Muir breaks silence on Black Lives Matter comment

Lecturer apologizes for comparing movement to KKK

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Screenshot of Muir's comment. 

Courtesy Joe Starsia

After agreeing to take a leave of absence, Douglas Muir, an executive lecturer in the Engineering School and the Darden School, issued an apology Wednesday for a controversial comment comparing the Black Lives Matter movement to the Ku Klux Klan.

Muir said he was wrong to make this comparison and saddened by “the pain it has caused this wonderful community.”

“It was never my intent for my words to cause so much turmoil,” Muir said in a statement.

“Black lives matter is the biggest rasist organisation [sic] since the clan [sic]. Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!!” Muir wrote in an Oct. 4 comment on a Charlottesville resident’s photo on Facebook, which depicted Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza speaking at an event about racial injustice.

The comment quickly drew criticism from student groups and administrators alike, resulting in Muir agreeing to take leave from the Engineering School Oct. 7.

“This statement is inconsistent with the University of Virginia’s values and with its commitment to the principles of academic freedom,” University Provost Tom Katsouleas said in an Oct. 7 release. “The University of Virginia stands firmly against racism and social injustice of any kind.”

Muir said he has since learned more about both the Black Lives Matter movement and the KKK, and hopes this episode can be a “teachable moment.”

“As I have come to learn the long, violent history of the Klan, it makes my comparison misguided and shows a misunderstanding of the past,” Muir said. “I am ashamed to admit that I knew little about Black Lives Matter when I wrote that post. This lack of awareness is unacceptable for our civil discourse and most especially for an educator like myself. My post was an unfortunate example of what I tell my students never to do because it was criticism without investigation.”

Muir is teaching three classes at the Engineering School this semester and is expected to return Oct. 17. He is not teaching any classes at Darden this semester.

Muir also owns Bella’s restaurant on West Main Street.

The full text of Muir’s statement is available below:

On October 4, I responded to a Facebook post about Black Lives Matter by comparing the organization to the Ku Klux Klan. I was wrong in my comparison and want to offer my profound apologies for my words. To my students, the University of Virginia, the citizens of Charlottesville and the thousands of responders, I am truly sorry. I have been saddened by the pain it has caused this wonderful community.

This careless post was called out by many for ridicule. I accept those criticisms and promise to take these hard lessons learned to heart as I go forward. Whatever my initial intention was from the post has been overshadowed by those who are rightly offended by it and others who want to use my words to further divide this community. It was never my intent for my words to cause so much turmoil.

As I have come to learn the long, violent history of the Klan, it makes my comparison misguided and shows a misunderstanding of the past. I am ashamed to admit that I knew little about Black Lives Matter when I wrote that post. This lack of awareness is unacceptable for our civil discourse and most especially for an educator like myself. My post was an unfortunate example of what I tell my students never to do because it was criticism without investigation.

As a professor, I should have been more aware of how my words would reflect on the University community that I respect and that means so much to me. That those words are now being used to tarnish the University, my students and colleagues is something that pains me greatly, and, I am truly sorry. I am eternally grateful to my students for their support. They have come to know me as a complete person from years of teaching, and, they are not judging me by this misguided post. I can only hope to keep their respect by continuing to work hard and accepting full responsibility for my words.

I never imagined that my words would lead to threats against my family and my employees. They are completely without fault in all of this. I have apologized to them and hope this statement will lead others to understand that any blame for my words lies with me and no one else.

I have come to understand how what I wrote has angered so many in Charlottesville, especially in the African American community. My lack of understanding of this community’s local history is regrettable given what I wrote. I will endeavor to correct these shortcomings, but, only now am I beginning to comprehend the disdain and anger my words have caused.

Lastly, it remains my fervent hope that this episode can be used as a teachable moment that will bring our community together in the spirit of camaraderie and mutual discourse, but, I understand and accept that the decision will ultimately be left to others.

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