OPINION – In a 60 Minutes interview, newsman Mike Wallace once asked actor Morgan Freeman how to eradicate racism, Freeman’s answer was perfect, “Stop talking about it.” That’s timely advice.
The individuals seeking to sanitize the allegedly racist name and history of Dixie State College are no doubt sincere. But it is absolutely possible to be sincerely wrong.
Portraying the school’s current name as a purported celebration of a “dark part of U.S. history” requires the deliberate donning of ideological blinders. But the implication that the true heritage of Utah’s Dixie is one of thinly veiled intolerance is what exposes their crusade as a politically correct solution shopping for a problem.
When no offense has been proffered but plenty has been taken, whose fault is that? Perhaps those claiming to be so offended by the name Dixie have been actively looking for reasons to be offended. Revisionist history and a handful of sophomoric yearbook photos from 50 years ago are flimsy evidence of ongoing institutional intolerance.
Are we to believe that a school that has rapidly expanded from junior college status to the threshold of university status is simply being held back by what others think of it? Dixie seems to have done fine on its own merits. Trying to win the approval of self-appointed sensitivity experts is not only unnecessary; it’s a game that cannot be won.
Racism and bigotry have long been the word weapons of choice for those seeking to intimidate as opposed to righting actual quantifiable wrongs. The diabolical beauty of such accusations is that they almost never refer to specific overt acts. The accusers will often hide behind the shield of their alleged victim status, requiring the accused to “prove” they’re not in the wrong—a logical impossibility.
This is a favored tactic of the professionally offended who deliberately provoke conflict in the name of tolerance to draw attention to them and their pet causes. In our day, the mere accusation of bigotry amounts to ironclad evidence of guilt in the minds of the unthinking.
Seasoned activists fully understand that appealing to dignity and quiet diplomacy to correct an actual wrong won’t create the kind of buzz that allows them to self-aggrandize before the cameras. They crusade against perceived cultural insensitivity with the priggish self-assurance that they could never be guilty of it themselves.
Politically correct thought requires that we ignore reality. In the case of Dixie State College, we must pretend that the Antebellum South never existed, or that if it did, it was the embodiment of evil. Only the sanitized, currently approved version of U.S. history can be mentioned.
There can be no acknowledgement of any factor other than slavery being among the causes of the War Between the States. We are forbidden from recognizing that, for most of its history, the KKK’s preferred flag was our beloved Stars and Stripes. We’re also not allowed to point out that racism flourishes today largely thanks to those who choose to fixate on race.
Though the push to cleanse the school of its unique heritage is couched in enhancing Dixie’s acceptability within academia, where will the purge end? Agreeing to politically correct demands too often merely triggers fresh demands for deeper concessions by the masses. Once the name is gone, what will be the next target?
Banning words is the first step to controlling what people think. Controlling what people think is about controlling others, period.
By what right should a tiny group of self-identified activists be able to enforce its ideological will upon a peaceful majority?
Thomas Jefferson spelled out the difference between equal rights and power when he noted, “ The will of the majority (is) the natural law of every society (and) is the only sure guardian of the rights of man. Perhaps even this may sometimes err. But its errors are honest, solitary and short-lived. Though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable — the minority possess their equal rights which equal law must protect.”
The problem we see playing out at Dixie State College is that the minority is confusing equal rights with equal power. There is an important difference. The minority still enjoys the protections of its constitutional guarantee of free speech, with which it may seek to persuade the majority to its viewpoint. But equal rights are not the same thing as equal power.
This simply means that the minority is not the equivalent of the majority and therefore should not exert control over it. However, by claiming their near-sacred “victim” status, the minority wrongly presumes that they must never hear the word, “no.”
Cultural respect is a two-way street. Those who are most determined to demand change from everyone around them would be wise to remember this.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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