Conservative college prez, complains about diversity rules, calls minority students “dark ones”

The President of Hillsdale College in Michigan, Larry Arnn, was giving a talk about, among other things, what he perceived as onerous state diversity standards the college faced in the year 2000 when he got there.  Here’s how he described the situation: “They said we violated the standards for diversity because we didn’t have enough dark ones, is I guess what they meant.”


The audio of his presentation is available online, so I went to listen to it, to make sure the quote wasn’t take out of context.  For example, did he say in the sentence before that state diversity officials were counting students by the color of their faces, and they were upset there weren’t enough “dark ones,” meaning “dark faces”?  No.  That’s not what he said.

Listen for yourself:

Later on, after some folks got upset by the use of “dark ones,” Arnn didn’t apologize, but tried to explain:

“The State of Michigan sent a group of people down to my campus, with clipboards … to look at the colors of people’s faces and write down what they saw,” Arnn said. “We don’t keep records of that information. What were they looking for besides dark ones?”

That’s slightly more in line with what I wrote above, except that that is not what he said during the talk.  Arnn later apologized, with one of those I’m sorry if you’re upset apologies.

I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, and I’m aware that people sometimes misspeak and say things that come out badly but weren’t intended as such.  Hell, I’ll never forget the time I was tasked with building gay support for the Stand for Children, a march for children’s rights that we were organizing when I worked at the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in 1996.  Back then, it was a big deal that CDF was interested in having gay groups as name partners on a children’s march (it was 1996, after all), so I was excited to do my part.  Anyway, so I’m talking to a woman from PFLAG, a hugely popular group for the families of gay people, and what do I do?  I accidentally referred to the group as “PFAG.”

I almost died.  I hadn’t yet told the woman I was gay, so I immediately did and apologized profusely.  Fortunately she accepted my explanation.    (I also can’t help but think of the article about gay Olympic athlete Johnny Weir that I published at 7am today.  In the post, in which I’m somewhat critical of Weir, I found myself unwittingly spelling his name “Johnny Weird.”  I did it a lot.  I even did it when I typed up this paragraph right now.  It’s a typo – that old finger-memory problem – but one that someone could legitimately mistake for a cute, and bad, joke.

But of course, that wasn’t really the explanation that Hillsdale College President Arnn gave.  He didn’t say that he was speaking extemporaneously and thought he had already referred to “faces,” and thus in the next sentence said “dark ones.”  Had he said that, I’d be willing to take it at face value, no pun intended.

Arnn is a trustee of the Heritage Foundation.  He’s also on the board of directors of the Claremont Institute and the Center for Individual Rights.  All three activist groups are to the far right of Republican politics.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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24 Responses to “Conservative college prez, complains about diversity rules, calls minority students “dark ones””

  1. Goodcarver says:

    They send that newsletter to me monthly. I have no idea where they got my name and address, and I disagree with almost everything they stand for, so I toss the rag out.

  2. Thom Allen says:

    If you squint, there IS a resemblance between Arnn and Cthulhu.

  3. Houndentenor says:


  4. BeccaM says:

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

  5. karmanot says:

    Absolutely love your logo avatar

  6. karmanot says:

    He meant ‘darkies.’

  7. Monoceros Forth says:

    Don’t forget the Great Old Ones. Maybe Cthulhu doesn’t care for the competition.

  8. karmanot says:

    I’m almost there Liz. Now that I’ve been called pompous (true) by a troll and have collected an impressive number of down arrows I have nothing left to live for… :-0

  9. zorbear says:

    As far as I’m concerned they can all kick the bucket — well, except for you and Pappa Bear, of course…and Karmanot…oh, what the hell — let ’em all live!

  10. lynchie says:

    He only apologized when told to by College no doubt. If he misspoke he did so on purpose. He is a red neck and the most dangerous kind. He holds a position of power and don’t for a second think he doesn’t use it.

  11. Thom Allen says:

    From WIki: “Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, United States, is a co-educational liberal arts college known for being the first American college to prohibit in its charter all discrimination based on race, religion, or sex;”

    Since hi has close ties to christian religions, perhaps when he said “Dark Ones” he meant followers of Satan.

    The Board of Trustees is considering changing Hillsdale’s status from a “liberal arts college” to a “conservative arts college.”

  12. cole3244 says:

    as an older white male lefty commie pinko i agree, throw out the whole group good & bad, america will be better off.

  13. Lordwhorfin says:

    Thanks-this is good information. The intersection btwn the Cult of Amway, the Dominionists, and the PNAC crowd has not been made as explicit as it should be.

  14. TheOriginalLiz says:

    You’re right. My apologies. I should have been more specific.

  15. nicho says:

    As an old, white man, I take offense.

  16. nicho says:

    He didn’t “misspeak.”

  17. John Masters says:

    Looks like Scott Lively’s brother.

  18. voltronforce says:

    I toured Hillsdale College in 1997 and even sat in on a history class. They told me about their policy not to accept state or fed funds due to the diversity rules. I decided not to apply there and went to Albion College instead.

  19. ArthurH says:

    At least Arnn realized what he misspoke and apologized. Some never do. Just last Saturday while at the deli counter at my grocery, some jerk with an eastern European accent loudly badmouthed a local female politician for no reason other than being female. He referred to her as a “mad cow” and such. One woman had enough and told him to shut up, but he only redoubled his efforts. So the woman asked him if he was jealous that the female office holder was smarter than him, held an advanced college degree, and had started a business that made her more money than he’d ever see in five lifetimes. He responded that somehow she got where she was not by her smarts and hard work but by affirmative action. I think his deli line critic got it right even if he’d never admit it.

  20. lynchie says:

    They are always sorry if they offended anyone, after the outrage.

  21. Sally Hotchkiss says:

    My alma mater, sadly. Back in the 60s I chose to attend because, (A) I got in; (B) it was the proper distance from home, and (C) it had no math requirement.

  22. TheOriginalLiz says:

    As an old(er) white woman it pains me to say I can’t wait until the old white men finally die off

  23. DWD says:


    Everyone wonders what is going on in Michigan and Hillsdale College (along with the Mackinac Institute and the money provided by Richard DeVos – who is married to the sister of Blackwater Founder Eric Prince – and others are dominating Michigan Politics and to a certain extent national politics.

    This is from the Wiki on their monthly publications, Imprimus,

    Imprimis is the monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College, described by as “the most influential conservative publication you’ve never heard of” and by Rush Limbaugh as “one of the best and most important publications that I read.”


    Contributors to Imprimis have included Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Ward Connerly, Dinesh D’Souza, Milton Friedman, Jack Kemp, Irving Kristol, Limbaugh, David McCullough, Richard John Neuhaus, Sarah Palin, Ronald Reagan,Margaret Thatcher, Clarence Thomas, and Tom Wolfe.

  24. Houndentenor says:

    Right wingers coming to his defense and damning anyone who dares call him racist in 1…2….3…..

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