Racial Politics and a Drum Major’s Death

Gregory Kane, Washington Examiner, January 4, 2012

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is a white guy and a Republican. For some folks at Florida A&M University, that’s crime enough.

The school is more famously known as FAMU. It’s a historically black university renowned for its high-stepping, dazzling Marching 100 band. But with that fame has now come some infamy.

Robert Champion was a drum major in the Marching 100. In late 2011, Champion died as a result of blunt force trauma. An investigation is under way to determine if hazing played a role in Champion’s demise.

Now if you think folks at FAMU are angry at those suspected of hazing Champion to death, then you haven’t been living in the America of the past 20 years or so.

Getting angry at those responsible for Champion’s death would require blacks at FAMU to get angry at other blacks, and we can’t have that, can we?

Instead, they chose to get angry with Scott. And what was Scott’s offense?

Why, this cheeky chap had the gall to suggest that FAMU’s board of trustees suspend FAMU President James Ammons until the investigation into Champion’s death—and a separate, unrelated investigation into employee fraud—are completed.

Here’s Scott’s exact comment, according to a story that appeared in the New York Times:

“For the sake of appearances and to assure the public that these investigations are clearly independent, I believe it would have been in the best interest of Florida A&M University for President Ammons to step aside until all of the investigations are completed.”

That sounds perfectly reasonable and innocuous to me, but FAMU’s board of trustees, some students and Florida state Rep. Mia L. Jones are reacting as if Scott wanted to shut down the entire school.

The board went into some pious routine about not giving in to “outside influences.” A group of FAMU students demonstrated outside of the governor’s mansion to protest Scott’s stand. (Note that there were no demonstrations anywhere, by anyone, after Champion died.)

Jones said that FAMU’s board “should be allowed to fulfill its duties in the manner outlined in Florida statutes without influence from the legislative or executive branch of government.”

If there were ever a comment that should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s Jones’. According to the Times story, she’s the head of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. These days “black caucus” is nothing more than liberalese for “blame white Republicans first.”

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