by Frances Floresca
Audio recorded by a student at Utah’s Weber State University reveals what the student says is evidence of his debate professor’s “anti-white” attitudes. In addition to asserting that the notion that science and space being “fake” in that they are “white fantasies” is a valid argument, the instructor also defends students who present a plan to launch all white people into outer space.
“Our argument will be that space is not real,” says the instructor, who the student identifies in a separate video as Ryan Wash, while guiding students through a debate topic meant to address the validity of the US working with other countries for space exploration.
Weber student Michael Moreno recorded hours of his experience with Wash as his debate coach, compiling a number of them into a video exposing his instructor’s “anti-white” bias and documenting not only the instructor’s “anti-academic” arguments, but also what he personally endured as a white student in a course with an instructor who he says “hates white people.”
Wash can be heard on Moreno’s tapes suggesting that the argument can be made that space does not exist because it is “not verifiable” by his own experience in that he has not been to space.
“[Space, science, and technology] is a projection of white fantasies that have worked to control our interpretation of how the world works,” the instructor says, attacking the validity of space travel in general by arguing that his own not having been to space is “experiential” evidence that space does not even actually exist.
“Whiteness then works, and then appropriates science and technology to say, ‘this is true while this is not true because it’s not verifiable,’” says Wash, going on to say that this is a “hyperfocus on the experiential” for those who do not “capitulate with whiteness”.
Moreno then asked the instructor how he would explain black astronauts who have been to space. Wash then asks Moreno to prove that any black people have been to space and asserts that we cannot know for sure if any have.
Moreno offers an example of a specific black astronaut and says “I’m sure I could find an interview of him talking about his experience. I don’t know where he went that didn’t exist.”
The instructor then explained that he and Moreno have different perspectives on truth, and that Moreno “should vote negative on the presumption.”
Moreno suggests that the instructor’s argument that he cannot trust the existence of space because he has not been there is similar to saying that Paris does not exist because he has not been there. Wash agreed with that statement.
Moreno acknowledges that the instructor may claim to have been simply engaging in a debate exercise, but argues that only using one’s own experience as evidence is fundamentally flawed and therefore not a legitimate debate exercise, not to mention assuming that the assertion that space is real has something to do with “whiteness.”
“I can’t use other people’s experiences as proof that it probably does exist?” Moreno asks.
“That’s what we call colonialism,” Wash responds.
“What?” says Moreno.
“Because you are using other people’s experience. I don’t even know what that verbiage means. Like what does it mean to extract someone’s experience, and use it for justification for your own political agenda?” Wash retorts.
Moreno then asks how we can confirm slavery happened if he had not seen it himself. The instructor then referred to “post-traumatic slave disorder” as a way of verifying slavery.
“My argument is that black people should have an inroad into that experiential because white people’s experience determines the rest of the world. That’s just the uniqueness argument of the affirmative,” Wash said.
“But it’s not just white people. There’s black people who have experiences going to space,” Moreno said returning to the main argument.
“Whiteness as a structure definitely rules the world, that’s our uniqueness argument,” Wash replied.
“I think everybody’s brainwashed by whiteness,” Wash later tells Moreno before suggesting that the student has not done enough reading about “whiteness”.
Moreno’s video also includes a recording of Walsh arguing that because of various interpretations of the word “space,” that the whole concept of debating “National Space Policy” raises issues of “consent.” He argues that space is not just specific to outside the stratosphere but also “how we address people interpersonally, the difference between public and intimate forms of speech”, then appears to relate it to consent and Title IX, going on to call the topic of space policy “really rapey” because it involves government’s “external influence on how you move throughout space.”
Students in the course presented various plans for space travel and had had to cross-examine each other to “find flaws” in the cases. One group’s presentation consisted of a spoken-word poetry piece suggesting that all white people be sent into space.
“Little black boys are getting shot at, but whities will go to Mars. Black families from coast-to-coast didn’t eat today, but whities will enjoy their three-course meals in their spaceships. Black bodies are depleted on the killing fields and whities run it. We affirm putting an end to the killing fields. Black bodies are done with it! Thus, all whities should be sent on a one-way-trip to continue their deep-space exploration and find a new home,” said the students.
Another student then cross-examined and asked, “So, what happens if/when the white people find a planet with life on it? Are they just gonna colonize it? Should we subject other people to that colonization?”
The presenters responded, “Well we don’t know if it’s people that they would be colonizing first of all ‘cause we don’t know what life exists.”
When Moreno suggests that their argument is flawed in that it assumes all white people are bad, the presenters respond by talking about the “white gaze” and “racial capitalism.”
“For example, if you’re going to an interview, like, if I was going to an interview I’d be worried that I need to look white, even though nobody’s like telling me I need to, but I still do because there’s this project of whiteness that is against me and to succeed I have to conform to it,” one presenter tells Moreno.
Wash tells the students that the main flaws with their argument involve “practicality,” such as how the white people would get to space, but defends the fact that their argument is based on the notion that all white people are “anti-black.”
“We gotta make some edits. The biggest thing though is that the explanation of this affirmative is going to fall prey to the questions about practicality,” says Wash.
“I just don’t understand how none of you see how incredibly racist the plan is to an entire group of race to space. ‘Because you’re white, go to space!’ That’s incredibly racist,” Moreno interjects.
Moreno defends his position by arguing that skin color doesn’t determine the level of a person’s power in response to another student’s suggestion that black people do not have the social power to be racist toward white people.
“So Barack Obama didn’t have power? He couldn’t do anything, he didn’t have any power?” Moreno suggested.
The instructor then points out how Barack Obama faced discrimination when he was forced to show his birth certificate as evidence of his eligibility for the presidency, to which Moreno responds that oppression is not restricted to cases motivated by race.
“No but that particular oppression can be marked by your skin color, which is something you could probably not fathom by not being black,” the instructor responds.
“No no no, I’m in a debate space where everyone questions me on my skin color, I can definitely fathom it,” says Moreno.
“Okay but you’re not being questioned on having black skin color,” says Wash.
Moreno then argues that not all white people are racist, to which his instructor responds, “I understand that, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t benefit from a legacy, a history, a structure of racism,” and defends the idea of launching all white people into space as not racist but rather a response to “anti-blackness and how the world is structured.”
“My problem is with the claim that all white people are inherently anti-black,” says Moreno, adding “I’m not anti-black, I have no problem with black people.”
“I mean I guess your forcefulness in the claim ‘I’m not anti-black’ will come off as anti-black,” says Wash.
“You accuse me of being anti-black, and I say ‘I’m not anti-black’ and you say ‘well that’s proof you’re anti-black.’ What’s the warrant for me being anti-black? What do I do to oppress black people?” asks Moreno.
“Well one, I don’t think you understand how race operates, not just as a physical epidermal thing, but as a structuring principle for the world,” the instructor responds.
Moreno’s video also includes a clip of an interaction where Wash shouts and curses at Moreno claiming that his argument that people on Earth should make Mars inhabitable as a “backup plan” is flawed because of evidence supporting the notion that “global warming” will certainly destroy earth, supposedly making the “backup” part of Moreno’s plan irrelevant. When Moreno tries to defend or explain the reasons he believes his plan is solid, Wash repeatedly interrupts him, not allowing him to speak, shouting over the top of him, and calling him a “child.”
Moreno says that when he reported this incident to the school’s Department of Communication, he was told that the school could not do anything about the instructor’s behavior and that the department would talk to the dean about the matter.
Moreno says the department then directed him to the affirmative action program, and that “those meetings have been equally unpromising if you can imagine.”
“I think that this is just one of many examples of academic corruption and indoctrination. It particularly concerns me that this is happening in what is supposed to be a ‘debate’ class, since the basis of debate is intellectual diversity and the open exchange of ideas,” Moreno told Campus Reform.
“What’s actually happening is the opposite; Debate instructors like this are creating echo chambers by only presenting positions that adhere to their narratives, and dismissing everything else. This results in the radicalization of students into hateful, anti-intellectual ideologies, because no one is allowed to criticize them or show other positions,” said Moreno.
“This explains why ideologies like these are so pervasive on college campuses, and why so many students subscribe to them. Instead of teaching students how to engage in civil dialogue and entertain ideas, instructors like Ryan Wash are encouraging their students to demonize and ignore each other, even going so far as to tell black students that they shouldn’t answer questions from white people. I think bringing incidents like this to light is vitally important to the health of academia and society, and hope that something gets done about this as a result,” he said.
“Weber State University is aware of the video in question. It appears the audio included in this video was part of a longer discussion from a coach preparing the debate team as they engage in the deliberation of a wide variety of social issues during a season of competition,” Weber State Public Relations Director told Campus Reform.
“Weber State University supports academic freedom and has policies in place to protect both faculty and students from harassment and discrimination as they engage in these conversations.
“This matter in its complete context will be reviewed further by the university to make sure all perspectives are equally and fairly represented,” she said.
Watch the full video:
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Frances Floresca is the Utah Senior Campus Correspondent for Campus reform. Follow her on Twitter at @francesanne123.
Image “Michael Moreno” by Michael Moreno and “Weber State University” is by Weber State University.