A Bethel University student was pressured into issuing a formal apology after he offended a Native American instructor by wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweatshirt to class.
James Jacobs, who teaches a class called “Social Perspectives, Human Worth and Social Action” at the private Christian college in Arden Hills, Minnesota, posted about the student’s offense in an April 19 Facebook post that has since been deleted.
“So your college professor is a Native American,” the instructor wrote, according to a screenshot obtained by The College Fix. “A Native American who has spoken multiple times about the offensiveness of Indian Mascots. Yet you come to class with an Indian mascot sprawled across your shirt… Bold move sir.”
It’s worth noting that the Blackhawks were named by their original owner, Frederic McLaughlin, who fought in World War I with the 86th Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Blackhawk Division.” While the military division was nicknamed after the Sauk tribe leader Black Hawk, McLaughlin named his hockey team in honor of the military unit in which he served. The appropriation of the name, as well as the team’s logo of an American Indian’s head, have come under fire in recent years for being a slur to Native Americans.
The Clarion, Bethel’s student newspaper, reported Friday that Chicago-native Cody Albrecht wore the team’s sweatshirt to Jacobs’ class the same day that students watched a documentary about the largest one-day execution in U.S. history, when 38 Dakota were hanged at the end of the Dakota War of 1862.
Other students in Jacobs’ class spoke to The Clarion under the condition of anonymity, and who could blame them after knowing that their teacher could easily blast them on Facebook for whatever thought crime of the day. The students said Albrecht had offered to turn his sweatshirt inside out after “becoming aware of the unease” that it had caused in the classroom.
But that apparently wasn’t enough for these dainty flowers. Albrecht reportedly said in his apology that he was actually contacted by the school’s social work department regarding the shirt and that he attended a private meeting with Jacobs where the two came to a reconciliation.
Jacobs wrote in an updated Facebook post that Albrecht later apologized in front of the class and acknowledged the purported torment that his shirt had caused.
“I’m glad to say that this became an incredible learning opportunity for the student we had a lengthy conversation about it and the student really listened to why those images are offensive and hurtful,” the instructor wrote. “When I posted last week I kept the students name out of it and I only posted because I didn’t expect the university to get involved, it has been my experience with other institutions in the past that situations like this would be minimized, so I really didn’t expect anything to come of it. Since that time the student has made a public apology in class and expressed what they had learned from this process.”
Jacobs said Albrecht had become the target of “some strong messages” since his identity was made public, and urged the student’s critics to knock it off.
“If you’re on campus and know of this situation please don’t send the student discouraging messages,” the instructor wrote. “They have truly matured and learned from this experience and we have taken big steps in the reconciliation process.”
Albrecht commented Saturday on The Clarion’s story, saying he was “disappointed” that it was published but acknowledged that it was “something that I have to own.”
“While I would love to focus on my intent of wearing the sweatshirt as being innocent, I have to take responsibility of the incredibly negative impact I had on this Professor,” the student wrote. “To me, I saw this as just a shirt, but to be able to attach human emotion to that shirt that was filled with so much hurt and historic oppression, made that shirt come alive to me in a whole new way.
“We are called to uphold the human worth of all people, for we are all made in God’s image,” he added. “Professor Jacobs and I both did things wrong in this situation, but the reconciliation effort between him and I and the rest of the class was beautiful, Christlike and was filled with Christ love. I welcome further conversations about this topic and want to push everyone here to seek to understand, on both sides, before pointing the finger. Let us all take on humility and seek to have love be the #1 root of all our actions.”
This is a ridiculous example of thought policing, but the student’s groveling is no better. While his diplomacy is somewhat admirable, I would love for once to write a story about a college student who stands in defiance of conformity and tells his teacher where to shove it, but that’s almost never the case. The problem with Albrecht is that he agrees with his instructor. These kids have been brainwashed to believe that a cultural infraction, however small, is worth a public shaming.
While Albrecht has gone overboard with his apology, Jacobs has been tight-lipped on his. Where is this instructor’s public apology for shaming this student on social media? Sure, he didn’t name Albrecht in the now-deleted post but anyone who was in class that day would have immediately known who it was about. This instructor played sides, and that’s not OK.
While I appreciate Albrecht’s effort to be “Christ-like,” I can’t appreciate this growing acceptance of liberal groupthink — not just on college campuses, but nationwide. You can’t criticize Islam or you might be a bigot, you can’t question the wage gap or you might be a sexist, you can’t support Trump or you might be a fascist, and apparently, you can’t wear memorabilia of your home team because you might be a racist.
No, I’m not going to boycott my favorite sports team because your delicate sensibilities can’t handle a piece of clothing. No, I’m not going to censor myself because you haven’t developed the life skills to react appropriately to conflicting ideals. One has to wonder what would have happened if this kid had worn a Che Guevara shirt in class. Would there have even been a story to write?