|Oct/Nov 2000 Humor/Satire|
A white-supremacist group called the National Alliance posted thousands of fliers on campuses across Texas in early April denouncing black men as sexual predators and carriers of AIDS. The incident was a tragedy not because of the five or six black Texans who haven't been somewhat hardened to racism in the south and therefore got their feelings hurt, but because it sparked off a contest to see who could be as angry about it.
On the first school day after the blitzkrieg of poster posters, the UT left was, as always, prompt in organizing a strong and effective response - a rally outside the Tower with a lot of strange looking people yelling at each other not to be racist. Students protesting in Austin being such an incredible fucking event, the local TV crews came, along with a few student reporters and whatnot, including we, and I use the royal "we", who is an "alternate columnist" for the Daily Texan, UT's prestigious and keen student newspaper. This means I only write when someone else who is scheduled to write doesn't. Which is never. Which is why I drink so much.
Anyway, the rally consisted of about a hundred people watching the protest, some carrying signs indicating they weren't racist, and others chanting anti-racist slogans like "No Nazis Here". This was to inform any Nazis who may have been attending the anti-Nazi rally that either the chanters did not want them there or that they were not actually there at all, I'm not sure which. Then, we got to listen to student speakers. This was kind of strange because few of the speakers had known that they were going to speak, so the "speeches" were fairly unorthodox with regards to structure, composition, and traditional Aristotlean logic. Mostly they just yelled and said they disliked racists. Many speakers and attendees denounced the university for not doing as much yelling and saying they disliked racists as the speakers and attendees were, although the administration had sent a letter to the National Alliance reprimanding them for posting fliers on campus without a university group registration.
But many activists said that wasn't enough. They wanted the university to guarantee that no hate group is allowed to register as an official campus organization. I found the term ambiguous - if the Nazis are a hate group, aren't the communists as well? Stalin killed more people than Hitler did. Then there's the fundamentalist Christians who claim that non-Christians are going to hell and that homosexuals are evil. Isn't that hate? The Jews who believe that they are "God's Chosen Race" are racists, too, aren't they? How about groups like the Nation of Islam which consider Jews bloodsuckers?
I don't know how many students at UT and other campuses support the censorship of unpopular ideas, but those who do should consider that, if these standards of what kind of speech is "acceptable" are applied across the board, a good number of accepted organizations and belief systems would, in all fairness, have to be banned as well.
I tried interviewing Dana Cloud, an associate professor of journalism and the organizer of the protest, but she was openly suspicious of me because I was writing down her answers on a scrap of paper on the concrete instead of, say, a notepad, and would barely tell me her name (but I got it. It's Dana Cloud). I could tell she thought I was some kind of Nazi myself, because my appearance happens to be straight out of Mein Kamp. Besides, she was about to talk to the "real" media.
So I talked to some of the saner-looking demonstrators. They were in favor of the restoration of affirmative action as well as disciplinary action for students who are discovered to belong to any "hate group", including mandatory "counseling", and some wanted to go further than that. One student accused the university of denying tenure to professors who speak out against racism, although protest organizer Dana Cloud is herself a tenured professor and was certainly speaking out against racism at that moment, through a bullhorn, reprimanding the university for not allowing them to hold a protest next to the Tower although they were, obviously, holding a protest there and no one was doing anything to stop it, not even the one university cop who had bothered to stop and listen. I couldn't take any more ideological solidarity, so I left.
The next day, about 20 of the more dedicated rally rats convened in the Student Union Building to cook up a fierce strategy for fighting the invisible Nazis. I attended the meeting as high as possible that I might make it through another hour or so of ugly girls making stupid suggestions and speeches without any point or substance. And thank God, because it was worse than I thought it would be. I think they debated for 30 minutes about whether to start a new anti-Nazi group or just incorporate this issue into one of the dozen other campus organizations which were formed specifically to deal with this kind of thing. They finally decided, of course, on forming a new group. One girl suggested they call it Anti-Nazi Action, which I thought was a pretty cool name, plus it would form a neat acronym, ANA. Then, the janitor or something came in to the room, which also serves as a dining hall, to tell us that they were closing and we had to leave. There was a tense silence for about half a minute, and I could tell Ms. Cloud was debating whether or not to once again fight off university persecution in the person of this hapless janitor. But in a few minutes, the group decided to move to another room. I just went home and smoked more, secure in the knowledge that the black community would find salvation from widespread prejudice through the selfless action of a bunch of white college students.