Pennsylvania State University has stepped in it. In fact, they’ve stepped in it to the tops of their combat boots. A video was recently posted on the Penn State website for the ostensible purpose of helping professors deal with disruptive students. But its negative and stereotypical portrayal of veterans has provoked well-deserved outrage from citizens everywhere.
In the video, an instructor pays a visit to her department head indicating that she is still having a problem with a student. The department head responds eerily, asking whether the referenced student is "the veteran." She indicates that, yes, it is “the veteran.”
The timid instructor then explains to the department head that she's very nervous because the veteran student has confronted her in reference to the poor grades he's receiving in the class. Then the video breaks away to a flashback. In the flashback, the instructor calmly assures the student, "This isn't a personal thing against you."
Of course, the veteran student responds angrily. His gaze is intense and evokes fear of a possible physical assault as he says “I think it is. You've made it very clear in your class how you feel about the war and you're taking it out on me." The instructor responds in a pleading tone, "My personal beliefs have nothing to do with the way I treat you."
At least two messages in this video are very disturbing: First, instructors are often unfairly attacked for injecting their beliefs into their courses when, in fact, they do not. Second, those assaults come from dangerous extremists on the right including, but not limited to, members of the military.
Both of those messages are untrue and intentionally propagandistic. But that’s not what Penn State is saying.
To their credit, Penn State officials have pulled the video from the university website. They have also admitted that the video could have been seen as a stereotypical portrayal of an important group. This may have been the first time the administration has characterized our military as “important.”
But Penn State’s assertion that they “certainly regret any misperception” is disingenuous. And I’m producing a series of videos in order to test the assertion.