By The Hesperian’s Editorial Board
This editorial serves as a response to The Panther, who recently accused our publication of many horrendous acts, such as “actively putting faculty at risk of criticism.” (Yes, they really denounced us for that.) This is our response:
On Monday, April 19, The Hesperian published a comprehensive report about certain Chapman faculty members’ willingness (or lack thereof) in calling for an investigation into the disgusting racism of their colleague. For those readers who do not know: Chapman professor Liam O’Mara sent an image of a KKK hood to black political commentator, Candace Owens. Klan hoods have always been associated with racial intimidation and lynchings of black Americans, which is why O’Mara’s racist tweet was interpreted by Owens and many others as a racial threat.
The 159 faculty in question were reached out to specifically because of their willingness to condemn another professor, Dr. Eastman, for his controversial conduct just a few months prior. We thought that those same faculty would be equally zealous about demanding that their racist colleague be held accountable… We were obviously mistaken.
One of the professors we reached out to refused to comment on O’Mara, and instead encouraged the Panther Newspaper to write an article attempting to bomb our report. Perhaps he was opposed to our article because it was going to expose the 159 faculty members’ uncharacteristic silence as racial and political hypocrisy. It should be noted that the 159 faculty members’ public statement condemning Eastman was mysteriously deleted after The Hesperian reached out to them. Local activist professor Tom Zoellner was the moderator of the page. (An archived copy of the now-deleted statement signed by the 159 faculty can be found here.)
In an apparent effort to beat our publishing date, The Panther eagerly contacted Hesperian columnist Justin Buckner last Wednesday.
Buckner’s answer was apparently not satisfactory, so The Panther contacted Hesperian editor Abbey Umali.
Umali’s response was also apparently not satisfactory, so The Panther sent her an additional 19 long-winded questions. Umali exhibited great courtesy in, again, responding to their email, explaining that these additional questions would all be answered in our upcoming report.
The Hesperian had responded to The Panther’s request for comment THREE TIMES. The Panther never published any of those responses. Three times The Hesperian reiterated to The Panther’s editor-in-chief that no signatures were “forged,” nor were any signatures going to be used without “affirmative written consent,” as clearly stated in the original email to faculty.
On Monday, April 19th, after The Hesperian had published its report, The Panther chose to ignore our responses and our report, instead electing to publish a futile hit piece called “The Hesperian needs to resign,” which was undoubtedly their attempt to imitate our past editorial headline, “The Bullies at The Panther Should Calm Down.” It was in our editorial that we questioned why The Panther will write so many articles denouncing the Chapman administration and yet continue to operate with the administration’s money. We correctly noted that this was contradictory behavior for “a self-proclaimed independent Chapman student newspaper.”
We at The Hesperian do not blame just The Panther for being misinformed, because it was an activist professor who deliberately misrepresented our email to them. Perhaps The Panther’s uncharacteristically speedy reporting is due to the same professor desperately wanting their article published before ours. If so, we find it remarkable that one professor can so easily weaponize a student publication as his own propaganda tool.
While it took The Panther zero days to report on the Hesperian’s report, it took them 20 days to report on O’Mara’s racist tweet, and only after The Hesperian called out the blatant hypocrisy of The Panther in our April 2 editorial, “Chapman Professor Sends KKK Hood to Black Woman. Why Doesn’t Chapman Care?” Why was The Panther so intensely interested in Eastman (they published 15 articles about him) and so intensely disinterested in the racist conduct of O’Mara, even after it was reported on by multiple large news outlets? It is a troubling question that we doubt will be answered.
In The Panther’s editorial, they describe our reporting as “inflammatory.” Many readers were left wondering which part of our report was “inflammatory.” Was it when The Hesperian quoted faculty in their own words? Or when we paired their statements on Eastman with their statements on O’Mara?
The Panther’s editorial also accused The Hesperian of “blackmailing veteran academics at Chapman into heeding [The Hesperian’s] request to investigate O’Mara.” This puzzled many readers as well. Did The Hesperian “blackmail” faculty by giving them an option to not have their names on our letter? Additionally, every faculty member we named in our report gave permission to be quoted.
The Hesperian also gave the professors every opportunity to explain themselves. Nearly all of them refused to. How is that blackmail? The reason why the vast majority of the 159 did not attempt to explain themselves is because there is no good explanation for their moral inconsistency. The faculty painted themselves into a corner with their blatant hypocrisy. That’s the point. That is our story. It is not blackmail nor inflammatory to reveal that fact.
The Panther also falsely stated that The Hesperian tried to “threaten” faculty and “provide [them] an ultimatum” in our April 14 email. As we state in our recent report, “The 159 faculty members were specifically solicited to co-sign the ethics inquiry request because of their prior involvement last December in co-signing a statement denouncing John Eastman, the former dean of Chapman’s Fowler School of Law.” These faculty had voluntarily and publicly inserted themselves into public controversy already. They made themselves available for media inquiry.
In fact, The Hesperian had contacted the exact same list of professors a week before (April 8) requesting “a brief statement for The Hesperian Newspaper in response to O’Mara’s public racial intimidation of a black woman.” Not a single professor was willing to condemn O’Mara’s racism. So, we sent out our April 14 email because we wanted to be fair and balanced. We wanted to present their side of the story. We made clear to them that we were willing to publish whatever they say. We sincerely wanted to know their explanations, yet these faculty members thought that we were somehow trying to trap them.
Also, we do not have to coddle grown faculty members. They know just as well as anybody else what is legal and what is allowed under Chapman’s code of conduct. It was common sense that their name would not go on the letter if they did not give their consent. If we did do that, then there would have been legal ramifications for us. We still graciously responded to many professors assuring them of the obvious.
The ridiculous handwringing by some faculty (and their lackeys in The Panther) is a red herring meant to distract from their obvious hypocrisy. It is not accurate nor justified.
We did not publish a lot of faculty names that we could have published. Many of these professors have been shameful, yet we elected to not shame them. The Hesperian has pursued this story with objectivity, fairness, and courtesy.
To the propagandists at The Panther,
You, and the vast majority of the 159 faculty, are upset because you do not know how to justify your racist hypocrisy. So, you instead invent strawman arguments.
What kind of newspaper does not even cite our news story? It seems cowardly to try to prevent your own readers from having all the facts. So much for a publication that claims to be “storytellers of fact, not propaganda.” Your demand for us to “get off [your] campus” is exactly what we would expect from bullies who loathe different opinions.
You are free to disagree with our views and what we choose to publish. That is the beauty of freedom of speech and the press. We have faith that our readers will see through the red herrings, look at the real issues we have addressed, and support our missions to raise awareness of racism that was hypocritically swept under the rug, and our ultimate mission to promote intellectual diversity at Chapman.