Home Opinions Letter to the Editor Letter to the Editor: Response to “Your DNA is an abomination”

Letter to the Editor: Response to “Your DNA is an abomination”


December 1, 2017

To the Editor of the University Star:

As faculty members, we are committed to protecting students engaged in the “free exchange of ideas,” an endeavor heralded among the University’s core values. On November 29, the President of the University publicly denounced the content of a November 28 student opinion piece in the University Star as a “racist opinion column,” “abhorrent,” and “contrary to the core values of inclusion and unity.” We are deeply troubled by several aspects of President Trauth’s response to the column.

On August 25, 2017, President Trauth opened the semester by confirming her commitment to making Texas State “a place where ideas are expressed and debated; where minds are changed; [and] where an opinion some consider offensive is protected.” Where, we wonder, has this spirit of debate gone?

By denouncing “the column’s central theme” as “racist,” without identifying or engaging the theme, this response has, in effect, shut down the conversation, while also further fueling the chronic appearance of white supremacist hatred on campus.

There is much to debate in the November 28 piece. The column’s central theme, as we read it, is the “liberation of all” through the “ideological struggle” against the social construct of “whiteness.” This argument, even when clearly made, is challenging for the vast majority of people who are not familiar with critical racial theory and history.

The student did not help his cause. His title raises the specter of the long-debunked notion that there are biological racial differences that make one “race” inferior or superior to another. We wish the article had not referred to “DNA” without being clear that it was being used metaphorically, as Kendrick Lamar does in the song to which the title is referring.

In addition, though we do not question the student’s claims to have been treated badly by “white” people, his expression of “hate” in the column is troubling on its face and further obscured his meaning. Of course, the student has the Constitutionally-protected right to express this feeling in the space of a free press, but we feel it was unwise and unproductive to do so. Intentionally or not, he joined in the expression of “hate” that we hope we all agree, as the president put it, should “have no place at Texas State.”

Again, there was much to question in the column, but rather than engaging in debate, the University has essentially shunned the student, when, it must be emphasized, the student attempted (however ineffectually) to challenge the forces of bigotry and racism that the President denounced at the beginning of the semester.

Perhaps most troubling is that by so quickly singling out the author of this column—in a way that the University has not identified or denounced the perpetrators of previous, unambiguous expressions of racist hatred—and without acknowledging the larger context, the University has unintentionally validated attacks on the student. The author reports that he, his friends, and his loved ones have been harassed on social media, that he has been suspended from his employment, and that he has received death threats.

The column, as it was written, was sure to spark a backlash. But perhaps the attacks on one of our Bobcats could have been moderated if we had sought to clarify his anti-racist message, and if we had supported him in a public reckoning with the problematic nature of his expression of hatred.

Given the tenor of our times, we think the call for “unity” at Texas State may be premature. As Martin Luther King, Jr, noted, any unity arrived at too early, risks masking underlying tensions and settling for “a negative peace which is the absence of tension” rather than committing to do the difficult, and sometimes contentious, work of striving for “a substantive and positive peace, in which all [people] will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.” To strive for that positive peace would require engaging, rather than summarily dismissing the column and excluding a student from the University’s “spirit of inclusion” and its protection of First Amendment rights.

Finally, Texas State University is under attack; we see funds being cut for public universities and the abandonment of public education as a shared goal, as well as self-proclaimed white supremacists and fascists regularly targeting our campus community with their hate speech and violent threats. A student opinion piece responding to these threats, however imperfectly, is not the real threat to the University.



Dr. Jeffrey Helgeson

Associate Professor of History

Texas State University


Dr. Jessica Pliley

Associate Professor of History

Texas State University


Dr. John McKiernan-González

Associate Professor of History

Texas State University


  1. Oh so some little dipshit runs his mouth in a public forum that students and citizens pay for, and they decide they want to defund the institution that allowed the article to be published? Fuck ya dude. Maybe he’ll learn there are consequences for being a fuckn racist. And then there are professors like you who rush to defend this little shit head enjoying all the freedoms America has to offer. You can write a lengthy article with big words but if a white student in Alabama wrote the same article about blacks you would ask that he be removed from campus. Fuck this guy.

    • Racism is wrong dear “professors”….It’s not cute, clever or insightful, against anyone. This kids fascination with communism, possibly passed on by the above named professors, has caused 150 million deaths in the past century. They also spouted the same rhetoric. Young people rarely care about skin color, perhaps the author was simply treated poorly by whites because he first (or repeatedly) treated them poorly. Things are usually explained by the easiest explanation.

  2. “A student opinion piece responding to these threats, however imperfectly, is not the real threat to the University.” Yes, calling for genocide is never a threat.

  3. This article makes too much sense. If it doesn’t, please come up with an alternative argument. That way you can appear a little less ghetto Mr. Wattz.

  4. This is spot on. The student in question suffered a ridiculous backlash for bad writing without his ideas being critically considered at any point. Trauth shouldn’t have said anything, and the paper shouldn’t have removed the opinion piece. It should have been given time to be engaged with and clarified. It’s nice to see that some professors at Texas State are willing to stand up for student expression and hard dialogue.

  5. I was quite impressed with Rudy Martinez’ recent column. Sure, maybe a lot went over much of the readership’s head, but–in an institution supposedly devoted to higher education–that should be what we use to refer to as “their problem.” If you really read the editorial, it’s quite insightful. Is the term inarguable too much? “Whiteness” has a lot to answer for. “Whiteness” has lot to atone for. It’s time for white fragility to go the way of the Dodo. And it’s time for white folks who comport themselves like dodos to get on the right side of history. I am not ashamed of being white, but I am uncomfortable with “whiteness.” I applaud Mr. Martinez’ column. It’s a thought-provoking editorial and that’s what journalism should be about. What Martinez gets wrong is the arrival of the zombies. They’re already here. They elected Trump.

    • Nobody has even defined what “whiteness” actually means. What does a “white” person do that makes him “white”? How does a non-“white” Caucasian differ from a “white” Caucasian? Is a “white” person merely any Caucasian who doesn’t allow liberal college students to control his every thought and word?

      If you have a problem with racism, just call it racism. Don’t lump it in with some vague “whiteness” that you’re unable to define.

  6. It looks like your history professors need to be removed also. They are just as racist as the student who wrote the original article. I would never send my children to a college that allows a racist article like that to be printed and then has racist history professors who agree with it! I think its time to do some flood calling for some history professors to be removed!!

  7. Fuck all theses anti-white pieces of shit in the comments. Get ready for a rude awakening during the next election season #TRUMP2020 #MAGA

  8. As an experiment, let’s take some phrases from his article and replace “white” with “black” and see how it sounds.

    “Now I am become black, the destroyer of worlds.”

    “When I think of all the black people I have ever encountered – whether they’ve been professors, peers, lovers, friends, police officers, et cetera – there is perhaps only a dozen I would consider ‘decent.'”

    “You were not born black, you became black. You actively remain black. You are estranged from yourself and, in that absence, have been instilled with an allegiance to a [culture] that was never great. One that has continuously attempted to push non-blacks into non-existence through crusades that have been defended by the law.”

    “Blackness will be over because we want it to be. And when it dies, there will be millions of cultural zombies aimlessly wandering across a vastly changed landscape.”

    “Ontologically speaking, black death will mean liberation for all. … Accept this death as the first step toward defining yourself as something other than [criminals]. Until then, remember this: I hate you because you shouldn’t exist. You are both the dominant apparatus [in our culture] and the void in which all other cultures, upon meeting you, die.”

    Who knew anti-racism could look so racist? Also interesting to note is that only NOW do universities care about protecting “free exchange of ideas.” Had Martinez written any of the phrases I wrote above, you wouldn’t see a bunch of history professors rushing to his aid. These people are not fit to teach. Fire them all and suspend this racist.

  9. Scary! Signed by three History Professors…. In order to become successful, I had to forget much of what I learned many similar professors who had academic knowledge but no real understanding of the world and how it works. Perhaps these professors were successful in the real world at one point but I doubt it as their understanding of it is clearly lacking based on this letter. I personally think we need to start a much deeper screening process of the people we are allowing to teach young adults across our public universities. Concordia does it quite well by having successful individuals from the private sector teach and it manifests in a positive way as displayed by the effectiveness of Concordia students entering the workplace.

    I propose its time to make it mandatory for those who teach history to also understand it. We can start with our constitution and the meaning/intent of Free Speech. From there, look at Genocide of races and religions to include quite recent history and the effects of hate rhetoric. Beginning with the holocaust up to what has happened over the past couple of years in Iraq, Syria, Rohingya, Burma, to Christians, to Yazidis….

    Free speech does mean we can say just about anything we want but it does not mean it is acceptable and must be unilaterally applauded when one person ridicules, mocks or demeans another race. In regards to the path of hate speech…, our thoughts become words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become actions….

  10. OMG, these liberal proffs in (surprise) the mushy studies are so predictable with their little response. The writer advocated, for extermination of a race. What utter rot.

  11. If the OP of the original article was speaking about African Americans, and described their DNA as abhorrent… These professors wouldn’t be writing any letters to the editor to protect the speech…

    Think about that one for a minute.


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