Higher Education

David Randall, Ph.D. | July 14, 2020

The fight for freedom begins on Oklahoma campuses

David Randall, Ph.D.

Social justice permeates Oklahoma higher education—but it hasn’t stayed on campus. 

For years social justice advocates have used K-12 and higher education as a training camp for “protest”—and, as we look around the country, we see that “protest” is the camouflage for riot and mob violence to topple the statues of America’s wonderful history. [The photo above shows a statue of George Washington which was toppled and desecrated in Portland on June 18, 2020.] “Protest” is the cue for the determined attempt to impose cultural revolution on the country and a great purge of all dissenters from social justice orthodoxy.

“Protest” is often conducted in the name of “antiracism,” which is the new cult that seeks to enforce assent to the lie that there is such a thing as “systemic racism”—an indelible guilt that can only be removed by revolution. Antiracism seeks to substitute identity group preference for equal treatment of individual citizens in every realm of life from college admissions to jobs to policing. Antiracism, which seeks to make itself incontrovertible in any public discussion, justifies any propaganda, firing, or violence to enforce conformity with progressive orthodoxy.

It isn’t really antiracism in an accurate sense of that word. It is rather the usual social-justice perversion of plain English. Antiracism in this new sense is the dictatorial imposition of social justice orthodoxy, at the cost of all liberty and the rule of law. Antiracism’s destruction of liberty matters most, but it is a bitter irony that antiracism is itself grotesquely racist both in its calumny of all white Americans and in its idolization of racial identity.

Of course the antiracism cultural revolution has doubled back to the campuses from whence it sprang. College presidents and administrators around the nation have spewed forth a torrent of ritual support for Black Lives Matter and commitments to extend and enforce propaganda and race preferences to ensure compliance with the cant call for diversity, equity, and inclusion. We must recognize this cant for what it really is: a promissory note to transform higher education yet further into a social justice seminary. Each ritual obeisance to antiracism gives fair warning that taxpayers, parents, and students will be paying for antiracism indoctrination, not for education.

The obeisances are thick in Oklahoma.

University presidents in Oklahoma hurried onto the bandwagon to condemn the killing of George Floyd. Cameron University President John McArthur published his ritual condemnation, which included the defamatory claim “that we have far to go before people of color can truly be treated as equals in America.” Similar ritual letters of condemnation were published by East Central University President Katricia Pierson, Northeastern State University President Steve Turner, and Southwestern Oklahoma State University President Randy Beutler. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State University President V. Burns Hargis signed a similar “Statement by The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors.” Their peers at private institutions, such as John DeSteiguer of Oklahoma Christian University and Martha Burger of Oklahoma City University, likewise performed the prescribed condemnation of white supremacy and systemic racism. Every such statement by an Oklahoma university will be used to justify antiracism propaganda and purging to forward the cultural revolution.

The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) provides the best glimpse of what is coming. By 2019, the UCO College of Liberal Arts had already committed itself to an extensive, illiberal diversity regime. This regime includes measures such as:

  • The establishment in 2019 of an annual Faculty and Staff Forum to introduce concepts of unconscious bias and “normalized” racism to a large audience.
  • The appointment of an Assistant Dean in the College with specific responsibilities related to diversity and inclusion. 
  • The intentional infusion of equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the College’s practices, including but not limited to curriculum, assessment, and faculty and staff searches.
  • The regular self-assessment and reporting of efforts and actions toward achieving a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive community through departmental and college self-assessment.
  • Coordination with University efforts including the Committee on Diversity and the newly-formed Inclusive Community Response Team. 

UCO, in other words, was already establishing the bureaucratic apparatus of the cultural revolution.

Now UCO possesses an entire webpage dedicated to addressing racial and social injustice. Subpages include Resources to Support Addressing Racial Injustice (e.g., Black Lives Matter & Intercultural Development in Higher Education; Antiracist Resources For Your 2020-2021 Teaching; “How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi). 

UCO President Neuhold Ravikumar’s statement is more than usually self-abasing: “I am a white woman with privilege.” Meanwhile, the UCO Theatre Arts Department writes that “We will not produce or promote any theatrical narrative that supports inequality and injustice .... We are committed to actively addressing and dismantling white supremacy and racism in our community.” UCO Dean Catherine Webster, “with unanimous support of the CLA Chairs’ Council,” states that “We are aware that education and action in systemic racism needs to be a continuing process.”

The nub of all these statements is that UCO will intensify the existing regime of social justice propaganda and payouts to diversity grifters. UCO will tolerate no dissent.

As I pointed out last month (“‘Social justice’ rampant at OU”), the University of Oklahoma likewise is preparing the way for the cultural revolution. OU President Joseph Harroz’s George Floyd announcement presumed the existence of implicit racism and called for “real, systemic change.” OU’s Division of Student Affairs “will begin an internal review of Student Affairs on OU campuses in an attempt to eliminate implicit bias.” OU’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s Twitter feed has been busy, advertising a Diversity Dialogue on “Exploring the Impacts of Racialized Violence.” 

Meanwhile, the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy and the Gallogly College of Engineering have committed themselves to “antiracism”—which means endorsement of profoundly racist books such as diversity grifter Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility. Provost Kyle Harper, already under attack since February because “students questioned Harper’s dedication to diversity and inclusion,” will return to full-time teaching; the new interim provost is Jill Irvine, “the founder of OU’s Center for Social Justice.”

We have a fair idea of the sorts of changes she is likely to impose. More than 500 people have signed a petition that OU require “in-person diversity training” and mandatory “diversity and multicultural courses” for incoming students. That will just be the beginning.

Elsewhere in Oklahoma, the advocates of cultural revolution are flexing their muscles. Cameron University’s official Twitter feed endorsed “Black Out Tuesday,” as did Cameron Athletics. Oklahoma State University coach Mike Gundy was discovered to have worn a One America News Network shirt, and quickly issued a ritual apology and statement that “Black lives matter to me.” Eastern Central University announced that they would send a representative to support a Black Lives Matter march in Ada.

The cultural revolution came from the campuses, and now it’s returning to the campuses. Administrators and faculty are doubling down on subordinating education to coerced assent to antiracism orthodoxy. The chains on free minds are thickening throughout American higher education—and Oklahoma’s universities are not immune.

The fight for freedom in America begins on campus. Liberty-loving Oklahomans must step up to face this challenge. 

(Image: KOIN, CBS-6 video screenshot)

David Randall, Ph.D.

David Randall is the research director of the National Association of Scholars. He earned a Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University, an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia University, a master’s degree in library science from the Palmer School at Long Island University, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College. Prior to working at NAS he was the sole librarian at the John McEnroe Library at New York Studio School.

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