Here’s the lowdown: a white guy takes a book to work to read on his breaks. The book is a non-fiction account of the Ku Klux Klan, a group deservedly criticised by most for their abhorrent, nasty, despicable, disgusting and appalling racism and race-based attacks on innocent citizens. More specifically, the book “recounts a 1924 riot between Notre Dame students and the Klan in which the students from the Catholic university prevailed.”
The man, Keith John Sampson, works at a university, supposedly a place which has the aim of educating and informing people, and the book he was reading is available from the university’s library. So technically, there’s nothing wrong with the book itself other than it’s topic matter.
His judgment was off in choosing to read that particular book on his breaks in my opinion. It’s certainly a subject matter which still has an effect on some people living in the United States, and is close to the heart of many people.
Yet should he have received an official reprimand for reading the book? I don’t think so. I think he’s a mature, intelligent person and, in all likelihood, doesn’t support the KKK in any way. Most people certainly don’t, and I’m going to assume that he doesn’t. I think his aim in educating himself further about the history of his country is a good one. He certainly could have been more sensitive to the feelings of his colleagues and could have read the book at home.
But I think that rather than accusing him of “racial harassment”, the university would have been more responsible in having his manager take him aside for a quiet word and mention that it would be preferred if he not read such material on campus. Most employees are quite responsible if asked nicely. I think the university were wrong in how they handled this.