I just returned from a ceremony honoring James Silver, who was a professor from the 1940s until 1965. He was a supporter of integration and was essentially chased from the Ole Miss campus. I wrote about the plans a couple of days ago.
I didn't think my opinion of Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones could get any lower, but it has. Journalism professor Curtis Wilke described attacks on Silver by the Klan-like Rebel Undereground newspaper and Citizens Council. He praised Silver for standing up to these attacks. He then introduced Chancellor Dan Jones, and compared the Forward Rebels movement lobbying for a new athletic director to the Rebel Underground, Citizens Council, and segregation supporters, and praised Jones for standing firm.
Jones had every opportunity to call for civility and point out that the Forward Rebels movement had nothing to do with any of these groups, but he didn't. Instead, he essentially ratified Wilke's comments by saying nothing, and going into a long spiel about about how the Ole Miss administration today stands firm against efforts to interfere with academic freedom. It was an obvious allusion to efforts by alumni to get Jones to fire athletic director Pete Boone. Earth to Dan Jones: The athletic director is not an academic post!
William Winter, who has written a letter against Forward Rebels, then gave a fine talk as he always does. But when he described those who attempted to prevent Hodding Carter from speaking on campus he referred to them as "Forward Rebel types."
The purpose of Forward Rebels is to push for improvements in the athletic department, including the firing of Pete Boone. I'm sure some supporters would like to have the Col. Rebel mascot back; most Ole Miss fans would. But as a practical matter that ship has sailed. That's not what the group is about.
For university speakers to take advantage of a public forum to paint members of Forward Rebels as Klansmen, Citizens Council members and segregationists is a sign of just how desperate these people are becoming. Dan Jones knows he is losing and is adopting a scorched earth policy is a last-ditch effort to win.
The Forward Rebels corporate structure is in a bit of disarray right now but the alumni-at-large don't care. There are almost 6,000 Facebook supporters and growing who support getting rid of Pete Boone and making other changes. If Dan Jones keeps up his despicable behavior he may need to go, too.
It's time for Curtis Wilke, Dan Jones and William Winter to offer formal apologies for these outrageous comments. A failure to do so would be an act of incivility.
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