Two Stanford administrators, Dean of Students Mona Hicks and Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Access and Community Patrick Dunkley, sent a panicked email to students and faculty Monday night. They reported grim news:
“Two cords with loops that may represent nooses were found in a tree near the intersection of Campus Drive and Junipero Serra Boulevard, along the Lake Lagunita walking trail… The Office immediately contacted the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (DPS), which promptly investigated the incident with a campus arborist.”
Cords with loops that may represent nooses? That could be concerning. I wonder, is there any reason at all to believe that these cords, reported by a student, actually “represent” nooses? Or that they were put up to threaten black students? Well, no. On what was probably their strangest assignment yet tending to campus trees and shrubs, the dispatched campus arborist confirmed that much.
“Based on weathering and tree growth around the cords, it seems that the cords had been attached to the tree for approximately 18-24 months. We cannot be certain whether the ropes were deliberately fashioned in the shape of nooses, or were part of an abandoned swing or rope ladder.”
So, they “cannot be certain”, i.e. they have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that these cords were “nooses.” They even admit (without saying it outright, of course) that in all likelihood, the student had discovered an abandoned swing. But these brave Stanford administrators certainly will blame it on racism anyway. Because that’s how the game works. When racism is the accusation, there need be no evidence.
“To be clear, a noose is a potent symbol of anti-Black racism and violence that is completely unacceptable under any circumstances.”
In good form for college administrators, they move on to consoling those traumatized by the dubious news they themselves disseminated. They offer “mental health resources” to students and faculty, including therapy! They close with this: “This information is being shared with you so that everyone is informed as we move forward together as a community committed to calling out and addressing racism.”
Calling out and addressing racism? No, these Stanford administrators are committed to inventing racism. Though, I must hand it to them: Dean Hicks and her “institutional equity” sidekick Mr. Dunkley might not realize it, but there is a beautiful, almost poetic irony to the timing of their email. They rushed to inform Stanford students of an alleged race incident on the very day that the criminal trial of Jussie Smollett, the greatest of all race hoaxers, began in Chicago. That little coincidence is the cherry on top of this giant farce.
Unfortunately for us, the obvious, transparent nothingburger will be treated with maximum hysterics. At this very moment, I expect that Stanford staffers are writing up an unhinged statement for the President or Provost to send out to demonstrate their outrage -- and servility. The last time a “noose” was reported on campus, the President and Provost were blasted by faculty and students for failing to react with sufficient haste and antics. I predict that they won’t make that mistake a second time.
But it’s not too late; Stanford leaders can still do the right thing. So, I am now issuing a direct challenge to President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Drell: Show some integrity and do not comment on this matter. When there is no evidence of a racist incident, and when all evidence points to an utterly benign reality, it is your duty as leaders to not dignify the attacks on Stanford as a hotbed of racism by joining with them. It is your duty to reject hysteria. To do otherwise is disservice to students and damages the academic environment.
I promise you, no amount of humiliation on your part will ever appease those who depend on the specter of racism to sustain their professional and personal identities. If you participate in this charade of superstition, you may augment your anti-racist credentials, but is it worth your dignity?