A Line-by-Line Response to Dr. Everett Piper’s ‘This Is Not A Day Care’ Open Letter
Earlier this week, Oklahoma Wesleyan University president Dr. Everett Piper penned an open letter to President Obama regarding an incident where an OWU student reported feeling ‘victimized’ by a university sermon. Here’s our line-by-line response:
This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13.
One thing I’ve noticed about this culture of “victimization” people love to vilify — much like the term “PC,” is that the phrase “victim” is largely only used by people outside of the situation as a way to discredit it. Which is to say, I don’t believe anybody used this word sincerely to describe themselves to this guy.
It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.
“It Appears.” Just want to point out that Everett’s making it clear he didn’t have a conversation with the kid.
I’m not making this up.
In two sentences he’s dropped an “actually” and an “I’m not making this up.” Hamlet, III.II.18
Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic.
You wrote a book titled “Why I Am A Liberal and Other Conservative Ideas.” You have been doing podcasts to promote this letter.
Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”
This is the first time I have seen anybody conflate the concept of “haters” with institutional racism. This is the equivalent of the same cultural gaps that make morning hosts trying to dab look so silly, only manifested in a way that makes you realize every single experience you had that you thought was “normal” was really just “normal for a white person.”
I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen.
You didn’t have one when he was actually in front of you listening, though. From the jump, you are acknowledging you don’t give a shit whether anyone actually hears this message.
That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience.
You make a lot of assumptions about the feelings of others for somebody who is so against narcissism.
An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness.
What exactly, Everett, were the sins of the students fighting against bigotry?
The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.
“Narcissism is bad, but I can tell you the whole point of Christianity-despite the fact that it’s the most trenchant belief in modern human history and people have literally fought wars over disagreements about the point of it – in one word.”
So here’s my advice:
Here is my completely unsolicited and unwanted advice.
If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.
A University President telling some of his students they should leave his school doesn’t seem like the best look, but I’ve never run a University.
If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate;
This is probably the most impressive dog-whistling I have ever seen. It may become as trenchant as “thug.” I don’t have anything else for this one.
if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn;
This is one of my favorite lines in the history of writing. Everett Piper and Chet Haze will undoubtedly be competing in the finals at the World Lack of Self Awareness Championships in Helsinki next April.
if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted,
For the record, we now have a University President on record saying he does not think Universities should help their students accomplish their goals. That’s pretty great.
there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.
I am glad he included this parenthetical, because otherwise I could be perceived as unfairly accusing him of lumping the Mizzou kids in with the one he’s talking about. Nope. He is explicitly linking them.
At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered.
This letter is about how you yourself have better ideas about how to deal with oppression than the people who are actually, ya know, being oppressed.
We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge.
Since we both make stories up, the other day I was trying to come up with a question for the grammar section on the next round of SAT testing: If a man were to come up to me and say something with which I disagree, which of the following best represents personal forgiveness?:
a) having a conversation with him about why I disagree
b) telling him respectfully that I disagree and choosing not to engage
c) saying nothing, but writing and promoting an open letter about how that person represents the fall of society later on
You chose c). Funny enough, c) is a pretty damn good example of political revenge.
We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict.
You wrote this line in a letter that includes another line encouraging the students who disagree with you to transfer away from your school.
We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.
Everett, if you really believe that black students are protesting because of their own guilt, I’m gonna ask you to have a conversation with one of them, because it’s clear that you haven’t.
Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place,”
The first thing in the letter I agree with 100%. Oklahoma Wesleyan is definitively not a safe place, and you have made sure of that.
but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others;
From Everett’s English Dictionary:
Others: n. People who will not challenge the status quo nor any of my beliefs about the world.
that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them.
And here we go, Everett Piper believes that the solution to racism is black self-improvement. It would have been so much easier to just say this from the beginning, Evs!
This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.
This claim is demonstrably false: you have been there for 13 years and clearly have not.
This is not a day care. This is a university!
And you are not a thought leader. You are a University President! Yet, here you are making a craven attempt to peddle your “wisdom” in order to profit from the suffering of others. Honestly, Everett, at first I was mad at you. Mad because you so obviously don’t give a shit about students. Mad because you made me look myself in the mirror and remember that I’m too much of a coward to actually do anything real (read: not this article) about people like you and the influence you wield. But now I just see a pathetic wannabe who wants to be famous so bad he will compromise whatever morals he has left.
I see this when I see you now because, Everett, I saw the synopsis of your book. It’s about your peers and their “fallacious Orwellian duplicity of intolerant tolerance.” I saw that you did at least one spot on some podcast/radio show thing on SoundCloud promoting your insane letter. I saw that you are all over YouTube on various channels talking about the topic. I know what you want now, and it has nothing to do with religion or education. It has to do with Everett Piper.
There is a concept in psychology. The thrust of it is this: Those who yell the loudest and most frequently about the dangers of certain behaviors are often the most guilty of said behaviors. You are a walking, breathing example, Everett. Your actions reveal that being an important voice on the “PC Scourge” is more important to you than your actual job. In other words, you are putting yourself above the institution you serve. You observed correctly that there are problems on our campuses, Everett, but you failed to observe that most of those problems start with you and those who think like you.