For a Kansas City Star editor to call the subversion of a student election “Maoist” some students had to do something truly creepy. At the University of Missouri, that is exactly what they did.
The creepiness started with “student journalist” Brett Stover. An editor and anchor at campus radio station KCOU, Stover decided to explore the social media posting of those students running for class office, not just the recent postings but those of certain candidates going back to when they were 14 years old.
Presidential candidate Claire Jacobs apparently made the mistake of listening to too much rap back in middle school. “First boyfriend was a scrawny lil nigga,” she tweeted, along with a photo of her scrawny white boyfriend. She must have figured it was okay to use the word since many of the hip-hop artists President Obama hosted at the White House said “nigga” nearly as often as others said “and” or “the.” Journalist Stover thought otherwise and exposed her 5-year-old tweets.
Blaine Thomas, another presidential candidate, tweeted five years ago, “Japanese pitchers shouldn’t be allowed.” Why? “They are on…weird ass, oriental herbal shit.” If that wasn’t scary enough, four years ago Thomas tweeted, “All this talk about Michael Brown is pointless. White or Black, if you try to grab a cops gonna get shot…Stop being so sensitive.” Although Thomas’s opinion on Michael Brown was perfectly reasonable, Stover found that offensive too and reported it as though it were.
Vice-presidential candidate Caius Gillen, then a freshman, tweeted two years earlier that he was “about to watch a black man swim for the first time. College truly is the best place for new experiences.” Gillen was being sincere. He had given a black friend swimming lessons earlier in the day.
In the genuinely Maoist environment at Mizzou, the three felt compelled to make groveling public confessions. Stover happily tweeted them out in full. “I am absolutely appalled by what was found in my tweets from 2013,” said Claire Jacobs. “Today, I do not tolerate speech like this–not from myself or those close to me.” A snotty off-the-shelf young liberal, Stover reminded his audience that Jacobs made these tweets five years ago, not “six years ago” as she said elsewhere in her apology.
Stover also tweeted Blaine Thomas’s self-denunciation. “I was young and foolish and those tweets do not represent the man I am today,” said Jacobs. “I ask forgiveness from anyone I have offended.”
Current MSA president Nathan Willett flashed the kind of weak-kneed creepiness one has come to expect from student body leaders. He urged all three to withdraw. Not to be seen lacking in this reeducation smack down, the chairman of the Board of Elections Commissioners claimed these ancient tweets “created issues and concerns about the legitimacy of them running,” especially given the history of “marginalized communities around campus.”
Publicly shamed and surely worried about their futures going forward, not to mention their safety in the here and now, Thomas, Gillen and Jacobs all withdrew. When they did, the MSA student court saw fit to “declare the ongoing election void.”
Reporters at the Columbia Missourian, the official organ of MU’s School of Journalism, have reported on this junior varsity resurgence of the Cultural Revolution so matter-of-factly it is frightening.
Kudos then to the Star’s Melinda Henneberger for breaking liberal ranks and speaking up. “One wishes there were one or two adults on the case in Columbia. (Hello? Hello?),” writes Hennenerger. “If there were, they’d surely check the Maoist tendencies of those junior inquisitors who will one day look back on this chapter and wish they’d been a little more generous.”