Columnist incites racial stir for blaming murder on black lifestyles

WISCONSIN— A student newspaper columnist stirred racial tension at Universityof Wisconsin-Waukesha after he blamed African-Americanlifestyles for the fatal mob beating of a Milwaukee black man.Studentorganizations called the columnist racist and asked for the university to cutfunding for the student newspaper, The Observer.In his Oct. 22column, Dan Hubert said the murder of the 36-year-old black man, Charlie YoungJr., only could have been avoided if black youths had more parentalinvolvement.Young died Sept. 29 after at least 13 black males, rangingin age from 10 to 32, beat him with metal poles and boards. The incident wasspurred after a 14-year-old boy threw an egg at Young.Hubert labeled thesuspects in the Young case “monsters” and criticized urban apparel,citing baggy and loose clothing as being associated with derelicts in“Bohemian Society.” The column suggested that federallyfunded welfare and after-school programs should be eliminated because they dolittle to stop inner-city violence.”Who is gunning down black people inMilwaukee? Who is selling cocaine to black people in Milwaukee? The answer issimple: black people,” Hubert wrote in the column.Black students fromseveral student organizations demanded the Observer fire Hubert. Oneblack student organization confiscated numerous copies of the newspaper inprotest of the column.”I was called a racist by the whole school,”Hubert said. “This was not too good for me personally.”Hubert respondedto the student uproar with an apology for “the wording that was misinterpretedas racist.””I did apologize to the readers I offended, but not for mywords,” Hubert said. “I stand by my defense of CharlieYoung.”Administrators said they will not cut funding for TheObserver or take disciplinary action on Hubert, however, they offered towaive fees if Hubert enrolled in a diversity class. The “re-education” classdiscusses the economic, social and political aspects of race relations, Hubertsaid.Hubert declined to take the class and stood by his column alongsidehis editor, Lucy Czech.”There is still a lot of tension,” Czech said ina Greater Milwaukee Today article. “A lot of students want to cut fundingor have asked us to fire Dan. We are not going to fire him.”Despitenational media coverage surrounding the column, Brad Stewart, dean and campusexecutive officer of the two-year school, said he believes the solution lies notin limiting free speech, but in offering additional opportunities for studentsto express their Constitutional rights of free speech.”The solution ismore free speech,” Stewart said. One black student group, theAfrican-American Student Union, hosted a public forum to discuss theramifications of the controversial column.More than 300 studentsattended the nearly two-hour forum and offered a wide variety of viewssurrounding the column. Students of diverse racial and ethnic backgroundssounded off their thoughts concerning slavery, welfare and affirmativeaction.Mary Edwards, adviser to the African-American Student Union, saidin an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she hopes thedialogue will continue among students and serve as a “wake-up call” to theracial tension that exists on the campus.Although a number of studentsdisagreed with Hubert’s column, a small group did stand up for the right to freespeech, Hubert said.”A lot of people on the campus were afraid to standup for me,” Hubert said. “They’re afraid they will be labeled a racist as well.It’s character assassination.”Hubert is planning a follow-up column inthe next issue of the bimonthly newspaper. He is hoping it will clarifyhis views of the murder.