At the time, Sampson was reading a book he had checked out from the public library. Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan, published in 2004, features a photograph of the University of Notre Dame’s famous golden dome on the cover. Its author is Todd Tucker, the publisher is Loyola Press of Loyola University in Chicago.
The book is about how for two days in May 1924, a group of Notre Dame students got into a street fight with members of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was meeting in South Bend for the express purpose of sticking a collective thumb in the eye of the country’s most famous Catholic university. Notre Dame vs. the Klan was a Notre Dame Magazine “Pick of the Week” and garnered an average customer review of 4.5 stars on Amazon.com. In its review, The Indiana Magazine of History noted that Tucker “succeeds in placing the event in a broad framework that includes the origins and development of both the Klan and Notre Dame.”
Sampson recalls that his AFSCME shop steward told him that reading a book about the Klan was like bringing pornography to work. The shop steward wasn’t interested in hearing what the book was actually about. Another time, a coworker who was sitting across the table from Sampson in the break room commented that she found the Klan offensive. Sampson says he tried to tell her about the book, but she wasn’t interested in talking about it.
A few weeks passed. Then Sampson got a message ordering him to report to Marguerite Watkins at the IUPUI Affirmative Action Office. He was told a coworker had filed a racial harassment complaint against him for reading Notre Dame vs. the Klan in the break room. Sampson says he tried to explain to Watkins what the book was about. He says he tried to show her the book, but that Watkins showed no interest in seeing it.
Then Sampson received a letter, dated Nov. 25, 2007, from Lillian Charleston, also of IUPUI’s Affirmative Action Office.
Isn't this just amazing? He can't even read a book that mentions the Klan, not even in a good way, without offending others and suffering an official penalty.
So what do we learn about the open-mindedness, the zest for inquiry, and personal freedom about this particular union and institution of higher learning? Lots--and the story is generally applicable across a wide spectrum in academia. Sad, pathetic, and gross.
I wonder if FIRE might get involved....