As a white person, the only thing I can say in regards to Dr. Riley’s resignation is, “That’s not racist.” I know that this baffles him, as he told us all through his tweets. What do I know, though? I have zero opinion, according to him.
To be abundantly clear: Riley’s tweets were in no way deserving of resignation. Riley is an American citizen, with the same First Amendment rights as you and I. In his tweet, Riley states, “You have 0 opinion.” This is in reference to white people voicing their views on whether or not something can be deemed racist. Would it not be fair to say that this is in and of itself a racially motivated statement? His comments arguably cross a line.
Regardless, Riley’s statements were mild, and not something that anyone should lose sleep or a job over. Riley’s resignation is indicative of a much deeper societal problem. Our modern culture of tolerance and correctness has become a twisted shadow of its former self – a shadow that no longer only repudiates those views that are truly racist and insensitive, but also punishes the viewpoints of ideals, such as Dr. Riley’s, that are deemed “liberal” and “progressive.”
The modern machine of political correctness has become not just a tool for the left, its original creator, but also the right, who realizes that the only way to fight the destructive accusations of “bigotry” hurled at them by the left is with their own. While these accusations allow members of each side to collectively pat themselves on the back for some sort of perceived moral high ground they feel they have achieved, the only thing accomplished is a polarization of unimportant, inconsequential and frankly trivial matters.
The rainforest is burning. The Middle East is in turmoil. A trade war with global implications is occuring. We are here, arguing about whether or not a tweet, from an employee who truly made a positive contribution to the University, is worthy of his resignation. If I, as the Opinions Editor of the Crimson White, were to tweet something potentially volatile that could inflame racial tensions, regardless of my tweet’s content, I would probably be asked to resign. If the left did not find fault in my tweet, then the right surely would, and that is the fundamental reason why we can’t have an honest conversation about these issues.
Riley may have been forced to resign for racial reasons. We do not know, and we may never know. What we do know, however, is that this has gone too far. If this is racially motivated, we must take a step back to reflect upon how the institution of political correctness has become so corrupt that it can be used as a tool of oppression.
Nobody is in the right here. I am not in the right. The conservative talking heads and the liberal media are not in the right. Riley and The University of Alabama are not even in the right, because we won’t even have a conversation. We refuse to find a common ground that we can all stand on. Until we do, we must resign ourselves to the sad reality that we live in a society divided.