Letter To The Editor: Political Correctness

To the Editor of the Old Gold & Black,

I fear that our university has become intoxicated with political correctness, and it has impaired our ability to rationalize.

In recent days, our undergraduate dean of admissions has apologized for appearing in a 1982 photograph with a Confederate flag. Several students called for her resignation, and the university president has “accepted her apology.”

The students calling for her resignation would benefit from giving thought to the fact that they are attending one of the top undergraduate universities in the country, and the target of their anger is a person who has played a very critical role in building the reputation of the very same university.

Given that Dean Allman’s critics were not alive in 1982, they might benefit from understanding that the very same flag symbolizes many things. “Hatred” and “racism” are over-simplified interpretations. 

We could also over-simplify and similarly argue that the U.S. flag stands for many bad things — the country that dropped nuclear bombs on Japan, or the country that sent thousands of young men to Vietnam to die in an unwinnable war. The American flag, like many, has its flaws.

I am not here to defend the Confederate flag, and I can directly correlate it with the worst chapter in American history, but we need to be more tolerant and aware of the bigger picture.

Speaking of “tolerance” and “awareness,” where was the call for dialogue one year ago, when student Ryan Wolfe was classified by fellow-students via a racially-offensive term?

Classifying someone via a racially offensive name is a racially offensive act.  Yet, I seem to recall that the university did nothing about this — no investigation, no disciplinary action against the perpetrator(s), and certainly no calls for a dialogue about “tolerance” and “inclusiveness?”

It seems that our recent calls for “tolerance” and “inclusiveness” have become very “selective,” and I’ve become skeptical that desire for such a dialogue is nothing more than fashionable political correctness.

These calls for an inclusive dialogue are profoundly insincere.  What a shame.

Patrick McMullen

Associate Professor of Management

School of Business, Wake Forest University