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June 26 2017

Liberal Professors Say Bizarre Things--and Then Blame the Conservative Media for Reporting on Them

by Charlotte Allen

Blame the messenger. The conservative messenger, that is.

Sarah Bond, an assistant professor of classics, published an article in the online magazine, Hypoallergenic, pointing out that many statues in ancient Greece and Rome were painted in bright colors, and that we think of Graeco-Roman sculpture as being snow-white marble only because the colors have faded away with time. Hmm, I thought everybody knew that; I picked it up myself in ancient-history class during my sophomore year in high school. Still, it's useful to be reminded that we don't necessarily see what the original viewers saw when we look at an ancient artifact.

But Bond's point wasn't simply to point out that polychromy was a common feature of classical art. It was to argue that white marble equals white supremacy:

Most museums and art history textbooks contain a predominantly neon white display of skin tone when it comes to classical statues and sarcophagi. This has an impact on the way we view the antique world. The assemblage of neon whiteness serves to create a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region....

It provides further ammunition for white supremacists today, including groups like Identity Europa, who use classical statuary as a symbol of white male superiority.

Bond also argued that all that snow-white marble was deterring college students who belonged to ethnic minorities from majoring in classics. Plus the fact that Russell Crowe, a white New Zealander, played a gladiator in the movie Gladiator. Or something.

Not surprisingly, the conservative webzine Campus Reform reported on Bond's article. So did National Review, with an article titled "Professor: White-Marble Sculpture Contributes to 'White Supremacy.'"

Oh, poor Bond! Soon enough, she was being hounded by "internet trolls," she told Inside Higher Education.

"I had thought that I was prepared for the internet trolls. After all, I have crossed many proverbial bridges on Twitter –– where they usually lurk. However, the hatred and invective I received from this post was more than anything I have ever received to date."...

Bad Campus Reform! Bad National Review!

Furthermore, Inside Higher Ed continued:

Tommy Curry, an associate professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, faced racially tinged threats after National Review ran a piece on years-old comments he made about violence against whites during an interview regarding the violent Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained.

Here's what Curry actually said:

The article [in the American Conservative] called “When Is It OK to Kill Whites?” quotes Curry as saying in the podcast, “In order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people might have to die.”

And then Campus Reform had the termerity to report on some social-media posts by Trinity College sociology professor John Eric Williams about the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise:

“It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do, put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemFuckingDie,”

“It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do, put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemF[---]ingDie,”

Two days prior, Williams had shared a Medium article titled “Let Them Fucking Die” in which the anonymous author suggests that “bigots,” such as those numbered among the victims of the congressional shooting, should be left for dead.

“What does it mean, in general, when victims of bigotry save the lives of bigots?” the author begins by asking, later saying that his black peers “imagine...that by becoming a shining example of this ‘righteous’ behavior, we might, somehow, guide these cannibals into becoming upright beings capable of following the very rules they enforce upon us.”

Two days prior, Williams had shared a Medium article titled “Let Them F[---] Die” in which the anonymous author suggests that “bigots,” such as those numbered among the victims of the congressional shooting, should be left for dead.

“What does it mean, in general, when victims of bigotry save the lives of bigots?” the author begins by asking, later saying that his black peers “imagine...that by becoming a shining example of this ‘righteous’ behavior, we might, somehow, guide these cannibals into becoming upright beings capable of following the very rules they enforce upon us.”...

"If you see them drowning. If you see them in a burning building. If they are bleeding out in an emergency room. If the ground is crumbling beneath them. If they are in a park and they turn their weapons on each other: do nothing,” the article instructs readers.

According to Inside Higher Ed, "The various reports led to threats against Trinity and death threats against Williams," prompting Trinity to shut down for a day while campus police investigated the threats.

And then there was Campus Reform's report on Syracuse University professor Dana Cloud's June 14 call for "Syracuse people" to "finish off" some anti-Sharia law protesters holding a rally in Syracuse. "We almost have the fascists on the run," Cloud tweeted. "Syracuse people come down to the federal building to finish them off."

Inside Higher Ed noted:

Campus Reform, another conservative publication, later published an article about the tweet, alleging that “finish them off” was a “veiled call for violence.” Other websites and commentators have since followed suit, and Cloud has received threats. Hundreds of students and scholars have also expressed support for her in a petition that says, in part, that the “hate mail and threats directed against [Cloud] are not isolated phenomena, but part of a campaign of intimidation and harassment against those standing in solidarity with Muslims and other oppressed groups. Professors who speak out against racism and bigotry around the country are being targeted by right-wing media and activists.”

I think that what Inside Higher Ed is saying is: The problem isn't professors making bizarre statements about white supremacy and racism. It's conservative publications such as Campus Reform, National Review, and American Conservative reporting about professors making bizarre statements about white supremacy and racism. If only they could be somehow shut down....

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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