The Bias Response Group (BRG) at Skidmore College determined that writing “Make America Great Again” on dry-erase boards amounted to performing “racialized, targeted attacks,” according to the group’s year-end report.
The team’s issue, according to the College Fix, was that the phrases were written on the whiteboards of “two female faculty of color.”
Now, I suppose I can see how that fact might make the issue more complicated, but regardless, calling these incidents “attacks” is objectively incorrect just based on what the word “attack” means. Hitting someone in the face is an attack. Cursing someone out is an attack. “Make America Great Again” is a campaign slogan, and students should be free to show support for whichever candidate they choose on campus, even if that candidate is Donald Trump.
The report seems to suggest, however, that showing support for Trump is actually in itself some kind of hateful act when it explains that the slogan is unacceptable because it “is associated with the political campaign of a candidate widely known to voice anti-immigrant and bigoted views.”
The report maintains that although that “political speech is free and protected,” a “majority of BRG members do not interpret these messages as political speech but as politicized, racialized, targeted attacks intended to intimidate,” because they “suggest a pattern of using the idea of political speech to target specific members of the Skidmore community.”
Here’s the thing with that, though. It doesn’t really matter how the BRG interprets the messages, because a campaign slogan is as about as clear an example of “political speech” as one can get. Claiming to protect “political speech,” yet deeming an innocuous campaign slogan (well, at least innocuous to anyone who wants America to be great) to be in itself some kind of hate crime is a logical fallacy.
#related#If there was somehow more to the story, if these teachers had to go through something other than seeing a campaign slogan that’s been seen pretty much everywhere for more than a year, then I could see how there might be a case here. If the whiteboards contained racial epithets — or even anything personal at all — then I could see how there might be a case here. But they didn’t. They contained a campaign slogan, and only a campaign slogan, and one that makes absolutely no reference to race whatsoever, and the Bias Response team is calling it an attack? Not even just a “microaggression,” (which I could maybe see the argument for,) but a “racialized, targeted” attack? Sorry, but no. Let’s relax, and try to limit the use of this powerful word to describing only those situations where it actually applies.
One note appeared on a whiteboard in March, and another in April.