As I am sure you have seen by now, a protest at Ole Miss against the re-election of President Barack Obama grew into crowd of about 400 people with shouted racial slurs as rumors of a riot spread on social media. Two people were arrested on minor charges.
Of course the university issued statements denouncing the acts, but, wow, this couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Just when we were feeling pretty good about ourselves and where we have come as we just recognized the 50th anniversary of rioting at Ole Miss in connection with the enrollment of its first black student, James Meredith — here comes this band of idiots that marches us straight back into that glorious age of Jim Crow.
One picture that spread rapidly on social media shows people burning an Obama campaign sign, but the university hasn’t confirmed that the picture was taken on campus. The chancellor said some photos shared on social media showed things that were not seen by police on campus, but the reports of uncivil language and racial slurs appeared to be accurate, according to an Associated Press account.
Some students and teachers used social media to condemn the conflict.
That is all fine and good, but it is hard to shed those images when we are fighting more than 100 years of negative imagery where it comes to race relations.
I get what it is like to want to protest.
But, for the love of God, it is astonishingly selfish and hateful, not to mention disrespectful to hurl racially motivated speech toward the president of the United States, regardless of race or political affliation. We have a job to do of teaching our young people better in the future.
Yet, in all of the buildup and hurtful speech that has been thrown around in the weeks and months leading up to the presidential election, maybe these kids are only learning from what they have been taught at home.
If nothing else, we have learned that we still have a divided culture in Mississippi and the United States.
We have come a long way since Mr. Meredith was enrolled at Ole Miss. I feel certain he would attest to that.
Yet, by the thoughtless actions of a few, it is painfully apparent that we still have a long, long way to go.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at firstname.lastname@example.org. or (601) 364-1018