10:11 PM

Polite Rebellion

Posted by Student/Teacher |

Perhaps the most significant event to be held in the name of diversity on Clemson's campus was sponsored by the Clemson Conservatives. I don't say this in sarcasm or jest but sincerity. I'm speaking of an event that has not left my memory since its impression. They sponsored a speaker whose name I have ,however, forgotten. The forum centered on the disadvantages of multiculturalism and diversity. Suffice it to say that upon prior research I learned that the speaker's personal relationships had been found in company of those of the radical racial sort. Expectations aside, he more or less gave a 30 minute speech espousing the virtues of segregation. George Wallace might have been proud. The question-answer portion of the event included attendees submitting questions into a pot to be screened by members of the Clemson Conservatives group. I was shocked to discern the discretion taken in choosing the questions as evidenced in the questions cleared to the speaker. Never before had I felt so hushed. Reader, I cannot express the paradox this puts a mind both passionate and rational into. A few others saw their passion win over. One was nearly escorted out. It only hurt their opposing arguement, of course.
At the close of question-answer portion, the police proceeded down the isles of the Vickery auditorium as the speaker said he would be available for questions after the event closed. I went down to them. My brief moment there was not as interesting as the conversation I had with the man outside of the building. In short, he attempted to make a case for how slavery was better for African Americans than would freedom have been. I left the conversation and occassion invigorated. I have since been to several diversity training sessions, multiculturalism-centered events, and served a term as the Undergraduate Student Government Council on Diversity Affairs Director. I have yet to experience an event as edifying as that night some two years ago now. Never before have I been in the company of such well behaved racists, white or black. Never since have I been in a setting that allowed an opinion so socially austricized to be expressed without incident. There was judgement on both sides but there was no coarse objectification or bawdy attack. It was all handled. In it's own way even, it was handled fairly. So rarely is such view given public forum. The irony of diversity is that for it to be accurately manifest, it make room for those who would see it discredited and done away with. Anything other than is a burlesque diversity. Above all, I will never forget the sincere, polite young man as he tried to express to me that my people had not been so great. That we had not made such a great impact on the nation or the world. That we, in comparason to his people, were indeed less than. That I, in comparason to him, was less than. It was not my fault. It just was. He needed to say that. I could hear the moisture in his throat as he spake it. A momento he had kept. He shared this with me. And in polite rebellion. I said nay.