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I am writing in response to a recent Harvard Crimson article ("Confederate Flags Must Vanish," Editorial, March 4, 1996) and attitude here at Harvard that has deeply troubled me for some time. Throughout my time here I have never regretted my decision to choose this school and have actively joined in the multitude of positive opportunities it provides. Harvard has a fine tradition of being open to intelligent debate and the reputation of being a place where all people are accepted; however, there seems to be one group of students here that is constantly misunderstood and biased against--Southerners. As a Crimson Key tour guide, nothing troubles me more than having to show people that Harvard lists the names of all Harvard students who have died in various wars, except the southern students who died in the Civil War. This only tells me that Harvard must find those students from the South as somehow inferior or different from their northern classmates.
This general anti-Southern consensus became all to clear to me when I read in the paper that staff editorials represent the official positions of The Crimson. Brown's article was entitled "Confederate Flags Must Vanish." I am not writing in defense of the Confederate Flag or of the racist connotations associated with it, but in defense of Harvard students from the South who were brutally stereotyped by this piece.
This article makes a valid argument against slavery, facism and racism while in the process indicting ALL Southerners as espousing such views. For example, "Thus it is safe to assume that a majority of white Southerners continue to uphold some of Dixie's most persistent traditions--a stubborn rejection of rational thought and a rancorous veneration of the profane." If this were true of most people from the South, I hardly think that Harvard would allow such ignorance into its hallowed halls. It goes on to insult some of America's, not just the South's, senior politicians with "At least the North never thrust such jabbering Neanderthals such as Strom Thurmond, Jessie Helms, George Wallace...onto the national stage." The final biting prejudice against Southerners I will highlight states "most Southern whites were so crippled by inbred cultural racism that they could barely demonstrate that they were morally or intellectually superior to brute beasts." A Southerner I am; a brute beast I am not.
This article fails to recognize that such a biased and prejudiced view only serves to undermine the legitimate argument against racism associated with the flag while perpetuating regional rivalries better forgotten. In the Handbook for Students, Harvard says, "Any form of discrimination based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs...is contrary to the principles and policies of Harvard University." Does this policy exclude the constant stereotyping of Southern students, or could it be that Harvard still adheres to the same regional rivalry the South is often criticized for? At the very least, I would hope that The Crimson could find the dignity to print an intelligent apology to all of the students who were outraged by this article. --William Jason Cagle '98
Editor's Note: David W. Brown's editorial was not a staff editorial and thus does not represent the official position of The Crimson.
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