The brilliant editor H.L. Mencken had a way of being succinct that sparkled with wit. "There is no idea so stupid that you can't find a professor who will believe it," he remarked. Mencken would have a field day with the recent actions of the University of Mississippi. If you have ever wondered why academia is often the butt of ridicule and humor, you need only to read the report from Ole Miss President Dan Jones entitled, "Action Plan on Consultant Reports and Update on the Work of the Sensitivity and Respect Committee."
We are told that the Extended Sensitivity and Respect Committee has decided that the new Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion will work with the Institute for Racial Diversity and the new Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. Fellow compatriots, I am not making this up. This is not a satire, this is what the taxpayers of Mississippi are dishing out their hard-earned money to pay for.
President Jones further stated, "It is my hope that the steps outlined here reflecting the hard work of University committees and our consultants will prove valuable in making us a stronger and healthier university, bringing us closer to our goal of being a warm and welcoming place for every person, every day, regardless of race, religion, preference, country of origin, ability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender expression."
In my opinion, this is an as astounding a demonstration of politically correct, "feel-good", unadulterated hogwash as has ever been uttered by a man on the public payroll. And having spent four years in the United States Congress, I have heard some world-class hogwash in my day.
President Jones, sounding a lot like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, has listed every possible group that might be sensitive to not being "included" in this unlimited "diversity", even one I've never heard of: "gender expression." Well, whatever that means, I figure it is o.k. if one expresses their gender at Ole Miss.
There is one very large group that is not included, however. It is those of us whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy during the War Between the States. There are over 70 million of us, but it is as if we do not exist, or have deep feelings toward our forefathers.
In fact, without a straightforward explanation, the famous Oxford street named Confederate Drive is being renamed by these academics in the name of "inclusion". That intentional insult puts the lie to any pretense of "inclusion" or of respect or of diversity on the part of the University of Mississippi.
The Confederacy existed. Thousands of young Mississippians died for it. That conflict has been the crucible event of American history. Everything before led up to it. Everything after has been influenced by it.
The entire student body of the University of Mississippi enlisted in the Confederate Army and those young men suffered 100% casualties. That war is an historical reality and we do not flinch from that reality and its consequences. Those men and their descendants built the University and kept it going through good times and bad, and through the social changes of the past 150 years.
That street was named for those brave young students. The University, in its narrow-minded rush to be politically correct, has banished that little bit of respect by renaming Confederate Drive. In their sanctimonious zeal, they have demeaned the honor and reputation of our ancestors.
In the last fifty years or so we have witnessed a truly remarkable revolution in race relations in the South. Where once there was Jim Crow and strict segregation, there is now a multi-cultural society that has the fastest growing economy in the United States. Men and women of good hearts have come together in brotherhood and cooperation to enjoy racial relations that are an exemplar for other regions. This "bridge-building" has been built on an acceptance of the past and the promise of a shared future, not the divisive finger-pointing of the academics and the politicians. These politically correct crusaders are practicing a new kind of bigotry. It is a movement that demonizes the Confederacy and lays the sins of America entirely upon the South. If they continue to have their way, they would eradicate every vestige of our cultural history. They ask for respect but give none.
Once again, we must make our voices heard in every way possible. We must demand the respect that our families deserve. We are the last line of defense for the dignity that our ancestors earned.