During the Nifong scandal, Duke University launched a “Campus Culture Initiative” to determine what could have led the members of the lacrosse team to rape a black stripper and how the administration could change Duke’s culture so its students would never go awry again. The accusations fell apart, but the introspection continued, and this spring the committee reported that college students drink too much, that the school should break up fraternities and selective living groups, and that students should take a diversity class so they’ll be more understanding and tolerant. The Duke community responded to the report with either indifference or indignation: after all, some of the professors who led the Campus Culture committee denounced the lacrosse team and the student body on national television as implicitly racist and sexist some months before.
The debate has been active but misguided. Not one of the students, faculty, or alumni who have written the Chronicle this year has mentioned the word “love.” Love for the individual is what triumphs over prejudice. When I first see a person, I can classify his race and gender and sometimes infer his class and sexual preference as well. When I get to know him as a person, all these things become less important. The fuller I am with God’s love, the blinder I am to these categories in the first place. Without this breath of life, diversity and tolerance and understanding are just words. Political correctness, by definition, is focused on things you can’t say and don’t do. It’s the Ten Commandments, not the Golden Rule, and an outlook this negative is doomed. Don Imus, for all his professions to liberalism, was still an angry old man, and eventually that caught up with him. Surely resentment fueled the faculty, media, and Durham citizens who prematurely denounced the players. They were liberal and open-minded, I’m sure, but their failure to love subverted their ideals. The same goes for the conservative trolls who now haunt the Chronicle message boards. As for alcohol, drinking doesn’t ruin campus parties; jerks do. So let’s set the mild stuff aside and embrace a way of life that’s truly difficult.
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