For now, the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon is perhaps the most famous fraternity in America – for all the wrong reasons.
It’s also been disbanded from the campus of the University of Oklahoma, at Norman, for all the wrong reasons.
Despite what you may believe, it’s been disbanded because it got caught on tape, and it embarrassed the university.
Consider this: a silly, racist chant among teenaged college students lands several of them with immediate expulsions – and the closure of its house.
In neighboring Missouri, and entire city targets, oppresses and exploits millions of dollars from a Black community (Ferguson) – and lest we forget, kills them, on a whim – and who gets fired?
Oh, there’s some resignations, yes – but not one firing! There’s a world of difference between the two.
In Oklahoma, the most powerless people on campus, the youngest, are handed the most extreme sanction: expulsions.
In Missouri, politicians and police, who criminally conspired to loot, exploit and bleed and entire community — and no one gets fired.
What’s worse – racist words, or racist actions that hurt thousands of people – for years?
The University of Oklahoma, founded in 1890, could have used this as, well, a teaching moment, about the way racism moves from one generation to the next, and how closed systems – in groups – perpetuate these ideas.
The University, while disclaiming these ideas, could’ve used its history department to teach the roots of these ideas in American – and Oklahoman – history. If it has an African America studies program, it could’ve been a time to shine, by providing a study program for SAE members.
But, first and foremost, it could’ve defended the First Amendment principle of freedom of speech, and used the light of reason to flush out the power of racist hatred.
Instead, a 19-year-old is marked, perhaps for life, with the brand of racism, for being drunk and stupid – and mean. After the shock wears off, bitterness will fill his soul.
College, of all places, can’t jump the gun for PR reasons. It must use opportunities to teach, to enlighten, to broaden consciousness for all students.
Even those – especially those – who love to sing about hanging niggers.