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“Ties To The Confederacy”: Racist Oklahoma Frat Founded By Racists

Every now and then I read a news story online that evokes such a strong visceral reaction that I actually feel like breaking my computer. Monday morning was one of those days.

I’m talking about the video that I’m sure many of you have seen by now of the racist white University of Oklahoma students—most of whom were members of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE)—gleefully singing in unison these despicably racist words:

“There will never be a nigger SAE. There will never be a nigger SAE . You can hang him from a tree, but he will never sign with me. There will never be a nigger SAE.”

Watching these white students—clad in tuxedos and cocktail dresses—sing these lyrics with such joy and gusto made it feel like it was a scene from a movie about cartoonish racism from an era gone by. But this video didn’t depict an incident that occurred decades ago. It happened on Sunday.

Yes, I know the students will say—as will their defenders—that they were just joking around. Bullshit. In today’s America, you know that singing about “niggers” being lynched is absolutely, unequivocally wrong. There’s no gray area.

How could this happen in 2015? I’d say the early history of SAE is very instructive on this point. This fraternity brags on its website that it was started in 1856 in the “Deep South.” (I can’t help but think racial dog whistle when I see that term, given the SAE’s founders’ ties to the Confederacy.) And SAE was at one time was a whites only fraternity as noted in its 1903 “book of rituals” that limited membership to “members of the Caucasian race”. Keep in mind that the students on the bus were heading, per media reports, to a Founders Day event to celebrate very white men who gave us these policies.

And this is not the only racist event featuring SAE. It’s merely the first incident to attract national headlines. Just three months ago, the Clemson University chapter was suspended after white students held a “Cripmas” party (“Cripmas” being a weird and really not remotely funny combination of Crips and Christmas) where they dressed in bandannas, Tupac T-shirts and sported fake “thug” tattoos.” And an SAE chapter at Washington University in St. Louis was suspended in 2013 after members sang racial slurs to African-American students pledging the fraternity.

But SAE is far from the only fraternity engaged in such racially insensitive activities. The critically acclaimed 2014 film, Dear White People, concluded by giving us a litany of similar racially insensitive events held by white college students in recent years. We are talking “thug parties” and “Crips and Bloods”-themed parties organized by white students where they dressed as the worst examples of the black community.

In this climate, we can’t be surprised to see that a few months ago at Oklahoma State University, a black sorority became the target of a slew of racist remarks on an anonymous app.

These incidents generally result in the students being punished on some level. As most are aware, the president of Oklahoma University David Boren, a former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator, announced Monday morning that “effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE are hereby severed.” He closed the fraternity house effective Monday and condemned the students involved in the harshest terms.

That’s truly commendable. But it’s very likely that incidents like this and racial tensions will increase until we have an honest conversation about the underlying factors fostering racism. And it seems the time for this discussion can’t wait much longer. A recent poll released in connection with the 5oth anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma found that four in 10 American believe that racial relations have become worse during Barack Obama’s presidency.

So why aren’t we having this conversation? To be candid, the obstacle is coming from many in the white community. While black people are eager to have this much-needed discussion, most (not all) white people are not.

And that’s not just my opinion; It’s exactly what white and black people have been telling pollsters. For example, a 2013 Pew poll taken after the trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin found that 78 percent of blacks said the incident raised important issues about race that need to be addressed. However, only 28 percent of whites agreed.

And in 2014, after the grand jury refused to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, we saw similar numbers, with 80 percent of blacks saying the case raised important issue about race while only 37 percent of whites agreed. In fact, 47 percent of whites responded that they thought race was getting too much attention.

Why do so many whites feel this way? Well, as I have witnessed firsthand, many white people think that any discussion about race is really an accusation. Consequently, they reflexively recoil when the issue is raised and become defensive.

Of course, there are some—mostly on far right—who truly believe that racism doesn’t exist. It’s unlikely anyone can reach those people.

But the hope is that for the others, an environment can be created on both a local and national level to have a brutally candid conversation on underlying factors and perceptions that are causing this tension. I’m not sure what will make white people comfortable enough to have this discussion. But I do know that we need to find a way.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, March 10, 2015

March 11, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Racism, University of Oklahoma | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Privatization: The Road To Hell

Billionaires are different from you and me, for obvious reasons, including the fact that they buy much pricier baubles than we do.

A sleek car costing $100,000? Why, for them, that’s just an easy impulse purchase. A few million bucks for a Matisse original? Go ahead — it’ll liven up the hallway. How about throwing a fat wad of cash at a university to get an academic chair named for you? Sure, it’s all part of the fun of living in BillionaireLand.

Then there is the top crust of the upper-crust — such megalomaniacal megabillionaires as the Koch brothers. Using money from their industrial conglomerate, their foundation and their personal fortunes, these two far-out, laissez-faire extremists are literally buying public policy. Their purchases of everything from politicians to the tea party help them push the privatization of all things public and the elimination of pesky regulations and taxes that crimp their style.

To advance their plutocratic privatization cause, brother Charles has even gone on a shopping spree for an invaluable bauble that most of us didn’t even know was for sale: academic freedom. And it’s surprisingly cheap!

For only $1.5 million, Koch bought a big chunk of the economics department of Florida State University a couple of years ago. His donation gives him control of a new “academic” program at this public institution to indoctrinate students in his self-serving political theories.

The billionaire gets to screen all applicants, veto any he deems insufficiently ideological, and sign off on all new hires. Also, the department head must submit yearly reports to Koch about the faculty’s speeches, publications and classes, and he evaluates the faculty based on “objectives” that he sets.

Charles has made similar purchases of academic freedom at two other state universities, Clemson and West Virginia. Also, in a May 20 piece at Alternet.org, investigative researcher Lee Fang reveals that Koch has paid $419,000 to buy into Brown University’s “political theory project,” $3.6 million to establish Troy University’s “center for political economy” and $700,000 for a piece of Utah State’s Huntsman School of Business, which now has the “Charles G.
Koch Professor of Political Economy.”

Imagine the screams of outrage we’d hear from the Kochs if a labor union were doing this.

A recent article in The Onion, the satirical newsweekly, printed a downsize-big-government spoof that Charles and David would love to turn into reality. The parody disclosed that President Obama had come up with a surefire plan to balance the federal budget: Rob Fort Knox! “I’ve got the blueprints,” Obama is quoted as saying, “and I think I found a way out through a drainage pipe.”

Unfortunately, with today’s political climate dominated by howling winds from the far-right fringe, there’s no longer any room in American culture for satire. Sure enough, some laissez-faire extremists at such Koch-funded corporate fronts as Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation are presently howling for the government to sell all of America’s gold stored in Fort Knox. Noting that we have billions worth of bullion in the vaults, a fellow from Heritage made this keen observation: “It’s just sort of sitting there.”

Uh, yeah, professor. Like Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, the Lincoln Memorial and other national assets — being there is the point.

Yet these ivory tower ideologues are using the current brouhaha over the budget deficit as an opening to push their loopiest fantasies of selling off all of America’s public properties, facilities, systems and treasures to create a no-government, plutocratic paradise. Just spread our public goods out on tables, like a flea market from hell, and invite the global rich to buy it all.

For example, a fellow from another Koch-funded front, the American Enterprise Institute, observes that the government could raise billions of dollars to retire that pesky deficit simply by selling our interstate highway system. Americans would then have to pay tolls forever to the corporate owners, but hey, he exclaims, remember that tolls “work for the River Styx, why not the Beltway?”

What a perfect metaphor for privatization! In ancient mythology, dead souls must pay a toll to be ferried across the River Styx and enter the depths of hell.

By: Jim Hightower, CommonDreams.org/Creators.com, May 25, 2011

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Democracy, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Koch Brothers, Politics, Regulations, Republicans, Right Wing, Taxes, Tea Party, Unions, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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