By Scott Tibbs, April 25, 2005
A friend of mine once told me that a lie does not consist of the words you say, but of the thoughts you convey. In other words, it is possible to say something that is factually correct and yet still be a liar. We saw a perfect example of that during the question and answer session following Al Sharpton's speech at the IU Auditorium.
Derren Chapman, a junior at IU, took to the microphone to whine and cry about a the Thomas Hart Benton mural in Woodburn Hall. Chapman complained that the mural featured a picture of the Ku Klux Klan. While what Chapman said was factually true, he lied by admitting two important details. First, Benton was an opponent of the Klan. Second, the mural also features an image of racial harmony, a white nurse treating a black baby. Other Benton murals also feature images of racial harmony.
The mural also features a printing press and a reporter using a typewriter. Those two images are important because Hoosier journalists exposed the corruption of the Indiana Klan and helped drive it from power. In fact, when the mural came under attack for depicting the Klan, Benton shrewdly "invited Democratic legislators to discuss the Klan and its influences upon their Republican predecessors." Democrats' enthusiasm for reminding people of Republican misdeeds saved the mural.
By purposefully omitting the context of the mural (which can be easily documented with minimal effort) Chapman used a brazen, blatant, bold-faced lie to advance his selfish agenda. It cannot be forgotten that removing the mural to a museum (which campus crybabies have been insisting on for years) would damage or maybe even destroy the mural.
Campus crybabies argue that the mural in Woodburn hall lacks the historical context, and simply exposes black students to an image of the KKK, an image that can cause hurt feelings. (Of course, they conveniently ignore the larger image of racial harmony depicted by the mural.) People taking classes in Woodburn are supposed to be "students", are they not? Is it so unreasonable to expect that a "student" would actually research the historical context of the mural rather than simply whine and cry that an image on the mural hurts his or her feelings?
And yet, to some campus crybabies, education is far less important than protecting someone's feelings. Indiana Daily Student columnist Alexis Silas actually wrote the following in a dissent to an IDS editorial defending the mural:
It is stunning that someone would actually write something that ignorant in the student newspaper. Perhaps the real question these crybabies should be asking themselves is whether or not they are cut out to be students at Indiana University. Perhaps Chapman and other campus crybabies should drop out of IU until they grow up enough to handle seeing things that might hurt their pwecious widdle feeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings.
The University's mission is to educate, and perhaps this controversial artwork is educational. But education shouldn't come at the expense of someone's feelings.
Whether you like it or not, the Ku Klux Klan is part of Indiana history. During the early 1900's, the Klan ruled Indiana politics until courageous journalists took them on and helped drive them from power. History is filled with unpleasant truths. The United States treated the Indians poorly and drove them from the lands where they lived. Nazi Germany and Communist Russia each slaughtered millions of people. Japan committed horrific war crimes during their occupations of China and Korea during World War II. Censoring truthful representations of history will not make these unpleasant realities go away.
The Benton mural must stay, because it now represents something bigger than Indiana history. It represents academic freedom and free speech, both of which musy be aggresively defended against a bunch of Politically Correct crybabies who seek to censor anything they disagree with.