Over the past several years, I’ve written over 500 nationally published columns. Many of these columns have lampooned academic leftists for their blatant hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. But, regrettably, just last Wednesday, I did something that undermines my credibility in addressing such issues. So in today’s column I wish to offer a sincere apology to my colleagues at UNC-Wilmington, not to mention convenience store clerks all across America.
At about noon on February 18th I was sent an email under the subject line “Osama Bin Laden Found!” Naturally, I was very excited and opened the email without hesitation. The body of the email indicated that a picture of Bin Laden was included in an attachment. I opened the attachment and saw a picture of Bin Laden sitting behind a cash register. The photo had been doctored to portray him as a convenience store clerk wearing a “7-11” vest. It was obviously a joke. Indeed, it was a cruel, racist and highly demeaning joke directed towards Americans of Middle Eastern extraction.
The very fact that I laughed at the attached picture was bad. But then I did something even worse: At 12:38 p.m. (EST), I forwarded the picture to every member of my department.
My poor judgment created a predictable outcry among members of the Department of Sociology and Criminology at UNC-Wilmington. If no members of our faculty were of Middle Eastern descent, the action of forwarding the racist picture would have been tasteless and inappropriate. But the fact that we do have faculty members of Middle Eastern descent – among them junior faculty who are less able to speak out against faculty racism – renders my action in forwarding the picture utterly inexcusable.
So for this I offer an unequivocal apology. My apology extends not just to faculty members I may have offended. It also extends to convenience store clerks everywhere who may have felt they were unjustly connected to terrorism. Finally, it extends to everyone of Middle Eastern descent who may have been offended by my inappropriate actions.
In the past, I have been critical of my university for a number of racist actions, including, but not limited to, the following:
*Printing and distributing a student activity calendar with a picture of a monkey wearing corn rows. This picture made a racist connection between black men and monkeys.