UMD student paper bows to outrage over op-ed criticizing BLM
- The University of Maryland’s student paper published, and subsequently apologized for, a student opinion piece last week because it criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.
- The op-ed argues that some of BLM's rhetoric is counterproductive because it teaches children to "fear and fight the police."
- Students reacted angrily, created the hashtag "#DearKyle" to denigrate him on social media, and even blaming him for the prevalence of diversity trainings at UMD.
The University of Maryland’s student paper published, and subsequently apologized for, a student opinion piece last week because it criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.
In “The Problem with Today’s Race War,” Kyle Campbell asserts that it is “okay to talk about race” and that “everyone is entitled to their opinions,” but argues that movements like BLM are “problematic” because ”they escalate rather than alleviate racism.”
According to Campbell, BLM “teaches young black children...that they should fear and fight the police and that every issue they ever face in their lives will be because of racism” in an attempt to combat the “falsified concept of ‘institutional racism’.”
“Are they pointing at law enforcement agencies such as those in Baltimore and Dallas, where the departments are made up of 44 percent and 25 percent African American officers, respectively?” the junior government and politics major asks. “Are they pointing at our black president, who has arguably the worst record on law enforcement issues out of all recent presidents in his seven-and-a-half-years in the White House?”
The Diamondback subsequently added a disclaimer to the beginning of the piece saying the publication “expects its columns to be factually accurate and well-reasoned, and this column did not meet our standards,” adding that “we have left the column up in an effort to maintain transparency … [and] are taking steps to ensure all columns undergo a more robust editing process.”
The editor also added a personal note emphasizing that “racially discriminatory laws do exist, though they are more subtle than those of the past, and Black Lives Matter pledges to commit to ‘peace in our engagements with one another,’ according to its website. This story has been updated to correct factual errors and clarify the author's observations from fact.”
Criticism of Campbell’s article quickly escalated beyond The Diamondback, with students creating the hashtag “#DearKyle” on social media to dictate messages and posts attacking him for the op-ed.
“#DearKyle we will gladly point you towards the rights orgs + faculty + UMD resources if you ever decide to research before you write,” writes PLUMAS UMD, a “political/social justice” student organization that focuses on “substantive issues affecting the Latinx community.”
Another classmate, whose Twitter profile indicates that she is a Bernie Sanders supporter, mocks Campbell by putting words in his mouth, writing, “‘I’m a straight white male and I have never experienced institutional racism so therefore it does not exist.’ #DearKyle.”
“#DearKyle is literally the reason UMD requires us to take so many HU, HS, & Diversity courses,” another student opines, albeit without reflecting on what the controversy might say about the effectiveness of those courses.
Even the student body president joined the witch hunt, sharing a blog post titled “#DearKyle, Let’s Talk” that was written by “Two Young, Average & Black Girls” in the style of a direct missive to Campbell.
“Racism is a disease that has been plaguing this country since its founding…[and] as someone who isn’t affected by systemic racism in your day to day life, your ignorance is, at this point, almost to be expected,” the girls condescendingly assert. “Your opinions and attitudes (sadly) aren’t the most alarming part of this situation. The surprising part is that you’ve been given a platform to spread them. As is the case with most, you don’t see systemic racism because you don’t want it to be there.”
Correction: This article has been revised to clarify that the op-ed was not removed from the paper's website.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ericabau2