I worry that sometimes I come off as too critical. Yes, I am an old man, and I do bemoan the many changes the country has undergone in the past few years, but that does not mean I am without hope, or lacking an ability to remake myself. So, in honor of this time of year, I figure I would return to that old staple of childhood learning: the Thanksgiving essay that lists all the things I am grateful for. Yes, it is structurally inelegant, not to mention cliché, but seeing as those two things haven’t stopped me yet, why start now?
I am, first and foremost, thankful that Duke’s fall semester has gone off without a single scandal of the ethnic variety. It may be boring, but at least it’s not damaging to the institution’s reputation. We all remember last year when that innocent group of fraternity brothers was targeted for having a party with a, let’s say, “Leave Your Reservations at the Door” theme.
Now, I found the entire uproar from the Native American community preposterous. (And I would know: I made substantial money building low-income housing developments on old Indian burial grounds. Nothing says home sweet home like the haunting cries of a ghostly spectre.) The real sin for those boys was coming up with a delightfully marketable name for the party. Pocahotness? Brilliant! And they say the art of the pun is a dying one.
However, I do understand the need to kowtow to the media community, and luckily, Duke seems to have learned how to avoid racial PR disasters such as these. Now, I admit, I haven’t been keeping up with the Duke newspaper, so forgive me as I just make sure that nothing’s changed in the last few days. …
Hey, Ms. Smith. Just figured I’d dial you up on the old rotary. Yes, yes, I still find myself quite funny. Regardless, anything in the University news this week? (…)
Wait, what do you mean “a lacrosse player dressed in blackface”? (…)
As in, a white person dressed up as a black person for Halloween? “The Little Rascals”? That’s a show so old I don’t even remember it. And then what, they posted the pictures on this alleged “Interwebs,” and the story got leaked to a media outlet by some muckraking young-PC type? (…)
They were on an official Duke website? We posted pictures of a Duke athlete dressed in blackface on our own website? Intentionally? (…)
No, I can’t make fun of that. It’s already too absurd! I know my sensibilities are somewhat different from the times, but even I have my limits. I’m racist, sexist, classist, but I’m also old! People expect it of me! Christ, how does this school keep getting bogged down in the same hogwash? (…)
You’re right, I guess it’s fine, just a normal college party mistake, nothing too terrible. I don’t want to shame the girl, and we’ve all made PR mistakes. I’m obviously not offended personally, and I think the scandal will blow over. It wouldn’t be like, say, making fun of an imminent tragedy. Like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or something. (…)
Wait, what? What do you mean “there’s something about that too”? (…)
A student “forcefully disrupted a Palestinian protest.” Okay, I’m afraid to ask, but was there anything else? (…)
He was a member of the Jewish Student Union executive board? Are you kidding? Pardon me, but let me see if I’ve got this straight. You are informing me that, just as the largest Israeli-Palestinian conflict in years breaks out, a forceful act by a member of Duke’s Jewish community interrupts a Palestinian student protest? That isn’t just a lazy allegory some sophomore creative writing major came up with to symbolize the actual conflict, but an actual thing that happened on this campus? (…)
Yes? Just as I wrote it? No, no, I think I’ll just publish that as is. Well okay. Goodbye then.
Well, readers, on the upside, I’m still thankful for the rather lovely autumnal weather this University has this time of year.
The Grumpy Trustee needed to get in one more heavily preachy column before the end of the semester. Besides, what’s funnier than blunt social commentary with heavy usage of parentheses and ellipses?