Cathedral Roundup #5: Harvard Jumps the Placemat


Freshmen students at Harvard University recently sat down for dinner in their cathedral cafeteria:


Yes, that is actually what Harvard’s freshman dining hall looks like. No, they didn’t conquer a church. Harvardians will tell you that the rest of the campus isn’t as ostentatious, but honestly, it is.

Anyway, so they walked into their sumptuous food-cathedral and found that Harvard had helpfully laid out placemats for them:


(If you heard any of these arguments over Christmas Dinner and didn’t know where they came from, now you do.)

Oh, Harvard. Harvard, Harvard, Harvard.

Stop being such bloody hypocrites. Why don’t you invite the homeless beggars of Harvard Square and the many poor residents of the ghetto neighborhood you border into your absurdly expensive cafeterias for a warm, holiday celebration in the midst of all this December darkness?

Of course, Harvard carefully keeps those people out of its cathedrals. Beggars aren’t good for the image.

Why is Harvard wedging itself between students and their families? Seriously, the holidays can be a rough time for a lot of people, students included. They’re in this transition zone, where they’re basically living like adults, but on their parents’ dime. There’s a good chance the parents still treat them like children, and a good chance the students think themselves more mature than they really are. Negotiating this is tricky, and the very last thing Harvard should do is make things worse by encouraging students to get into political fights with their relatives.

It is none of Harvard’s business what students’ uncle think, and it is certainly not the students’ jobs to proselytize their professors’ beliefs to their parents.

Hey, Harvard, you know how everyone hates it when Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on their doors?

You’re using your students to do the exact same thing, only the people you’re calling racists are the folks paying their tuition bills of over $45,000 per year (add room and board, textbooks, etc., and the cost skyrockets to almost $70,000 per year.)

Just let those numbers sink in for a moment, then remember that these are the students–and professors–who complain about the “privileges” of whites who live in trailer parks.

The Harvard Republicans released a counter placemat:


Okay, so maybe they should rename themselves the “Harvard Neutrals,” but considering that Yale students started protesting, became too emotionally traumatized to eat, and got a professor fired over something equally mild, I suppose this counts for “bold” in the Ivy League today.

Yale, you reaped exactly what you sowed.

Since I do not have any student protesters to worry about, I can give a more thorough response to the original placemat:

1. Yale:

I’m not paying $70,000 a year so you can lie to my face.

Do you really think whites get this same, “safe” environment? Please find me a case of white student protesters at Yale accusing a black professor of racism, yelling and cursing in his face, and the administration pressuring the black prof into resigning?

No semantics games. You said “the same,” so I’m holding you to that. Prove that they’re the same, or shut up and pass the gravy.

2. Islamaphobia: Not one single incident of violence in all this time from all of those people? There isn’t a single group on the entire planet that refrains entirely from violence.

Also, unlike guerrillas in South America, ISIS has specifically stated its intention to infiltrate the refugees and target the West — but you know what, maybe you shouldn’t play ISIS videos at Christmas dinner with your loved ones.

Regardless, the US government exists to serve the interests of Americans. The US government has zero moral obligation to non-Americans.

3. Black murders:


Picture 4

4. House Masters: Wow, Harvard students are admitting that they can’t find some actual slavery and racism to protest, so they made up fake grievances about a name they understand perfectly well has nothing to do with slavery?

Once you graduate and get a job, you’ll come to understand, very quickly, that there are, in fact, people with authority over you. They’re called your boss, and you’d better do what they say or you’ll end up homeless.

Harvard’s placemat was inspired by Showing up for Racial Justice’s creation:


Thanksgiving also saw folks making use of the holiday get together to spread the message: As Investors Business Daily noted,

On Tuesday, @TheDemocrats tweeted “It’s the holiday season, which means lots of time with your Republican uncle. Give him the facts this weekend.” Included was “The Democrat’s Guide To Talking Politics With Your Republican Uncle,” in case Democrats out there “need help setting your Republican relatives straight this holiday season.” The guide is supposedly useful for sorting out “the most common myths” and has “the perfect response for each of them.”

@TheDemocrats helpfully links us to Your Republican Uncle, exactly as claimed:

The holiday season is filled with food, traveling, and lively discussions with Republican relatives about politics sometimes laced with statements that are just not true. Here are the most common myths spouted by your family members who spend too much time listening to Rush Limbaugh and the perfect response to each of them.

The Your Republican Uncle website has been thoroughly responded to already, of course, but dear god it’s smarmy.

And last year, Obama helpfully encouraged us to utilize Christmas to shill for health insurance, like an unpaid Amway representative.


And if that’s not fun enough, there’s always racist uncle bingo!

Picture 12

Courtesy The Daily Dot, “5 Thanksgiving tips for talking to your racist family members about Ferguson:

“White people have to understand that any amount of suffering they’ve encountered in their own lives is most likely dwarfed by the weekly, sometimes daily amount that people of other skin colors continue to face in America. “


Actually, the interesting thing is just how non-suicidal blacks seem to be.

Not only is telling people that their personal misery is dwarfed by other people’s misery a completely asinine way to comport yourself at any family gathering, there’s a good chance you’re wrong. There’s a good chance someone in you family has a terminal illness, is grieving the death of a loved one, or is struggling with severe poverty. Multiply this over all of the families of everyone who read the original article, and that’s a lot of people.

Frankly, I don’t know where this whole “OMG Thanksgiving/Christmas is so terrible cuz my uncles!” meme got started–it used to be racist grandmas, but maybe people love their grandmas too much to use them as scapegoats too often. Personally, I’m just glad my relatives are still alive. I can save my political agenda for people who actually want to hear it.

If you have any question about how to comport yourself during the holidays, here’s a handy guide:


Created by Moe Lane.



8 thoughts on “Cathedral Roundup #5: Harvard Jumps the Placemat

  1. I especially like how, on SURJ’s placemat, Sandra Bland’s suicide in a cell is counted as a “murder in the street”.

    Maybe they’re still going along with the conspiracy theory about her being dead when her mugshot was taken.


  2. Regarding your point #4, I think the placement does a very good job of preparing people for a job, their boss, and capitalism. When they get a job their boss will do things like this and present their political opinions, and you’ll be expected to agree with them convincingly, or else they’ll find work become very unpleasant and they’ll eventually be out of a job. So the placemat good “nodding at authority figures” practice.

    You really keep missing how modern ideological cul-de-sac’s are fully part and parcel of the capitalist system.


  3. That is disgusting. Glad I went to a university where this stuff hadn’t fully penetrated–yet.

    And thanks for that last chart. I read it over holiday with my cooperator family just in time to save me from being a jackass. “Should I explain this political concept I just learned of?” Good god, no.


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