If he doesn’t clarify his remarks adequately, Louisiana state senators need to reject later this year appointment of Collis Temple, Jr. to the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors.
Every year, the Senate considers gubernatorial nominees to various positions. When a vacancy occurs, either because a term expires or somebody leaves a post, the governor can make an interim appointment who may serve through the end of the next legislative regular session. If by the end of that session a nominee hasn’t received a favorable vote by the chamber, the position becomes open again.
Temple gained a place on the Board, which governs the LSU System, when Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards tabbed him about a month after the Legislature adjourned for 2020. He then became renominated for a different spot on it three weeks later because another nominee chose to decline in order for his firm to continue to compete for system business.
Six months later, Temple was sticking his foot in his mouth. Earlier this month, retired Louisiana businessman Donald Rouse, Sr. attended a U.S. Capitol rally in support of former Republican Pres. Donald Trump. Later, in what appeared to be a preplanned action that began not long after Trump addressed the crowd – which Rouse apparently skipped – dozens of people began breaching the Capitol that led to a couple deaths, injuries, and property damage.
Rouse, who used to run the grocery chain Rouses Supermarkets and still owns part of it, was nowhere near the fracas at the Capitol. Nonetheless, this gave him in the eyes of Temple a scarlet letter. LSU receives a huge payout for Rouses to hold itself out as the official supermarket of LSU.
Temple alleged that Rouse’s presence at the rally reflected poorly on LSU. “Since Rouses and LSU have an exclusive arrangement, the public which LSU serves can view that relationship as being that of two entities with the same world view,” he said. “LSU does not support rioting and insurrection against our United States and should not have that image reflected upon its sponsors …. Bear in mind that silence is generally consent and we [LSU] must move forward as it relates to inclusion and diversity in our social fabric.”
Keep in mind that Temple, who simultaneously endured racist behavior at and starred on the hardwood for LSU, has a degree from it. From which perhaps he should request a refund for any expenses beyond his scholarship, given that education didn’t reduce more the incoherence of his comments on the issue.
Rouse went to Washington to show support for Trump, and wasn’t near the commission of any violent acts. He doesn’t represent the firm he partly owns, much less even work for it. When asked about it, he condemned the actions. Yet Temple still demands cancellation of the firm he partly owns.
Let’s try to follow the convoluted logic here, beginning with the guilt by association tactic. In essence, because Rouse is a shareholder of the firm, whatever a shareholder does makes the company culpable. Setting aside the asininity of making corporations responsible for all the individual actions of stockholders unrelated to the operation of the firm, Rouses still has no culpability by this standard because Rouse did nothing wrong, participating in no way and even denouncing the violence (partly mischaracterized by Temple as “insurrection,” which means revolt against government or its authority which the demonstrators clearly didn’t intend or attempt; they merely engaged in illegal activities).
Yet Temple believes LSU must revoke the relationship, because to do so denotes tacit consent to … to what? What’s the problem if (again accepting the absurdity that the corporation bears responsibility for the shareholders) Rouse had nothing to do nor countenances violence by rally participants? It’s investigating Temple’s entire phrase that explains why he feels LSU must act to distance itself from Rouses: “Bear in mind that silence is generally consent and we must move forward as it relates to inclusion and diversity in our social fabric” (emphasis mine).
Where did that come from? The rally had nothing to do with issues of diversity, but was over the perception that Congress was paying insufficient attention to the legitimacy of the election, and a relatively small subset of its participants thought a show of physical force and intimidation would compel Congress to take those claims more seriously. But, to Temple, instead his words show he conceived the whole thing as a protest against greater inclusion and diversity, because, in his mind, any show of support for Trump must convey opposition to these. Temple’s juxtaposition makes sense only if he sees rally attendance – which in his mind serves as a prerequisite to the later violence – as an expression of racist and other similar attitudes.
In other words, to Temple, Rouse and Rouses guilt by association stem from Rouse’s very participation in the protest, or, in its larger formulation, a protest in favor of racism, regardless of whether any violence had occurred. He convicts Rouse for the temerity of rallying for a cause – Trump’s reelection – by definition in his mind is a racist act.
While this smacks of anti-intellectualism, it resonates perfectly with the ethos of the new Democrat Joe Biden presidency, beginning with Biden’s divisive inaugural address that called America embedded with “systemic racism” and advancing “white supremacy,” despite the overwhelming evidence such conceptualizations are myths (and especially within academia). Shortly thereafter, as one of this first official acts Biden cancelled Trump’s 1776 Commission because it had the audacity to point out the many shortcomings of the scholarly-impaired 1619 Project pimped by the media that proclaims America was founded as a racist project.
Perhaps the Biden White House will shove aside genuine free inquiry and following academic standards in its rush to embrace ideology as justification for its agenda – after all, if you have no intent to persuade but instead to impose, you have no need to engage intellectually in policy debates – but Louisianans don’t have to accept that debasement. It’s entirely unacceptable for someone who wants to weaponize higher education institutions against free expression that differs from his orthodoxy and who prejudicially caricatures reasoned and well-supported views opposing his to sit in a position tasked with governing a university system. Allowing someone with those attitudes to do so subverts the entire idea of the academy.
Maybe Temple didn’t understand what he was implying, so he should have a chance to clarify. He should release a public statement that (1) explains he regrets any possible mischaracterization that conveys negative connotations of peaceful participation in the rally, (2) acknowledges the importance of free expression and exchange in the academy, (3) declares he understands that the presentation of arguments that dispute the idea of the presence of unreasonable discriminatory behavior infused throughout American government make for legitimate academic discourse, (4) that such presentation doesn’t cast negative aspersions on those arguing these in good faith, and (5) he won’t use his position to threaten LSU employees, students, alumni, or vendors who engage in principled, fact-based opposition to his personal beliefs. That kind of explication would clarify that he misspoke and demonstrate that he has the open-mindedness and a sufficient commitment to the idea of the university to do the job properly.
Absent that, the Louisiana Senate should reject his appointment to prevent the LSU System from becoming known as a set of institutions whose leadership wishes not to educate, but to indoctrinate.