Marc Yacht: If these are the kids, who are the parents?


The Oklahoma University Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) chapter raised the stupid-bar with their nine-second racist chant going viral. Media were quick to put aside the usual murder and mayhem to fully air this fraternity spectacle worldwide. Shocking for sure, such action proves beyond the shadow of a doubt the importance of civil rights law. If you can’t change their hearts and minds then throw the lawbreakers into jail or reach deep into their pocketbooks.

Although it is clear this is not a standalone incident, the racist epithets and suggestions strike at the very nerve of America’s unchecked racist history subtly continuing behind closed doors. Although SAE executives were quick to condemn the video, it is clear that the stink permeates beyond Oklahoma University (OU) and SAE to other more discreet fraternities and sororities.

The grandfatherly OU President, David Boren, responded quickly by shutting down the frat house and expelling the guilty. The investigation continues. I could imagine an emergency OU board meeting raising the specter of another Penn State circus and the need to quickly defuse the coming marches and media encampments. A nine-second video ended the fraternity’s tenure on campus immediately and possibly put the mark of Cain on a number of young students about to embark on careers. The video best described as mindless, reckless and stupid, still falls short of accurate characterization.

So who are these undergraduates finding joy in racist chants? A number of commentators have marginalized the video, particularly Rush Limbaugh’s comment that if the right group sang it, it could be a hit and win awards. It is said that his own staff, well-seasoned to Limbaugh’s unbalanced commentary, “pushed back” hearing this from “The Rush.” He will cry all the way to the bank.

One student apology thus far and some parent mea culpas wear thin against the ingrained depth of this nation’s racism. One can only wonder how these youth were raised by their crispy clean churchgoing families.

I play tennis pretty regularly and talk often addresses political issues. Discussions can get animated. I remember one conversation where the chat ruminated about President Barack Obama. One unnamed player made this comment: Any country that could elect a n—– for president is heading down the toilet. I looked at him and said, “Don’t talk to me that way!” I walked away and avoided him on the courts in future play. I might add he was a snowbird from the North. Even my Southern conservative friends gasped at his comment. The South too often gets tagged for racism, but there is plenty of blood on the hands of their Yankee brothers and sisters.

OU reacted swiftly and appropriately to the outrageous video. More may come with judicial review. Somehow, the answers also rest elsewhere. How do you instill appropriate collegiate mindsets? They are future lawyers, politicians, and community leaders. Does this loathsome video exemplify the best we can do? True, it is not representative of the overall college population. Must we outlaw such bigotry? Can’t change simply come from the heart? I would like to think so.

Marc Yacht is a semi-retired physician living in Hudson Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Marc Yacht


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