They came, they saw and, like it or not, they conquered.
Last week, Oxford was brought to its knees by demonstrations that invoke the question that every single Ole Miss student is destined to ask themselves while attending the university: What am I doing here?
We saw demonstrations from neo-Confederate groups, which didn’t meet their attendance expectations but still dominated state and national conversations. Nearly every major news outlet picked up stories regarding eight Ole Miss basketball players kneeling in protest. Oxford lacked access to clean water, heeded tornado warnings, witnessed a car crash on the Square and saw courageous law enforcement installed on almost every corner to make sure we didn’t collapse under a week that will undoubtedly be remembered for decades.
We’ve crossed the Rubicon in the conversation that will either serve as the culmination and conclusion of everything the university’s been doing to paint it as politically correct yet digestible or, inversely, the entrance into an era where divisions will be cemented.
The removal of the statue memorializing Confederate dead is now on the table, any effort to encourage the flying of the state flag is on its deathbed and anybody who can’t help but muster a tear of pride when Dixie is performed is keeping a stone face.
This is all thanks to a group of neo-Confederates with repugnant beliefs who marched to save their symbols.
Liberal activists’ message regarding the memorial’s removal is rapidly approaching its pinnacle, placing conservative activists on defense in what is looking like the fourth quarter of a losing game.
Activists are going to come for the statue next. Then, they’re going to remove more building names and install more overreaching diversity programs. These are nothing more than trials in what’s going to amount to the restructuring of every single institution at this school, depending on who is hired as chancellor: the dismantling of fraternities and sororities, the abolition of Grove culture, the dissipation of the moniker “Ole Miss” and, finally, who gets to receive special privilege at the university.
I’m all for having inclusive and constructive discussions regarding steps the university could take to work better for everyone. However, an attempt to suggest that fringe groups demanding the statue’s removal are representative of those who do not support monument removal, or to suggest that policies that are decided on the basis of outrage rather than calm discussion, is a blatant attempt at subverting democracy.
Complacency granted by the comfort of being in the silent majority has all but pulled the trigger in the death of the conservative movement on this campus, and if we don’t organize and fight against liberal policies, we might as well get used to begging to just be left alone. We will have nothing which is not granted to us by those who staged a coup on the common understanding of this university.
Conservatives must organize for future generations of people who wish to know this place. If we are to fail, we can say with pride that we did not watch this place fall victim as someone terrified to act, but as someone who stood and defended his or her beliefs with all he or she had. Yell with pride that you are an Ole Miss Rebel. Chant proudly that question “Are you ready?” and advocate, in classrooms and conversations, on behalf of Ole Miss.
May we be as Howard Beale was in the 1976 film “The Network” and say definitively, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” It may very well may be our last chance to do so.
Will Hall is a senior journalism major from Atlanta.