Mantlegate, Revisited.

Apparently Queen’s holds a grudge. At least, the buildings on campus do.

For those of you who are unaware, in late fall of 2008 the Queen’s Arts & Science Undergraduate Society President, Jacob Mantle, a then-3rd year Politics student, commented “I like your Taliban picture” on friend’s Facebook photo. The photo showed two girls wearing towels around their heads as well as large sunglasses. Immediately, there was an onslaught of anger and accusations of racism and Islamophobia. Assemblies were held so that students could voice their concerns, apologies were made, Journal coverage was extensive, and campus became covered with graffiti. Jacob Mantle was asked to resign as ASUS president and the impeachment process was begun, yet never brought forward to assembly.

Why do I care? Well, this year I was not only a member of ASUS and AMS Assemblies but sat on the Review Committee – the body responsible for ultimately withholding Jacob’s full honorarium. I’m also a classmate of Jake’s.

Unlike some of my classmates, however, I did not blindly stand behind Jake on the matter. However, I do believe that this escalated beyond what it should have. I do not think Jake is a racist person, or that the comment itself was racist. It was, perhaps, in bad taste, but I think we can all agree that everyone’s a little bit racist (to quote from Avenue Q) and that we all make similar comments. The difference is, of course, that most of us are not subject to such scrutiny.

My problem with the issue does not lie in the comment itself, but how Jake dealt with it. I know what it’s like to dislike apologizing – I myself rarely apologize. However, when an apology is due, it is given sincerely and swiftly. As a member of Review Committee, I was able to take a look behind the scenes of Mantle’s presidency and that is where I found his true faults. I was not one of the 2 people, besides Mantle, who voted to re-evaluate his honorarium in hopes of him getting more.

Regardless of Jake’s comment, there are many issues at hand. Firstly, that everyone was quick to judge Jake on this comment but let many other issues this year slide. See: AMS President Talia Radcliffe allowing AMS employee’s confidential T-4 slips to be left out in the open, AMS executive candidate Suhail Panjwani making a more obviously racist comment on Facebook and still being permitted to run for Exec, and current AMS executive’s leak of said comments – scapegoated to a first year volunteer who was later hired and subsequently fired as this year’s AMS Communications officer, to name a few. I believe that if we are going to point finger, that we must be equally vigilant in all cases. Queen’s Journal, I’m looking at you.

This rant may be coming many months too late, but it was spurred by this afternoon’s Twitter post by “Mac-Corry”, a Politics ’10 student who fancies himself Gossip Girl, masquerading as a building on Queen’s campus. (see: http://twitter.com/MacCorry/status/2655483996) While I am all for discussing and Tweeting pertinent issues, I think anonymous comments, much like those that plagued the Journal website during the height of “Mantlegate” are cowardly.  If you have an opinion, own up to it. Most other people aren’t afraid to.  It is a sad day when one passive-aggressively uses the Internet to air personal grievances.

Let’s all get over this, realize that people make mistakes, and learn from them. And while we’re at it, let’s all grow up and stop being anonymously cowardly.

P.S. “Mac-Corry”, here’s the publicity you were hoping for.

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