Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are so offended by a University of Wisconsin-Madison course called “The Problem of Whiteness” that they’re threatening to reject the state university’s requests for more funding and a tuition bump in the coming year.
The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that after a lengthy examination of the course, its syllabus and the professor teaching it, Rep. Dave Murphy determined that the course would contribute to the “polarization of the races” in the great state of Wisconsin and that the course would serve only to teach the youth to distrust each other, sowing seeds of hate instead of unity.
Murphy’s issue with the course starts primarily with its professor, Damon Sajnani, whose tweets following the shooting of five Dallas police officers by sniper in July raised enough ire for Murphy to call for his dismissal.
In one tweet, posted at 10:36 p.m. the day the officers were killed, Sajnani included a photo of news coverage and wrote, “Is the uprising finally starting? Is this style of protest gonna go viral?”
Earlier that night, Sajnani had tweeted a link to a song on YouTube called “Officer Down” and wrote, “Watching CNN, this is the song I am currently enjoying in my head.”
Murphy also expressed concern “that UW-Madison finds it appropriate to teach a course called, ‘The Problem of Whiteness,’ with the premise that white people are racist.”
Like a disappointed parent but worse, Murphy told the Journal-Sentinel that he really, really didn’t want to have to go through all the courses on offer UW-Madison, but as the head of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities he’s got one job and so he will do it. Don’t worry about STEM classes or anything of that nature. Murphy knows that the trouble certainly lies in the humanities. “I think we know we can go into certain areas of the university; we’re probably not going to go through things with a fine-tooth comb,” he said, before clarifying that his methodology will not be based on “a knee-jerk reaction to anything just because it has a word in it that hurts people’s sensibilities.”
Murphy’s protest of this course is joined by Sen. Steve Nass, who got his panties in a bunch in July over a UW-Madison lecturer’s decision to “assign an ‘offensive’ essay on gay men’s sexual preferences in a sociology class,” which contained references to oral sex. He also threatened future budgets for the state university, which is a very chill thing for a legislator to do.
To its credit, the university defended the course, saying that it “is one of thousands offered at our university, will benefit students who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of race issues. The course is a challenge and response to racism of all kinds.”
As for “The Problem of Whiteness,” the course description sounds like a very necessary and perfectly reasonable course for a college campus in 2016: “In this class, we will ask what an ethical white identity entails, what it means to be #woke, and consider the journal Race Traitor’s motto, ‘treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.’” The description also promises to cover institutional racism and to “ understand how whiteness is socially constructed and experienced in order to help dismantle white supremacy.” Sounds pretty important to me.