Deep question: Is a Hump Day camel … racist?

posted at 12:01 pm on May 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Maybe the headline about Twitter’s hot topic this morning should read Derp question. Yesterday’s update from Campus Reform on outrageous campus outrage hits close to home, both literally and figuratively. Literally, the University of St. Thomas — an outstanding Catholic school — serves the city of St. Paul and hosts the St. Paul Seminary, where I recently completed a terrific two-year course on Catholic theology. Both schools have outstanding faculty and well-earned world-class reputations. Figuratively, I’ve been tweeting “hump day” videos on Wednesdays for months, usually from the familiar Geico commercial or remixes. Here’s my favorite:

Apparently, some killjoys among the Tommies consider this … racist?

Students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota have cancelled an event to celebrate the end of the year after complaints that bringing a camel on campus could offend those of Middle Eastern cultures.

The “Hump Day” event, put on by the Residence Hall Association (RHA), was supposed to be “a petting zoo type of atmosphere” in which students could hang out and take photos with a live camel. According to Aaron Macke, the group’s advisor, the camel is owned by a local vendor and trained for special events.

But the event was subsequently cancelled after students took to Facebook to proclaim their concerns. The students said they were concerned about the money spent on bringing the camel to campus—around $500—and the implication that it would be racially insensitive to Middle Eastern cultures.

The Star Tribune also reported on the protest, ironically on Wednesday:

The original plan was to bring the camel to the St. Paul campus May 14 and turn the quad into “a petting zoo type of atmosphere,” Macke said. The camel, he noted, is trained for events like these and owned by a local vendor.

In fact, last December St. Thomas brought a reindeer to campus (also hired locally) for the same purpose. No protests ensued.

Macke said he’s not sure who started the Facebook page, but last week it was bristling with indignant comments. Some suggested the event was disparaging to Middle Eastern cultures, an example of animal cruelty and even environmentally unfriendly. “I think they thought the camel was coming from another part of the world,” he said, “[and] it would be bad for our carbon footprint.” Others simply objected to the cost. (Macke said the fee, about $500, was coming from a social event fund.)

This might be a perfect bookend to academic boneheadedness this week, although this one appears limited to a small number of the students rather than the school itself. We started off with Harvard claiming that a satanic black mass had nothing to do with offending Catholics, and now we have a camel from the local area being an affront to those of Middle Eastern descent just by its presence — even though the camel represents nothing more than Wednesdays. The Hump Day Camel meme started with the aforementioned Geico commercial, which also has nothing to do with the Middle East. I doubt that Geico will be pulling the commercial over this.

And why didn’t the Finnish Student Union protest the reindeer?

It would be simply amusing if not for this, emphasis mine:

“RHA’s goal in programming is to bring residents together in a fun and safe environment where all people can enjoy themselves,” RHA president Lindsay Goodwin said in a statement on RHA’s Facebook page. “It appears however, this program is dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe environment for everyone attending or providing the program. As a result, RHA has decided to cancel the event.”

“A possibly unsafe environment”? That suggests some intimidation went on at St. Thomas, and if so, the school should be looking into it. The organizer later clarified that the issue was resolved amicably, which means that they may need take a couple more communications courses.

Otherwise, this entire exercise is a joke. Camel imagery is used in many different contexts, often including one that should be very familiar to Catholics, nativity scenes. I doubt that anyone of Middle Eastern descent considers that a racist display. Sometimes a camel is … just a camel.

Oh, and … go Tommies.


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Ratso!

davidk on May 18, 2014 at 6:56 AM

Axe on May 17, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Get Off My Lawn!

davidk on May 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Eh. Our sins are different from your sins. And the ones that came after us, their sins are different.

Yep. Nobody should be pointing fingers at another. “let He who is without sin cast the first stone.”

But I get it now. You are tired of taking crap. Exactly like I was when I posted to you. I still think you are confusing generations, but –

FWIW: http://www.socialmarketing.org/newsletter/features/generation1.htm

Carry on.

*wildly inappropriate black-power fist*

Axe on May 17, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Mmmgowuh; Black Powuh. http://timelifeblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/219408.jpg?w=323

On October 10, 2011, Carlos spoke and raised his fist at Occupy Wall Street. He said “Today I am here for you. Why? Because I am you. We’re here forty-three years later because there’s a fight still to be won. This day is not for us but for our children to come.” The following day he appeared on MSNBC and on Current TV’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Carlos

Raaacism: https://screen.yahoo.com/black-power-olympians-statue-vandalized-062300420.html

davidk on May 18, 2014 at 7:20 AM

Eh. Our sins are different from your sins. And the ones that came after us, their sins are different.

Yep. Nobody should be pointing fingers at another. “let He who is without sin cast the first stone.”

But I get it now. You are tired of taking crap. Exactly like I was when I posted to you. I still think you are confusing generations, but –

FWIW: http://www.socialmarketing.org/newsletter/features/generation1.htm

Carry on.

*wildly inappropriate black-power fist*

Axe on May 17, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Mmmgowuh; Black Powuh. http://timelifeblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/219408.jpg?w=323

On October 10, 2011, Carlos spoke and raised his fist at Occupy Wall Street. He said “Today I am here for you. Why? Because I am you. We’re here forty-three years later because there’s a fight still to be won. This day is not for us but for our children to come.” The following day he appeared on MSNBC and on Current TV’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Carlos

davidk on May 18, 2014 at 7:22 AM

The double post is due to the mod not allowing a post with more than three URLs.

I broke it down, resubmitted, but then the Editor on duty let the first post go through.

davidk on May 18, 2014 at 8:50 AM

I believe that the liberals hate the mention of the words “Hump Day” because it keeps reminding them of Slick Willies’s indiscretions in the Oval Office. And of course if Hillary wins (Heaven forbid) the presidency, we will get the two for one like the last time. Make you wonder if the American voter is really a glutton for punishment.

savage24 on May 18, 2014 at 4:01 PM

No wonder my kid doesn’t want to go to college….

flstc on May 19, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Seeing that Semitic people are of the same race: Caucasian, how could it be? (And yes, Arabs are “Semitic”, not just Jews.)

Sounds like we’re in the “racist against women” territory.

Axeman on May 20, 2014 at 10:35 AM

jax may be a neurophysicist, but he or she is also a good example of how scientists aren’t necessarily good thinkers. “Hate Speech” is known under the older, more actually conservative term “bad manners”.

I read Ed’s original article. No mention of hate speech. And it is not thick with advocacy of Harvard shutting down the Harvard Black Mass, either. Ed writes: “The educational argument for conducting the ceremony is nonsense. One can have a lecture on the practices of satanists without actually conducting their rituals.”

To put this in perspective with the camel: a camel was chosen as a popularized symbol for “hump day”. It had nothing to do with middle-easterners. The presence of the camel is what is protested, and that presence is somehow thought to give an anti-Arab sentiment, despite that that is way off topic. Thus the “topic” of the camel is not even allowed.

Compare this to a black mass: a host consecrated in a Catholic church, host is chosen and desecrated during the mass. The content of the mass is to profane something holy to Catholics, and (if possible) “made holy” by the actions of Catholics. The reaction is on-topic and specifically against the desecration of a sacred object.

Ed’s reaction was “One can have a lecture on the practices of satanists without actually conducting their rituals.” So Ed’s argument was not “Shut the whole thing down because the very setting of a Black Mass (the camel presence) is offensive to Catholics.” Thus Ed was not originally censuring any speech, simply the action of desecrating a consecrated host, as if it were necessary to speak about black masses. (As a protestant, that thought makes my head spin.)

This is not taking something that was suggested in a totally different context and directing it into your own free-form outrage about the symbol that it presents in a totally different context, when you’re not really even the offended party. If you cannot see that, I have no use for your analysis.

Now, let’s get to jax’s outrage. The Black Mass is akin to what the left would normally characterize as “Hate Speech”. And in analyzing a segment of “All in with Chris Hayes”, Ed likens it more to “hate-speech” than an actual religious practice, which would simply vary. Islam is like another topic in the array or religious practices, but the Black Mass is more like a response to Catholicism, and a rather hateful one at that. (Again, I speak as a childhood Catholic who has rejected Catholicism in my adulthood.)

Jax believes in free speech. If all speech is equal and we, as sovereign individuals, can use any word we want to use, we can certainly use the word “hate-speech”. Yet, simply using the word, Ed is suddenly signing on to all the coercive behavior of liberals who use the word “hate-speech”, or something.

That Ed can use a word so offensive to Jax, while again, arguably not asking for any speech to be suppressed, is what Jax takes issue with: speech. And he or she invokes all the coercive behavior that we lend credence to by speaking and using their words. (Which is speaking.) All of which speech, erodes the liberty of speech the more and more it becomes common for people to speak of “hate-speech”–a word they have a right to use under free speech.

And if you try to defend Ed’s offense to use the word “hate-speech” in a post then it’s some part of Christian Taqqiya, or a Christian’s right to break the Golden Rule (given by Jesus). And again, writing words, which Jax strongly believes you have a right to write, can be so much of a offense to Jax, that it sets off some spasm he or she has to paradoxes of power.

However, paradoxes were never resolved by falsely equating Ed’s moderate reaction against the Black Mass with non-middle-easterners hyperventilating that the mere presence of a camel will be offensive to middle-easterners.

Which can also be seen as that false equality between a camel’s presence and content relates the camel to the middle-easterners.

Axeman on May 20, 2014 at 1:02 PM

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