Not in my name- Abir Mandal

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Any Public Choice professor would be able to tell you that a democracy is a flawed institution in its attempt to represent the will of the people. With a fragile 51% majority as its threshold, it sets the bar really low in doing what it ostensibly claims to do. Nevertheless, until God Himself decides to make the earth His kingdom and monarchy, a democracy that constitutionally protects individual rights is the best we have. Unfortunately, the letter allegedly sent out openly by the Graduate Student Government (GSG) to Dabo Swinney on September 15, 2016–although not quite–failed to maintain even this façade of representation of the will of those it supposedly represents.

The letter begins, and I quote, by:

The Clemson University Graduate Student Government, after much reflection, find your recent public remarks concerning the actions of Colin Kaepernick to be unfortunate in light of recent racial turmoil nationally and at Clemson.

 

Dabo Swinney made his comments, not voluntarily, but in response to a question asked of him by the press, on the 14th of September in the afternoon, if I am correct. The letter from GSG went out late morning on the 15th of September. Deep reflection? Really? One that lasted less than 24 hours? This would make the GSG the quickest thinker in the history of large democratic institutions– except this reflection was not the GSG’s, but that of a few individuals who decided they were bigger than the organization. Frankly, in the manner that a few sentences were haphazardly thrown together grammatically, it is doubtful that the creator of this masterpiece is even capable of any logical reflection, let alone a deep one, in less than a day.

At this moment, it is yet unclear to me whose bright idea this was—the letter was signed by the communications director of GSG, Brian Gaines, who resigned two hours after the letter emerged. Subsequently, the president of GSG, Tyrese Bryant, took ownership of the letter on behalf of the entire GSG and asserted that this letter was indeed endorsed by the group. Except, we don’t know that it was. No vote was taken on this letter– nobody except, allegedly, a few people at the right hand of the president deemed worthy of consulting on its appropriateness. To be clear, the GSG constitution does allow the president to send out executive missives. However, there is a big distinction between “can” and “should”. If you claim to be speaking on behalf of the organization, at least make a pretense to survey its opinion to any such proposal. You are not the government, Mr. President. At least have the courage to not hide behind the organization when airing your views, especially if you still maintain that they are right (I severely disagree).

The letter continues:

We also believe evoking the name of one our nation’s greatest dissenters, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to be a misguided attempt at repairing the racial tensions that have been plaguing our campus. While we firmly believe you had the best of intentions, the apparent misrepresentation of one of our greatest civil rights leaders is a gross perversion of that message and demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the issues African Americans face on a daily basis.

 

Maybe my history is rusty, as a mere economics major, as compared to some of our scholars in the communications department- but as far as I know, Martin Luther King, as a true Republican, did not protest on other people’s private property and NEVER on their dime. Mr. Swinney’s assertion was just that—a person who has signed a voluntary contract and who makes millions off a private entity should not use that franchise as a platform for his own views. After all, the football team is neither a public good, nor owned by the player concerned. What was so wrong about what Dabo said? If Dr. King, as a liberty loving leader, would take issue with anything, it would be you and characters such as the “open letter” communications professor claiming domain over property that does not belong to you– based on nothing but alleged racial disparities, which are not really backed by either the law of the land or statistics. It is shocking how easily it comes to such people telling other people what they can and cannot do with things that the latter own!

And how would people like you or Brian know more about the injustices faced by the disenfranchised population of the country versus Dabo Swinney, who is essentially a “rags to riches” story? You fellows attend one of the nation’s elite schools, probably on a full assistantship and don’t have to lift a finger except to opine asininities on the public forum. Unlike Dabo Swinney. Who actually has had to do an honest day’s work before getting to where he is. Some quote about the contents of one’s character versus the color of skin comes to mind.

The letter concludes in this manner:

As someone who enjoys considerable ethos on both a local and national level, you are among the most public of faces for our great institution. This ethos carries a burden; your words have an impact that extends far beyond the playing field. Graduate Student Government is asking you to use your credibility to issue an apology to the students, alumni, faculty, and community at-large for which your words have had negatively affected.

 

I, frankly, had a hard time deciphering the meaning of this paragraph, under my misguided assumption that supposedly coming from an American graduate student body, a missive cannot be so nonsensical. Perhaps the writer would be well advised to look up the meaning of words in a dictionary before attempting to use them? At any rate, I can only interpret this diatribe to mean that since Swinney is respected on campus, he should not use words that seemingly wounded the delicate soul of the writer of this letter and that Swinney should “use his credibility” (how one would do that, I am not sure—most of us use our voices, penmanship or the keyboard) to issue an apology. Not just to the writer, but to the ENTIRE world, seemingly. At this, I am stunned. It is not even clear whether this letter represents the emotions of the mere GSG, let alone the graduate student body AND faculty AND staff AND alumni. I have to admit that while I admire the authors superlative gallantry in presumptuousness, I refuse to let this logically vacuous, neurologically impaired and, overall, completely misplaced creation represent me, an officer of the GSG and a graduate student of one of the supposedly most intellectually elite universities of the region, if not the country. In fact, I call for an apology from the writer of this piece for pretending that it in fact does come from me and many others named in the letter. I suspect that my call, unlike that of the writer, would be better received by those on whose behalf I am making it. If not, I apologize ahead of time.

I am uncertain what some people are learning in the communications department, but they are certainly not learning how to communicate or how to exist in reality. Write whatever rubbish your heart desires—after all, the first amendment protects even such absurdities—but please, don’t do it in my name. Thank you.

To Coach Swinney, I say, Coach, you have no reason to apologize. Unlike these characters of whom Clemson should be ashamed, you make us proud each and every day we go to school here and beyond; and we wish you Godspeed for this and many seasons to come.