Following up on my previous posts:
Washington Post, Law School Professors Say Posting ‘All Lives Matter’ Flier Was an ‘Incident of Intolerance’:
Earlier this month, someone left a hand-written flier on the door of a faculty member’s office at American University’s Washington College of Law that read, “All Lives Matter.” It didn’t go unnoticed.
That phrase — to some, code language for a racist rejection of an important cultural wake-up call, for others, an idealistic appeal for a simple, more universal truth — set off a series of reactions.
A large group of faculty were offended, saying the phrase was used by white supremacists. Students held a community forum.
And a couple of professors on a national civil-rights commission asked the dean, incredulously, “What is wrong with your faculty and staff members?”
The variety of responses, and their intensity, illustrated how fraught the topic of race is on campuses across the country, how divisive, and how alert people are to differences. ...
After spring break, Washington College of Law Dean Claudio Grossman wrote to the law school community to tell them of the “very disturbing incident.” The flier was left anonymously on the door of the office of a faculty member “with a national reputation for doing important work on issues of racial justice in the criminal justice system.” Grossman wrote that, “Although the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ may sound benign, it sometimes has been used as a rallying cry by some groups who oppose the Black Lives Matter Movement and seek to silence it.”
Scores of faculty signed a letter decrying the flier, writing, in part, “… the message appears intended by the messenger to be an attempt to silence and intimidate an opposing viewpoint, not an effort to communicate a different perspective. “… The ‘All Lives Matter’ sign might seem to be a benign message with no ill intent, but it has become a rallying cry for many who espouse ideas of white supremacy and overt racism, as well as those who do not believe the laws should equally protect those who have a different skin color or religion.”
Then two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — speaking as individuals, not for the commission — wrote to the dean. “The response of American University faculty and staff was nothing short of Orwellian,” Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow wrote, in part. ...
By phone, Heriot, a professor of law at the University of San Diego, said that when she saw the letter from the professors, “My reaction was that this was — quite outrageous. I just wish that people in positions of authority, like members of a law-school faculty, would try not to make things worse by engaging in name-calling of this kind. “I thought this was an occasion upon which I really needed to say something. If nobody talks back — things just spiral out of control. Lawyers need to be trained to deal with situations with sympathy for both sides, understanding the argument on both sides. And to accuse someone of making such an unobjectionable statement as being allied with white supremacists is over the top.” It’s a sign of the times, she said. “I don’t think this would have happened 30 years ago, or five years ago. The world is getting more politically tribal. It worries me a lot. I’m not just seeing it in this instance but in many situations,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the law school said in an emailed statement: “Our response to this letter is everyone is entitled to his or her view, including two of the eight members of the Commission. The school has already expressed its view.”