Does Oberlin College Support Student Social Justice Warfare Against Local Business?

How can adherents of one political ideology get it so wrong so often? The answer is not immediately clear because the instances of being wrong are so broad, frequent, and brain-twistingly convoluted. What is clear is the truth of the premise. The left is so amazingly wrong so astonishingly often, it might be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. But now some are pushing back.

Parents, if your high school seniors are considering Oberlin College for next fall, please, read this first. It’s Oberlin’s students —well, probably, more accurately, with some of its administration and faculty— who bring you this latest example of higher education insanity.

Yet another group of malevolent social justice warriors has frivolously, viciously attacked an opponent they’d created from their fertile minds (meaning, containing lots of manure). They are uninterested in waiting for the results of any official investigation. However, there is a significant, and heartening, difference here: The opponent is fighting back.

According to the Washington Times, in 2016, staff caught three Oberlin students shoplifting in Gibson’s Food Mart and Bakery. Gibson’s has been serving the Ohio community since 1885. The students have since pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor thefts. One of them also reportedly used a fake I.D. to try to purchase alcohol. But that didn’t even slow down Oberlin’s social justice warriors.

Not only did the Oberlin College thieves plead guilty to their crimes, but they also issued statements saying the incident involved no racism. Those are the facts. But we know how little facts mean to the neo-left. Facts are ignored or repurposed into fodder for more attacks.

Victims require a victimizer. So, Oberlin students appear to have falsely accused Gibson’s owners and employees of racism, as the motivation for the shoplifting accusations. So, how about another inconvenient fact? Such as, over the past five years, police reports show out of 40 shoplift arrests at Gibson’s, only six suspects were black.

At question now is whether the law can hold an educational institution responsible for condoning, encouraging, or even facilitating its radical students’ actions that cause damage or harm to others. Judge John R. Miraldi earlier dismissed slander and deceptive trade practices claims made against Oberlin. But the judge refused to dismiss Gibson’s claims of emotional distress, business interference, and libel.

Cornell Law Professor William A. Jacobson has followed the case closely in his blog Legalinsurrection.com. Appearing on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Professor Jacobson calls Oberlin’s actions “the worst of identity politics.” These student social justice warriors simply cannot fathom they could be wrong—about anything! The “fact” they believe something makes it true. And support from administration, faculty, and staff only serve to reinforce this view.

Jacobson also said, “One big issue in the trial is whether the college encouraged or participated in promoting the attacks on the bakery such that the college is legally responsible for the actions of its students, faculty and staff. If the college is held responsible, that would set a precedent that a college cannot encourage social justice warfare, yet disclaim the damage done to innocent bystanders.”

No surprise, the uber-leftist college is hiding behind the First Amendment. I may have missed that day in my Constitutional Law class at the police academy. But I don’t recall a First Amendment right to destroy an American’s business with false allegations.

Gibson’s complaint alleges students printed flyers naming the store a “racist establishment,” urging a boycott. The plaintiffs allege students printed the flyers on Oberlin College copy machines. They also accuse college staff of providing gloves and snacks to the protesting students.

A police officer who testified estimated one crowd at 200 people, displaying a “mob mentality.” In other words, a riot—or very close to it. “People were getting flyers shoved in their faces saying Gibson’s were racist.” He said their chants included cursing.

To add to the alleged financial damage done to the business, Oberlin initially suspended its food-service contract with Gibson’s for several months. It has since resumed. Oberlin argued that decision was due to wanting to prevent students from stomping on Gibson’s food products in the cafeteria. Think about that. Oberlin had to worry about its college (not fifth-grade) students throwing and stomping on donuts.

Student guides (presumably printed at the college) warned visitors against shopping at Gibson’s. The student senate passed a boycott resolution, including a statement that Gibson’s had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.” (You remember, six out of 40 in five years, right?) I should also note that, though an example may be out there somewhere, I came across no instances of the Oberlin administration seriously chastising its students for stealing items from a neighborhood store.

One person alleged to have taken part in distributing the inflammatory flyers was Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo. Reportedly, Dean Raimondo personally handed out at least one flyer. Defending Raimondo’s actions, Oberlin’s attorney, presumably also with a straight face, said the Dean was at the demonstration to “act as a community liaison” and to ensure the students’ safety. The college even argued Raimondo “had no choice but to be there” (again, presumably with a straight face). So much for the courage of one’s convictions.

The law had not accused Gibson’s staff of doing anything wrong. And it wasn’t enough that the Oberlin College thieves pleaded guilty to their crimes and absolved the store owners and employees of racism. Tita Reed, special assistant to the [Oberlin College] president emailed that she was “baffled by their [Gibson’s] combined audacity and arrogance to assume the position of victim.” Ironically, this enormously oblivious-to-reality statement is the epitome of audacity and arrogance.

Encouraging, especially facilitating, neo-leftist students engaging in social justice warfare against innocent people trying to run a business is clearly unethical and immoral. It’s about time people, like those at Gibson’s Food Mart and Bakery and the Covington Kid, fight back against the neo-leftist slander and libel coming from politics, media, and academia. What our nation needs is more equal justice warriors to fight the social justice warfare being waged in our nation today.

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Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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