21.3.03

LIBERATING TOLERANCE. From Critical Mass comes news that the administration at the University of Maryland has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. (If memory serves, the University of Maryland was in the vanguard of universities that banned private displays of the Stars and Stripes during the liberation of Kuwait, lest foreign students be offended.) AP News coverage is here (is Professor O'Connor a displaced Tarheel?) Here is the offending cartoon. It appears in an independent student newspaper, which covers the protest it faced. The students also wrote an editorial defending their cartoon, and raising a number of questions:

"But we wonder why the administration has spoken with more vigor against this paper than it has against the budget cuts, tuition hikes, student safety or any number of issues that plague this university and affect more students than our cartoon.

We hope it's not because we're an easier target. We hope it's not because they can only be roused when they perceive the need to cover themselves and protect the university's image. But we doubt it.

Dining Services has jacked fees and slashed its student services while preserving its ridiculously dense bureaucracy. The administration is silent.

A student is murdered off-campus, and the student body is gripped with fear. Mote hides in the background.

The university system stands to be one of the biggest losers in the state's budget cutting, suffering severe tuition hikes and layoffs, with more on the way. The administration mounts token opposition.

But the campus newspaper publishes a controversial cartoon and administrators line up to blast away, protesting a cartoon that will cause no layoffs and place no student under financial burden or physical jeopardy.

They're concerned about their university's image while they watch its substance erode. We would be more concerned if this apathetic, gutless administration supported our actions.

Administrators have every right to disparage the cartoon and our editorial staff, echoing the sentiments of thousands from around the world. But their eagerness to speak with passion on this issue while languishing in apathy on more important matters borders on hypocrisy.

Mote himself, in an e-mail to students on war with Iraq, eloquently said, 'On campus we must maintain our principle of a free, open and civil society where differing points of view can be considered, accepted or rejected as we each decide for ourselves where the truth lies..
"

The Diamondback staff have just learned two lessons. The first is an old one: often those who claim most loudly to respect differing points of view are those most surprised to learn there is one. (I believe that is a William Buckley witticism.) Second, the central administration is only peripherally concerned with learning. Note on the President's page how many entries are devoted to the diversity boondoggle, intercollegiate athletics, therapeutic offices, raising money, and dealing with government officials, and how few to teaching and scholarship. Keep on battling.

Professor O'Connor has provided an e-mail address for Ann Wylie, a university official who has been having hysterics over the cartoon, should you wish to send her some crying towels.

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