Clemson prof to protesters: MLK 'emphasized forgiveness, not retribution"

A political science professor at Clemson university drew a stark contrast Monday between recent student protests and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Civil Rights Movement.

In an open letter published by The Tiger, Dr. David Woodard contends that whereas Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message was one of peaceful, positive change, the recently-concluded “Sikes Sit-In” primarily reflected a desire for “revenge.”

The nine-day sit-in was suspended until further notice Thursday after the Clemson administration capitulated to most of the demands made by the “See the Stripes” student organization, pledging to double the number of minority faculty by 2025, restructure a mandatory freshman class to emphasize “responsibility as members of a diverse community,” and require all faculty and staff to undergo diversity and inclusivity training, among other concessions.

“The main difference between the 'See the Stripes' beliefs and Martin Luther King, Jr. is that the latter had a moral premise for his actions, ‘…it was not a doctrine that made this offense yearn for revenge,’ he wrote, ‘but one that asked for change.’ The only pastor to have a national holiday named after him emphasized forgiveness, not retribution,” Woodard points out.

“The ‘See the Stripes’ group is fixed on revenge, on embarrassing the university and they have little or nothing to fear from the administration,” he continues. “Meanwhile, the rest of the campus is persecuted by their antics, which have virtually no intellectual or scholarly merit. Their words and actions have none of the markings Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Dr. Woodard goes on to argue that the “curriculum” of See the Stripes is “shallow, narrow, uninformed as to historical events, and unworthy of scholarly consideration,” adding that if it is allowed to become the basis for a required course, Clemson “should change the name of this place from ‘University’ to ‘Indoctrination Center.’”

[RELATED: Clemson students challenge ‘Black Out’ protesters]

Comments on Dr. Woodard’s letter have been primarily negative, with many individuals taking issue with his argument based on his age, race, and gender.

“This is an unprofessional response to a movement with larger, more wide-spread [sic], and more current roots in discussions of race and this country than that of an out-dated crutch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, re-tooled through the lens of a white male conservative's ideological perspective,” opined one reader.

“I, too, reject your letter,” added another, declaring that it “exudes white male privilege.”