So what did the president of Amherst College do? She had until 5:00 this afternoon to issue a statement that “condemns the inherent racist nature of the unofficial mascot, the Lord Jeff, and circulate it to the student body, faculty, alumni, and Board of Trustees.” It’s 5:29 now. As far as I have been able to determine, no statement has been forthcoming.
That demand, by the way, was one of a list of 11 put forth by a group calling itself “Amherst Uprising,” a motley assemblage including the African and Caribbean Students Union, Amherst Christian Fellowship, Amherst Equestrian Club Team, Chinese Student Association, Hip Hop Club, Hillel, La Casa, Muslim Students Association, Multicultural Resource Center,Native American Students Organization (NASO), Newman Catholic Club, Peer Advocates of Sexual Respect, Queer Resource Center, TransActive, Women of Color Empowerment Group, and several other organizations.
This document is partly comic, partly alarming, sometimes it is both a once. Here is part of the first demand:
President Martin must issue a statement of apology to students, alumni and former students, faculty, administration and staff who have been victims of several injustices including but not limited to our institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/ indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism.
Here’s part of number 2:
We demand Cullen Murphy ‘74, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, to issue a statement of apology to students, alumni and former students, faculty, administration, and staff who have been victims of several injustices including but not limited to our institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx racism . . .
It’s with demand number 5 that things begin to get scary:
President Martin must issue a statement to the Amherst College community at large that states we do not tolerate the actions of student(s) who posted the “All Lives Matter” posters, and the “Free Speech” posters that stated that “in memoriam of the true victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech.” Also let the student body know that it was racially insensitive to the students of color on our college campus and beyond who are victim to racial harassment and death threats; alert them that Student Affairs may require them to go through the Disciplinary Process if a formal complaint is filed, and that they will be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.
“Extensive training for racial and cultural competency,” eh? Could Mao have done any better? And note the context: this list of demands was sparked by a few enterprising students who had the courage to take issue with the deplorable racialist group think emanating from the University of Missouri. The “true victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech”: that’s exactly right and congratulations to those brave students who bucked the totalitarian trend in higher education to say so.
The President of Amherst had only until 5:00 to render her first apology. The authors of this despicable manifesto are allowing a few days, until November 18, for the rest of their demands to be met. Otherwise, they promise to “organize and respond in a radical manner, through civil disobedience. If there is a continued failure to meet our demands, it will result in an escalation of our response.”
So the President and the Chairman of Amherst’s board are on notice. What should they do? I would advise them to act quickly. They should, just as soon as possible, issue a joint statement condemning this outrageous piece of neo-Stalinist rubbish and announce in no uncertain terms that any student who follows through on their threats will be arrested and expelled. That’s what they should do. What do you suppose they will do?
UPDATE: A friend reminds me that there is a precedent for this little eruption at Amherst: