“Don’t just interrupt a Senator’s meal, y’all. Put your whole damn fingers in their salads. Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out. They don’t deserve your civility.”
Those are the words of a tweet sent on Oct. 6 by James Thomas, an assistant professor of sociology. Over the past two weeks, this incredibly immature tweet has made national headlines, throwing Ole Miss into the spotlight and renewing the debate on liberal bias in academia.
Sadly, Thomas’s tweet follows the rhetoric of many prominent public figures in the last several months, such as Rep. Maxine Waters who recently called on her supporters for the harassment of Trump administration officials and Hillary Clinton who declared that there is basically no room for civility in our political discourse.
As a result, government officials have been chased out of restaurants, confronted on elevators, and even physically threatened. Coming over a year after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot at a congressional baseball practice by a political radical, this type of rhetoric is extremely reckless and further divides our country along political lines. Thomas’ tweet does nothing but add to the divisiveness and lack of civility that is currently plaguing our country.
Not only is Thomas’s tweet inherently wrong, but it is also unbecoming of an Ole Miss professor and an embarrassment to the university. To be clear, professors obviously have every right to express themselves and their political views. However, as educators, their words and actions carry a significant weight; they represent the university as well as the entire state of Mississippi. When a member of the Ole Miss community is publicly advocating for the illegal harassment of elected officials, it reflects poorly on all of us. The state of Mississippi, the university administration and the entire student body should universally condemn this professor’s childish and unprofessional words.
America is a diverse country composed of people with many different political, social and ideological views. Disagreements between us will inevitably arise. However, we voice our disagreements through debate and discussion, not harassment and intimidation. Shouting at U.S. senators and physically threatening their families has absolutely no place in America. Violence never has been nor ever will be an appropriate response to political disagreements. If you do not approve of an elected offical, vote them out. Respectful debate has always been the foundation of our political system.
Wright Ricketts is a senior banking and finance and managerial finance double major from Memphis.