To the editor:
When I review the emotionally driven turmoil and administrative carnage at the University of Missouri, I can’t escape a feeling that any sense of balanced perspective and objective discourse has long departed the Columbia campus.
Based on limited information regarding pervasive campus racism gleaned from the media, I see no compelling evidence of the widespread, egregious racist behavior that would justify condemnation of the oldest land grant university system west of the Mississippi.
The admittedly ugly incidents leading to campus turmoil would seem to involve isolated actions by nameless fools shouting the “N” word from a passing truck, slurs uttered by a drunken student, obscene symbols anonymously drawn on a dorm wall, and so on. To assert that despicable incidents of this sort — likely occurring in hundreds of campus (and non-campus) locales across the nation — are sufficiently unique to the Missouri state university system to merit forced resignations of its top officials is clearly a leap too far.
The Missouri state university system would appear to be one more academic venue to fall victim to increasing student body (and faculty) hypersensitivity to real or perceived verbal insults and actions far more attributable to a few misguided, ignorant fools than to a pervasive, systemic, racially negative culture encouraged by university leadership.
Much of the turmoil might reflect an observation that people have increasingly come to be too easily offended — there is no constitutional right to not be offended. In any case, a much more balanced perspective and dose of realistic thinking is clearly needed to counter the emotional “mob” mindset that leads to the chaos currently embroiling the University of Missouri.
David A. Nealy