The Shark Infested Waters of the Ole Miss Riot

It’s not a secret that I’m not a big Ole Miss fan.

As a graduate of Mississippi State University (the Rebel’s in-state rival) and Louisiana State University (the Rebel’s out-of-state rival), I do not like Ole Miss.  As I’ve said before, if the Taliban played Ole Miss, I’d pull for the Taliban.  

Don’t misunderstand me…I’m talking sports, here.  My dislike for the Rebels – or, the Black Bears (the politically correct mascot) – is limited to the stadium.  I respect the institution and its academics.  And, I stand beside fellow statesmen that grew up down the street from me.  Regardless of our differences on the field, we are all united by a Southern strand.

Ole Miss made national news recently.  Apparently, some students were discouraged by the results of the 2012 presidential election, so they protested.  Burned a few Obama/Biden placards, and a few students took it a step further with some racial epithets.  No doubt, a cocktail was involved.

In no way do I support or encourage racism.  As a Christian, I believe that we are all created and loved by God, and out of obedience to God, I will love as He loves.  As an American, I believe that all citizens are entitled to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, and that our government must protect that.

No doubt, the South has a history of racism, and that history pains me as a Southerner.  History teaches us that there were unfathomable wrongs committed in the name of racial supremacy.  We learn history so that we won’t repeat it.

Racism is not a Southern thing, though.  Racism has existed across this country and does not limit itself to a region.

That’s why, when the national media reported the incidents – and all of them did with varying degrees of accuracy – at Ole Miss on late Tuesday/early Wednesday, I was disappointed.  Certainly, a handful of students went too far in expressing their disappointment of the election results.  But, what disappointed me even more is the need for the national media to create a story, making huge assumptions along the way.

Lee Habeeb, in his post Mississippi Yearning, gives an important view of the Mississippi that is now.  As a transplanted Northerner in a small Mississippi town, he makes an important distinction between this event and others than take place around the nation.

Why the double standard? Because the media is perfectly comfortable perpetuating the last socially acceptable form of bigotry in America – regional bigotry. I know a lot about it. I live in Oxford, Miss., but I wasn’t born there. I spent the first thirty years of my life in New Jersey. But after a decade of traveling around America, I could think of no better place to raise a family than the town Faulkner called home. Oxford is that special.

It’s time to move on from this type of media reporting.  The sharks circle looking for chum in the water, and if there’s not any, they’ll just create their own.  Dan Jones, the Chancellor, commented on the inaccuracy of news reports.

Unfortunately, early news reports quoted social media comments that were inaccurate. Too, some photographs published in social media portrayed events that police did not observe on campus.

The media seems to almost want a significant event to happen.  So much so, that they’ll create one if need be.  The only result can be to foster disunity in a land where unity must resound.  Let’s not perpetuate regionalism and support it with inaccuracies or flawed perception.  That’s a two way road that leads to nowhere.

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