I apologize in advance if anything that I say offends.
I don’t see the racial struggle aspect of this story. What I see is a struggle of two individuals who are unable or unwilling to acknowledge the perspective of each other. Both are able to point to different research done by historians supporting their point of view. Both doggedly clung to their own beliefs based on their own research that they mistakenly assumed made their perspective unassailable.
Both should have stepped away at some point and simply ‘agreed to disagree’.
Did the professor exhibit unprofessional and despicable behavior? Yes, of course.
Did the student pursue a course of action that contributed to the adversarial nature of this disagreement and sharpened this conflict? IMO, yes.
If anything is to be learned from this expose, it is that differing opinions based on research should not lead to unrestricted warfare. The educational environment should provide plenty of room for questioning and skepticism. Even if I choose to believe that 2+2=3 and I am able to provide arguments to support my supposition, the process of defending my argument should be appreciated, not attacked. Even in the final determination that the argument I supported was wrong.
I agree with many responses here that assert that this was NOT about racism, it was a story about conflict that should have been avoided but was based on the hubris exhibited by both sides of the argument.
You can choose to disagree with my opinion, it is based on the very little objective information in this writing without the benefit of hearing input from the other side. I am willing to see other viewpoints. I am not willing to go to war or engage in an Internet name-calling contest over my opinion.
It is possible in any argument for both sides to be right while simultaneously being wrong.
In this case they were both right based on their research while also being both wrong based on their behavior and lack of respect for opposing viewpoints. The unfortunate outcome is that this became adversarial. Each should have realized that their arguments were not unassailable. Even though they could not embrace the others assertions, they should have at least respected the process by which those conclusions were assembled.
Very sad story that parallels the same type of mindset prevalent in much of society today. I’m right, you’re wrong because you are (stupid, racist, democrat, republican, male, female, black, white, gay, foreign, red-neck…) take your pick.
Especially distasteful when those arguments are preceded with an espousement of tolerance but conclude with intolerance.