The guy pictured above is Dr. Charles Graham. He’s the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of Architecture, and apparently not aware that we now live in a very politically correct society.
Last week, Dr. Graham arrived to the College of Architecture’s “Back To School” meeting dressed in “authentic” Arabian attire he bought while on a Summer vacation in Dubai. Apparently, it was all part of his plan to educate the college’s staff on Middle Eastern culture, get banned from Oklahoma gun ranges and let David Boren think that he knows where to find oil!
We know about Dr. Graham’s choice in attire thanks to the following now deleted Facebook post:
Naturally, Dr. Graham’s awkward choice in attire pissed off the PC police in attendance at the event. He didn’t do himself any favors when trying to explain the wardrobe to the group. According to a Mole who tipped us off on this story, Sheikh Graham was having difficulty pronouncing the various items of his wardrobe, so he asked an Iranian professor in attendance if he “had it right.” The Iranian professor then awkwardly explained that although he is from Iran, not all Middle Easterners dress alike.
After the meeting, people complained to the President’s office and Dr. Graham sent out the following email:
It is my understanding that a couple of folks here in the College were offended yesterday that I wore the clothing I purchased in Dubai to the back-to-school meeting. Evidently the disdain for what I did was enough to warrant calls to the President’s office. Please know that I had no intention of offending anyone. I apologize if I did.
Although he probably should have probably apologized for committing the sin of “all you people are the same, right?” with his colleague, that’s a solid apology. You made a mistake and forgot we live in overly sensitive politically correct society where some people would view your attire as cultural appropriation. Take the safe approach and apologize, admit you were wrong, and just move along. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap and trying to explain or justify your actions. That just makes you look worse…
I asked a number of my Muslim friends around the campus and in Norman to see if my wearing the attire would be offensive in any religious way, and the answers were all resoundingly “no.” They thought it would be a nice gesture of diversity and acceptance of other cultures, something our university is trying to promote and support universally. The attire was not “religious,” but rather just another form of everyday clothing, somewhat like what my Scottish ancestors and family who wear kilts currently do, or my relatives and friends in Texas do when they wear western hats and boots to their jobs. Most of you know me as always striving to be inclusive and considerate of others in every context.
On a positive note, at least he didn’t sum it up by saying he simply likes “beautiful things.” Also, I should probably tell my friends and family who live in Texas to start wearing western hats and boots to their office jobs…
In the past couple of years we have had over 30 students go through Dubai, either to do architectural and construction studies there, or on their way to Zambia to work on our service learning project in that country. We have all learned about the multi-cultural and diverse nature of the people of Dubai, and their friendliness towards Americans.
Again, I apologize that my Dubai attire offended someone here in the college. As most of you know, I also tried to use the time I wore the attire as an educational exercise, even to the point of giving the names of the various components of the attire.
If there is anyone who would like to visit with me in person about this matter, I would be pleased to do so to hear your views.
Charles W. Graham, Ph.D., AIA, FRICS
Dean and W. E. Bryan, Jr. Endowed Professor
College of Architecture
You know what, I’m kind of on Dr. Graham’s side on this one. The PC police are overreacting. All he did was simply wear Arabic clothing he bought on vacation in Dubai to work as part of an “educational exercise” for a bunch of architects. Whenever I would return to work from a vacation in Mexico, I’d always make sure to wear a giant sombrero, pancho and grow a thick black mustache so my co-workers could learn about Mexican culture! Sometimes I’d even hang a piñata in a the break room. My co-workers loved me!
By the way, before the PC police get on to me for that one, let it be known that I cleared that with Louis, Marisa and my three other Mexican friends, so that means it’s totally fine and not offensive.