They say you can’t believe what you read in the newspapers and the headline today at Drudge Report is one of those times. Drudge is trying to stir up clicks by saying there was a race riot at the University of Mississippi after Obama won the Presidency. It’s not really true.
How do I know? My daughter goes to Ole Miss and I have spent quite a bit of time on the campus the last two years. I know graduates and students from there, along with parents. I have family in Mississippi. The university is 16.6% black, much more than most colleges and universities in the US. It has a black student body President and has had black homecoming queens. There is racism on the Ole Miss campus, but there is racism on every campus in America in some form. Many conservative academic bloggers have talked about their, ahem, “reception”, among the overwhelmingly liberal faculties at places around the US. Racism is a two way street in America today-it’s not 1900 anymore.
According to my daughter, most of the students at Ole Miss were Romney supporters. They sold lots of t shirts and there was a lot of enthusiasm for Romney. That shouldn’t surprise you. Even though Ole Miss has a high out of state student population, most come from red states in the south. There is a high probability that they would support Romney. Once Obama locked down the election, a small group of freshman students went out and burned an Obama sign. The crowd grew. She says they were stupid. A journalism professor at Ole Miss agrees, and also hints the reporters sensationalizing the story are stupid too. But, that is the state of journalism in the US today. The fourth estate is dead. Reporters just aren’t that intellectually curious.
Ellen Meacham, an Ole Miss journalism instructor, posted on Facebook that “anyone who calls that a riot has never read or heard anything about 1962.”
However, because of the lack of logic among media types and their immediate use of sensationalism, they compared 2012 to 1962. It’s not even close. Not even in the same ballpark. It’s a pretty easy jump to make for the unsophisticated to make. When I tell people that are left leaning my daughter goes to Ole Miss, they immediately assume we are racists because their mind goes to indelible images from the 60’s. What they don’t know is that Ole Miss is a far different place. Odds are really good they have never set foot in the state.
Imagine how you might think if you were a black student who was having a good collegiate experience at Ole Miss. Imagine as you graduated and interacted with people that assumed Ole Miss was stuck in the 60’s. They might think that you were dumb for going there and question what kind of character you had.
Too bad the Drudge Report felt like they needed to sensationalize this just for the clicks. They ruin their credibility in the process. They also unfairly sully the reputation of a school that has gone to great lengths to change, and all the students that go there-both black and white.
My daughter texted me this morning that reporters are trolling the campus trying to “make” a story. Idjuts. Hope they enjoy the serene beauty of the campus and stop off at some of my favorite places around the square. I also hope Ole Miss police officers ticket them for going faster than 18 mph on campus. The Washington Post has a dreadful sensationalized story-but there aren’t any journalists working at that place of business anymore. From personal experience, I knew that in 2008.
Learning a little more from people. Apparently, a group of Ole Miss students (20-30) left the freshman dorms and shouted anti-Obama slogans because of their election disappointment. A group of black kids showed up in cars and threw firecrackers or sparklers at them. That’s when they burned the sign. Then things got a little uglier. The white students shouted some racial epithets, and the black students screamed that the whites were going to be paying for their food stamps. Not exemplary behavior on either side-but there is an undercurrent of anger among both sides of the electorate.
Drudge has scrubbed his site completely of the story.
In my analysis of the poor state of journalistic curiosity, I neglected to say that the white Ole Miss students were totally wrong to burn an Obama sign on campus. First, it’s a stupid form of protest. It’s not any better than the people that burn American flags or effigies of Republicans at Democratic rallies. (I consider a Code Pink rally Democratic). Second, they ought to at least be sensitive to history, even though it was 50 years ago. Burning anything brings back memories for a lot of people-and those memories aren’t exactly touching. If they would have gone out and marched, and shouted slogans vowing to overcome the next time, that’s cool with me. And it should be cool with the black kids that threw firecrackers at them. If anyone ought to empathize with a group of people marching for what they think is right it’s them.