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Letter to the Editor: In response to “Affected by hate or bias at Clemson?”

I’m writing to respond to Katie McCarthy’s article of February 12, 2018, “Affected by hate or bias at Clemson?  We want to hear from you.” 

I applaud The Tiger for printing this article. All agree that there is no room in our society for hate or bias, at Clemson or anywhere else. 

But I’d like to add some information to that provided by Ms. McCarthy. She referenced the April 2016 “banana” incident at Ft. Hill.  I was appalled when that story broke. My first thought was, “No one associated with Clemson would do that!”  It prompted me to call Dr. Almeda Jacks’s office to ask if anyone at Clemson could shed light on who might have been responsible.  Although they didn’t have any hard evidence, they suspected that the bananas might have been a plant by someone not affiliated with Clemson, hoping for a negative reaction. In this era of exaggerated and biased news reporting, that seems a distinct possibility.  I spend considerable time on campus with numerous university affiliates, and this doesn’t strike me as something anyone at Clemson would do; Clemson leadership agrees.  Given the suspicion surrounding this incident, it’s unfair to label this situation a hateful act – not until we know for sure who did it and why. We don’t have facts to draw conclusions.

At the end of her article, Ms. McCarthy mentioned the Southern Poverty Law Center as a group that tracks hate groups and extremism. That threw up a red flag for me. As a former history teacher, I am aware of the courageous work of the SPLC in the 1960s in their pursuits in charging and obtaining convictions against the KKK and other hate groups.  That is historical fact –we all applaud it.  However, in recent years, the SPLC has developed a political agenda about what they feel is right and wrong (which they have the right to do), and have labeled as “haters” anyone with whom they disagree (which they do NOT have the right to do). 

My request of Clemson nation is this:  Be careful of “hate labels”.  While the SPLC is accurate about some of the groups they label, they are wrong about others.  Check, then double check, the facts before drawing conclusions.  Haters come in all varieties. But so do lovers.  And for those in the middle, well, we just disagree.  As free individuals, we have that right.

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