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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Law Professor Pens 6-Page Response To Students Who Criticized Her 'Black Lives Matter' Shirt

BLMFollowing up on my previous posts (links below) on the controversy at American Law School over posting 'All Lives Matter' on a law prof's office door:  U.S. Uncut, Students Complain About Professor’s Black Lives Matter Shirt. The Professor’s Response Is Priceless:

A law professor received a written complaint from “Concerned Students” about his Black Lives Matter shirt, and he responded by brilliantly turning the letter into a teachable moment, taking apart their arguments and the assumptions behind them, literally and figuratively schooling the authors of the complaint with wit, clarity, and moral authority.

The full text of both the student’s complaint and the law professor’s response can be found here.

The students wrote, “The ‘Black Lives Matter’ statement is racist and anti-law enforcement and has been known to incite violence in this country. As someone who is paid to teach the law, you should be ashamed of yourself,” among other arguments against the professor’s choice of wardrobe.

[Y]ou have presented yourself on campus, on at least one occasion, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt. We believe this is an inappropriate and unnecessary statement that has no legitimate place within our institution of higher learning. The statement you represented and endorsed is also highly offensive and extremely inflammatory. We are here to learn the law. We do not spend three years of our lives and tens of thousands of dollars to be subjected to indoctrination or personal opinions of our professors.

REDACTED Law School has prided itself on the diverse demographics represented within the student body. Your actions however, clearly represent your View that some of those demographics matter more than others. That alienates and isolates all non-black groups.

As someone who is charged to teach criminal law, it should be abundantly clear to you and beyond any question that ALL lives matter, as it is expressed unequivocally in the law. Furthermore, the “Black Lives Matter” statement is racist and anti-law enforcement and has been known to incite violence in this country. As someone who is paid to teach the law, you should be ashamed of yourself. ...

Just as our personal beliefs have no place in law exams, your personal beliefs have no place in the classroom.

REDACTED Law School is experiencing an unprecedented decline in bar passage rate. It is imperative that you utilize energy to actually teach law instead of continue to express hateful messages.

Unfortunately, we feel that we must deliver this message to you anonymously. It is clear that the opinions expressed within this letter are not welcome. If student body opinions go against the school or faculty we fear there will be retaliation. In fact, REDACTED Law School administration and faculty, including you, have shown no shame in displaying appalling levels of discrimination.

The professor responded with “Here is a short list of some of the premises in your memo, and my critique of them.”

I am accepting the invitation in your memo, and the opportunity created by its content, to teach you. I would prefer to do it through a conversation, or especially through a series of conversations. Because I don’t know who you are. This isn’t possible. And there is an even more important reason for putting this in writing for the entire law school community. The larger issues that underlie your anger are timely, and they touch the entire law school community and transcend it.

This response to your memo is in two parts. Part I addresses the substantive and analytical lessons that can be learned from the memo. Part II addresses the lessons about writing that can be learned from the memo.

PART I

When your argument is based on a series of premises, you should be aware of them. You should also be aware that if any of these premises are factually flawed or illogical, or if the reader simply doesn’t accept them, your message will collapse from lack of support. Here is a short list of some of the premises in your memo, and my critique of them.

Premise: You have purchased, with your tuition dollars, the right to make demands upon the institution and the people in it and to dictate the content of your legal education.

Critique: I do not subscribe to the “consumer model” of legal education. As a consequence, I believe in your entitlement to assert your needs and desires even more strongly than you do. You would be just as entitled to express yourself to us if the law school were entirely tuition free This is because you are a student, not because you are a consumer. Besides, the natural and logical extension of your premise IS that students on a full scholarship are not entitled to assert their needs and desires to the same extent as other students (or maybe even at all). So, as you can see, arguments premised on consumerism are not likely to influence me. On the contrary, such a premise causes me to believe that you have a diminished view of legal education and the source of our responsibility as legal educators. This allows me to take any criticism from such a perspective less seriously than I otherwise would. ...

Premise: There is something called “Law” that is objective, fixed, and detached from and unaffected by the society in which it functions.

Critique: Law has no meaning or relevance outside of society. It both shapes and is shaped by the society in which it functions. Law is made by humans. It protects, controls, burdens, and liberates humans, non-human animals, nature, and inanimate physical objects. Like the humans who make it, Law is biased, noble, aspirational, short-sighted, flawed, messy, unclear, brilliant, and constantly changing. If you think that Law is merely a set of rules to be taught and learned, you are missing the beauty of Law and the point of law school.

Premise: You know more about legal education than I do.

Critique: You don't.

Premise: There is an invisible “only” in front of the words “Black Lives Matter.”

Critique: There is a difference between focus and exclusion. If something matters, this does not imply that nothing else does. If l say “Law Students Matter” it does not imply that my colleagues, friends, and family do not. Here is something else that matters: context. The Black Lives Matter movement arose in a context of evidence that they don’t. When people are receiving messages from the culture in which they live that their lives are less important than other lives, it is a cruel distortion of reality to scold them for not being inclusive enough.

As applied specifically to the context in which I wore my Black Lives Matter shirt, I did this on a day in Criminal Procedure when we were explicitly discussing violence against the black community by police.

There are some implicit words that precede “Black Lives Matter,” and they go something like this:

Because of the brutalizing and killing of black people at the hands of the police and the indifference of society in general and the criminal justice system in particular. It is important that we say that…

This is, of course, far too long to fit on a shirt.

Black Lives Matter is about focus, not exclusion. As a general matter, seeing the world and the people in it in mutually exclusive, either/or terms impedes your own thought processes. If you wish to bear that intellectual consequence of a constricting ideology, that’s your decision. But this does not entitle you to project your either/or ideology onto people who do not share it. ...

Part II

Because a long time ago (in a law school far, faraway) I was a teacher of legal writing, and because I still care about it very much, I will make some points relevant to formal and persuasive writing.

When you are writing to someone who has a formal title (e.g., Doctor, Professor, Dean, Judge, Senator) you should address him or her using that title. To do otherwise appears either ignorant or disrespectful. Whether or not you actually have any respect for the person is completely irrelevant. I take that back. It might be more important to follow the formal writing conventions when you don't respect the individual person. Otherwise, you are risking trading the credibility of your entire message for the momentary satisfaction derived from communicating your disdain. ...

In conclusion, I believe that every moment in life (and certainly in the life of law school) can be an occasion for teaching and learning. Thank you for creating an opportunity for me to put this deeply held belief into practice.

Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

UpdateTeaching Law In An Age Of Violence

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/07/law-professor-pens-6-page-response-to-students-who-criticized-his-black-lives-matter-shirt.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

Does he have any police officers in his class?

Posted by: mike livingston | Jul 9, 2016 4:09:24 AM

Subject matter aside, I think this is a model response to anonymous student complaints in tone and affect (and even effect).

Posted by: Jack Manhire | Jul 9, 2016 6:38:10 AM

I have to assume that since the faculty member in question connected the wearing of the T-shirt to a class where the subject was the unjust use of violence and discrimination against blacks by police in America both in individual situations and systemically then at some point in the class the teacher provided/guided the students with reference to the "brilliant" points made in his/her post-class rationalization. Using the wearing of the shirt as a means of stimulating an honest and full discussion of this volatile issue would in fact be an admirable learning strategy. On the other hand, since the students know much less about the educational process than the teacher, simply going through the specific class without discussion, comment and ultimate analysis strikes me as a cheap political trick. Given the passions surrounding this BLM movement, including its leaders' condemnation of anyone who diverts attention from their message (i.e., All Lives Matter) it would be unsurprising if students feared that voicing alternative perspectives on the issue--even the ALM aspect--would be seen as bigoted and unacceptable.

Posted by: David | Jul 9, 2016 7:14:34 AM

There is NOT an invisible “only” in front of the words “Black Lives Matter.” However there IS an invisible "too" after it. The slogan, agree with it or not, implies that society does not value black lives and needs to be reminded to do so.

I think the creators of the slogan should have made the "too" explicit. Further,I believe that the ambiguity was intended to provoke exactly the division seen in this incident.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Jul 9, 2016 7:22:40 AM

If by "priceless" you mean childish, unprofessional and a completely unearned sense of moral superiority.

Posted by: bob | Jul 9, 2016 7:44:22 AM

PUBLISH. THE. SCHOOL.

Students at [redacted] Law School have the right to know that they’ll be studying under professors who (1) denounce students’ rights to make any demands on their institution, (2) aggressively interject their personal (and racist) politics into required 1L courses, and (3) who go out of their way to engage in arrogant “you should address me as professor when writing a complaint” sorts of dribble.

I’m glad this wouldn’t have happened at my school. (Our criminal law professors were former prosecutors, so I’m quite confident on this point.) I would absolutely not have attended if I knew this putrid sort of “academic” would be teaching my section. Indeed, because I had no desire to practice criminal law, I avoided several schools where SJW criminal law professors seemed to be the norm.

To the extent that criminal law may be interesting, and many perspectives belong in the classroom, I reject the idea that a professor must unilaterally interject his own fringe agenda to convey doctrinal basics. If students to be bombarded by SJW talking points they can just as easily watched on MSNBC.

Law schools are notoriously bad at teaching practice; going farther into non-practical issues within of an area of law that a miniscule portion of students will practice (but all are required to study) is exactly what’s wrong with legal academia.

Posted by: anon | Jul 9, 2016 7:54:28 AM

Do black lives matter to black people? One look at the sky-high black-on-black crime and black-on-black murder numbers suggest they don't. No one values the life of a black man less than another black man.

And does the response of black leaders suggest they care? Virtually the only way to lower those black-on-black murder rates is to lock young black males up for drug offenses until they're older, calmer, and less likely to kill. Are black leaders and their liberal white cohorts willing to do that?

Not even close. They're rather whine, blame innocent white people who have no role in all that black-on-black crime (i.e. the NRA), and punish cops of all races who're trying to restrain all that black-on-black killing.

You know what I'd be tempted to do, were I the mayor of a major, crime-ridden city? I'd announce population-based patrolling. Quiet, suburban areas with low rates of violence would get precisely the same number of patrols as crime-ridden neighborhoods, no more and no less. I'd keep that up, whatever the carnage, until even the vilest of black and liberal spokesmen cries uncle.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Jul 9, 2016 10:01:52 AM

Wyoming?

Posted by: Anon | Jul 9, 2016 10:47:39 AM

Whittier?

Posted by: Anon | Jul 9, 2016 11:03:28 AM

I agree with this professor with every fiber in my being. I am not in love with the BLM movement. They are on the right track, but wrong train. The issue is TESTILYING committed by both BLACK and WHITE coppers on the stand to get to probable cause and overcome constitutional hurdles. With that being said, he has a right to his opinion and as long as he doesn't discriminate on the basis of content, I would gladly take law school classes from him everyday.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jul 9, 2016 12:28:13 PM

Whittier!

Posted by: Cheyanna Jaffke | Jul 9, 2016 1:09:00 PM

@michaelperry,

I was wondering how long it'd take for the conservative "black on black crime" talking point to make an appearance.

Given that the vast majority of all crime is intra-racial: Following your reasoning, the existence of "white on white" crime would be proof that whites don't care about white lives. Would you also make that argument? If not, then shut up about black on black crime. It proves nothing other than that crime tends to be proximity-based, and that our neighborhoods are segregated.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 9, 2016 2:54:14 PM

Up the Irish to this clown of a law professor. Just one more overeducated fool. I've seen a lot of them in my time.

Posted by: Comanche Voter | Jul 9, 2016 3:06:05 PM

Having taught undergraduate and graduate courses for some years, I agree with the Professor wholeheartedly in principle and differ in some very small details. Challenging the Professor about the method and content of the course is almost always a welcome teachable moment if it is sincerely intended. There is education and meta-education, the former being the course content and the latter being what you learn by engaging the institution at whatever level and for degree or non-degree studies.Many instructors are mindful of both types of education and some spend a considerable time teaching and clarifying the meta-education in his/her field of study. It is wise on the part of a student to recognize that he/she came to learn, not to teach the teachers or the administration, even while questioning and challenging. It is also wise to address instructors by any honorific to which they are entitled because to do so suggests that the student is an informed member of a hierarchical system and that the student possesses the minimal social skills to be a worthy participant in the debate of issues that arise in the course of education.

Posted by: F.J. Andrews | Jul 9, 2016 3:16:17 PM

I wonder how tolerant this professor would be if the student wore a t-shirt that read blue lives matter. Or Trump 2016

Posted by: TakeFive | Jul 9, 2016 3:16:47 PM

"When people are receiving messages from the culture in which they live that their lives are less important than other lives, it is a cruel distortion of reality to scold them for not being inclusive enough."

Multigenerational dependency upon government largess for one's existence is a clear message that your life is not important. The dependency is lucrative enough for sufficiency of needs so as to forestall any need to seek a change in one's circumstances. As Jefferson wrote "all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

The good Professor might someday bestir himself to wonder who exactly it is who is conveying that message of unimportant lives?

Posted by: Steve S. | Jul 9, 2016 4:00:25 PM

I hate the notion of "black on black" crime. It belies the facts on the ground. In socially disorganized white communities where the institutions that connect people to the community are broken, whites commit crimes against whites at the same rates. It may not happen in shootings. It happens when one white sells meth or opiate "meds" to another white and somebody ends up over dosing. Or somebody commits suicide....

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jul 9, 2016 5:41:10 PM

The real "teachable moment" is going to come when the school sees even fewer applications next year (thank God for Google).

The pompous left-wing asses who owe their professional/professorial "privilege" and personal wealth to decades of institutional fraud (which they have both actively and passively participated in) are soon to be sh*t-canned into the street - with tens of thousands of graduates who hate their f*cking guts.

Try these sneering poses with your next real bosses (asking about your f*cking billables) or a judge asking why your criminal defendant client just pissed in the courtroom and see how long you last.

History and justice are about to smack the bullsh*t out of these posturing tw*ts.

Posted by: cas127 | Jul 9, 2016 6:31:14 PM

Funny how liberal professors never use that kind of response to liberal complaints -- they just agree and capitulate.

Posted by: Gixxer | Jul 9, 2016 7:05:53 PM

“Given that the vast majority of all crime is intra-racial:”

Actually this depends on what the meaning of “vast” is. The majority of crimes are intra-racial. However, blacks victimize whites in vastly greater numbers than the reverse. During the 2012/2013 period, blacks committed an average of 560,600 violent crimes against whites, whereas whites committed only 99,403 such crimes against blacks. This means blacks were the attackers in 84.9 percent of the violent crimes involving blacks and whites.

“Following your reasoning, the existence of "white on white" crime would be proof that whites don't care about white lives.”

Actually, it would prove nothing of the kind. White-on-white crime is viewed as crime. Black-on- black crime is just another day in Chicago. The Black leadership – up to and including Barack Obama – ignore black-on-black bloodshed that makes many Middle East cities look like havens of calm. The ONLY time that Black leaders care about Black lives is when they are killed by white people.

“If not, then shut up about black on black crime. It proves nothing other than that crime tends to be proximity-based, and that our neighborhoods are segregated.”

Sorry, Charlie, your race card is maxed out. That crime is proximity based is irrelevant and a simple-minded way of changing the subject. The subject is the fact that the Black community is busy denying that it has a violent crime problem and is aided and abetted in this by white Liberals who don’t give a damn about black people but who use the deaths of some of those as weapons in against their political enemies. They don’t care about the thousands of dead; the wasted lives of those who live in Liberal plantations without hope. The modern Liberal has a lower level of morality than the slave-owner in the ante-Bellum south who at least cared about his slaves because they were valuable property. Liberals value Blacks less; they are cannon fodder in ideological wars, to be used and disposed of without cost or obligation.

So you shut up.

Posted by: Moneyrunner | Jul 9, 2016 7:36:31 PM

Wearing that shirt is a FAIL as an educator. It is a distraction to the learning of and respect for the law. Student criticism is usually crybaby nonsense. Not so here. Oh, and wearing a t-shirt as a law professor? Another first-rate FAIL.

Posted by: Diogenes | Jul 10, 2016 3:39:34 AM

Does the Black Lives Matter crowd realize that people of all races are killed by the police - many that appear unjustified? You just never hear about them because it doesn't appear to fit the media's narrative. There is no need to focus on one group to the exclusion of all others when all groups are affected.

Posted by: A.B. Eastbrook | Jul 10, 2016 3:48:36 AM

This is a teachable moment, but not in the way the professor thinks.

There is a sense of entitlement and arrogance among law faculty, many of whom think that they are brilliant and that what flows from their mouths and pens are equally so.

Why would a law faculty member wear a political tee shirt to class, regardless of the merit or content of the message? To a crim law class? Dress like a professional and teach the lesson. Dress provacatively and distract from it.

His/her opinions about legal Ed are the standard "law prof knows best" claptrap that is nearly universally dispised by all students and former students who avoided the academy.

If a faculty member or a student wore a tee shirt that said "make America great again, trump 2016" Or "build a wall and send Mexico the bill" or "blue lives matter" or "John 3:17" or "I support the nra and I vote" would there be the same reaction from the professoriate about a priceless response? Of course not.

The lesson taught here is that a tenured law professor can do whatever he/she wants in the name of legal education provided it has the "correct" political bent to it and some spurious and unchallenged "connection" to "legal education" that is defined by rank pulling ipse Dixit.

If my client ever wore such a shirt, he'd be changing before court or his deposition. Why? Because perceptions matter. A jury or judge or insurance adjuster is not going to like your tee shirt, and even if they do like the message, they'll assume (rightly) that you lack good judgment and are in love with yourself and your deeply held beliefs.

Posted by: Jojo | Jul 10, 2016 4:41:36 AM

I was sent this e-mail last night and think it offers some data potentially relevant to this "discussion".

"This is a really useful interactive graphic that lets you apply all kinds of filters to police shooting data. The important one is comparing the percentage of white shooting victims who are unarmed with black shooting victims who are unarmed. (E.g., filter for withe and unarmed versus filter for black and unarmed). White unarmed victims are shot dead at twice the rate of black unarmed victims (4% versus 2%). 24% of the shooting victims were black (compared to 15% of the population, but the vast majority of them are armed. Despise Obama’s shills for building the false narrative."

> https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2016/

Posted by: David | Jul 10, 2016 8:24:29 AM

The professor's response would be great if only BLM protestors were not explicitly and violently anti-white and anti-cop.

Posted by: kishke | Jul 10, 2016 9:49:08 AM

Students write an incredibly insulting, anonymous letter to a professor, labeling her actions “mindless,” referring sarcastically to her “sacred right to the freedom of speech,” and calling her (redundantly) “completely ignorant of and uninformed about” the BLM movement, The professor responds to this provocation with grace and intelligence, treating it as a teachable moment, for which she is slammed on this blog. It’s sad--but at a time when an utter ignoramus with clinical levels of narcissism might be elected president, perhaps it should not be surprising.

Posted by: BillT | Jul 10, 2016 2:36:38 PM

Students will write insulting letters to complete hacks that attempt to engage in data-free and fact-free propaganda. This hack of a professor provides no evidence, provides no look into trade-offs, provides nothing on policing or criminal justice, provides nothing but a stupid and trite semi-religious secular ideology. If you are unwilling to explain the criminality rates and violent crime rates that prelude the stops then you are a hack and unhelpful to the conversation.

The fact this kind of garbage passes as "expertise" is far more damning than anything you mention. Then again, you are telling me someone that demands to be called "Professor" is not the narcissist. Get real.

Posted by: bob | Jul 10, 2016 5:13:41 PM

Politics and posturing aside, is his/her writing advice any good? I thought so--but I'm not a lawyer, and perhaps my admiration is stronger because I agree with the professor. Do any of you people who don't agree, can you get past your bias and tell me if you think the advice about the style and structure of the student's note is valuable? That was an interesting bit about not embedding the statement in a dependent clause. I hadn't noticed it would drain power from an argument, but perhaps it does.

Posted by: blahblahblah | Jul 10, 2016 7:51:39 PM

Part I of the letter is an example of the kind of close examination of premises involved in legal analysis, something that should be both helpful and appropriate for a law student.
“When you are writing to someone who has a formal title (e.g., Doctor, Professor, Dean, Judge, Senator) you should address him or her using that title. To do otherwise appears either ignorant or disrespectful. Whether or not you actually have any respect for the person is completely irrelevant. I take that back. It might be more important to follow the formal writing conventions when you don't respect the individual person. Otherwise, you are risking trading the credibility of your entire message for the momentary satisfaction derived from communicating your disdain.”
That sounds like sensible advice, not a “demand.”

Posted by: BillT | Jul 10, 2016 8:24:19 PM

The poster did a poor job of covering up the school's name the first time. It looks like it begins with a W. Only Wayne Law is short enough for the blank.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 10, 2016 9:48:53 PM

The professor in question subscribes to a political cause which consists of utter humbug promoted with a megaphone paid for by the sorosphere. That tells you something about the quality of his mind.

Posted by: Art Deco | Jul 10, 2016 9:59:43 PM

David said:

" White unarmed victims are shot dead at twice the rate of black unarmed victims (4% versus 2%). 24% of the shooting victims were black (compared to 15% of the population, but the vast majority of them are armed. Despise Obama’s shills for building the false narrative."

I take it that you, the author of that email, and Mike Huckabee aren't familiar with the concept of per capita adjustment?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/?utm_term=.8eb5ff16d49d

Posted by: anon | Jul 11, 2016 7:39:09 AM

Bob,
You write that “If you are unwilling to explain the criminality rates and violent crime rates that prelude the stops then you are a hack and unhelpful to the conversation.”
This sure sounds like you think that being black constitutes probable cause. Is that what you intend—that constitutional rights be suspended for members of a group with a particular level of “criminality rates”?

Posted by: BillT | Jul 11, 2016 7:53:40 AM

David - the accompanying WaPo analysis is completely contrary to your friend's data-mining: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/?utm_term=.efb42f1e93b9

Posted by: John Novack | Jul 11, 2016 8:08:40 AM

David - in particular, the WaPo analysis states:

"U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each. But because the white population is approximately five times as great as the black population, that means unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer."

Posted by: John Novack | Jul 11, 2016 8:11:20 AM

This lefty prof is actually right to push back against censorship like that. But my only question to him is would he also push back against similar cencorship of a prof or student who had an all lives matter shirt, or a blue lives matter shirt, and leftist students were complaining about that.

Posted by: richard40 | Jul 11, 2016 8:30:27 AM

Black communities also have a disproportionately high amount of crime, so the average black person is much more likely to encounter the police in a given time period than a white person is. Is it any wonder, then, that Blacks are disproportionately shot by police?

Posted by: Lonnie | Jul 11, 2016 12:49:13 PM

The professors response was mainly an ego thing not responsive to the students letter at all. It represented no educational value as well. The student was bringing up very important points about the fact the BLM group activities are associated with violent and murderous acts and have invited them. The BLM movement is another of the many deflection responses of liberals to the hyper-crime-ism of many central city black populations in America. It has not been shown by anyone that any racism is occurring. Statistically blacks are 2 1/2 times more likely to be killed by a cop than a white person but blacks commit more than 2 1/2 times as much crime as whites in these areas. Especially violent crimes. Not only that but as was shown recently the cops shooting POC are of all races and ethnic backgrounds. BLM by definition does not care about black lives because if they did they would be demonstrating against all deaths of black people including the incredible death toll of blacks against blacks. They would decry the massive increase in violent crime and homicides in the last couple years in cities around the country with large black populations. This homocide rate increase dwarfs any police murders and indicates that BLM is an organization mainly focused on intimidating and deflecting discussion analysis or debate of the cause of the problems in the black community most pressing the crime rate which has led to the predicament they find themselves in. This deflection of debate as the professor helped obscures the causes of the problems of the black community and makes worse the black situation. Now many black communities are facing increased crime and homicides violent intimidation within their community. This law professor is enabling the deflection of discussion of real problems which implies a deep lack of caring for the black community.

Posted by: John | Jul 13, 2016 6:06:23 AM

I would take issue with the professor in his analysis exactly on the issue of the confederate flag he raises as an extension of his logic. When I grew up the flag had no "odious" meaning for us. It was a battle flag of some incredibly brave and outnumbered men who fought not for slavery but for the right no longer to be associated with the United States. The states had joined the union and they felt they had the right to leave it. Sounds like Brexit doesn't it, or perhaps Scotland, any of the former Soviet satellites or colonies of any of the great powers? The professor is evidently swayed by others who do not hold the same association I do with the confederate flag thus making the same mistake of which he accuses the student. He says the student cannot interpret the saying "Black Lives Matter" because he is not associated with the movement. He then applies that argument to the confederate flag. However, he does not speak for those who honor the flag. So perhaps I can say similarly, "Unless you speak on behalf those who value the history of those who fought and died under the banner of the confederate flag you have no authority to say what that flag means to those who do." Smarts, doesn't it? The point is this. We can all look at a symbol and see what is in our own experience to see. Even if our own experience is positive, we need to be sensitive to others experiences and not shove it in the face of someone whose experience is different. As the professor suggests, such mistakes tend to discredit his entire analysis.

Posted by: Richard Knellinger | Jul 14, 2016 8:07:04 AM