above criticism, and while these racial outbursts do not represent the majority of protestors, they are connected to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and leaders need to condemn them. Rather than shutting down any criticism with suspensions, boycotts, and re-education, perhaps community leaders should wonder what led Muir to call the movement “rasist” in the first place.