Clemson Administration: Condemn Racism and Hate
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Dear President Clements and Provost Jones:
We, the undersigned members of the Clemson community, are disappointed and indeed shocked at the administration’s response to the recent white supremacist recruiting leaflets that were distributed on campus on Monday, October 30. The response, delivered by Mark Land, callously criticized both the leaflet and an antifa leaflet because they “were not posted in accordance with the university’s policy concerning the use of its facilities and grounds, and without regard to content, were promptly removed by university staff members.”
That a leaflet recruiting for white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups was not posted in accordance with university policy is not, in our view, the real problem with the leaflet. Rather, the problem is that it sought to recruit people to groups that are racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynist, and ableist. “Without regard to content,” indeed. To fail to address the content of this leaflet is a profound moral lapse.
The university’s response insists that, “As a public institution of higher learning, Clemson fully supports the right of free speech.” Why, then, did not Clemson’s upper administration exercise its own right of free speech to criticize the content of the leaflet? Why did it fail to publicly support the vulnerable populations that are on this campus as students, staff, and faculty? Why did Clemson, once again, resort to silence when speech was called for?
The silence of the administration with regard to the content of this leaflet, like its silence with regard to the KKK leaflet distributed in the fall of 2016 and its tardy and tepid response to the KKK leaflet distributed in the spring of 2017, serves no other purpose than to give sanction to those who seek to promote and recruit hatred.
We can be better than this. We can support the vulnerable members of our community—people of color, people from other countries, people with different gender orientations or abilities—but not if those who lead this university cannot find the words to support them. We often speak of a Clemson family. A family, however, any family worth the name, does not remain silent when its fellow family members are threatened. When, we ask you, will you find the courage and the voice to stand alongside those vulnerable members of our community? When will you say clearly and publicly that the values expressed in these hateful leaflets are not our values and that their vision is not our vision? When?
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