As election night approached, one Butler University alumnus found a piece of campaign communication to be offensive and against “the Butler Way.”
Butler alumnus Eddie Journey received a mailer Oct. 15 from congressional candidate and Butler sociology professor Marvin Scott.
Journey said he was under the impression that at an institution like Butler, diversity would be based on the core value of respect for one another. Scott’s communication was the opposite of this, he said.
“The mailer is religionist propaganda designed to leverage an individual’s ignorance or fear of the other,” Journey said. “This mailer is designed to build upon misconceptions of Islam and those of authentic Muslim faith.”
Journey said he is surprised the university would have someone who says these things represent Butler.
According to this piece of communication, Scott is associating his opponent, Rep. André Carson, with Muslim extremists. Carson is a Muslim.
The mailer states, “But we know that, consistent with historical Muslim practice, the Ground-Zero mosque represents a bold monument to conquest, celebrating radical Islam’s violent victory over America on 9/11.”
It goes on to state, “Unlike my opponent, I don’t have the help of radical sinister benefactors or special-interest groups to fund my campaign.”
Journey said this tactic of using religion reflects Scott’s platform.
“Any politician that has to resort to such fear tactics in order to self-promote must have a very shaky platform,” Journey said.
“Fighting Muslim extremism” isn’t the only subject on Scott’s platform according his Web site, drmarvinscottforcongress.com.
His other platform stances include points such as, defending the constitution, restoring and protecting free enterprise and job creation, repealing the health care law and eliminating the deficit and reducing the national debt.
According to his Web site, Scott is running for office because he feels, “Republicans have a long and rich history with basic principles. Individuals, not government, can make the best decisions. All people are entitled to equal rights. And decisions are best made close to home.”
Scott wants to bring long-term leadership to Indiana, and make the state a “benchmark” for the region with success in the economy, education and community.
Journey said he is most concerned about the way this makes Butler look.
“As a minority student, this type of communication from a university professor may have been sufficient enough for me not to attend,” he said. “Hate speech is just that, hate speech. It is not political opinion or academic discourse.”
Journey said he wants the university to do something about it.
“A university that condones such behavior despite the numerous documents, position papers and mission statements to the contrary is not one that I would ever feel is appropriate for me,” Journey said. “To remain silent is to be complicit.”
Butler President Bobby Fong had a different take on Scott’s mailer and Journey’s critism.
“In expressing his opinions on issues, Scott is exercising his prerogative as a citizen running for public office,” Fong said. “By the same token, Journey is exercising his prerogative as a citizen in challenging Scott’s views.
“That is part of ‘The Butler Way’: respecting and defending the rights of people with whom we disagree.”
Journey said, in response to Fong’s statement, if what Scott said is “the Butler Way” that Fong is intending, he would return the diploma he received in 2005.
“We must recognize that there are additional conditions that have not been satisfied as it relates to academic or democratic discourse,” he said. “This mailer is neither democratic nor a discussion.”
Journey said that, because the university has an anti-harassment policy, there is appropriate and inappropriate speech.
Butler’s faculty and staff anti-harassment policy states, harassment is defined as “offensive, intimidating, or hostile work or educational environment.” That is based on things such as race, religion and national origin.
Journey said he believes that even though Scott may have said these things outside of the classroom, his words still have an effect on students and should be dealt with.
“If a student’s actions outside of the classroom are subject to collegiate disciplinary actions, why should such egregious actions by a professor be swept under the tenured rug?” Journey said.
Journey said that he’s not saying anyone should or shouldn’t vote for Scott, but that Butler shouldn’t condone hate speech.
“We as citizens have a responsibility for what we say,” he said. “Running for political office does not override this responsibility.
“If a student were to write this type of communication while running for an SGA office, we could rest assured that he or she would not be afforded such political protection.”
Journey said that if Scott wants to be protected by political speech, he said he suggests Scott sticks to real issues; Islam not being one of them.
Scott declined to comment.
Journey said he wants the university to do something about this because what Scott says does not represent the Butler Way.
“Words have power and people have value,” Journey said. “Let us stop killing each other with our words and focus our energies on causes that can make a better tomorrow for all of us. Yes, Dr. Scott, Muslims included.”