The Political Correctness movement, backed by the youthful momentum of Social Justice Warriors, can take a seemingly simple situation and find the unintended offense. Today’s installment comes from Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey.
Students at Ramapo had planned an “American BBQ”-themed school-sponsored event, but administrators at the school have now drawn national attention after they informed students that the patriotic theme was too “offensive.”
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If you were to look at this analytically, you might find the logical fault in the administration’s argument. “American BBQ” might seem overly nationalistic to some, yet true barbecue aficionados would argue that BBQ, like blues and baseball, may have origins in other countries, but the craft was perfected here, by Americans.
To include the “American” adjective in the title is, by default, an acknowledgement that other national barbecues exist. A hegemonic barbecue festival would have simply called it a BBQ festival.
Yet that’s not how the event was seen on campus. The College Republicans and College Democrats clubs were asked to participate in the event. College Republicans President Taylor Gilson responded and said her club would attend.
Two days before the smokers were to fire up, Ariana Rivera, a residence director at the college, sent an email Gilson asking for a revision in the event marketing. It was noted that these revisions were mandatory in order for the event to proceed as planned. Campus Reform got the scoop:
What had them so concerned? The American concept in the title was illustrated with this Uncle Sam image, which the college considered too “military and recruitment-oriented,” even though it omitted the Army part.
The World War I recruiting poster, known as “I want you,” features a fictionalized portrait of Uncle Sam created by illustrator James Montgomery Flagg. It is a classic.
Gilson replied to Rivera’s email, asking just who had requested the changes.
“To be honest, I’m not sure,” Rivera replied. “I think it was administrative. I was told that our advertising was too ‘military and recruitment-oriented,’ because we had the Uncle Sam saying ‘I want you.’ I think? However, we saw other posters with that same idea, so I really don’t know.”
“[Gilson] and I asked the RA for more information as we were shocked and upset over the actions of the administration,” College Republicans Vice President Matthew Searfoss wrote. “The RA said that they had been using the famous ‘I want you’ image of Uncle Sam in several posters around campus to get the word out about the event, and the administration thought that these posters were too militaristic and not inclusive of the entire student population.”
Ramapo College acknowledged that the event was held. Despite the opposition, American flags were present. 300 students were exposed to them. But the “American” was gone from the event’s titling. Students who asked about the change were told there had been “miscommunication.”