In an interview, Mr. Schmidt said his goal was to show Dr. Journey “what normal Americans think.”
A student at the University of Chicago named Daniel Schmidt found out that there was a course being offered called “The Problem of Whiteness”. The course was described as an exploration of how the racial category of “white” has evolved over time.
Students explore how white people are treated as the norm, affecting, among other things, wealth and political power.
Dr. Journey’s syllabus included readings like, “How Did Jews Become White Folks?” by Karen Brodkin and “The Souls of White Folk,” a lesser-known essay by W.E.B. Du Bois.
Sounds pretty harmless to me. I’m not sure I would have agreed with Dr. Journey’s perspective, but I would certainly have attended the course before criticizing it. If she’s into tagging “white privilege” at every opportunity, I won’t be a fan. If she believes the U.S. is fundamentally founded on racists beliefs, I don’t believe you can really dispute it. Nor can you dispute the evidence of, yes, “systemic racism” in the U.S.
But let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment and suppose that there was something in this course that you disagreed with. Say you think that it doesn’t give enough credit to the achievements of white civilizations like Sweden and Finland and Scarborough. Or the ineluctable charms of tap-dancing. Or why “Gone With the Wind” is the greatest film ever made. At the University of Chicago, you are free to disagree— assertively so.
Even Mr. Schmidt admits that the University of Chicago has an admirable policy on free speech. If Anne Coulter wants to come and perform some witchcraft and spew her toxic white nationalism– let her. If Noam Chomsky wants to come and spew his toxic progressivism– let him. I’m being sardonic here, but I vehemently agree with the policy. Nobody should ever ban Anne Coulter from speaking anywhere. Nobody should ever invite her either, but, if you really want to, go ahead. Her character and vitriol speaks for itself. Does she speak for you? Own it.
But Mr. Schmidt, like so many of his ilk, didn’t choose to simply exercise his freedom to disagree. He didn’t even take the fucking course to find out what was actually in it and what the professor, Rebecca Journey, had to say about white culture. I repeat– like so many of his ilk. What he did was tweet ignorant comments along with Ms. Journey’s email address and photo obviously intending that she would be harassed. Not debated. Not disputed. Not argued with: simply harassed. That’s the way assholes like Schmidt and his party do it. And it worked, exactly as he hoped: hundreds of his “followers”– his sheep– sent her harassing messages, letters, and emails.
I would invite Ms. Journey to have thicker skin. She postponed the course. She should not have, and the University, which did back her up, should have taken modest if necessary steps to ensure that she was safe from any idiots out there who regarded Mr. Schmidt as something other than a moron. But she should perhaps accept that some hate mail — in today’s culture– is the inevitable byproduct of political polarization right now and the worst thing one can do is let them win.
Does she really want Schmidt to crow in triumph that he stopped the woke mob in its tracks?