Lillian Charleston and the IUPUI Affirmative Action Office: I Have an Assignment for You.
Many commentators have pointed out how you found a student guilty of racial harassment based not on any supportable facts, but found him guilty based on who he was (an older white male). The student was found guilty of racial harassment because he was reading a book about how Notre Dame University fought off Klan attacks in the early 20th century. I have commented that people like Lillian Charleston and her assistant Marguerite Watkins, are stuck in a 1960′s mentality and ideological bubble that taints their perception of reality. No reasonable person could have supported IUPUI’s finding of guilt against the student. In spite of the fact that the charge of racial harassment was preposterous on its face, the administration and IUPUI’s Black Faculty & Staff Council were happy to go along with it. It took the Indiana ACLU, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, media coverage and the original investigative reporting of this blog to begin to bring this injustice to an end and it still isn’t over fully. The administration lost all good judgment in decision after decision in the case. Mind you these people are paid six figure incomes by the state to exercise good judgment. To say that they failed repeatedly is an understatement to put it mildly.
Now lets talk about the assignment – it is so simple even a PhD could do it. All they have to do is watch a screen for an hour and listen carefully. Of course, to benefit from this exercise, it has a prerequisite of a residue of introspective, so that can rule out many college administrators on the spot. What can I say, I can present the information in simple terms, but I can’t comprehend it for them.
But I digress…
I have never ceased to be amazed by Star Trek’s ability to take complex philosophical and social concepts and explore them in a fictional narrative. The Star Trek Voyager episode 23 of season four entitled “Living Witness” is the story of two peoples who had a great war and the Voyager’s crew had inadvertently gotten involved in the conflict. Seven hundred years later the crew’s medical officer (an artificial life form) is activated to find out that “history’s” version of events was propaganda and that propaganda paints him to be a war criminal.
The now unified worlds (after the war) use a three judge panel to examine the medical officers claims. One of the judges is a female from the losing side of their great war (and who still suffers from some discrimination as a result) and is convinced that Voyager’s medical officer is guilty because of who he is; after all they have been told from the time they were children that Voyager’s crew was guilty (ring a bell in race relations does it?). The more evidence gathered that shows the real facts that exonerate Voyager’s crew, the more that the female judge is convinced the medical officer is guilty and invents conspiracies to ignore or argue against the evidence. After being told it is about the facts and not about race she states in a snap of anger, “its always about race”. Those who think like her even engage in violence to stop the facts from getting out and wish to punish the medical officer and put him on trial for war crimes from 700 years before. Of course to them the trial was a mere formality because there was no need to prove him guilty, he was just guilty. Eventually it took outside cooler heads to prevail.
The woman who said, “It’s always about race” in the story displays the same attitudes seen in Charleston, Watkins and many radicalized university affirmative action officers. Some people just can’t move on and carry with them a hostility and a will to “get even” that makes good judgment impossible. My compliments to the writers for the brilliance in which they tackled this complex issue.
This episode was was the directorial debut for Tim Russ. Russ is a famed actor and is also a musician.
How do you feel about “Star Trek’s” ethical and moral questions?
“It is those questions that separate us from other shows, like ‘Dukes of Hazard’ or ‘Baywatch’. It’s the message received on Star Trek that distinguishes us from even other science fiction shows.” – Tim Russ