Thursday, December 13, 2012

1 Veritas Sine Dolo - Willful Ignorance and Empty Apologies in the Age of the Primary Source

If the Primary Source wants to be the journal of Conservative thought at Tufts, it needs to redirect its efforts.  TCU President, Wyatt Cadley, has asked for an apology from the leaders of the publication but, instead of an apology to the activists and women on this campus -- those who are, frankly, unsurprised by the Source, perhaps the Source should apologize to the Conservatives who it fails with every issue it publishes?  Don't apologize for the sake of an apology.  This is about victims, real victims, who you are willing to re-traumatize.  Just learn something and be better or stop wasting all of our time.


Veritas Sine Dolo

that is the motto of the Primary Source at Tufts University.  The Latin translates to "truth without sorrow" and is the motto the group has upheld since its inception.*  According to their "About" page on the Primary Source's web site, the Source: "owes no allegiance to any group or person on the Tufts campus, and as such, we publish honest criticisms regardless of political ideology. Whether it be a student, teacher, or administrator who oversteps their authority and tramples on the rights of others, THE PRIMARY SOURCE will be the first voice to condemn such an action. We do not bow to political pressure or political correctness, and our opinions are never blunted by the fear of retribution."

Perhaps you and I should start this conversation differently.

I am a progressive -- even worse than a liberal, you must think!  You are the journal of Conservative thought at Tufts.

I am an inner-city black youth who receives financial aid from Tufts.  You published a "Christmas Carol" titled O Come All Ye Black Folk in which you targeted a class of black freshmen at Tufts and labeled them as being under-qualified, boisterous, and undeserving of a Tufts degree. For the record, my ACT scores and GPA were above the average for my class -- just so we can be clear on how I ended up in Medford.

I campaigned for Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama.  You were ardent supporters of Scott Brown, Mitt Romney, and Tea Party politics.

I find nothing funny in racism, rape, and sexual violence.  You do.

This year's string of Christmas parodies had one that was especially offensive and you all probably know exactly which one.  

That's the one.

Take Back the Night, a movement to inspire direct action against rape, sexual violence, and assault of women -- of all things to go after in your holiday issue, why them?

Why make the assertion that, somehow, Tufts feminists are the problem and not rapists?

Why go so far as to say that women who dress in a manner that the staff of the Primary Source deems "slutty" are somehow deserving of unwanted advances?  Why trot out that tired argument, that line of reasoning that is steeped in a perspective that gives women so little agency and control over their lives?

And then, why tell these women who would rather exist without having to fight-back unwanted advances that they should have been born lesbian -- as if their lives and sexual autonomy are nonsensical should they ever reject the uninvited touch of a man?

Do you understand what you are saying?

There was a time during which I was here at Tufts that I thought, "Perhaps the Primary Source just doesn't know any better," but I think that time has long since passed.  I sat in too many places and had too many arguments with folks who wrote for the Source, who distributed the Source, who served as Editor-in-Chief of the Source (or Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, for that matter) and explained to them time after time after fucking time that the things written in that magazine were hateful, that they were hurtful, and that they were so far removed from the realm of Conservative thought that the Source, itself, was failing its "base".

Anthony Romero, the Director of ACLU, wanted to tell us Tufts students that speech codes were the enemy of free speech and that we were doing too little to educate our peers who may disagree with us. But how many more Lunch-and-Learns, Teach-Ins, community forums, lectures, and blog posts can be written before we have to say that maybe, just maybe, these "peers who may disagree with us" just don't want to listen and are simply bathing in petri dishes of willful ignorance?

I've been told that Tufts is too liberal a campus and that its love of "political correctness" is suffocating open discussion and debate -- that, somehow, it is the activists on campus who are the enemies of conservative thought.  Well, allow me to speak truth that is devoid of even a shred of sorrow or restraint.

As one of those left-wing assholes who you seem to believe are out to sink the Primary Source, you should know that I am not against Conservatism.  I'm not against the free market.  I don't want Obama to be crowned king and you better believe I recognize that he is capable of wrongdoing.  I enjoy my rights as an American and, like James Baldwin, "love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."  I want America to be great and I want everyone in the United States to succeed.  At the most basic level, I would hope we agree on the ends -- our means are where we would begin to find disharmony.

That being said, you have labeled me and other progressive-minded folks as your mortal enemies, as the people who want to silence you most actively, as the nemeses of Conservative thought.

For your sake, I will attempt to remove the veil from your eyes and save you from your self-induced blindness.

The antiracists, the activists, the Feminazis, they are not your gravest threat.  You are.

Let me say it again.

The Primary Source, the "journal of Conservative thought" on campus, is the most dangerous threat to Conservative thought on campus.

Putting it plainly, you make all Conservatives look bad, make them seem crazy.

I know Conservatives on this campus who have real opinions on real issues.  They care about government spending and the military and immigration and taxes.  I disagree with them fundamentally but I think they deserve a space and a publication in which to exist that is much better than what you have given them.

You are Bobby Jindal when he was against monitoring volcanoes.

You are Herman Cain during the primaries and especially after he released that bizarre video with his campaign staffer smoking a cigarette.

You are, most recently, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock when they tried to tell voters that there was such a thing as "legitimate rape" and the female body had ways to "shut that whole thing down."

You isolate Conservatives here and everywhere with the rubbish that you publish, with your lack of spellchecking.  You make it so that anyone who is a person of color, a woman, anything less than 100% heterosexual, lacking a trust fund or a lake house, empathetic to the plight of others, concerned at the bravado with which the US employs its military abroad, who believes that a better tomorrow is contingent upon a society watching out for one another, or who thinks Randianism (I know it's called Objectivism) is no way to organize a coherent worldview -- you make it so anyone who is any of these things (or who is just about anything but an upper-middle class, straight, white male with an aversion to deregulating all the banks) worries that they will one day fall prey to the evil Eye of Sauron that is the Primary Source.

Effectively, the Primary Source is an internet troll.  The Source has failed to expand dialogue.  The Source has only derailed it in the hopes of eliciting the greatest outcry it can and then crying foul play when the "activists" say that the Primary Source is targeting a group of students.  You have denied Tufts the fortune to have a sensible Conservative voice on campus and, instead, have given us little more than a string of controversies, headaches, and embarrassments.

You have made students feel unsafe as a reaction to your imagined persecution.

So don't apologize to me.

As one of those progressive morons you imagine to be assaulting your free speech, please do not apologize to me.

As another generation of boisterous and undeserving black students at Tufts, please do not apologize to me.

As an, albeit imperfect and still-learning, black male feminist, please do not apologize to me.

I don't think anyone who has paid attention to your track record and publication's history is surprised -- and perhaps that is the saddest part.  No one expected better of you because you have been that irrelevant, that pathetic, that far from anything we would want to tie our names to.  Jameelah Morris, Co-President of Pan-African Alliance, might have put it best.

With all due respect to TCU President Wyatt Cadley and Dean of Student Affairs, Dean Reitman, I think we're all tired of "statements" and "apologies".  To have had Wyatt ask for an apology from the Executive Board of the Source and to have had Dean Reitman also voice his dismay over the piece is commendable and better than an alternative in which neither comment was published.  But we would be remiss to forget the fact that Senate Presidents have been largely obstinate in the past when it came to supporting activists eager to combat hateful and damaging speech on campus -- the administration has been even worse, one could argue.

However, to offer a statement only as a reaction to (yet another iteration of) the Source's drama is still leading from behind.  At present, there is little sacrifice in releasing a statement.  Show us your conviction, your stones, your commitment to justice when there is something on the line, when it might require dissenting from the Committee on Student Life or remaining steadfast in the face of FIRE or the ACLU trying to frame this university as anathema to free speech or a safe campus.

I meant to keep this short but failed because there were some feelings I just had to get off my chest.  You all aren't very good at listening so I'll just say it again to be clear.

No one here is against free speech.  Too many of us have tried to educate you as to why your behavior is problematic.

Most important: don't waste our time with a half-assed apology that is mostly a lie about how you "are sorry people feel this way".  Don't offer up that dismissive bullshit.  I'm not about that life.

Call us when you're ready to have those hard conversations, when you're willing to support the women who have suffered from rape and sexual violence.  Call us when you're down to talk about the fact that men are so often erased as the perpetrators of crimes against others and that the victims are, unfairly and unjustly, treated as the makers of their own misery.  Call us when you can sincerely ask forgiveness from the women who you have carelessly subjected to reliving their trauma by publishing this.  Call us when you have the brass to combat rape culture on this campus and elsewhere and be earnest in doing so.

Until then, we are tired of having to deal with you.

* According to my friend, Ryan, this is an inaccurate translation.  "Truth without sorrow" would be veritas sine dolori.  Whereas, veritas sine dolo is, in fact, "truth without trickery".



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