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I Was Fired For Being a Conservative Indian By: David Yeagley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 03, 2001


DAVID HOROWITZ’S ANTI-REPARATIONS campaign has proved that freedom of speech exists only for liberals on campus.

I learned that lesson the hard way. My conservative views cost me my job as an adjunct professor of psychology and humanities at Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma City.

You’d think that being a Comanche Indian might have counted for something in today’s "multiculturalist" academy. However, some people seem to feel that "the only good Indian is a liberal Indian," as noted in one of my previous columns.

My troubles began in 1998, when a bright, 19-year-old student named Gretchen Kiefer

created a literary journal called The Raven Anthology, through a campus club I was sponsoring.

The persecution started with the first issue.

Gretchen was ordered not to mention the school in her journal. She was barred from using state money, even though it was mandated for use by school clubs.

One article in particular seemed to annoy the powers-that-be. It was written by Mike Brake who is speechwriter and spokesman for Republican governor Frank Keating, as well as an OSU-OKC faculty member.

"We can’t have any more articles like that," Vice Provost of Student Affairs Pam Davenport told Gretchen. "I don’t want any faculty involved."

What was wrong with Mike’s article?

It argued that Oklahoma’s conservative values should become a model for the rest of the country.

Is that bad?

As the second issue took shape, former Arts & Sciences head Sharon Wright zeroed in on an article of mine about race and fashion.

"You will offend the blacks!" she warned me.

My article showcased the book Hair Raising by African-American writer Noliwe Rooks, which examines the pain black women suffer in a society obsessed with "white" beauty.

Better than any book I’ve read, it gives people who aren’t black a sense of how it really feels to be black.

"Gretchen is the editor," I responded. It was her decision to run the piece or pull it. My refusal to undermine Gretchen’s authority was seen as defiant.

Right around that time, the Indian jokes started, often in the form of ribbing about the Raven controversy.

"Don’t you know never to trust the White Man?" my colleagues would laugh. "You know whatever you have, we’ll take it."

One time I got on the elevator with my supervisor, Dennis Smith, lead humanities instructor, and another faculty member. I was limping with a foot injury.

"Hey, Yeagley, isn’t there some kind of Indian sh-t you can put on that?" said Dennis. "I mean, some buffalo sh-t, or some concoction to heal it?"

I don’t think they consciously meant to offend. But it was funny how the jokes only started after I had fallen from grace.

The fact is, they knew me. They knew I was tough and conservative, and wouldn’t sue them or make an issue of their jokes. Had I been a black liberal or even a liberal Indian I’m sure they would have watched their p’s and q’s better.

In the end, they killed The Raven. Gretchen transferred to another school. And I was told that my job was hanging by a thread. I was barred from involvement in any more student activities.

"Just come to school, teach your classes, then go home," said Dennis. "Don’t show your face in that administration building."

Before long, I started a national campaign to have patriotism taught in public schools. My proposal won the personal support of Governor Keating.

When David Horowitz’s website FrontPageMagazine.com ran a story about my campaign, my phone started ringing off the hook with requests to appear on talk shows.

That was the last straw for OSU-OKC. I was warned not to mention the school name in articles or interviews, except with a disclaimer stating that my views were independent.

Talk show hosts trying to reach me complained that the school was not forthcoming with my number.

"This is it," said Tim Faltyn, the new head of Arts & Sciences. "I can’t protect you anymore. The administration has decided to let you go."

The final ax fell in a meeting with Dennis, my supervisor. "Yeagley, you’re creating a lot of bad PR with this patriotism thing," he said.

My contract would not be renewed in May. I was dismissed after five years on the job.

That’s how OSU-OKC lost the one and only American Indian faculty member it ever had. For all the talk about "diversity" on today’s campuses, I guess some things are considered more important. Such as silencing conservative voices.


Dr. David A. Yeagley is a published scholar, professionally recorded composer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. He's on the speakers list of Young America's Foundation. E-mail him at badeagle2000@yahoo.com. View his website at http://www.badeagle.com.


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