PC Culture

A Journalism Instructor Compares a Conservative Student Group to the KKK

Ku Klux Klan member during a demonstration in Huntsville, Texas, in 2000. (Adrees A. Latif/Reuters)
Stupid, overblown comments do neither him nor his cause any favors.

A Mississippi State University journalism ethics instructor seemed to suggest that a conservative student group, Young Americans for Freedom, was kind of similar to the KKK.

“Hey the White Male Student Caucus holding a gathering,” stated the lecturer, Ryan Phillips, in a March 20 tweet commenting on a photo of one of the group’s events, which featured a “Build The Wall” display.

“Hoods and burning crosses optional,” he continued, followed by an emoji face with glasses.

Phillips’s account is locked — only approved followers have access to his tweets — but a screenshot of the tweet in question was obtained by Campus Reform.

A spokesperson for Mississippi State, Sid Slater, told Campus Reform that YAF’s actions were well within university guidelines — and that Phillips’s comments were “inappropriate.”

“His social media comments aimed at these students were highly inappropriate, inflammatory, and patently unfair and intolerant,” Slater said. “On any given day, students and faculty with widely divergent social and political views intersect on our campus and it is incumbent on all parties to maintain decorum and mutual respect in the conduct of those activities.”

Spencer Brown, YAF’s national spokesman, said that the incident was “emblematic of a major problem within higher education — and to an extent within the larger culture today — where ideological opponents of conservatism turn to ad hominem attacks and poison the well of ideas in their attempts to silence conservatives.”

Brown is absolutely correct. After all, this is far from the first time that conservatives have faced comments like this on a college campus. Last November, an assignment at Arizona State University asked students to compare President Donald Trump’s policies to those of hate groups. In January of 2017, flyers appeared around the University of Kansas campus claiming that “Make America Great Again” was the “coded language” of “neo-nazis.” In 2015 — even before the election of Trump — a professor at the University of Wisconsin claimed that then–presidential candidate Scott Walker and Adolph Hitler had so many similarities that it was actually “terrifying.”

Just as in those cases, the comparison here is absolutely ridiculous. I may not be a fan of the whole wall idea myself, but comparing people who want to secure our border using that method to people who committed acts of terrorism against black people simply because they were black is offensive — not only to the conservative students themselves but also to every single one of the KKK’s victims.

What’s more, making stupid, overblown comments like this one isn’t going to do Phillips or his cause any favors. If he doesn’t like the idea of a wall, fine. But you’d have to be an idiot to think that comparing someone to a KKK member is a good way to get them to listen to your point of view. Regardless of his intentions, all Phillips did here was further sow division — and make absolutely certain that the students involved will never come around and consider his opinion.

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