UAB President Ray Watts’s condemnation of Dr. Sarah Parcak, a professor in the anthropology department, is unfounded and based on the brute fact that Watts is out of touch with the culture of UAB.
UAB purports itself to be a beacon of diversity and inclusion. Touting diversity statistics and claiming the rich history of Birmingham.
However, UAB can’t even manage to quickly and strongly condemn the continued presence of white nationalists on our campus. When the revelation became too public UAB’s response to students was that they recognize the free speech of the individuals in question.
Even when one of those individuals, who is still gainfully employed by the university, made sure to mention the number of guns he owns when his blog was made public. A clear threat to students and others who had an issue with the content he had been posting.
But Parcak’s right to free speech has not been included in why she is well within her right to post jokes on Twitter. She never made threats to students, she merely joked about the death of a man who is disliked by liberals and right wingers alike.
Parcak’s tweets were not beyond the pale. They were a reasonable revelry in the death of a man who hosted an “AIDS Update” segment on his radio show in 1990 where he made fun of gay people dying from the illness by playing mocking tunes.
There is no reason there should be a stronger condemnation of a professor mocking an already dead man when another professor proclaims that ethnonationalism is a positive thing that should be practiced.
The condemnation of Parcak is self-serving. Students and faculty do not feel any safer knowing that the university president is going to put them on blast on Twitter for retweeting memes. In fact, faculty probably feel the opposite.
The condemnation was originally posted at 7:29 PM on Wednesday. The original post was deleted and an identical one went up at 8:37 PM. Perhaps due to the heat in the replies, which wasn’t any better on the repost.
In the replies and quote Tweets of the current post you can see an overwhelming amount of upset students who want to know why this condemnation was so fast while we waited for the half-hearted apology for the presence of white nationalists on campus.
Students are just asking for UAB administration to respect them as human beings. These two responses are shockingly different in tone.
Jeffrey Morris and Michael Williams weren’t even given a name in the university’s email to students but Parcak’s was on full display.
The post may even serve to endanger her due to the local virality of it as well as the nature of it being about a high-profile figure. The online-right are known for their willingness to dox and send threats to people they disagree with.
Watts had no legitimate reason for such a harsh response to Parcak’s Tweets and it only served to further sour the student body’s attitude toward the president and reopen the wounds of the other times their voices have gone unheard.