Around a year ago, it seems that Sukhmani Singh Khalsa, a student and conservative columnist at the University of Tennessee, wrote a column criticising University Issues Committee for being liberal and one sided. (The Issues Committee is the body that invites speakers on to campus)
Upon reading Sukhmani’s column, one of the committee members, Justin Rubenstein, emailed some of the others, saying:
if you see one of those ragheads, shoot him right in the fucking face. [Sukhmani deserves] torture that would put the Spanish Inquisition to shame.
When news of these emails came out, Justin Rubenstein “apologized” saying:
“I was making light of a situation. I didn’t realize how much weight was involved,” he said. “There was no emotion behind the e-mail other than to make light of things. I feel really bad that it’s out in the public and out of context. “I apologize for any offense taken. I don’t plan on stepping down. There are things that the committee needs to go through, and I plan to right my mistake.”
The student activities director said:
“It was a late night fury of e-mails,” he said. “He (Rubenstein) got caught up in the moment.” “He was caught in a weak and dumb moment … and we all have those,”
This is an incident of religious discrimination, but not one of racial discrimination since Sukhmani Singh Khalsa is a Sikh of caucasian origin. In fact, the chair of the committee was a desi named Rashi Joshi. Here’s the only quote of hers I found online:
“E-mail is a good way to discuss issues and opinions,” she said, “but I do feel upset that one or two people’s personal opinions were misconstrued as the opinions of the entire Issues Committee.”
I can’t see how this situation resolved, but as of the intial flurry of posts, the student was neither disciplined nor removed from the committee. There was some attention to this issue amongst conservatives, who took it up as an example of exterme bias against conservatives being tolerated on university campuses (see this film for example, around 35 minutes in)
Now, let’s be honest here. If a white christian had written the same column, do you think people would have reacted the same way? Would somebody have written an email saying “if you see one of those cracker christ lovers … ” Do you think the University would have ignored it?
On the other hand, if Sukhmani had been a liberal on a conservative campus, could you see people reacting similarly to criticism, and the university similarly ignoring it? I can.
This isn’t about Sukhmani being a conservative, it’s about his being a Sikh. The quotes focus on anger against “ragheads”, not anger against conservatives. And Tennesse isn’t exactly a hotbed of liberal activism. The point here is that even if you’re white and you’re a conservative in the south, universities still feel free to ignore such behavior as long as you’re part of a group they don’t care about.
(As several commentors pointed out, Sukhmani was never directly threatened by Justin. These were emails Justin sent to other members of the committee. But these were still beyond the pale, and these emails sent on university servers, so it was worthy of sanction)