Last week, it came out that some UF and Emory ZBTs had allegedly disrespected some wounded veterans while they were on a Warrior Beach Retreat. Brett Musser was on the trip to Panama City Beach, and it sounds like he has a little more insight than the media.
Brett decided to write this response in The Odyssey and it’s some pretty awesome stuff.
My name is Brett Musser and I am a proud recent alumnus of the ZBT chapter at the University of Florida. Admitting I’m a former member of a fraternity might bring some to believe without ever meeting me let alone talking to me that I’m a wealthy, racist, homophobe, who preys on undergraduate women day and night. This portrayal of fraternity members has been pushed by the national media to the point where no matter what happens, accusations are all that is needed to condemn those who have been merely accused with no regard for the truth. It’s a portrayal that is unfair, inaccurate, and a failure to see people as individuals.
Like most of you who have read the headlines involving my former chapter, I am shocked and disgusted at the accusations being made. I come from a military family with a proud tradition of serving in the United States Marine Corp. My grandfather served in Korea, my father in Desert Storm, an uncle in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and my younger brother is currently serving as a private first class in the USMC. And I am far from alone. Many in ZBT have family currently serving or have served in the US military. A few current members have themselves committed to serve in the armed forces upon graduation.
As someone who was on the trip to Panama City Beach, it’s surreal and not at all surprising how embarrassing our media is and how little facts and the principles of evidence play a role in the world of journalism. I will not comment on the validity of the allegations, others will investigate and decide that. What I do know for a fact is that the members of the ZBT chapter at the University of Florida do not hold any anti-American or anti-veteran sentiment. I personally and everyone I’m associated with would never congregate continuously and purposely with anyone who did hold those views. If any of the allegations are true I would be the first to say good riddance to that person and would be glad to never have contact with them again. What upsets me as someone who knows these young kids is the stimulus response type behavior of the ‘adults’ and ‘professionals’ in the media and our collective social media.
Stimulus: Alleged disgusting and obscene desecration of sacred American symbols by fraternity members.
Journalistic and public analysis: All fraternities very bad. All men in fraternities very bad. All accusations are true.
End of Analysis.
The extreme gap in public credibility between fraternity members and those that have been injured in combat makes it almost impossible for anyone that took part in this past weekend to distance him or herself from it in any reasonable way. As someone who was there at Panama City Beach I can say for a fact that no one I was with nor does anyone I know, know of someone who spit on a veteran or urinated on a flag. This does not mean that it never happened but it also doesn’t mean that someone in the chapter did those things. Facts such as there was a whole other fraternity staying at the hotel on the same weekend and hundreds of other patrons were staying at the resort seem to just skim past some of those in the media, social media and the institutions that govern the chapter. The fraternity issued a general apology under pressure from outside groups at their request even though there has been no formal investigation completed yet because there doesn’t need to be one. It’s quite simple if you’re a member of the media or a social media [user]: All fraternity men are bad people who probably did whatever they are accused of. Due process and full thorough investigations do not need to be made when certain narratives are socially popular. The school and the national organization that represents UF ZBT need to cover their ass, understandably so and everyone in the chapter is supposed to just shut up and take it because being in a fraternity is in itself immoral. It’s unfortunate but it is what it is.
All I would ask, is for those in the media to just do their job ethically and responsibly and for everyone that reads or watches anything by any media outlet to be very skeptical about everything they present to you. Just like those in the media should be skeptical of power and those they report on, the general public should be skeptical of those that report information. As a result of what I would consider a dereliction of duty by those in the media many in the chapter feel physically unsafe due to some events that have occurred over the last 24 hours and the ZBT house itself is under police protection. In addition the President of the chapter has received death threats. A kid any parent would be proud to call son. Someone who would never disrespect another human being let alone a wounded warrior has received death threats from some rightfully pissed off people. The accusations made are horrific and are truly unbelievable to me. I personally want there to be a thorough investigation so if those accusations were in fact committed by certain members of the fraternity they would be expelled immediately with just cause.
The hysteria of our society over controversy is at the very least unhealthy and at worst physically dangerous to those caught up in it. Those that did absolutely nothing wrong are put at risk for a potentially popular story that fits the prevailing theme of fraternities as evil institutions. Taking the time to actually investigate is of secondary importance. It’s yet another sobering reminder to me that you shouldn’t believe everything you read.
I’m tired of great kids that I know being maligned by people who have no knowledge of them, their backgrounds, or the situation. The members are being muzzled for good reason. Whatever they say to defend themselves would more than likely be twisted in such a way that makes the situation worse whether or not it’s what they actually said. They’re easy targets
Well said, Brett..
[via The Odyssey]
Image via WJHG