We have discussed the growing intolerance for opposing views of politics or the law on our campuses. The most recent example is small but highly illustrative. The sorority Kappa Delta has issued an abject apology. The reason is that the sorority committed the unforgivable sin of tweeting out a congratulations to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a member of the sorority at Rhodes College, on her nomination to the Supreme Court. One should not have to agree with Barrett’s judicial philosophy to offer a simple attagirl to a sorority sister for her extraordinary accomplishment. However, other members protested that this simple act of civility was “hurtful” and traumatic to them as fellow members. The most notable however was feminist writer Amy Siskind who previously was attacked on Twitter for her own views opposing Black Lives Matter and supporting such political figures as John McCain and Sarah Palin. It is a tale of two Amys and one is being shunned for defending her long-held views and one is being celebrated for dispensing with them.
On September 28, the sorority tweeted a congratulations to Barrett reading: “KD alumna Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. While we do not take a stand on political appointments, we recognize Judge Coney Barrett’s significant accomplishment. We acknowledge our members have a variety of views and a right to their own beliefs.”
That would seem a balanced and civil acknowledgment. For a sorority, there can be no greater testament to your organization than a member ascending to the highest court in the land. Moreover, many members of the sorority likely share those very same views. Indeed, roughly half of the country supports her nomination.
Yet, after a backlash, the sorority profusely apologized for the fact that its tweet “was disappointing and hurtful to many.” It said that the congratulations was the “cause [of] division among our sisters, or alienate any of our members.” It even thanked outraged members for “holding us accountable.”
Notably, the sorority proclaims that it is values women “from all backgrounds and corners of the world” and focused on “building confidence in women and girls.” Barrett would seem the embodiment of such values. However, there seems to be an unwritten exclusion to the sorority’s motto “KD sisterhood is for life.”
Amy Siskind was one of those declaring outrage that Judge Barrett “is in any way associated with our sisterhood.” She defended the sorority withdrawing its support with an apology, writing “She does not stand for our values, and that goes well beyond a half century old decision. but [sic] I appreciate national addressing the hurt this has caused.”
Siskind was a surprising addition to this protest. Just two years ago, she faced precisely this type of savage treatment from critics who denounced her for being an embarrassment due to her dissenting views. She was called a closet Republican who mouthed opposition to Neo-Nazis while revealing a lack of knowledge of their history. She was further attacked for praising Palin while opposing Black Lives Matter. Journalist Imani Gandy ridiculed Siskind as insufficiently demonstrating true liberal credentials and asked “when exactly did she start fighting for marginalized communities?”
In the face of such criticism, Siskind accused her critics of being Russian operatives — an accusation that she later withdrew in a column.
However, it is this statement that most sticks out from Siskind: “We were never going to move forward on women’s issues until we could devise something that could be inclusive of all women. Sexism against conservative women is still sexism.”
That was Siskind’s response to criticism of her own views including supporting Palin. Now however she is objecting that the sorority would simply congratulate a conservative woman who became a leading academic intellectual and would now become the fifth woman ever to sit on the highest court. After she was ostracized by the left, one would think Siskind would have a modicum of sympathy for Barrett. She was right in 2018 about the unfair treatment of conservative women. In 2020, she became the very thing she denounced just two years before.
The greatest disgrace however remains with Kappa Delta. The mantra of “Once a KD, always a KD” does not appear to apply for conservative women who succeed in life. While the sorority boasts of shaping young women to think for themselves, that clearly does not extend to thinking in ways that others do not accept. When Kappa Delta withdrew its tweet, it made a mockery of its sororal mission and membership.