This post is for Auburn people. If you’re not one, please read on, but understand this: They weren’t “just trees.”
An Alabama fan, enraged after his team lost to Auburn 28-27 in November’s Iron Bowl, poisoned two 130-year-old live oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. For those unfamiliar with Auburn’s tradition — one that Alabama fans and alumni disparage — read this excellent column by Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples.
A bit of background. The Alabama fan — surprise, he didn’t go to college — who committed this crime on behalf of his beloved Tide told the Paul Finebaum Radio Show that he’d become enraged by two things besides the Iron Bowl. First, he had heard that some Auburn students rolled Toomer’s Corner the day his pagan god, Bear Bryant, died. He had heard that. Never mind that it has no basis in fact. Also, he was miffed that someone taped a Cam Newton jersey on the statue of his dead pagan god. And while this Alabama fan didn’t mention it, he would have really steamed to know that a prankster planted rye grass seed in a “28-27” motif on campus. So, there’s your background.
What’s been interesting to me are the reactions. Some guy who posts as “kleph” at Roll Bama Roll equated the killing of 130-year-old trees with taping a jersey on a statue and pouring grass seed on the ground. “Bottom line, these are all a reprehensible acts and have nothing to do with the rivalry between the two schools and respective football programs.” (Emphasis kleph’s, not mine.) You catch that lumping? These are “all” reprehensible acts. They’re all the same. In the comments section, the handful of condemnations were interspersed with lots and lots of “it’s just a tree” remarks. These are the people we’re dealing with, Auburn folks.
Mal Moore, Alabama’s Athletic Director — and one of a handful of living protoges of the aforementioned dead pagan god — intoned, “Hearing this about Toomer’s Corner is upsetting to me in several ways. I certainly hope that whomever is responsible is held accountable.” Strong words indeed, Mal. I’m totally sure you’re NOT laughing your ass off.
Auburn President Jay Gogue said what he had to say. He discouraged any retaliation or reprisals and urged Auburn people to “live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed.” God bless him. And it’s a fine sentiment, but one that requires a belief in the good faith of the other side.
And they have none, Dr. Gogue. Deep in their hearts, Mal Moore and [closeted Alabama President] Robert Whitt have nothing but contempt for you, Auburn University, its alumni and everything we represent. Mal Moore learned at the feet of the pagan god who called Auburn a “cow college.” Just below the surface, Moore, Whitt and every Alabama fan thinks this is gut-bustingly funny.
I was once able to make a distinction between actual Alabama alumni and the white-trash “sidewalk fans” who make up probably 90% of their fan base. No more. I’ve seen plenty of Twitter/blog/message board comments from UA graduates that say, in essence, “Big deal. They’re just trees.”
Well, first off, they’re not, so fuck you. What you did was permanantly remove a symbol of our University. You stole a tradition that was dear to generations of people who actually attended college. It means nothing to you, because you’re incapable of understanding. You’re obsessed with one aspect of college — football — at a university to which you have no other connection. And that’s why they’re “just trees” to you. Alabama fans, you are white trash, without exception. In your black little hearts, you’re happy this happened.
Now as to Dr. Gogue’s plea for non-retaliation: again, it’s a fine, if unrealistic sentiment. And here’s what n0n-retaliation will get us: another attack by another typical Bama fan, with faux hand-wringing from the UA administration and more pleas for restraint from Samford Hall. But we’ll cling to the Auburn Creed and convince ourselves that we’re better people than they are. And wait for the next desecration of our campus, when the cycle can begin anew.
Make no mistake, Auburn people: It is they who have created this climate of hate. The legions of uneducated, bandwagon-jumping football fanatics. That is the University of Alabama. The actual alumni have done nothing to quell the garbage, so they should be categorically and forever classified with their sidewalk auxiliaries. They think they’re better than we are, because we attended a “cow college.”
I reject the call for pacifism. Inaction will make us the France of the S.E.C.
Now, I do not advocate violence.
But what if…
What if, at the Iron Bowl in Auburn next November, no Bama fan felt safe? What if, on multiple occasions that weekend, the first bit of “Roll Tide” smack were met with a several-on-one beating?
What if Alabama fans were spat upon, all day long? They’d whine about Auburn’s “lack of class.” Yeah, they’re experts on class. Let them taste a mouthful of poisoned soil at Toomer’s Corner, then listen to their lectures.
I don’t advocate destruction of property. It would be stupid to deface their pagan statues in Tuscaloosa.
But what if, upon returning to their vehicles after the Iron Bowl dozens and dozens of Bama fans found their cars keyed tires flattened? I mean…that would be awful.
As I was winding up this post, a bartender from Tuscaloosa told me via Twitter, “I just think the rhetoric is so strong we need to step back . Both sides.”
Again, that mentality. “Everyone’s to blame. Let’s work together.”
Sorry, Alabama. You fucksticks created this climate of hatred. You’re the ones who killed an Auburn symbol, forever. You can’t start a gunfight then yell “cease fire.” I hope every one of you reaps the whirlwind.