racism, this one was long on handwringingnand short on facts. It spokendarkly of a “defaced poster of Beethoven.”nIt wasn’t clear what had beennwritten on the poster, but the implicationnwas that it was fiercely racist andnthat we were to worry about it.nThat poster has dragged Stanfordnpermanently into the camp of the racists,nand has become another symbol fornbigoted white people. California newspapersnhave repeatedly mentioned thenincident, as has The New York Times,nHarper’s, and, most recently (the Septembern25, 1989 issue), Newsweek. Innevery instance the Beethoven posternwas trotted out as evidence of thenwickedness of white students, but withoutnany hint of what really happened ornwhy.nStanford takes racism seriously. Itnputs all of its freshmen through intensivenpreventive seminars on the subject,nand has deans for minority affairs,nminority activities, and ethnic studiesncourses. It didn’t sit well for the universitynto be known nationally as a hotbednof racism, so President Donald Kennedynordered a full investigation into thenBeethoven poster matter and got anten-thousand-word report. He madenthe report public in the hope that otherncolleges could profit from it. Frankly, Indoubt that they will find it edifying.nHowever, the journalists who routinelynuse episodes like this as shorthand fornwhite racism could learn a lot fromnit — if they would read it.nHOG WILDnLUCAS — Vordie Majors did not knownwhether to laugh or cry.nWidowed for 18 years, with no indoornplumbing and without transportationnsince her son borrowed her pickup 10nmonths ago, life in this unincorporatedncorner of Collin County north of Dallasnwas always tough enough.nBut never, never has life on The Hillnbeen as difficult for Majors as in thenmonths since Tomcat Murphy dumpednhis boars and sows into the porous pile ofnscrap lumber and wire that passes for anhog pen across the whiterock road fromnMajors’ house.n. . . The hogs kept multiplying andnroaming and rooting around her housen52/CHRONICLESnLIBERAL ARTSnThe incident centers aroundnUjamaa House, which is Stanford’sn”African-theme” dormitory. In 1988,nmore than half of its 127 residents werenblack. One evening in October, somenundergraduates stood talking in thenhallway. In the course of the conversationnone of the black students whomnthe report calls “QC” (the report usesnpseudonyms throughout), claimed thatnall music in America has African origins.nA white student then asked aboutnBeethoven, to which QC replied thatnBeethoven was black. Several whitenfreshmen, including one whom thenreport calls “Fred,” openly doubtednthat.nLater that evening, Fred found anStanford Orchestra poster with a bignpicture of Beethoven on it. Using ancrayon, he gave Beethoven an afro andnblack features, and hung the posternoutside QC’s room. QC found it thennext day and was “flabbergasted.” Anothernblack Ujamaa resident called itn”hateful, shocking,” and said she wasn”outraged and sickened.”nInitially unaware of their reaction,nand indeed having had no reaction tonthe poster for several days, Fred neverthelessnbegan to worry that it mightnhave given offense. He went to hisnteaching assistant for advice, and thenTA suggested he do nothing: “Let itnblow over.”nMeanwhile, someone scrawled thenword “niggers” across a poster advertisingna dance at a black fraternity. Com-nand yard.n”They tore my screen door off,” shensaid. “You couldn’t keep nothing on thenporch.” On one recent day she countedn26 hogs in her yard.n. . . Last May, she remembered, thenhogs had eaten Rob, her sister’s 180poundnsheep dog.n”Claudie’s dog died of heart worms.nWe was going to burn the dog. Went tonget some gasoline. We came back and Insay, ‘No need to burn him cause thenhogs done come and eat him up.'”n. . . “[The Humane Society] got 38nin custody and 19 at large at this point,”n[Police Sargent] lovinelli said. “We’vengot an APB out for 19 feral hogs.”n—from the Houston Chronicle,’nOctober 14, 1989nnning on top of the Beethoven poster,nthis caused much fury at UjamaanHouse. A black resident TA (then ansophomore) who suspected that Frednwas responsible for at least the Beethovennposter went to Fred’s room to asknhim about it. To scare the truth out ofnhim, the TA said that Ujamaa studentsnwere going to beat him up. Frednpromptly admitted marking up thenBeethoven poster. But it was clear,naccording to the report, that he hadnhad nothing to do with the “niggers”nposter. After an unpleasant grillingnfi’om the black staff at Ujamaa House,nFred agreed to publicly explain hisnmotives two days later.nAbout one hundred people were atnthe meeting, including a 38-year-oldnblack dean, James W. Lyons, dean ofnstudent affairs. Fred gave a speech innwhich he explained that when he firstncame to Stanford, he was shocked andnoffended by the emphasis on race. Hensaid he had come from a multiracialnenvironment, but that race was not thencentral fact of life. He said he dislikednwhat he called “ethnic aggressivity,”nand that the campus obsession withnrace was “stupid.” A friend of his hadnbeen upset to meet a black studentnwho insisted she would never marrynanyone but another black. Fred thennsaid he had defaced the Beethovennposter because it was a “good opportunitynto show the black students hownridiculous it was to focus on race.” Hensaid the poster was “satirical humor.”nA black student interrupted: “Younarrogant bastard. How dare you comenhere and not even apologize. I want annapology.” Fred made a perfunctorynapology, which the blacks did not accept,nand there followed a hostile clamornthat Fred be expelled from hisndormitory (he lived next to UjamaanHouse). Mr. Lyons came to Fred’sndefense and argued that the Beethovennposter was not a big deal, that Frednshould stay. The black students thennturned on the dean, and attacked himnrepeatedly in a “loud and insultingnmanner.” (They would later claim thatnthe dean had “stabbed them in thenback.”) QC stood up and said it wasnarrogant of the dean to downplay thenBeethoven poster, and that he couldnnot tolerate having Fred live next door.nHe accused Fred of “dogmatic racism,”nand of having used the poster toninsult him personally. After a few min-n