I’m throwing together a holiday party to distract myself from my loneliness and the fact that I spent the last of my money on salsa lessons from a homeless man who swore he was an extra in Strictly Ballroom. I was thinking of calling it Chanukah Riches and Kwanzaa Bitches—is that OK? It’s meant to be funny, so nobody should be offended, right? I’m trying to be as inclusive as possible, which means that I also need to find a way to work in people who celebrate National Fritters Day, which happens to fall on Dec. 2. If anyone can think of an offensive term that rhymes with fritters, I would greatly appreciate it.
Sure, I could honor the season of giving, gratitude, and camaraderie by throwing a party that doesn’t alienate large swaths of minorities, but where’s the fun in being a privileged white man—and I am, trust me, because all my readers tell me so—if I don’t remind people of that fact on the very thinnest of pretenses?
If you haven’t yet figured out that I’m referencing the uproar over a Cal Poly fraternity’s decision to throw a “Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos” themed party a couple of weekends back, then you’re probably just smart enough to attend said university. In which case, you’ll probably want to stop reading right now, because you can better spend your time scouring the Internet for slutty Pocahontas costumes.
Here’s what I have to say to the Cal Poly students who held—and attended—that party: If you wanted to remain an ignorant piece of racist, misogynistic trash you could’ve just saved yourself, the Californian taxpayers, and everyone else a lot of trouble by avoiding college altogether and instead starting a local chapter of the “I Like the Confederate Flag, but Only Because it was in Dukes of Hazzard—Wink!” Club. But you enrolled in college, which suggests that you recognize that you have some intellectual growth to accomplish and have at least some interest in broadening your worldview. And I’m sick of reading crap from people trying to defend you by using the First Amendment. No one’s arresting these twits for their behavior, but hiding behind an amendment meant to protect true radical thinkers and revolutionaries is a little grandiose when your platform is “hehe, ‘bro’ rhymes with ‘ho.’” There are a thousand and one interesting ways and purposeful reasons to offend people, and these spoiled little Cal Poly nitwits and insensitive shits (I can rhyme, too!) accomplished none of them. Worse still, so far as I’ve heard, not one of them has stepped forward to acknowledge his—or her—role in the party.
Instead, we have to go into a national holiday whose very existence is due to a campaign by writer and editor Sarah Josepha Buell Hale—yes, Cal Poly students, a “ho”—and which is, at best, historically complicated in terms of the relationship between white settlers and the Native American populations they eventually decimated, with visions of vapid Mustangs cavorting in moccasins dancing in our heads.
Now, we could all pull our panties out of our asses and sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner at which we’re not ashamed to share our town with racist morons with zero imagination and creativity if we actually believed the university was capable of handling the situation adequately. The administration is clearly aware of what’s going on, seeing as how they’re the ones who alerted us to the party with a press release decrying the unnamed theme and unnamed fraternity. Of course, we since learned the name from an e-mail sent to the Cal Poly Diversity Coalition.
What happened then almost makes a group of people supposedly dedicating their time to pursuing higher education throwing a “Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos” party appear almost rational. The Cal Poly administration turned on the Diversity Coalition for making the information public. And Political Science Department Chair Jean Williams turned on the Mustang News for printing the information, accusing them of “manufacturing a controversy associated with the Diversity Coalition.” Of course, the melee has done nothing more than distract attention from the issue at hand, by making the administration look like bullies hiding from having to take any actual action by vague talk of an “investigation.” Actually, Williams isn’t doing too badly for herself as a bully either, taking jabs at the college newspaper for serving its function, and in a manner that has been thorough and even-handed. In fact, I’d say the Mustang News editors and reporters are the only ones who come out of this situation looking like they’re equipped with any degree of integrity and common sense, which is not something I like to say about other local news sources, even if they are just foals at this point. But between the administration that’s directing more heat at the Diversity Coalition than the fraternity in question, a department head apparently couching her fear of the administration in high-handed rhetoric directed at a student newspaper that did nothing wrong, and a fraternity that decides to celebrate Thanksgiving by living up to every negative frat stereotype, well, the Mustang News may be more than its university deserves.
Because as much as I’d like to believe that incidents like these occur in a vacuum, they obviously don’t. No one even seems all that surprised that a large group of Cal Poly students manufactured and took part in such a blatantly racist and misogynistic event. And that’s the saddest part of all. College is a place for idealism, for unrealistic holding-hands-around-the-world give-peace-a-chance idealism. These kids should be going home for Thanksgiving and ranting to their extended family about genocide—as if none of their aunts or uncles had ever heard the term. They should be hatching grandiose schemes for making the world a better place. Instead, they’re reinforcing Mayor Jan Marx’s alarmist attitude about parties and young people, and that may just be the very worst crime of all.
Shredder avoids eating lobster since it was served at the “first Thanksgiving.” Send substitutes to firstname.lastname@example.org.