Dear Ms. Mac Donald,
This letter is a response to your recent Washington Examiner op-ed, in which you accused The Emory Wheel of inciting outrage after you spoke at our university last month. We do not expect you to ponder our words with an open mind, even though you profess objectivity as the moral standard that all academics should uphold. Instead, we recognize the likelihood that you will decontextualize fragments of this letter in your next publication. That said, we owe it to our student body and the broader communities we represent to challenge the misleading claims that appeared in your op-ed.
First, we want to acknowledge some of the painful truths that were made apparent after you spoke at a Jan. 28 event hosted by the Emory College Republicans and the Emory Law chapter of the Federalist Society. It is true that many conservative students feel silenced on liberal campuses. The excesses of cancel culture can dehumanize conservatives thus fueling the increasingly hostile divide between the political left and right. We commend Emory’s student government for protecting your right to speak.
During your speech, you argued that programs intended to increase diversity are at odds with the very nature of higher education. You dedicated a significant amount of rhetoric to one simple point: “gonads and melanin” turn people into victims.
Ironically, your op-ed, entitled, “The outrage mob came for me at Emory University,” was a complaint about the ways in which you feel victimized as a white conservative woman.
You misled readers of the Washington Examiner when you wrote that “students in the lecture hall shouted in unison in an attempt to drown me out.” The speech you gave at Emory is available on the Emory College Republicans’ Facebook page. If you watch the entire recording of the event, perhaps you will realize that students never chanted over your voice. In fact, they listened to all 22 minutes of your speech and applauded emphatically when it was over.
During the Q&A session following your speech, students interrupted each other and expressed frustration with the event’s unclear question format. The only time that your voice came close to being drowned out was when the audience erupted into exclamations of shock after you said that “the vast majority of what is called campus rape is voluntary hookups.”
In your op-ed, you claimed that multiple students yelled “you racist b*tch” during the Q&A session. However, this is an abject falsification of what really happened. After your inflammatory comment about sexual violence, one student left the room yelling, “F**king disgusting piece of sh*t!” before breaking down into sobs.
To be clear: this is an equally offensive statement to yell at a visiting speaker. You are still human, and like anyone, you are allowed to be shocked by profane language. That being said, your falsification of a quote and the Washington Examiner’s failure to fact-check sources is unprofessional and disingenuous.
If editors at The Emory Wheel, a college newspaper staffed by unpaid students, can diligently follow up with their sources, The Washington Examiner, the “second-most trafficked conservative website, trailing only… Fox News” can do the same.
You do not speak for all conservatives. However, by blurring academic language with divisive political rhetoric, you have built a wall between liberal and conservative students. Your misleading claims dishonor and discredit other conservatives, including those here at Emory. There was no “outrage mob” until you created one out of accusations and demeaning comments. Students were eager to engage in dialogue, but you wanted martyrdom.
One of the most poignant statements you made in your speech was this: college students have “four years to encounter history’s greatest minds grappling with mankind’s greatest dilemmas.”
We ask you this: are institutional racism and sexism not among mankind’s greatest dilemmas?
In conclusion, we write this letter because we believe in the human capacity to return to reason. As the next generation of political thinkers, we hope to tear down barriers of distrust between us and our conservative peers so that future progress can be achieved. We ask you to evaluate your role as an instigator of hysteria and hatred in an already fragile political environment. Will your legacy be nothing more than that of a divisive hypocrite?
Meredith McKelvey and Boris Niyonzima
Meredith McKelvey (19Ox, 21C) is from Limuru, Kenya. Boris Niyonzima (22C) is from New Milford, N.J. They are members of the Editorial Board.