Culture

Abject Missouri

Wolfe announces his resignation, November 9, 2015.

Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri, is resigning his post, an act of extraordinary cowardice on the part of the university.

The University of Missouri is purported to be convulsed by racism. How so? A drunk white student walking down the street used a racial slur in reference to a group of black students; he has been exiled from the campus and probably will be expelled when the disciplinary process comes to its conclusion. Expelling a student for ungentlemanly conduct is the sort of thing that universities probably ought to do more of, but of course punishing the guilty is never enough for the Left. The innocent must be punished as well.

Wolfe, black students insisted, has “enabled a system of racism” at the university. What exactly that system of racism consists of remains vague. The complaints include the by-now-familiar litany, beginning with the fact that the university administration was silent on the matter of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a year ago. Multiple investigations of the Brown shooting, including the one conducted by Barack Obama’s Department of Justice, have concluded that there was no criminal conduct by police in the case. But even if there had been, what business is it of the University of Missouri? The purpose of a university administration is to administer the university, not to provide a salve for every hurt, real or imagined, that besets the increasingly childish adults it is intended to serve.

Other racial incidents have been reported by Mizzou students with varying degrees of documentation: A student says he was twice described with a racial slur, and a swastika was found applied to a dormitory wall with feces. But the University of Missouri is not besieged by the Ku Klux Klan. It is besieged by hysteria. Hysteria needs to be stood up to, not cravenly fed with acquiescence.

#share#When men with souls made of cotton candy wilt in the face of this sort of absurdity, it encourages it. Wolfe is, by his resignation, rewarding destructive and deeply illiberal behavior. (In response to the racism hysteria, a student went on a hunger strike, and a group of black players on the football team threatened to boycott the remainder of the season. That a 4–5 team might skip the remainder of its games is hardly an institutional crisis, but the preservation of mediocrity is the highest priority of college administrators.)

Racism is a handy cudgel for the Left, which is why it is deployed at every opportunity — even when those opportunities have to be manufactured.

The fact that a young drunk man said something ugly and stupid tells us at least as much about drunkenness as it does racism; as social problems go, alcohol abuse is by most meaningful measures a more significant factor in American life than is racism. But racism is a handy cudgel for the Left, which is why it is deployed at every opportunity — even when those opportunities have to be manufactured.

Here are the facts: Drunk people often are unpleasant; Michael Brown was a criminal who got himself shot by attacking a police officer​; racism is a distinctly minor factor in American public affairs, less significant, in fact, than phony accusations of racism; if Mizzou never plays another quarter of football, the world will go on; University of Missouri students desperately need to grow the hell up and start acting like adults.

As someone once said: Life is hard, and it’s harder if you’re stupid. College is intended to be a place for education, but all the evidence coming out of the University of Missouri suggests that something close to the opposite of education is going on there, a willful cultivation of the worst juvenile instincts. Even at $7,000 a year, that’s a bad deal for students, parents, and taxpayers alike.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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