The brouhaha currently broiling in my ex-hometown of Chapel Hill, NC reached a fever pitch this week, as tongues are awag-wag-waggin’ over the summer reading assignment for all incoming UNC freshmen: Approaching the Qu’ran: The Early Revelations. The situation played out exactly how you thought it might: a conservative think tank somewhere in East Ass, Virginia brainwashed three moron freshmen into suing the University for being un-Constitutional, spewing out platitudes like “why ain’t the Bible on the summer reading program?” Thankfully, their suit was struck down using the same Constitutional logic, but not before everyone named Earl, Jed and Crazy Christian Fucko got their digs in. There was even a CNN piece on the cafuffle tonight with one of my fave newscasters, Aaron Brown, waxing poetic about our alma mater.
Now, the administration of the University of North Carolina has a long history of being full of shit: they invested in South Africa long after it was cricket, they let the CIA do secret recruiting, they repeatedly ignored student input on pretty much any topic, they paid their custodians in bread crusts, they destroyed the Lab theater, and they gave us all really shitty seats at basketball games. They always seemed to us a boardroom full of guffawing old white guys smoking cherry vanilla tobacco in long wooden pipes.
But this Koran issue reminded me why UNC is so important. They stuck to their guns on this one. Despite pressure from the General Assembly and letters from thousands of disgruntled parents, they went ahead and did the right thing, and if only one freshman kid decides not to “hate sandniggers” because of this book, then it was worth it. If you want a “conservative arts” education, get your ass to Hampden-Sydney; if you want a “liberal arts” education, take a stroll to the hill where William Jefferson Davie thrust a poplar twig in the ground in 1789 and marked the spot for the first public state university for the people and of the people. Today I have more than basketball to make me proud to be a Tar Heel.
me and Chip on the upper quad at UNC, July 1989