But as a black person myself, I was particularly disappointed to learn that
the Africana Studies Department declined to assist in bringing Mr. Robinson to
Bowdoin. In a world of runaway relativism, there is at least one constant of
which I am deeply convinced. That is, your strength is commensurate with the way
you respond to challenges. Put another way, to create an academic—or any other
environment—where one's views are not challenged is to create a very weak
platform for the defense of one's beliefs. By shying away from challenges, the
department (which is by no means singular in this regard) has only served to
build a poor foundation for the ideas it wishes to disseminate, not to mention a
boring intellectual environment where every guest speaker, textbook, and
professor share the same views, and with little variation tell you what you
always thought was true.
Of course that wasn't the only thing that caught my eye. There were of course plenty of letter that expressed outrage at Mr. Robinson. Like this one and used what I consider pretty offensive language.
To the Editor:
Bowdoin College Republicans displayed their lack of openness by inviting an outright "Uncle Tom" to speak during Black History Month. Any black speaker who refers to the Confederate flag as a "harmless display" is a man who has clearly never read a history book.
This letter is not necessarily to bash Vernon Robinson directly but to question the mission of the College Republicans. Robinson is radical in his opinions and will cause a great deal of noise on campus, politically and racially. Why would the College Republicans choose to bring such a man to taint the image of Black History Month with views that are extremely controversial, especially given his race?
Robinson is welcome at Bowdoin as a Republican and a representative of the political world. But for his invitation to be during Black History Month is almost a slap in the face to the Bowdoin black community. It is distasteful to walk into Smith Union and view a flyer that says "a black conservative for black history month" or to hear the term "I'm black and I'm back" in reference to this man. To have Robinson speak at this school as a representative of Black History Month destroys the racial peace movement that has been formulating on this campus.
There are plenty of other calmer, less controversial, black Republican speakers that could have visited Bowdoin; however, the College Republicans picked the most controversial. It was not a well thought out idea to invite the most controversial black conservative to speak at Bowdoin, during Black History Month when most blacks in the U.S. are not conservative.
His basic language and insinuations are controversial and war-like, so why have him rattle the peacefulness of Black History Month?
Take for example this comment from Robinson: "The media will no longer be able to pretend that race hustling poverty pimps like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton speak for all black people. I want the liberals to squirm because they can't call me a racist."
No, he is not a "racist," but neither are most Republicans; however, he is a disgrace to the formulation of racial peace.
I am speaking as a student of Bowdoin, and it should not take only a black student to respond to this outrage.
William Gilchrist '06
Finally here's another column denouncing the actions of many in the college community.
Let me just state that I don't totally understand the hostility towards a black conservative/Republican. It is sometimes displayed by those blacks in a leadership position, but I can see that it can be done by liberal whites as well. And how is it that the liberals have the presumption that they are the only ones who can stand up for minorities.