A student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada was forced to issue a formal apology for emailing a picture of President Obama kicking open a door–all because some students thought the image was somehow racist.
The image was actually an edited .gif, and was shown by Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” last fall. It humorously suggests that the president may be fed up with press conferences. McGill student Brian Farnan, vice president of the university’s student government, sent out an email with the .gif and the harmless caption, “Honestly midterms get out of here,” according to Legal Insurrection.
What happened next is almost unbelievable: Another student issued a formal complaint against Farnan for committing a “micro-aggression.”For those not up-to-date on the PC lexicon, “micro-aggression” is the latest phrase of choice for leftist radicals seeking to blame racism for common annoyances suffered by people of all races. Minority activists at the University of Michigan, for example, have insisted that trivial slights, such as “Having your opinion second-guessed in a group assignment,” are micro-aggressions that betray the campus as a hostile place for students of color.
The .gif of Obama kicking a door was racist because of the “cultural, historical and living legacy surrounding people of color—particularly young men—being portrayed as violent,” according to the apology letter that Farnan was forced to write.
Technically, Farnan got off easy. Under the McGill student government’s Orwellian “equity policy,” Farnan could have been suspended or even dismissed from his position as vice president in the organization. The decision to force Farnan to apologize was apparently made by an “equity commissioner,” whose will can only be overturned by a two-thirds majority of the student government.
Like a true victim of the thought police, Farnan was forced to denounce his heretical email.
“Despite the innocent intentions influencing my decision to use this particular image, I have come to recognize the negative implications of adding the .GIF image within this given context,” he said. “By using this particular image of President Obama, I unknowingly perpetuated this living legacy and subsequently allowed a medium of [Student Society of McGill University] communication to become the site of a microaggression; for this, I am deeply sorry.”
The punishment of Farnan has proved controversial, however, and now the student government has plans to review the equity policy in the coming weeks.
UPDATE: “Microagression” defined: Catch 22. If you deny you’re a racist, you’re a racist; if you deny there’s no difference between races, you’re a racist.
Microaggressions can take a number of different forms, for example, questioning the existence of racial-cultural issues, making stereotypic assumptions, and cultural insensitivity. Some other types of microaggressions that have been identified include Colorblindness (e.g., “I don’t think of you as Black. You are just a normal person”), Denial of personal bias (e.g., “I’m not homophobic; I even have gay friends.”), and Minimization of racial-cultural issues (e.g., “Just because you feel alone in this group doesn’t mean that there’s a racial issue involved.”). “Colorblindness” in particular has been associated with higher levels of racism and lower levels of empathy.
Here’s the offending picture, by the way: