The conversation in UNC incident occurred between two students in a Zoom chat on January 14th. According to transcripts from a Call to Action document, law students debated colonization in the U.S. An argument ensued over who was privileged. When one student said that there were still parts of the world still being colonized like Cameroon, the other student pushed back: “You are an American attending an elite law school in the 21st century. If you are looking for a good cause, you can always travel to Cameroon and fight the colonizers there.” The first student immediately objected and asked “Did you just tell me to go back to Africa?”
That led to other student to clarify that he was simply responding to the point that there are still fights going on against colonization: “What? Dude what are you saying? I’m saying that people talk about colonization like it we’re [sic] all culpable for great evil. My point is that if you want to fight colonization, there are actual civil wars occurring now between natives and colonizers (like in Cameroon).”
The first student refused to accept that interpretation and declared ”Your point is racist.” That led to a complaint to the law school in a letter and accompanying petition demanding action from the law school.
Now enters Sharma who took exception to the claim that the conversation was clearly racist. He said that he saw the statement as a response to the first student citing the struggle in other countries. He was then promptly targeted himself in a campaign to recall him. It failed but Sharm told The College Fix that “The fact that there has been this attempt to recall me, it was just a little bit disappointing, because as law students, there’s a requirement to learn and have open discourse with people who have opposing views to you and I was being vilified for something that personally, I was not even involved in.”
The effort to recall Sharma shows the growing intolerance of opposing views on our campuses. The fact that law students would engage in such an attack on free speech is particularly chilling.
There are many who have called for a national dialogue on race issues. However, the Georgetown and UNC incidents show that such discussions can come at great risk. In the UNC case, even disagreeing with the racist meaning of a conversation was enough to launch a campaign for a recall.