The news out of Oklahoma last weekend is pretty ugly. A bunch of frat boys at Oklahoma University filmed themselves engaging in dehumanizing, racist chants. The video went public and the president of the university acted with dispatch and shut the fraternity down. There are a couple of things about this sordid affair upon which I'd like to comment. One thought I had is that it was a little surprising to see the number of people in the media who expressed surprise that young people (!) would exhibit racist sentiments. Young people, many observers seem to assume, are far more tolerant and open-minded and not nearly so bigoted as older generations. In fact, in my book In the Absence of God (See link at top right of this page) certain racial attitudes are presented that some readers thought were anachronistic. I was told by one young reader that race just isn't an issue for young people now-a-days. I wonder what that reader is thinking today.
Anyway, anyone surprised that college students would flout the pieties, racial or otherwise, of their elders and others in authority just doesn't know young people. That's what young people, especially college students, have always done, and the more strenuously university authorities and the modern thought police insist that students toe the line of political correctness, the more likely young people are to deliberately cross the line of propriety to stick their thumb in the over-forty crowd's eye and mock their orthodoxies.
Their dismayed elders did the same thing when they were students, of course, and now they're surprised that some of their kids are doing it today. That they are is wrong, to be sure, but it'd be silly to draw grand sociological conclusions from what these guys did. They behaved like jerks, so why is that noteworthy?
Another thought that I heard expressed over the weekend is that this shows that racism is still alive and well among white people, but if that were so these young men would be lauded by their peers and on social media. Instead they've been humiliated by the national media, the student body has banded together to censure their actions, and the university president was uncharacteristically forceful (for a university president) in condemning their conduct, even to the point of expelling two of them.
Which raises another thought. As bad as their behavior was it was nothing compared to the virulent hate and bigotry spewed by people like Louis Farrakhan (not to mention numerous black murderers who claimed that they wanted to kill white people, and did), yet even though he speaks for tens of thousands of African-Americans who sympathize with, or, bizarre as it may sound, even share, his views the media and many in the black community completely ignore him. There are no editorials or talking heads on the Cable nets deploring his vile speeches. There are no vigils in the black community with people carrying signs declaring that Farrakhan doesn't represent them.
Yet when a bunch of immature white goofballs indulge in relatively mild (compared to Farrakhan, at least) racial insults the media and the university (rightly, in my view) go to code red. The student body massively repudiates it, the campus media strongly condemns it, and the administration quickly punishes it. What these guys did was detestable. It was hurtful to people, and the university was right to send the message that this sort of thing will not be tolerated. That they did so shows that racism, at least in the white community, may be alive, but it's on life support and it's not doing at all well.
Now, if only college administrators elsewhere would follow President Boren's lead and direct the same degree of outrage at anti-semites on their campuses who evidently feel free to intimidate, threaten and express their hatred of Jewish students. Or is hatred on American campuses okay as long as it's only directed at Jews?