The fracas was covered by the local newspapers and television; featured on The O’Reilly Factor as part of an interview with CEO chairman Linda Chavez; written about by several essayists; and subject to considerably blogging, notably by University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse and Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds linked to the story, which is now widely known though, interestingly, it was not covered by The New York Times, or other major news outlets....There's been a lot of writing the last few days about what really happened, and Wood puts together this account:
The press conference was held at 11:00. By then, word had already reached the organizers of the event that a group was planning a disruptive protest. They alerted the hotel, which closed its front doors as well as the doors of the conference room and posted staff to guard them. The protestors gathered outside the hotel where they remained for a period chanting slogans. One of their number, however, sneaked into the building through the kitchen and made his way to the hotel entrance, where he opened the front doors from inside. The protesters surged into the lobby.Wood relied on various eyewitnesses, but I want to concentrate on this blog post by eyewitness Sara Goldrick-Rab, a UW—Madison professor. Goldrick-Rab seeks to enlighten us about how race affects "how we understand and interpret" the incident, in which — her words — "a large group of mostly brown folks came into contact with a much smaller group of mostly white folks and it freaked out some of those the white folks."
At that point their chanting became audible in the conference room but wasn’t loud enough to disrupt the closed-door proceedings. At about 11:45, however, someone opened the doors to the conference and the sound of the chants drowned out attendees who were trying to ask questions.
Roger Clegg at that point had finished the formal part of the press conference and was talking with some students who had attended it. But just as the event was adjourning, the students outside pushed past the hotel staff, some of whom were thrown to the ground. The mob poured into the room, and Clegg, accompanied by University of Wisconsin Professor Lee Hansen and two members of the hotel staff, struggled through it to the exit, and, accompanied by protestors, to the hotel elevator. Several of the protestors prevented the elevator doors from closing until the two hotel staff members pushed them back.
Go to the link to read her full description on the incident. Here's the part where she employs self-critique presumably to teach us all about how race (and gender) influence perception and interpretation:
I admit it: there was a fraction of a second in that lobby, when I saw the people run by and I heard the loud sound, that I experienced fear. At first, I thought it was surprise. Then I realized that I had caught myself anticipating violence and momentarily panicking as I saw men of color move fast and loud. I recognized it, I checked it, and I questioned it. I was angry with myself... And it took me no more than 30 seconds to chastise myself for it, get over it, and then experience the protest as it really was: peaceful, bold, and uplifting.Somehow, Goldrick-Rab refrains from chastising herself for seeing Clegg through the lens of his Southern white maleness. She doesn't catch herself mid-emotion and rethink her way to a more charitable interpretation. Quite the opposite! Clegg's smile gets a negative interpretation. She has a physical reaction that runs down into her fingers and toes, she says. She attributes the loathing of Clegg to an ethnic memory born into her body, and she does not stop and question that prejudice either within 30 seconds of feeling it or a week later writing about it.
I had experienced another moment of fear not 30 minutes earlier, when I watched Clegg address a young African-American woman, responding to her question about his report with a smug, paternalistic smile that to me conveyed absolutely no understanding of the powerful hand he had in intimidating her. I reacted to him, in that moment, as a white man with no sense of his own privilege. It was the whiteness of his skin combined with the Southern in his voice and his hyper-masculine demeanor that made my hands shake. I was afraid of his evidently barely-repressed disdain for this woman. The Jewish ancestry in me felt it to my toes.
And yet Goldrick-Rab calls us to "come clean" and "admit that we are race conscious every day."
What distinguishes us from the racists is our honesty, candor, and willingness to learn. Race matters. And that's why the Doubletree event was no "disruption" but rather a necessary protest against an antagonistic deliberate transgression of outsiders on a community.What? It wasn't a disruption because it was necessary? How does the perceived necessity of opposing someone's press conference make what happened not a disruption? Why not just say: I can't stand what the speaker was saying so I'm glad he was disrupted? Perhaps because you think that would sound badly antagonistic to free speech. But if you care about speech — and honesty and candor — don't redefine words. Speak clearly and straightforwardly.
As for the phrase "an antagonistic deliberate transgression of outsiders on a community." Wow. Just take that out of context and look at it with honesty and candor and willingness to learn. It's blatantly xenophobic and closed-minded. You don't want to hear an opposing viewpoint. Someone who criticizes the university's admissions policy is an outsider trangressing on the community?! So... what? The community is right to defend itself, physically, against the evil intruder? Step back and contemplate that, since you are inclined toward self-critique. That attitude is reminiscent of what historical analogues?
Are those toes tingling at all?