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Habeeb’s racism charge greatly misdirected

In the February 17 edition of the  “Oxford Eagle,” Lee Habeeb lambasted the William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation and, in particular, its academic director, Jennifer Stollman, for being politically intolerant.  This is a topic Mr. Habeeb knows a lot about.  He is a radio executive who has made his fortune producing vitriolic talk radio shows. He inveighs against the Institute—founded by a former Mississippi governor, William Winter — and denounces it as a hotbed of liberal extremism.  If it is, that’s news to the Mississippi Association of Police Chiefs and hundreds of other state and nationwide organizations that have invited Ms. Stollman to lead training sessions.

On the University of Mississippi campus, where the Institute is housed, it is an indispensable resource.  First, it works closely with administration, students and faculty to promote an environment of racial equality.  For example, when a student posted lynching threats and racial epithets on his Facebook page last fall, Chancellor Vitter responded with a statement condemning the student’s actions as “racist, offensive and hurtful.”  It was Ms. Stollman to whom the administration turned to help this student overcome his racial bias and live the Ole Miss Creed.

The incident made national news, putting the University in the crosshairs of the press once again. The Institute helps to deflect a negative and distorted media portrayal of Ole Miss by its very presence on the campus.  Its leadership is sought out to comment on racial strife by influential publications, such as “The New York Times.” This national exposure counterbalances a tired but persistent media narrative about our campus community — and it helps protect the reputation of the school.

Mr. Habeeb — who writes for “The National Review,” an elitist publication that compared Trump supporters to opioid addicts — should train his fire on racism and inequality, not those who fight it.

Abigail Meisel

Adjunct Instructor

Department of Writing and Rhetoric