Reports on Monday that someone was walking around the campus of Oberlin College in Ku Klux Klan regalia — for which the Ohio liberal arts college cancelled an entire day's classes — may have been a huge misunderstanding. That's the sense one gets from reading a comprehensive report published on Tuesday morning by the local paper, the Chronicle-Telegram, which traced the early-morning sighting to someone wearing a blanket: "Oberlin police Lt. Mike McCloskey said that authorities did find a pedestrian wrapped in a blanket. He said police interviewed another witness later in the day and that person also saw a female walking with a blanket." But no KKK garb.
The reaction to the news on Tuesday morning was immediate: mockery from conservatives. The American Conservative compared the college's reaction to "a hillbilly Bible college [having] a collective conniption because somebody thinks they saw a devil worshiper peeing in a parking lot." (Author Rod Dreher added, "It costs over $50,000 per year to attend this pants-wetting academy.") The conservative Twitter aggregator Twitchy — founded by Oberlin alumna Michelle Malkin — dug in even further: "Why don’t they just tell students to feign fainting or to urinate when they come across dastardly wielders of assault blankets?"
To be fair, the college wasn't responding to a single, sketchily-sourced report of someone wearing a KKK robe. It was also responding to a string of recent incidents involving racist and homophobic graffiti and defacement — which seems to have sensitized the student body to racist and homophobic imagery. Even before the blanket report surfaced, however, Reason argued that suspending classes only encouraged those responsible for the previously-reported graffiti. "Do they actually think whoever is responsible for the incidents cares at all about the college’s solidarity?" asked Scott Shackford.
Could they possibly have given this guy much more of an ego boost than to essentially wasting thousands of dollars in students' tuition (Oberlin’s tuition for this academic year is $44,512) by cancelling classes?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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