By now, you’ve probably heard about the so-called Cripmas party at Clemson this past weekend in which fraternity members and their guests dressed as black gang members. Ugh.

Not surprisingly, the African-American student population at the Upstate school protested and members of the fraternity where the party was held have since been relieved of their duties. But there was another controversial party at Clemson that was held over the weekend that isn’t getting as much press. Read on:

Black fraternity suspended after offensive party
By Chris Haire

Clemson University’s president is calling for students to come together and support one another after photos of an African-American fraternity party ignited racial tensions on social media.

Photos posted on Instagram and other social media platforms Saturday night depicted partygoers dressed as Southern belles and Confederate soldiers, in many cases waving Rebel flags and brandishing whips and chains. A caption on one photo read “Merry Crackermas to all.”

Students said the partygoers pictured were satirizing the Old South. “Not only [do the images] mock Southern Heritage, but Clemson’s white students are concerned that this is a direct response to an earlier off-campus Cripmas party mocking gangsta culture,” one student wrote in an e-mail to the City Paper. “This is hurtful to all students and shows that Clemson’s environment is not the bastion of Southern Values as many have been led to believe.”

Sunday morning, Clemson University President James Clements sent an e-mail to students referencing the party, calling the events “offensive to the delicate sensibilities of white Southerners who are daily ridiculed by their Northern brethren for their fondness for rewriting American history and droppin’ their ‘Gs’ in conversation.” Clements said he would be hosting several poorly attended diversity seminars early next year “to foster productive discussion and unity” at the university.

Below is the full e-mail:

At a time of year when our thoughts are turning to family, holidays, and the start of a new year – all the things that unite us and bring us joy — it is discouraging that so many events and issues have reminded us that the wounds caused by America’s horrible racist past have never fully healed, making many students feel unwanted at Clemson, a great university founded by a slave owner on property once owned by the South’s preeminent secessionist. It hurts to read the disrespectful and just plain mean comments on social media, particularly those some cantankerous blowhard named Mat Apostrophe, or something like that. Last night’s “Crackermas” party, which the university did not sanction — like we did the so-called Country Gentlemen prior to the 1970s — raised more concerns about the campus climate. Clemson is generally better at hiding the long-simmering racial animosity at our school.”

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion about the events in Ferguson, Staten Island and the wall-to-wall punditry those events have spawned. Great universities are built on the free expression and exploration of ideas, as determined by the men and women of the South Carolina General Assembly. But the taxpayer-funded expression of opinion must not cross the line and become harassment or intimidation or a reminder that being born white in America comes with certain unspoken privileges, just as rallies and protest marches must not cross the line to lawlessness — unless that lawlessness involves the routine refusal to police underaged drinking on game day.”

Our core values – honesty, integrity, and respect for IPTAY’s ability to woo the nation’s top football prospects – must be more than just words and, wink-wink, free tutoring for student athletes. I plan to host a series of events in early 2015 to foster productive discussion about Southern Heritage and the role that great men like “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, the namesake of our signature building, played in terrorizing the African American population in the days of Jim Crow. 

Many students and others reacted to the photos on social media using the hashtags “#MerryCrackermas and “#Crackermas.”

One post circulating on social media urged students to write “#MerryCrackermas” on a piece of paper, describe how it made them feel, and asked the students to join a march to deliver the papers to Clements’ door. So far, he has received letters from Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and several other potential GOP candidates in the 2016 presidential race. Pat Buchanan has also penned a column on the matter, blaming the whole thing on Israel.

“Why be so openly ignorant?” one person asked on social media. “You would think people would at least have some common sense/courtesy not to remind white people that this nation was built on the backs of millions of enslaved African-Americans. Why can’t we just let them believe in American exceptionalism like Ronald Reagan intended?”

While numerous social media posts expressed anger and hurt about the Crackermas Party and the photos — like the one featuring an African-American male dressed as Scarlett O’Hara playfully whipping the backside of a fellow black party-goer dressed in rags — other social media users didn’t see any ill intent.

“So let’s say you had a Mafia-themed party,” one user posted. “Would that be as socially bad as a slave owner party, or racist against Italians? I don’t think so, and they are the same thing.” The poster was then reminded that Italians aren’t a race, while another posted Dennis Hopper’s famous Sicilian speech from True Romance. Then some asshole from Anonymous took over the debate and everything was all Guy Fawkes and Gamer Gate after that.

Another wrote, “White people need to stop being so (expletive) sensitive. And if this offends you, you’re probably part of the problem.”

Note: This post was inspired by a Fox Carolina report by Dal Kalsi.

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