Op-ed: The Mizzou meltdown

  • By Rich Lowry
  • Wednesday, November 11, 2015 4:00pm
  • Opinion

It was doubtful that the University of Missouri would stand up to a left-wing pressure campaign targeting its president, but when the football team joined the campaign, it was all over.

Missouri is an SEC school, where even a mediocre football program — Mizzou is 1-5 against the rest of the conference — has formidable financial and cultural power.

If anyone running the university had any guts, the school would have told the team, “Come back and talk to us when you can beat sad sack Vanderbilt, or at least score more than three points against them.” Given the team’s performance, the proper rejoinder to its threatened boycott should have been, “How would anyone notice?”

Instead, Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri system, is out in one of the most parodic PC meltdowns on a college campus to date. The Missouri episode shows how the political climate on campus falls somewhere between a Tom Wolfe novel, a Monty Python skit and the French Terror.

A reasonable person will find it difficult to identify what Tim Wolfe stood accused of. The fact of the matter is that Missouri’s social-justice warriors forced him out simply because they could.

There were a few alleged racial incidents on campus, all involving racial slurs or symbols, including one where a drunken student verbally harassed a group of black students (he has been removed from campus, pending disciplinary procedures). Even if Missouri had a president straight out of an episode of “Portlandia” — the show lampooning exquisite progressive sensibilities — it would be beyond his power to prevent all rudeness on campus, especially drunken rudeness.

Nonetheless, the administration in general and Tim Wolfe in particular were held responsible. The list of supposed offenses was long (and very vague).

The Missouri Student Association complained that there wasn’t enough hand-holding after Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson (when he attacked a police officer, but that’s always left out). “In the following months,” a statement whined, “our students were left stranded, forced to face an increase in tension and inequality with no systemic support.”

To read the association’s indictment, you’d think that the University of Missouri exists in a small enclave of Klan-dominated, Reconstruction-era Mississippi: “The academic careers of our students are suffering. The mental health of our campus is under constant attack. Our students are being ignored. We have asked the University to create spaces of healing and it failed to do so.”

This is the insatiable voice of children who object at the insufficiency of their coddling. In another outrage, no one powders the bottoms of Mizzou students after they go potty.

Once the grievance machinery got going, there was no right way for Tim Wolfe to respond. When he ignored protesters at the school’s homecoming parade, he had to grovel and ask for forgiveness: “I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue.” When he tried to engage protesters at another event, they asked him what “systematic oppression” means and, when he ventured an answer, screeched at him that he was blaming blacks for their own oppression.

An activist group came up with a list of demands. The first was that Wolfe write “a handwritten apology” to be read aloud at a press conference, and that it “must acknowledge his white male privilege.” The second demand was that he be fired. So they were merely demanding a rote confession of guilt before execution, a nice totalitarian touch.

Wolfe is lucky he got away with merely quitting, without having to agree to go through an arduous program of re-education. After decades of mockery, political correctness is stronger than ever on campus and has to strike fear into the hearts of every professor and administrator, who are potential victims no matter how much they kowtow to the children. It is an ongoing cultural revolution, and common sense and rationality are its natural enemies.

Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

More in Opinion

Larry Persily (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: State’s ‘what if’ lawsuit doesn’t much add up

The state’s latest legal endeavor came July 2 in a dubious lawsuit — with a few errors and omissions for poor measure

The entrance to the Homer Electric Association office is seen here in Kenai, Alaska, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Speak up on net metering program

The program allows members to install and use certain types of renewable generation to offset monthly electric usage and sell excess power to HEA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs bills for the state’s 2025 fiscal year budget during a private ceremony in Anchorage on Thursday, June 25, 2024. (Official photo from The Office of the Governor)
Alaska’s ‘say yes to everything’ governor is saying ‘no’ to a lot of things

For the governor’s purposes, “everything” can pretty much be defined as all industrial development

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board members, staff and advisors meet Oct. 30, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The concerns of reasonable Alaskans isn’t ‘noise’

During a legislative hearing on Monday, CEO Deven Mitchell referred to controversy it’s created as “noise.”

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Crime pays a lot better than newspapers

I used to think that publishing a quality paper, full of accurate, informative and entertaining news would produce enough revenue to pay the bills

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom addresses the crowd during an inaugural celebration for her and Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Jan. 20, 2023.
Opinion: The many truths Dahlstrom will deny

Real conservatives wouldn’t be trashing the rule of law

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.