I got bored of reading my usual list of Cathedral publications (although Stanford Mag did have an interesting article recently about a woman discovering her father’s book he wrote while in a Japanese POW camp during WWII [he was eventually beaten to death by the Japanese]), and decided to see what various universities had to say about Trump’s decision to attack Syria.
On the first day of shopping week this fall, Nisreen S. Shiban ’17 received a phone call from Syria. She immediately knew that something must be wrong.
It was one of her uncles. His voice panicked, he asked Shiban to get in touch with her father and make sure her mother was not within earshot. He had devastating news to deliver: Shiban’s maternal uncle Makarem, a former veterinarian who had practically raised her, had been killed by ISIS fighters in Aleppo. …
A College senior’s aunt and uncle were beheaded by rebel groups in Daraa.
An Arabic language preceptor often woke up in the middle of the night worrying about her brother and sister in Damascus.
A College freshman lost 13 relatives in the bloodshed. …
A junior volunteered at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in an effort to do something to ease the pain of her fellow Syrians.
A surgeon in Harvard’s Scholar at Risk program helped set up makeshift infirmaries to provide care to a bleeding city.
I didn’t find anything that was both recent and analytical (ie, not a human interest story,) but the bombing did happen only a few days ago and stories take time to publish, so we may have to wait for more reactions.
President Obama is asking for Congressional approval of an attack against the government of Syria, in response to that government’s apparent use of nerve gas in eastern Damascus. …
The problem is that this strike doesn’t seem likely to help the United States. At least, that’s a problem for me, and it might even be a problem for some of the players in Washington.
First, we could be wrong. It does seem that a nerve agent killed over a thousand people in eastern Damascus—but who did it? The Syrian government certainly has chemical weapons, but it is possible to imagine ways in which some group among the rebels could have obtained some. Sarin isn’t even that difficult to manufacture. A Japanese nut cult, Aum Shinrikyo, managed it by themselves it back in 1995, killing 13 people in the Tokyo subway. The main objection to the official scenario, where Assad’s people used the nerve gas, is that doing so would have been irrational. …
So the Alawites are kind of interesting. Maybe not as fascinating as the Yazidis (*waves to Yazidi followers,) but still worth learning about and potentially extremely relevant to the situation. You probably already knew this, but Assad and his regime are Alawites, an ethno-religious group that forms about 11% of the overall Syrian population.
According to Wikipedia:
Alawites have historically kept their beliefs secret from outsiders and non-initiated Alawites, so rumours about them have arisen. Arabic accounts of their beliefs tend to be partisan (either positively or negatively). However, since the early 2000s, Western scholarship on the Alawite religion has made significant advances. At the core of Alawite belief is a divine triad, comprising three aspects of the one God. These aspects or emanations appear cyclically in human form throughout history. The last emanations of the divine triad, according to Alawite belief, were as Ali, Muhammad and Salman the Persian. Alawites were historically persecuted for these beliefs by the Sunni Muslim rulers of the area.
So it looks like traditional Alawite religion might have been kind of a mix of Christianity and Islam. This makes sense, given that Christianity was prominent in the area for about 600 years before Islam showed up, and when you leave behind the modern political/ethnic animosities people hold toward each other, both Islam and Christianity are built on pretty much the same base (Muslims even regard Jesus as a prophet.) There are weirder things than regarding Mohammad as just yet another prophet in the long line of Jewish prophets–like Mormonism, which is polytheistic but still gets grudgingly classed as a branch of Christianity. Continuing:
Their theology is based on a divine triad, or trinity, which is the core of Alawite belief. The triad comprises three emanations of the one God: the supreme aspect or entity called the “Essence” or the “Meaning” (both being translations of maʿnā), together with two lesser emanations known as his “Name” (ism), or “Veil” (ḥijāb), and his “Gate” (bāb). These emanations have manifested themselves in different human forms over several cycles in history, the last cycle of which was as Ali (the Essence/Meaning), Muhammad (the Name) and Salman the Persian (the Gate). …
Alawites have historically been kind of isolated, often oppressed and poor, but somehow managed to get control of the country after independence.
Considering that the majority of Syrians are Muslims, as are the majority of people in neighboring countries, the Alawites have good reason to want to be perceived as Muslims. I get the impression that a hundred years ago, the Alawites may have thought of themselves as pretty different from their Islamic neighbors, but today they see themselves as more similar–the push to get others to accept them as good Muslims, plus increased interaction with their neighbors due to urbanization, cars, TV, etc., may have changed their own view of themselves. (This process happened a while ago with different Christian groups–a Methodist would hardly balk at marrying a Lutheran–and is hard at work in Reform Jews, who have pretty high out-marriage rates.)
But as Cochran notes, just because they want to be accepted as good Muslims, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are:
Traditionally, Alawites were considered non-Muslim and treated like dirt—worse than Christians or Jews. You can see how the Sunni majority might resent being ruled by them—indeed, it’s hard to imagine how that ever came to pass. …
So, while the Baath party took over in 1963, the Alawites took over in 1966—and they haven’t let go yet.
The thing is, when you ride the tiger, you can’t let go. Although they have made efforts to build support outside their sect, through nationalist and redistributionist policies, the Alawite government has always faced violent opposition. They’ve put down full-scale revolts, most notably in Hama, 1982, where they leveled the city with artillery, killing tens of thousands. All that official violence means that they can’t afford to lose. Once the Alawites were despised, but now they’re hated. At this point, Peter W. Galbraith, former ambassador to Croatia, says “The next genocide in the world will likely be against the Alawites in Syria.”
From A War Apart: Syrians at Harvard:
As the conflict worsened and alliances formed, the war took on sectarian dimensions. President Assad’s family is Alawite, a minority Muslim sect that comprises roughly 10 percent of the Syrian population but has ruled over the majority Sunni country since the 1960s. Prior to the Arab Spring, Syrians across ethnic backgrounds had coexisted in a fragile peace, despite undercurrents of tension.
Shiban—who was born in Syria, moved to Qatar, then settled in the United States when she was 12 years old—comes from an Alawite family. Her family had close Sunni friends in Aleppo before the war. Shiban remembers playing with their children as music floated over the balcony where the adults sat sipping a traditional Middle Eastern drink and smoking hookah.
But when predominantly Sunni rebel groups began fighting for Assad’s overthrow in 2011, they were challenging not only the regime but also long-secure Alawite control. Some used religious affiliation as a rallying cry to mobilize the population against what they considered an oppressive minority. Faced with the very real threat of a take-over by a hostile majority, the Assad regime invoked Alawites’ identity to intimidate them into allegiance.
Swayed by this rhetoric, Shiban’s cousin and uncle left for the front lines. Neither would return.
Meanwhile, Shiban and her family noticed their Sunni friends sharing Facebook posts written by a Sunni religious leader promoting violence against Alawites. “We were very heartbroken. We were confused,” Shiban says. “When you hear about all of the infringements on human rights, constant censorship by the government… you can understand why a war like this would happen, but nobody could see people literally going against loved ones, friends, family.”
I am reminded here of similar accounts during the breakup of Yugoslavia–prior to the war, people spoke warmly of Yugoslavia as a multi-ethnic state in which people of different backgrounds lived in peace and harmony. Following the Fall of Communism and the Rise of Democracy, Yugoslavia degenerated into civil war and “ethnic cleansing,” a mild euphemism for genocide. Friends and neighbors turned on each other.
As frequent commentator SFC Ton notes, when countries collapse, they tend to do it on ethnic lines–and Syria is no exception.
David Cunningham, an expert on civil wars, has argued that the more external actors are involved, the longer civil wars last. With few hurting significantly as a result of their involvement, these actors rarely withdraw until their independent agendas are met; and the more agendas in play, the more difficult for any resolution to satisfy all players. If these agendas shift over time, resolution becomes even more difficult. Instead, the players act as “resolution blockers” prolonging the war. In Syria, feeding into the mixed agendas of the various domestic players, the six key external players have contributed six further agendas, none of which have remained static over the course of the conflict.
Though I admit that I admit very little about the situation, I am not in favor of US intervention against Assad. It’s not that I like Assad (I don’t know enough to have an opinion of the man;) I just think ISIS sounds much more frightening and have no confidence in America’s ability to make matters better. Remember that time we invaded Vietnam, and lots of people died and Vietnam still became a communist country? Or that time we supported the mujaheedin in Afghanistan and they turned into Al Qaeda and flew some planes into the NYC skyline? Or that time we invaded Iraq, deposed a dictator, installed democracy, and then got ISIS? Or that time we helped France and Britain instal a democracy in Germany, and the German people went and elected Hitler?
Our track record isn’t all bad–Japan is handling democracy just fine, though the Japanese idea of democracy seems to be re-electing the same party every time–it’s just mostly bad.
I started reading about Syria mostly because I found the media reaction to the bombing confusing: why were they so uniformly happy? Weren’t these the same people who were just telling us that Trump is a trigger-happy madman intent on hurting Muslims? Shouldn’t at least some of them be pointing out that Trump is now actually killing Muslims by bombing their country? Shouldn’t someone express concern that we don’t have good information about what’s actually happening in Syria, and so don’t know for sure that gas attack actually happened and was actually committed by Assad’s regime? I mean, “find out what actually happened before you act” is a moral taught in cartoons aimed at toddlers.
My confusion was compounded by the fact that most of the people I know expressed reservations about the bombing; many believe we should be supporting Assad against ISIS and that Assad is basically the “good guy” (or at least the “less bad guy”) in this whole mess.
And I don’t feel like I’m coming from a particularly partisan perspective, here. I don’t think your opinions about Obamacare or abortion or racism are really going to affect whether you think Assad used chemical weapons on his own people and now we should rain bombs on his people (because it is really bad when you die of chemical weapons but totally rainbows and kittens when you are blown to smithereens by a bomb.)
But then I remembered that democracy is America’s religion. Just as Muslims think non-Muslims should all convert to Islam, so Americans tend to think that non-democracies should all become democracies. Unfortunately, multi-culturalism seems to be one of democracies failure modes, as different ethnic groups start trying to vote themselves a larger share of the national pie.
Assad is a dictator, and in our simple heuristics, “dictator=bad.” The rebels are (or at least originally were) fighting for democracy, and “democracy=good.” Therefore people think Assad is a bad person (after all, if he were a good person, why would anyone rebel against him?) and needs to go. They’re not really thinking two steps down the line to, “If we take out Assad, the resulting power vacuum could allow someone even worse to come to power, like ISIS.”
There are many rebellions in the world. Go read the history of pretty much any African country and you’ll find a bunch. Few of these rebellions actually result in a real improvement in the lives of ordinary people, as the rebels often aren’t idealistic, moral young men who just want to make their country a wonderful place, but rival power factions that want to take the country’s wealth for themselves.
Even the Iranian Revolution began with many groups that wanted to oust the Shah so Iran could be a democracy–and the theocratic state they got in the end looks positively peachy next to ISIS.
A dictator might be bad, but it’s hard to be worse than civil war or ISIS.
I. In Educating Teachers: Harvard gets serious about training its graduates to teach in the classroom, Sophia Nguyen writes:
This is something that’s interesting about HTF,” Quan Le ’15 said. “We literally cry every day.” …
Note: Quan Le is male.
Sometimes the crying became infectious. On one morning in early June, the fellows sat in a basement classroom for their daily “teaching lab,” where they studied and rehearsed classroom management strategies that they could try out on the high-schoolers later that day. They broke up into two discussion groups, and, while debating last night’s reading on cultural sensitivity, one-half of the room broke down. Voices rose: I just want to push back a little on what you said. I think this is very problematic. I’d like to ask you to unpack this point. I don’t think that’s the culture of low-income people—I think that’s a deficit-based model. The fellows, freshly graduated from the College, were fluent in left-leaning liberal-arts classroom etiquette. Yet the conversation grew tenser, then tearful, even as everyone insisted they had no real conflict. Someone burst out, frustrated, “I agree with you!”
“It’s not like class,” one of them said, finally, face in hands. “It really matters to me. I feel really attacked. I care so much about this stuff, and when the whole group disagrees with me, I can’t take it.”
Noah Heller, HTF’s master teacher-in-residence for math, interceded gently. “We need to work on tuning together. I don’t hear people disagreeing with you, I really don’t. We’re having a robust discussion.”
“It’s so exhausting. I’m so sorry, I cry all the time.” The fellow took a breath. “I’m getting really defensive. I think we all really need to remember that we’re all here to help kids.” At some point, everyone in the circle of chairs had begun holding hands. “There’s not always agreeing or disagreeing,” someone offered helpfully. “Sometimes it’s just—this stuff is really hard, and we’re just trying to figure out what we feel.”
The students in this article are not recruits going through Basic Training in the military. They are not doctors enduring 48 hour hospital shifts. They are Harvard grads learning to be teachers. I have a great deal of respect for teachers and know they work hard, but there is absolutely no reason they should be weeping every day.
Seriously, if anything in this excerpt sounds like your real life, please get help immediately. THIS IS NOT EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY OR NORMAL.
II. One of the things I appreciate about memetics is that it allows us to think about the spread and propagation of ideas independent of the intentions of the people who hold them. Or as Wikipedia puts it:
The meme, analogous to a gene, was conceived as a “unit of culture” (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is “hosted” in the minds of one or more individuals, and which can reproduce itself, thereby jumping from mind to mind. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief is seen as an idea-replicator reproducing itself in a new host. As with genetics, particularly under a Dawkinsian interpretation, a meme’s success may be due to its contribution to the effectiveness of its host.
Memetics is also notable for sidestepping the traditional concern with the truth of ideas and beliefs. Instead, it is interested in their success.
In other words, “memes” (ideas) act like viruses or, as I wrote previously, “mitochondria.” (Note: unlike real viruses, most ideas you believe are probably beneficial.)
We like to think of ourselves as logical, rational beings who believe things because we’ve concluded that they make sense, but taking the example of religion, the idea that millions of people in North Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, etc., have all independently and logically decided that there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet, every generation, for over a thousand years–and people in Europe have decided similarly that God is a Trinity, became man, and was sacrificed for your sins; people in India have believed that your soul can be reincarnated; and people in Central America once decided that the most logical thing was to rip people’s still-beating hearts out of their chests in order to keep the sun in the sky (I mean, sure, maybe the world won’t end even if we don’t sacrifice 400 virgins, but do you really want to take the chance?)–defies logic.
If we can look at religions as memeplexes–networks of interrelated ideas–that exist over time independent of the particular people who believe in them, we can similarly interrogate political ideologies. Like your religious beliefs (or non-belief,) your professed political ideology likely has a good deal to do with factors entirely outside of “logical thought,” like genetics, social class, or the region of the country you live in (otherwise it is strangely coincidental that the Deep South has been “conservative” relative to the rest of the country for hundreds of years.)
As we discussed in the previous Cathedral Round Up, You are the Hope of the World, what we see as “modern” Progressivism existed back in 1917. 1917 is not some special year–Progressivism actually began long before then, but we’re not tracing the idea’s history; you can get your fix of that from Moldbug.
Moldbug (and many others,) also suggests that Progressivism is really a religion, just stripped of the explicit references to God. Whether or not this is literally true, from a memetics perspective, both religions and political ideologies function similarly. As Jonas Kaplan states:
Perhaps this is due to some underlying aspect of human cognition or social structure, or perhaps successful memes all share certain features that enhance their spread and temporal persistence. Either way, we can productively use the same vocabulary and concepts to discuss both.
III. Most people recognize that cults exist and that cults are bad, but few people who are actually in cults believe that they are in a cult. As Boze Herrington notes in The Atlantic, The Seven Signs You’re in a Cult:
For three weeks, Hannah and I had been trying to contact leaders at [International House of Prayer; no relation to the restaurant] about a prayer group that we, Bethany, and many of our friends had been part of—a small, independent community that drew on IHOP’s teachings. In February, I had been formally excommunicated, and Hannah had left in June. Looking in from the outside, both of us saw the group differently than we had when we were part of it: We saw it as a cult.
Several years ago, the founder of IHOP, Mike Bickle, created a list of seven ways to recognize the difference between a religious community and a cult. Written down, the signs seem clear:
1. Opposing critical thinking
2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
3. Emphasizing special doctrines outside scripture
4. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders
5. Dishonoring the family unit
6. Crossing Biblical boundaries of behavior (versus sexual purity and personal ownership)
7. Separation from the Church
But when it’s your friends, your faith, your community, it’s not so obvious. For several years, roughly two dozen people, all younger than thirty, had been living together in Kansas City, Missouri, and following the leadership of Tyler Deaton, one of our classmates from Southwestern University in Texas. In the summer of 2012, Tyler had married Bethany; by the fall, she was dead. What started as a dorm-room prayer group had devolved into something much darker.
You can find many different definitions of “cult” out there; obviously “Crossing Biblical boundaries,” does not apply so much to political ideologies.
Personally, I’d say that among the critical defining characteristics of cults:
Cults teach people that their self-worth (the salvation of their souls, their essential goodness, etc.,) is dependent on adherence to the cult’s teachings
They use of social ostracism to punish even slight deviation from a very rigid set of beliefs.
They isolate their members from everyone outside the cult.
People who have been convinced to cut off contact with friends and family end up far more vulnerable to ostracism by the cult because they now have nowhere left to go nor anyone to help them if they leave.
Note, though, that there is no particular thing cultists need to believe, besides in the absoluteness of the cult. Memetically speaking, cults typically do not generate their own ideologies, but rather are metastisized versions of regular ones. Cults work, in part, because the people in them already believe in the importance of the basic ideas the cults are based on–there wouldn’t be much point in joining a cult you didn’t believe in.
Christian cults therefore draw in people who already believe in Christianity; New-Agey cults draw in people who believe in New-Agey sorts of things; Islamic cults draw in people who believe in Islam. This pre-existing belief primes people to believe the cult’s message, and also makes it hard to distinguish between the cult and regular, non-cultish believers of the same memeplex. The cult essentially hides behind the legitimacy of regular believers while simultaneously attacking them for being insufficiently rigorous in their beliefs.
Let’s take Marie Shear’s oft-repeated adage, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”
Pretty much everyone agrees that women are people. I wager that even under the most female-oppressive regimes on Earth, the vast majority of people agree that women are “people,” not unicorns, glorified fungi, or inanimate objects. Talk to someone from Saudi Arabia, and they’ll tell you that their country is great for women, because they protect women from rape and sexual objectification.
(I have actually read an academic article arguing that female genital mutilation can be seen as pro-women in certain contexts.)
The quote’s appeal is two-fold: first, it implies that “feminism” is a mainstream belief because everyone who believes that women are people are feminists, and second, it implies that anyone who doesn’t identify as a feminist doesn’t believe that women are people. All sensible, right-thinking people, therefore, are clearly feminists–and feminists are sensible, right-thinking people.
In reality, though, we know that this is not a useful definition of feminism.
Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex has helped popularize Nicholas Shackel’s phrase “Motte and Bailey doctrine” to refer to the practice of using an easily defended but not very useful (to the feminist) rhetorical position, eg, “Women are people” to protect a large swathe of much harder to defend but more useful positions, like “abortion should always be legal,” or “college campuses aren’t doing enough to prosecute rape.”
A motte-and-bailey is a kind of Medieval fortress in which an earthenwork tower (the motte) is used to defend a large field with a wall around it. The field is difficult to defend, but a good place for farming; the hill is easy to defend, but bad for farming.
Cults use this same technique to portray their beliefs as reasonable–things all good members of members of Group X believe, and aren’t you a good member of Group X?–while hiding their unreasonable beliefs and the harm they do to their members.
IV. You have probably already figured out that I think modern Social Justice Warrior ideology is effectively a cult.
Now, there are some folks around these parts who see any liberalism as dangerous or inevitably leading in a bad direction. I tend to see both “liberalism” and “conservatism” personality types, heavily influenced by genetics, independent of the particular politics of the day. A functional society benefits from the strengths of both types, so long as everyone is behaving themselves and not behaving like cult members out to crush any and all deviation from their particular version of the One True Truth.
I check Feministing, and even radfem blogs like “I Blame the Patriarchy.” And yes, I’ve read many studies and task force reports about gender bias, and about the “privilege” and “entitlement” of the nerdy males that’s keeping women away from science. …
I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison. You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year. …
I scoured the feminist literature for any statement to the effect that my fears were as silly as I hoped they were. … I found reams of text about how even the most ordinary male/female interactions are filled with “microaggressions,” and how even the most “enlightened” males—especially the most “enlightened” males, in fact—are filled with hidden entitlement and privilege and a propensity to sexual violence that could burst forth at any moment.
Because of my fears—my fears of being “outed” as a nerdy heterosexual male, and therefore as a potential creep or sex criminal—I had constant suicidal thoughts. …
At one point, I actually begged a psychiatrist to prescribe drugs that would chemically castrate me (I had researched which ones), because a life of mathematical asceticism was the only future that I could imagine for myself. The psychiatrist refused…
To repeat my comment from the beginning of this post, if anything in this excerpt sounds like your real life, please get help immediately. THIS IS NOT EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY OR NORMAL.
People who are not familiar with modern feminism (this includes many of my liberal friends, who are too busy with jobs, kids, friends, etc., to keep up with the Outrage du Jour,) might feel tempted to write off Aaronson’s experience as just one weird guy’s absurd, abnormal reaction–surely normal people don’t become suicidal or try to castrate themselves after reading about microaggressions. After all, feminism is just the idea that women are people, right? Surely feminists, being reasonable people, reacted to Aaronson with the explanations he’d been looking for (or at least links to them) and some compassion for his suicidal state.
Alexander quotes famous feminist Amanda Marcotte’s response:
[Aaronson’s post] is the whole “how can men be oppressed when I don’t get to have sex with all the hot women that I want without having to work for it?” whine, one that, amongst other things, starts on the assumption that women do not suffer things like social anxiety or rejection…It was just a yalp of entitlement combined with an aggressive unwillingness to accept that women are human beings just like men. [He is saying that] “having to explain my suffering to women when they should already be there, mopping my brow and offering me beers and blow jobs, is so tiresome…I was too busy JAQ-ing off, throwing tantrums, and making sure the chip on my shoulder was felt by everyone in the room to be bothered to do something like listen.” Women are failing him by not showing up naked in his bed, unbidden. Because bitches, yo.
The eternal struggle of the sexist: Objective reality suggests that women are people, but the heart wants to believe they are a robot army put here for sexual service and housework.
Alexander notes, “Anyway, Marcotte was bad enough, given that she runs one of the most-read feminist blogs on the Internet. But much of the rest of the feminist “discussion” on Tumblr, Twitter, and the like was if anything even worse,” then discusses an article by Laurie Penny in New Statesman, called “On Nerd Entitlement: White Male Nerds Need To Recognize That Other People Had Traumatic Upbringings Too And That’s Different From Structural Oppression”:
Feminism is not to blame for making life hell for “shy, nerdy men”. It is a real shame that Aaronson picked up Andrea Dworkin rather than any of the many feminist theorists and writers who manage to combine raw rage with refusal to resort to sexual shame as an instructive tool. Weaponised shame – male, female or other – has no place in any feminism I subscribe to.
I live in a world where feminists throwing weaponized shame at nerds is an obvious and inescapable part of daily life. Whether we’re “mouth-breathers”, “pimpled”, “scrawny”, “blubbery”, “sperglord”, “neckbeard”, “virgins”, “living in our parents’ basements”, “man-children” or whatever the insult du jour is, it’s always, always, ALWAYS a self-identified feminist saying it. Sometimes they say it obliquely, referring to a subgroup like “bronies” or “atheists” or “fedoras” while making sure everyone else in nerddom knows it’s about them too. …
But it’s not just that. Try to look up something on Iron Man, and you get an article on Iron Man-Child and how “the white maleness of geek culture” proves they are “the most useless and deficient individuals in society, precisely because they have such a delusional sense of their own importance and entitlements.”…
Let’s recap, because this has gotten a little long. Aaronson states that he is “97%” on board with feminism, and explains that his 3% reservation is due to feminism making him feel suicidal for the sin of finding women attractive. Feminists respond with incredible cruelty. One feminist claims that in her universe, feminists aren’t cruel. Alexander responds, with evidence, that feminists are constantly cruel, at least toward people like him and Aaronson.
Ms. Penny, I’m pretty sure gaslighting and lying are also signs of being in a cult.
Just how bad is the left? And are they actually any worse than the right? Perhaps both sides just have their bad apples…
And let’s not forget the recent violent riots at Berkley, which according to CNN caused $100,000 in damages, (mostly to innocent nearby businesses like refugee-supporting Starbucks,) nor the recent incident at Middlebury, in which a mob of students attempted to shut down a speech by Charles Murray and violently assaulted a professor, who ended up in the hospital:
The more exclusive the university, the richer and more liberal the students. The less exclusive, the poorer and more conservative. Ironically, it’s these elite students (who benefit most from “privilege”) who are violently opposing speakers in the name of “equality,” not conservatives at little podunk-Us.
(In other words, folks like Amanda Marcotte and the instigators of online Twitter mobs are probably sociopaths. The internet has created an environment where sociopathic behavior can thrive under the guise of “morally courageous action”)
So, to answer our question… No.
V. Here’s some more cultish material from the SJWs:
“Everybody to the right of us is literally Hitler.”
Dozens of media outlets all using the exact same language:
Meanwhile, one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country would like you to know that Super Mario Run is sexist and bad for children.
Yeah, there’s nothing at all creepy or harmful about preventing your children from consuming completely innocuous children’s media, cutting them off from the common cultural knowledge of their peer group.
Oh, and by the way, 1985 wasn’t some Dark Age of sexism–we are talking about the era of Great Britain’s first female Prime Minister, after all.
Meanwhile, from the “bodypositivists,” “we don’t understand how attraction works”:
Meanwhile, Ivy League University Penn is apparently a hotbed of racism:
And for students whose professors are insufficiently racist, SJWs have put together a handy guide to making family gatherings as unplesant as possible:
VI. Let’s have some conclusions.
Regardless of what you think of leftists in general–and I know many leftists who are basically good-hearted, well-intentioned people–the extreme left, born of academia and particularly active on the internet, works like a cult.
This is a difficult position to explain to someone who has not experienced it personally, or seen a loved one affected by it. During the long process by which this blog came to exist, I struggled to reconcile my own morality–my sense of myself as a “good person”–with the statistical data I was reading. How could a good person believe in statistical differences between groups in criminal offending rates, or measured IQ scores? Did merely believing such a thing make me a bad person?
I tended to keep such ideas to myself; far more innocuous statements in conversation with friends and acquaintances were often responded to with anger, threats, or explicit shunning. I lost most of my college-friends due to shunning, and I’ve had it far better than some.
Since abandoning my identity as a leftist, I’ve also abandoned the idea that my morality is based in believing the correct things. If tomorrow I discovered that there are no group-level differences in IQ or criminal behavior, this would change nothing about how I see myself. (In fact, I’d be perfectly pleased by such a discovery.) Rather, I see my morality in how I treat those around me–family, friends, random strangers I meet in everyday life.
When ideas spread because they are true or useful, they make life better. The Germ Theory of Disease has saved billions of lives. Belief in Santa Claus makes children happy, even if he isn’t real.
But sometimes ideas spread even though they fundamentally lack utility. The classic example of this is the chain letter, which people spread because it tells them to, even though it contains nothing of worth. The modern version of the chain letter are Facebook Memes that say things like, “99% of people don’t love Jesus enough to repost this meme” or “If you really love your relative with cancer, you’ll repost this meme,” or “90% of people can’t answer this simple math problem!” It’s easy to see how #activism slides into pure meme re-posting.
These sorts of memes are annoying but fairly harmless. It’s when memes mutate into ideologies that judge the essential goodness of their believers on their willingness to devote their lives to spreading the meme that they become dangerous. You end up with purity spirals that end in martyrdom–self-sacrifice for the spread of the meme. The spread of such ideas through society can be see, quite reasonably, as cancerous.
Easy Nofemela remembers the evening Amy Biehl died. … a mob of angry young men was looking for symbols of white rule to destroy.
Then the men spotted Biehl, blond and blue-eyed, as she drove through the township in her yellow Mazda.
“Rocks were being thrown at Amy’s car. She got out and ran, and she was stabbed right over there,” Nofemela says, pointing to a patch of grass next to a service station, now planted with a small cross.
Nofemela remembers, 15 years later, because he was part of the mob that killed Amy Biehl.
What he didn’t know then was that Biehl was hardly a symbol of apartheid. She was a Fulbright scholar studying the lives of women in South Africa, a 26-year-old Stanford graduate with a plane ticket for home the next day, from an airport 10 minutes away. …
Today, Nofemela, a compact 37-year-old with a shaved head and a quick wit, is the father of a young girl. And, in an improbable tale of forgiveness and redemption, he and Ntobeko Peni, another of the men convicted of the murder, now work for the charity Biehl’s parents founded here after she was killed. …
An engaging woman of 65 with a blond bob and a warm smile, she has grown exceptionally close to her daughter’s killers. “Easy and Ntobeko are fascinating and I really do love them,” she says. “They have given me so much.”
Linda Biehl and her late husband, Peter, launched the Amy Biehl Foundation in 1994 with donations that arrived, unsolicited, from strangers moved by the news of their daughter’s death. Today, it runs after-school programs for youngsters in Guguletu and other townships and squatter camps that took root during the apartheid era on the Cape flats, about 10 miles east of Cape Town.
Guys, if anyone ever murders me, I encourage you to murder them back.
Hello, everyone! Today we have a guest post, How the Winds Change, about social signaling, the Federal Government, the Cathedral, and Title IX–and how these things may change:
After the election we’ve seen a lot of liberals express the fear that LGBTQ people and Muslims and other minorities will be rounded up and become victim to horrible things, as this blog has noted. It’s kind of a weird paranoia. Even if Trump was as evil as they say, liberals still have a solid 47% of the populace opposed to him – even up to 90% in their cities. How would you get the people on board with stigmatizing minorities when so, so many people oppose it? In order to enact this sort of draconian social change, you’d really need the masses to buy into it.
I think this fear comes from social justice advocates realizing, somewhere deep down, that their hold on the Cathedral is in some ways quite tenuous. There are a lot of true believers, but there are even more people just along for the ride, who see the best way to get status is to play along with progressive orthodoxy. If the best way to get status and to protect your position becomes “follow the Trump party line,” then those activists currently in the vanguard could find themselves losing a lot of their influence.
The government can do that. Usually in the culture wars the government is a passive beast, something to be fought over and not really a driver of people’s opinions. This is particularly true in liberal democracy, which used to be one of the best things about the US democracy. But, the government has a lot of money, and a lot of power, and if it wants to start really, seriously swaying the elites, status-seeking people will follow it.
Here’s an example. How many of you have heard of the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights? Not many of you probably, as it’s a fairly small office. It’s headed by the Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. No one famous, not someone you see in endless clickbait articles or cable news debates. She doesn’t even have her own Wikipedia page! She’s just in charge of making sure that schools that receive federal funds (mostly universities) are in compliance with civil rights laws.
But with this administration, the Assistant Secretary of this office cares a lot about progressive social change. And she believes very strongly that sexual assault in our culture is a major problem, and she wants to raise awareness of it (backed by a White House Task Force) . This is no grand conspiracy, this is one person caring about a cause a lot, with only a little bit of federal power behind them, all out in the open.
Now, if found in violation of their civil rights requirements, a university could lose Title IX funding, which is a lot of money. But that sort of hammer can only be used so much, and it’s not even clear how you could prove harassment on campus was the fault of the university in such an investigation.
There is no way that the federal government could pull Title IX funding from 55 major institutions. As a whole the threat was entirely a paper tiger. But whooo boy, no university wants to be on that List. No admissions counselor wants to explain to student’s parents what that List means. No fundraising officer wants to explain to alumni why they are on this List of schools under investigation, before asking them for five figure donations.
So the school does everything they can to comply with the OCR, and make clear they are on the right side of history. In practice, this means putting the rights of the accused last, the rights of the victim second, and the interests of the OCR first. It also means a lot of campus publicity that isn’t shown to reduce sexual assault, but looks like they are doing something.
You may have noticed that within feminism, the problem of “sexual assault on college campuses” has received a ton of attention. Part of the reason for that is universities falling over themselves to appease this office with its vague requirements. As the old saying goes “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
That’s the system. The government vaguely threatens people who get a lot of money from them. Those people with a lot of money jump in line. Other elites look to the people with money as sources of moral authority and take their cues from them. And the masses worry about what the elites are chattering about so much. This is pretty much the definition of the Cathedral after all.
Ordinarily the US government isn’t very involved in the culture wars, so the cultural opinions of the elite are unlikely to turn on a dime. But as we’ve seen, with some issues the federal government does get involved. And I think a lot of the social justice fear is that a Trump administration will get much more actively involved in trying to sway opinion on his issues.
First of all, they’ll stop doing what the current OCR is doing. They may even do the reverse, and starting making a list of schools who they think have been too hard on defendants. Then other bureaucrats in their various niches can begin pursuing investigations designed to “raise awareness” of their pet issue. And before you know it, all the high status intellectuals in your society are apologizing for their past stances and trying to sound like they agreed with Donald Trump all along.
It’s a pretty frightening image, and a good wake up call to just how much power the government has to bend the course of our moral culture when it wants to. No political group on either side should be comfortable with this.
After reading several books and numerous articles by lawyers of various stripes, you can’t help but notice their philosophy of law. (In this case, Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, and The Real Watergate Scandal, by Geoff Shepard.) Now, I am sure that actual legal scholars and philosophers have developed a whole vocabulary and system of concepts for discussing these sorts of things, but as I am not a legal philosophy scholar, I am limited to my own bumbling language.
The American legal tradition, from the Constitution on down, is based on the notion that man is his own sovereign; judges do not advocate on behalf of one person or group, but dispassionately arbitrate between them.
Thus the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Government does not chose a side.
For the first two hundred years or so of our country, the proper functioning of law was seen as protecting the interests of the individual, both against predation by others and from over-reach by the state. Just as the scientific method protects truth by demanding a theory be falsifiable and tested against this counter-scenario, so the legal system protects freedom by putting the burden of proof on the Prosecution and demanding that the accused be treated as “innocent until proven guilty.”
Properly functioning, the law protects the individual. This idea of law-functioning-as-intended-protects-people is found in both Just Mercy and The Real Watergate Scandal, in which both authors describe cases of judges and prosecutors interfering with the proper functioning of law to deprive defendants of a fair trial. A fair trial, they argue, would have exonerated their defendants.
Obviously this view is still current among lawyers, who like to see themselves as moral people who deserve their paychecks. But among non-lawyers, the view seems to have shifted radically over the past few decades. SJWs in particular seem to have decided that the legal system is not as the protector of rights, but the protector of oppressors.
To some extent, this is due to the absolutely true fact that rich people can afford better lawyers than poor people can, corporations use the legal system to drive down competition, and there are so many laws now on the books that if they want to arrest you, they can almost always find something to charge you with.
But these are, we might argue, a practical matter, easily resolved by repealing drug laws or forcing everyone to use public defenders or some other measure I leave for you to imagine. Increasingly, though, it seems like the very ground rules of a “free society protected by laws” are coming under attack.
Take Freedom of Speech.
Free Speech has historically been regarded as necessary for the existence of a free, democratic society, both because it is impossible to discuss important political matters if certain opinions are not allowed to be expressed, and because it is an insult to free men to dictate what they may and may not discuss. That Freedom of Speech covers matters deemed noxious to common sentiments like pornography, flag burning, or KKK rallies was seen mainly as an unpleasant but generally ignorable side-effect of a properly functioning legal necessity. Thus even the hyper-liberal ACLU would defend the rights of the KKK to march and pornographers to publish.
Today, by contrast, Freedom of Speech is regarded by many on the left not as defending their own rights, but as a legal fig leaf to protect bigots, Nazis, Klan members, and Charlie Hebdo while they spread their vile, hate-filled messages.
According to Gallup, 27% of college students favored campus restrictions on “expressing political views that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups;” 69% favored restrictions on “slurs” and “intentionally offensive” speech; and 63% want their administrations to ban offensive Halloween costumes. Further, 40% of Millennials want the government to restrict speech “offensive to minorites.”
See: Yale’s costume crisis:
(Since Youtube crashes my computer, please let me know if I don’t have the best video.)
When you start demanding that the authorities dictate which costumes you can wear while screaming in outrage at anyone who suggests that you might be old enough to dress yourselves, you don’t want freedom, you want mommy.
That’s why I call this the rise of Mommy Law, a legal philosophy in which the government’s proper role is no longer to mediate between equals, but to defend the helpless–blacks, women, LGBTQIAs, Muslims, etc.–from their oppressors. It is implicit, under Mommy Law, that these groups have no agency of their own and could not take care of themselves without the government’s help.
Interestingly, criminal law–especially as it relates to rape–has been the locus of much of this change for decades. Just Mercy goes into this in some depth, because changes in criminal law over the past few decades have ironically had a major effect on black people, so I regret deeply that I do not have the text at hand to quote for you. In short, IIRC, the emphasis in criminal court cases shifted from the “state” prosecuting a criminal who had disturbed the common order (hence the phrasing, “The State of X vs. Joe Bob,” to the state acting on behalf of the victims. Certain rights of the defendant related to cross-examination of witnesses, especially child victims of rape and other violent crimes, have been curtailed to avoid distressing the witnesses.
This is all quite understandable in light of the feminists’ War on Rape, which you should be familiar with if you’ve ever spent 5 minutes around feminists. Unfortunately for the feminists, most rapes are difficult to prosecute under normal legal standards. Unlike robbery, in which the transfer of one man’s wallet to another man’s pocket is clearly a crime, people–even strangers–engage in consensual sex all the time. In a great majority of cases, we have nothing more to go on than the testimonies of the two people involved, one of whom claims consensuality and one of whom claims not. Victory in such cases requires lower standards of evidence and a weakening of the presumption of “Innocent until proven guilty.”
And with that very long introduction, here are some recent articles from the Yale Daily News:
Last Wednesday, the Connecticut Senate voted 35 to one in favor of a bill requiring both private and public colleges and universities in the state to adopt affirmative consent as the standard in handling cases of sexual misconduct on campus.
Commonly defined as “yes means yes,” the affirmative consent standard puts the burden of proof on the accused party, who is now responsible for demonstrating that affirmative consent was given before any sexual activity took place. Lawmakers in support of the bill stressed that affirmative consent means “active, informed, unambiguous and voluntary agreement” and will help university administrators handle sexual misconduct on campus with greater efficacy and clarity. Several Connecticut universities, including Yale, already use an affirmative consent standard. …
Students from different colleges and universities across the state gathered in front of the Connecticut State Capitol in April to demonstrate their support for the bill when it was being considered in the House.
Nearly a month after sexual misconduct allegations arose against renowned Yale philosophy professor Thomas Pogge, simmering anger within the philosophy community has turned into open outrage as more than 200 philosophy professors around the world — including 16 full Yale professors — have signed an open letter condemning Pogge’s alleged misconduct. …
… philosophy professor Shelly Kagan, who was department chair when Pogge was hired, said what Pogge has admitted to doing is inappropriate and unprofessional. During a 2011 UWC investigation, Pogge acknowledged that he had shared a hotel room with Lopez Aguilar and slept on her lap during a flight, although he added that both actions were suggested by her.
“The things about going to the conference with a former student and sharing a hotel room and he admitted to sleeping with his head on her lap. That is not appropriate behavior,” Kagan said in an interview with the News…
“Just months from graduation and weeks before our basketball team clinched an Ivy League title, Jack Montague was forced to leave school and abandon his team in light of a university sexual assault investigation that presented no evidence that proved his guilt. Not only was Jack stripped of a Yale degree which he had worked over three and half years to earn, he was also denied the once in a lifetime opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament alongside his teammates,” …
The basketball team drew criticism earlier this year for demonstrating support for Montague after rumors of his expulsion began to circulate. In a Feb. 26 home contest against Harvard, 16 days after Montague was expelled, the team took to the court wearing T-shirts with the former captain’s nickname and number on the back. The following week, posters appeared around campus condemning the team for “supporting a rapist.”
Filed in a federal court last week, Montague v. Yale University et. al joins more than 100 recent civil suits alleging that college students accused of sexual misconduct were not granted fair hearings in campus proceedings. …
In one of the most powerful critiques of university sexual misconduct procedures, presiding judge F. Dennis Saylor denied Brandeis’s motion to dismiss charges in March, ruling that four of the eight charges, including the breach of contract charge, could stand. …
Explicitly supporting the lower evidence standard mandated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX compliance guidelines, Saylor questioned whether Brandeis’s sexual misconduct procedures have gone too far. …
In recent years, dozens of universities have been taken to court for their handling of sexual misconduct allegations. Lawsuits claiming that accused students’ due process rights were denied have proliferated since the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issued a public letter to Title IX coordinators in April of 2011. The 19-page document, known as the “Dear Colleague” letter, laid out a series of guidelines for educational institutions that receive federal funding and are thereby obliged to comply with Title IX, the clause of the Education Amendments of 1972 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
Perhaps most significantly, educational institutions were instructed to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard — meaning, the letter explains, “it is more likely than not that sexual harassment or violence occurred” — when investigating allegations of sexual harassment or violence.
This lower standard, used in campus proceedings involving sexual misconduct but not in criminal cases, reduces the level of certainty required to find students guilty of sexual misconduct, opening the door for students to claim that their due process rights — to hear and respond to evidence, or to cross-examine opposing witnesses, among others — were violated.
Due process is a constitutional right, but Rendell-Baker v. Kohn (1982) ruled that private universities are not required to adhere to the same standards of due process as courts. A student undergoing a Title IX investigation at a college is not guaranteed the same rights — a jury of one’s peers or the right to know opposing evidence, for example — as a criminal who committed a comparable crime in a non-university setting.
Galvez said she was away from campus when the tragedy took place and found it difficult to grasp that people of her community are dying for being their authentic selves.
She added that the shooting was a violation of a safe space for queer people of color, who have been deemed unworthy of love, civil liberties and now the right to live.
“Our Latinx, LGBTQ and Yale communities at large are hurting — we are mourning for our hermanxs,” she said. “There are some that will use this incident to target those in our Muslim communities, however, it is love and not hate that will help us in our path towards alleviating our hearts. Indeed, our Muslim hermanxs are also hurting and mourning with us.” …
As a non-native Spanish speaker, I suppose I don’t have a right to get anal about the butchering of grammatical gender endings in English-renderings of Spanish words, but how do you even pronounce “hermanxs”?
I remember those long ago days of Spanish class, when we first learned about this whole concept of “grammatical gender” and how it operates in Spanish, and some of us started bristling up and saying, “But isn’t that sexist?” Our Mexican teacher immediately shot us down. No, grammatical gender is just part of how the language operates, not an expression of how people feel about men and women.
According to Wikipedia, Proto-Indo-European had to genders, “Animate and Inanimate.” Oh those bigots! Latin had three genders, indicating that the Romans were really into trans rights. Swahili has 18 genders, evidence of severe mutation after a nuclear accident (also, ninja turtles.) English has only a few evil words left, like “duchess,” because it is the current year and we are now enlightened.
(Duchessship is one of the few words in English with three identical letters in a row.)
Etymologically, the term “gender” in “grammatical gender” actually doesn’t mean “the word is a girl or a boy.” It just means “type” or “kind,” as in the word “genus,” a taxonomic rank above species but below family for classifying groups of animals, eg, house cats and wildcats are both in the genus Felis.
I am an absolute blast at parties.
He added that the majority of the Orlando victims were Blacks or Latinx enjoying Latin Night at Pulse nightclub, a place where people should be able to dance free from stigma and discrimination. That many have overlooked this important fact or used the tragedy to scapegoat Muslims is frustrating, Paredes said. …
LGBTQ Co-Op Coordinator Kyle Ranieri ’18 said the Orlando shooting has deeply affected him and many of his queer friends. To attack gay clubs and bars is to devastate “the epicenter of queer communities,” Ranieri said.
Ranieri said he is pleased with Salovey’s email, which recognized the tragedy as a targeted attack against the LGBTQ Latinx community, but he expects the administration to take steps to ensure a safe campus for queer people of color in the coming semester.
It’s Yale’s job to keep gay blacks and Hispanics safe from the likes of the Orlando shooter, but not from Muslims.
The Divide: A portrait of Muslim Student Life at Yale:
Ishrat Mannan ’17 stood by a lonely table, pamphlets in hand. Her disinterested classmates streamed past her, lining up to attend the event of the day: a talk by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, titled “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West.” Even though the physical distance that separated them could not have been more than a few feet, Mannan found that she and her fellow Yalies might as well have been in different ideological worlds. In one, Islam was a symbol of peace and a way of life. In the other, it was a foreign relic of a bygone era, interesting to study but not to take seriously. “That huge divide,” recalls Mannan, “just felt really, really disheartening.” …
Acceptance can be hard in a place as secular as Yale. …
Whether it is in Global Affairs or Modern Middle East Studies, Islam is usually taught from the specific viewpoint of radical violence and national security. It’s not that good classes about Islam don’t exist at Yale. Rather, it’s that students choose not to take them.
“[Classes about Islamic civilization] are not the popular, sexy classes that get high attendance,” says Bajwa. “Muslim civilization, Muslim history, intellectual history, social history, Muslim culture’s contributions to society, those are the classes that have anemic attendance.” …
I can’t imagine why.
Yale’s general academic attitude toward Islam is just the tip of the iceberg. If anything, it is reflective of subtle Islamophobia on parts of campus. This tension between the Muslim and non-Muslim Yale communities has manifested itself more than once in Yale’s recent history.
Seven years ago, the master of Branford College invited Kurt Westergaard, one of the 12 Danish cartoonists who drew offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, to a Master’s Tea. …
Then in 2012, the New York Police Department’s massive spying operation on at least 15 Muslim student organizations across the country came to light, and with it the revelation that Yale students had been the unwitting targets of extensive surveillance, suspected solely on the basis of their religion. The incident hit hard, but fortunately the Yale administration issued a statement of support for the Muslim community on campus, with former University Vice President Linda Lorimer telling the News that Yale “supports [the MSA’s] goals and aims and is grateful for its leadership on our campus,” adding that she had been “both inspired and educated by the MSA.”
I think that is the opposite of Islamaphobia on campus, but who can keep track of such detaisl?
Perhaps the toughest blow, though came last year, with the William F. Buckley Jr. Program’s invitation of Hirsi Ali, a well-known anti-Islamic speaker. …
Hirsi Ali’s father had studied abroad and was opposed to female genital mutilation. But, while he was imprisoned, Hirsi Ali’s grandmother had the traditional procedure performed on five-year-old Hirsi Ali.
After her father escaped from prison, he and the family left Somalia, going to Saudi Arabia and then to Ethiopia, before settling in Nairobi, Kenya, by 1980. There he established a comfortable upper-class life for them. Hirsi Ali attended the English-language Muslim Girls’ Secondary School. By the time she reached her teens, Saudi Arabia was funding religious education in numerous countries and its religious views were becoming influential among many Muslims. A charismatic religious teacher, trained under this aegis, joined Hirsi Ali’s school. She inspired the teenaged Ayaan, as well as some fellow students, to adopt the more rigorous Saudi Arabian interpretations of Islam, as opposed to the more relaxed versions then current in Somalia and Kenya. Hirsi Ali said later that she had long been impressed by the Qur’an and had lived “by the Book, for the Book” throughout her childhood.
Yup, Hirsi Ali is clearly an ignorant, anti-Muslim bigot. Back to Yale:
What started off as a small event exploded into a raging firestorm that drew in the national media and numerous student organizations across campus. Arguments were made, op-eds were written, letters were sent, and before anyone knew it, Hirsi Ali’s event had somehow evolved into an epic showdown between protecting free speech and preserving a safe space. … “A lot of people have become very open about how disillusioned they are with Yale,” says Mannan…
Just as it is really hard to be black at Harvard, it’s really hard to be Muslim at Yale.
But we shouldn’t honor one donor’s request that stands so wildly in contrast to the prevailing opinion and wishes of students on campus. … But it’s also true that Yale students today are unimpressed — and angry, saddened and deeply frustrated — with this naming decision. But one day, some of us will have wallets that rival Johnson’s, and will be in a position to make these types of decisions to steward and direct this institution. Yale is raising us to be its future alumni, and as future alumni, we can perhaps — as a whole — value the voices of students on campus over our own egos. We must hope for more decisions that look like Pauli Murray College, and much fewer that look like Franklin.
Amidst the tears and painful conversations last semester, a note of optimism hung in the air. The March of Resilience in November affirmed a widespread commitment to, in University President Peter Salovey’s own words, “a better Yale.” Student activists delivered concrete policy demands to administrators, with some tangible results. Despite the University’s past failures to address the concerns of students and faculty of color, there was a glimmer of hope.
At around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, that hope was unceremoniously dashed. …
Murray College, a symbol of progress and equality, will stand next to Franklin College, whose name seems to have carried a $250 million price tag.
The new college will be permanently engraved with the name of Benjamin Franklin, a slaveowner whose only affiliation with Yale is one honorary degree.
Ben Franklin dashed their hopes.
Yale will eliminate a title to which few were attached, and name one residential college after a queer woman of color. But in deciding to do so, they have paradoxically insulted the very students who have fought so hard for change. When paired with its calculated verdicts on Calhoun and Franklin College, the symbols of progress start to look rather unprogressive.
That’s because protesting over the names of colleges is actually really dumb.
Some students have expressed the view that their engagement and advocacy in the fall were wasted. Nothing could be further from the truth. We value your voices, and the initiatives we announced then and now reflect our respect for the student, alumni, faculty and staff who participated.
Initiatives for a more inclusive Yale, some already underway and others newly announced in November, are being implemented. We want to be held accountable as we fulfill important commitments to strengthen the academic enterprise, expand programs for students, improve institutional structures and increase representation of diversity on campus. …
Scholars and students across the University engage in these activities each day. The research and education mission of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale is a major participant in conversations on campus and across the nation. The new Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration will add new voices, on our campus and around the world. We must use our voices and our influence as students and as educators to share that knowledge with broader society and seek solutions, not just solace. …
Help us shape the historical study of names and memorials to be undertaken throughout the campus. The Committee on Art in Public Places requests student and faculty insights into what iconography we must create and change to better reflect the nature of our community and our history. Submit a proposal to the juried competition that will select a piece of art to defy the beliefs of John C. Calhoun by shining a light on equality and justice.
But college is no easier at Yale than anywhere else. In these four years you have lost friends, flunked tests and cried in courtyards when you realized life was more confusing than an admissions brochure made it out to be. You have turned tears into change as you held your Yale accountable. You have called for racial justice, environmental change, mental health reform, sexual consent, international human rights and so much more. From New Haven to St. Louis, college voices like yours are shaping the course of this country. And in expressing your experience of isolation and oppression, you found a community and a home here. Perhaps this is the most important lesson you have taught us: None of us are alone.
The purpose of Cathedral Round-Up is to keep track of what our betters have in store for us. This month we are headed to Harvard (and for a side-excursion, Oxford,) to witness the progressive push to expand the notion of “refugees” to include virtually everyone not already living in the West; the sheer heart-breaking difficulties of being one of the world’s most privileged black people; and Cecil Rhodes‘s pro-Muslim legacy.
Jacqueline Bhabha brings us “When Water is Safer than Land,” repeating the common claim that “no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land” that was so commonly bandied about in the wake of the drowning of 3 year old Alan Kurdi. Alan’s death is a tragedy, but his family was trying to leave Turkey, a peaceful, relatively prosperous nation, not a violence-riddled war zone.
I argued back in Newton’s Third Law of Politics that the official definition of “refugee” is already broad enough to encompass almost anyone the government wants it to; Professor Bhabha wants to do away with the concept of “refugee” entirely, in favor of “distress migrant”:
… news coverage and political attention have highlighted the irrationality and inefficiency of our outdated legal and administrative system of migration management—a system now manifestly premised on incoherent dichotomies and false assumptions.
The most fundamental dichotomy lies at the very root of modern migration law, separating bona fide “refugees” with a “well-founded fear of persecution” under the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, from spontaneous “economic migrants” seeking to take advantage of greater prosperity and opportunity outside their home countries. The former are considered legitimate recipients of international protection, the latter unlawful border-crossers.
But for more than a decade, migration experts within the United Nations, in the immigration and justice ministries of many countries, and civil-society organizations such as the Women’s Refugee Commission, the International Rescue Committee, and Human Rights Watch, have acknowledged the artificiality of this dichotomy, given the reality of “mixed migration”—distress migration prompted by multiple, interconnected factors, including survival fears and economic desperation. …
Priority in these entry categories should be given to “distress migrants,” a category that should replace the now unworkable distinction between “legal” refugee and economic but “illegal” forced migrant.
In short, Bhabha thinks it’s unfair to prevent anyone who lives in a country that’s poorer than the West from migrating wherever they want to go. Migration to the West is a human right; wanting to control who enters your country is outdated and shows that you’re not a “team player”:
But such official resettlement is sustainable only if it is a joint endeavor, agreed upon by countries that are willing to host relocated refugees and share the responsibility for doing so with others in their region. The current intransigence of relatively prosperous EU member states such as France, the UK, Slovenia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic vitiates this sort of collective humanitarian endeavor and unreasonably leaves the protection “burden” only to the exemplary few (Germany and Sweden at present).
Germany broke EU rules by inviting in a few million migrants without the consent of the other member states, but Hungary is being totally meanie pants for insisting on this weird notion of “national sovereignty” instead of just lying back, spreading its borders, and thinking of Queen Victoria.
Maybe we should adopt a policy of always letting Germany do whatever it wants to its neighbors–would have saved us a lot of effort about 102 – 71 years ago.
Bhabha also notes that the current system rewards those who break the rules by migrating illegally–if you can just get to Europe, chances are you’ll be fine–while punishing those who try to obey the rules by filling out all of their paperwork and then sitting out the multi-year process just to get rejected. This is completely accurate.
Bhabha believes that “distress migration” to wealthy countries is inevitable and unstoppable, but has several recommendations for making the immigration system more humane and less likely to involve dead children:
Massively overhaul the immigration bureaucracy (this I actually agree with–bureaucratic systems tend to be awful.)
Let in all of the “distress migrants.”
Westerners should stop the wars in foreign countries (how, exactly?)
More funding for refugee camps in places like Turkey so people will stay there instead of migrating to Europe. (I don’t know what the conditions in Turkish refugee camps are like, but I bet they could be much nicer.)
Westerners need to make economic development happen in the third world so people will want to stay there, (because third worlders can’t run their own economies?)
It’s funny how people who think colonialism was evil simultaneously think Africans can’t feed their own children or run their own economies without white people stepping in.
Of course, given current fertility rates, the prospects for feeding all of Africa’s children without the rest of the world stepping in do look pretty grim:
Bhabha has left out the simplest, most humane solution: birth control.
Interestingly, Professor Jacqueline Bhabha is an English woman who obtained her last name via her husband, Homi K. Bhabha, son of an Indian Parsi family. The Parsis are interesting in their own right, but that is a matter for another day. Alas, I have not been able to figure out if Homi is the son of the similarly-named Indian nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha. (At the very least, if you meet a Bhabha, chances are he’s an exceptionally intelligent person.)
I have noticed that elites tend to be highly international people–born in one country, raised in another, married into a third. A highschool fiend hailed from four different countries; another attended an elite boarding school 15,000 miles away from her family. And they know each other–“Oh, you’re from Hong Kong? Do you know so-and-so? You do? What a coincidence!”
President Obama, son of a Kenyan and an American of mostly English extraction (who met while studying Russian in Hawaii,) lived for four years in Indonesia, and then ended up in Chicago.
Carlos Slim, largest shareholder of the New York Times and one of the richest men in the world, is a Mexican of Lebanese descent–“Slim” was “Salim” back when his father moved to Mexico.
And as Tolstoy notes, at the time of Napoleon’s invasion, the Russian ruling class spoke French, not Russian.
According to the NY Times, getting Homi K. Bhabha, who taught in the Afro-American Studies department in 2001, was a major coup for Harvard. Sure, Indian-born Homi might not look like an expert on the experiences of African Americans, but his co-professors are enthusiastic about his work:
“”He’s manifestly one of the most distinguished cultural theorists of the postcolonial and diasporic experience in the world,’ said Lawrence Buell, the department chairman.”
Other professors point out that Homi’s “expertise” may be entirely high-falutin’ smoke and mirrors:
In 1998, Mr. Bhabha won second place (Judith Butler, a gender theorist at Berkeley, took the top prize) in the annual Bad Writing Contest sponsored by the journal Philosophy and Literature for this passage from an essay on mimicry: “If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to ‘normalize’ formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.”
A developing theme in this series is the way that elite colleges use majority-white people with a small percentage of black ancestry to pad their diversity numbers. In Homi’s case, “whiteness” is debatable, but he is clearly an elite, light-skinned Indian of Persian (aka Aryan) descent, not one of India’s dark-skinned “untouchables,” Scheduled Castes, or Dalits.
The official logic of “diversity” and Affirmative Action is that universities should correct for past oppression and reflect the racial composition of the population they serve by correcting for the negative effects of racism and poverty on test scores. The logic runs that a poor kid growing up in Detroit with one parent in jail and the other busy working two jobs just to make ends meet is going to attend fewer SAT prep classes than rich kids attending TJ, and so his SAT scores may not reflect his true potential.
In practice, places like Harvard end up with a bunch of high-class elites like Homi who can ticky-box “diversity” but are not actually part of an oppressed minority. (A bunch of white “Hispanics” get in this way, too.)
Elites love diversity–so long as “diversity” means other elites. And they can’t understand why their proles insist on icky nationalism:
“Ewww. Get it away.”
Jacqueline Bhabha on Merkel:
Germany’s Angela Merkel has emerged as the surprising heroine of the humanitarian lobby, leveraging her country’s ever-present past and robust economy to welcome more than one million refugees and to stress the potential demographic dividend of a healthy, youthful workforce for an aging continent.
Yes, I’m sure Merkel is the kind of elite who just loves spending time with the huddled masses of the third world.
And on European fears:
The notion that the magnitude of refugee arrival, on the other hand, poses any sort of threat to Europe’s future prosperity is laughable. The Syrians arriving represent less than 1 percent of the population of the European Union (EU), the world’s richest continent. In Lebanon, an incomparably poorer polity, every fourth inhabitant is now a Syrian refugee, and yet even that war-torn country is not at the brink of collapse. The current flow of refugees poses no objective threat to the future or prosperity of Europe.
Because every country wants to look like Lebanon?
Leaving aside the fact that not all of the migrants are from Syria–many of them are, ahem, “distress migrants” from Africa or Asia fleeing poverty, not ISIS–an argument that Europe can handle its current migration levels is not an argument that Europe can handle far more migrants.
Germany’s overall fertility rate is one of the lowest in the world–about 1.4 children per woman. (Slightly over 2 is necessary for population stability, neither growing nor shrinking.) This means that the population of Germany is shrinking.
As of 2014, 16.3 million of Germany’s 81.5 million people–20% of the population–were immigrants or the children of immigrants. In 2009, about 4.3 million Germans are Muslim–5.4% of the population–but due to much higher fertility rates, 9.1% of Germany’s children were Muslims.
I know it’s unreasonable to expect Harvard professors to be able to do math, but we can:
If Germany has 81.5 million people, and about 18% of them are children, that’s 14.7 million children. Of those, 9.1%, or 1.3 million, are Muslim.
If Germany has about 4.3 million Muslims, and 1.3 million of them are children, then 3 million are adults.
Let’s suppose Germany accepts a modest 1 million refugees a year for just two more years, (for 3 million total,) and they have the same TFR as the folks already in Germany. Now 16% of German children are Muslim.
Keep it up for 9 years (10 million migrants,) and 24% of future voters are Muslim (and that’s not counting the shrinking native German population during this time.)
These are obviously extremely rough numbers, but they are not unreasonable.
If your goal is, “make Germany look more like Lebanon,” then that’s one way to do it. And perhaps the German people are perfectly happy accepting a million migrants a year. But let’s not banter about facile claims like “less than 1 percent” when advocating virtually limitless, long-term immigration policies in a world with over a billion people who would happily move to Germany (or virtually any other Western country) if they could.
Elites think that if elite migration is good for them, then the mass migration of unskilled, illiterate poor folks will be great for proles, and then are confused when the masses do not react with universal jubilation at the results:
The Daily Mail summarizes:
Alexandra Mezher, 22, fatally stabbed at migrant centre where she worked
Her family, who are originally from Lebanon, described her as ‘an angel’ …
A boy, 15, living at centre, arrested on suspicion of murder is from Somalia
Teenage killer was overpowered by other children living at the centre
Swedish police demand more cash to stem rising violence in the country
Italian police have arrested a Senegalese illegal immigrant who prosecutors believe killed Ashley Olsen, a U.S. woman who was found dead in her apartment in Florence last weekend.
“We have collected very serious evidence of his guilt,” Florence chief prosecutor Giuseppe Creazzo told reporters at a news conference on Thursday after the man was arrested and questioned in the early hours of the morning. …
She was strangled in the early hours of Friday, Creazzo said, but the autopsy revealed that she had two fractures to her skull — injuries that would also have proved fatal.
Mamadou Kamara, an 18-year-old from the Ivory Coast, allegedly slit the throat of Vincenzo Solano, 68, and then attacked his Spanish-born wife, Mercedes Ibanez, 70.
Ms Ibanez fell to her death from a second-floor balcony, during a robbery that turned violent. …
Mr Kamara was arrested after police searched his bag on Sunday as he returned to the migrant centre.
Inside they found a mobile telephone, a laptop computer, a video camera and a pair of trousers, allegedly belonging to Mr Solano, that were covered in blood.
Of course, Professor Bhabha, living comfortably in Massachusetts, does not have to worry about being raped or murdered by “distress migrants” from Africa let in under the rhetoric that Turkey is not good enough for Syrian refugees.
But Professor Bhabha isn’t just advocating for increased African migration to Europe; she has also noticed that places like Mexico and Honduras have astronomically high murder rates, and therefore wants to let them into the US. Perhaps there is some magical quality to the soil in America that she thinks will make people suddenly be less murderous when they step over the border.
Prudencio Ramirez stands accused of killing his 18 year old girlfriend and her three year old son in Washington State, the Tri-City Herald reports.
Prosecutors say the victims were shot and then stuffed inside a burning car.
The coroner says it is likely the little boy was burned alive.
Or perhaps she is just an idiot.
Either way, expect to see a lot more people talking about “distress migration.”
Ms. Gathright starts with a quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates:
You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable…The people who must believe they are white can never be your measuring stick. I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.
I know pretty much everyone spouts vacuous “be yourself” bullshit, but it’s still annoying–everyone has “constrict” themselves to make other comfortable. Just because you feel like farting while in a crowded elevator does not mean you do it; just because you feel like yelling at your cubicle-mate every time he starts humming does not mean you do it; just because you feel comfortable wearing a bathrobe and slippers does not mean you wear them to a job interview. Living among other humans–even in hunter gatherer tribes in the arctic!–means paying attention to social norms and controlling one’s impulses in order to act appropriately.
Anyone who thinks they are special enough to avoid normal human social norms is a fucking sociopath.
Second, “must believe they are white.” ??? What does that even mean?
White person: I don’t see race.
POC: OMG how racist of you to deny my blackness and your white privilege!
White person: Oh, okay. I guess I’m white.
POC: OMG, how racist of you to insist on believing that you’re white!
Continuing on, Ms. Gathright describes a conversation between a guy handing out apples in the cafeteria and her “house tutor” (“RA” in common speak.)
He is standing in front of me, and I am standing next to Jonathan, my lovely, gentle, kind Lowell House tutor.
That sounds awfully intimate.
Ms. Gathright is disturbed because Jeremy and apple-guy are happily talking to each other instead of to her.
Maybe I am just woman enough, just brown enough, to be rendered invisible. It might all be in my head, but isn’t that sometimes just enough to make a moment uncomfortable?
Things that are “all in your head” can indeed make moments uncomfortable, like when you hallucinate spiders crawling under your skin. But that doesn’t make them real.
Apple guy talks about apples:
He is talking about seeds and grafting, about history. Did you know that hard cider was the Founding Fathers’ primary method of hydration? Did you know that they were all drunk pretty much all the time? …
I am distracted. His historical factoids about hard cider have gotten me thinking about a drunken Thomas Jefferson wandering around Monticello, and this image makes me sick and scared in a way that the two men next to me will never understand. [bold mine]
If you are genuinely “sick and scared” from simply imagining someone getting tipsy on hard cider, you need psychological help. That is not normal. If you are not genuinely “sick and scared,” then you are a liar.
There is a distance between my body and the bodies this place was built for. I feel it every day in Lowell dining hall, when I look up at portraits of white men and wonder if they expected me to be here.
Well, the folks it was built for are probably all dead, so unless Ms. Gathright is sitting in a graveyard while writing, I guess this is technically true.
Ta-Nehisi Coates uses “body” where a normal person would write “souls,” because he’s an atheist. There are times when he pulls it off, and times when the effect is horribly awkward.
This is one of those awkward times.
The Lowell House dining hall is not as fancy as Harvard’s freshman dining hall, but the chandelier is a nice touch:
In the Dining Hall are portraits of President Lowell and his wife; his sister Amy Lowell (Pulitzer prize winning poet, and a lover of scandal credited with introducing D. H. Lawrence to America); his brother Percival Lowell (the astronomer who spearheaded the search for the planet Pluto); and his grandfather John Amory Lowell (a fellow of Harvard College for forty years).
Lowell House was built in 1930; Harvard Medical accepted its first black students way back in 1850:
1869: George Lewis Ruffin is the first black to earn a degree from Harvard Law School. In 1883 Ruffin became Massachusetts’ first African-American judge.
1869: Harvard awards its first degree in dentistry to an African American named Robert Tanner Freeman.
1870: Harvard College graduates its first black student, Richard Theodore Greener, who goes on to a career as an educator and lawyer. After graduating from Harvard, Greener becomes a faculty member at the University of South Carolina. He is the first known black to be hired to the faculty of a flagship state university.
1870: George F. Grant graduates with a degree of dentistry from Harvard. He later serves as its first black instructor at the dental school from 1878 to 1889.
1895: W.E.B. Du Bois earns his Ph.D. in history from Harvard, the first black to do so at Harvard.
1896: Booker T. Washington receives an honorary master’s degree from Harvard University.
1907: Alain LeRoy Locke of Harvard University becomes the first black Rhodes scholar.
1912: Carter G. Woodson becomes the second black in the U.S. to earn a doctorate in history. His Ph.D. is from Harvard. He goes on to found the Journal of Negro History in 1916 and inaugurates Negro History Week in 1926.
1921: Amherst College graduate Charles Hamilton Houston becomes the first black editor on the Harvard Law Review.
1933: Harvard Business School graduates its first black MBA student, H. Naylor Fitzhugh, the founder of Howard University’s marketing department.
In other words, at the time Lowell House was built, black students had been attending Harvard for decades. There is no “distance” between Ms. Gathright’s body and the bodies it was built for, because people like her were in the group it was built for. So, yes, I guarantee you that the folks in the portraits expected people like you to be there.
You’d think she’d have Googled “when did Harvard start accepting black people” to find out if the folks in the portraits had black students before writing an article about how stressed out she was by her incorrect assumptions.
For goodness’s sake, this is Massachusetts.
But getting back to the article:
I am taking an economics class on libertarianism. I don’t consider myself a libertarian at all, so I took the class to challenge my thinking. …
One day, we are talking about the consequences of drug prohibition. Libertarians believe that the negative effects outweigh the positive effects. I’m sympathetic to the viewpoint, and I’m glad this policy debate is a topic of discussion. Professor Miron briefly lists “increased racial profiling” and the resulting “racial tensions” as a negative consequence of drug prohibition laws. He moves on—he has other slides to discuss, other lines of argument to explore. But I am stuck, still thinking about what it means for him to name “increased racial profiling” and “racial tensions” without naming Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland…I want to stand up and scream about how the things he is talking about tear bodies apart. [bold mine]
Geez. Psycho, much?
Seriously, this woman can’t watch two people talk about apples without wanting to know why they aren’t talking to HER; she cant look at her posh, crystal chandeliered cafeteria without wondering what the people in the portraits would have thought of HER; she can’t listen to a lecture without wanting to scream that the professor didn’t talk about exactly the things SHE wants to talk about.
I want to be clear here: I’m not asking my professor to re-write his lecture. He is teaching a class that doesn’t center on my experience in every moment, and that’s okay. This isn’t necessarily about my professor or my classmates or my syllabus.
When you feel compelled to clarify that it’s okay if a class doesn’t center on, “MY experience in EVERY moment,” that is a sign that you are hilariously unaware of just how narcissistic you are.
I am talking to my friend. He has had a tough couple of days. He is telling me about a class on race and gender that he is taking. He is feeling the course material in his body, he says. The readings are causing him pain. … Section is causing me pain.
I think people actually do this thing where, by constantly reading/watching/thinking/talking about something horrible, they prompt their brains to release far more stress hormones than their physical situation actually warrants. This is because our brains can’t really tell the difference between “picture I saw on TV” and “thing I saw in real life,” and a person being murdered before your eyes in real life would be a very concerning thing indeed that you probably ought to do something about (fight or flight,) thus prompting a massive outpouring of hormones.
Feminists do this by reading sixteen blog posts in a row about rape; white nationalists do this by reading sixteen blog posts in a row about “white genocide”; housewives do this by reading about children who’ve been abducted and murdered; etc. I do this by researching human sacrifice in animist religions.
By the end, you feel awful.
There are was to deal with this: First, realize that your brain is producing hormones in response to a threat that is not actually physically present in the room with you. Second, calm down. I find meditation helps, or prayer if you’re religious. Third, recognize that this is not a healthy thing to do to yourself. Take breaks, don’t let yourself get sucked into reading 16 articles in a row, and most importantly, don’t do it at 4 AM, because that is a quick road to nightmaresville.
Ms. Gathright then discusses Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s Atlantic article, “The Coddling of the American Mind”:
I could critique their piece on several grounds. But one of the first things I thought when I read it was, “Where is this movement, and how did I miss it?” Because here is my truth: I don’t see a ton of liberal students trying to “scrub” Harvard’s campuses “clean” of offensive or uncomfortable ideas. Instead, I see all around me students, my friends, who are willing to be made uncomfortable by words and ideas all the time. I see students who willingly walk into classrooms that will make them, in the words of my friend, feel the course material in their bodies.
Oh, honey, don’t you understand that feeling bad is exactly how the SJWs want you to feel? You feel bad because you have already imbibed a political ideology that dictates how you react to the world. You are not “willing” to be made uncomfortable by words or ideas; you make these things make you uncomfortable.
There is a difference. Being willing to be uncomfortable means being willing to consider that someone else’s POV might be right.
When I read about cannibalism, I am uncomfortable, but I am not willing to consider that cannibalism is moral. When I speak with a friend about philosophy, I am willing to consider that they might be correct. If they question some deeply held assumption, I may be uncomfortable–but I am not going to have nightmares.
Some people go through this place without having to ask and answer hard questions about the spaces they occupy. I have had to constantly articulate and question my relationship with this institution: the way I fit into its history, and the way I feel in its classrooms.
Aww, it sure is hard being at Harvard. I mean, if you can’t feel insanely privileged while siting in a cafeteria with glittering chandeliers or attending classes taught by some of the most elite professors in the entire world, I don’t think anything will.
Oxford, Rhodes, and Syria
Hey, did you hear about the “Rhodes Must Fall” protests at Oxford?
Ella Jeffreys, a master’s student, told the Guardian: “We feel that the decision of Oriel College, due to the threat of withdrawing funding by alumni, shows that money talks over students. …
The campaign said in a statement: “Oriel has been rushed into this decision by the irresponsible threats of wealthy individuals. This is a decision for the short term. It is a decision made by authorities, not by students. It is a decision motivated by power not by principle.”
Welcome to real life. No one cares about you.
The statement said the decision lacked “legitimacy” and warned: “It is a decision that jeopardises trust between students and the institution.”
That’s okay. You’ll be gone in a few years. Oxford has been around for almost 1,000. They don’t need you:
Student activists said they would not be derailed by interventions such as those of Chris Patten, the chancellor of the university, who said in a recent interview that those involved with Rhodes Must Fall should “think about being educated elsewhere”.
At least someone has a spine.
I am personally uncomfortable with pulling down statues for the same reason that I am uncomfortable with burning books. There are times when a nation simply finds that it has an excess of statues of a former dictator, and people reasonably desire fewer of them, but England does not suffer an over-abundance of Rhodes statues.
Students called for a reckoning from the institution, and said their first demand was for Oxford to “acknowledge and confront its role in the ongoing physical and ideological violence of empire”. They want the university to apologise for its role and to offer more scholarships to black students from southern Africa.
Why? Did they help build Oxford? Did Oxford tear down their universities?
Then Oxford owes them nothing.
They said they wanted to hear “the voices suffocated into silence by a Eurocentric academy”.
Then get the fuck out of Oxford. What, you can’t physically listen to people talk without a professor telling you to listen to them, first?
Simukai Chigudu, a postgraduate student in international development, said Oriel’s decision “throws into sharp relief that strong power donors have in shaping the college and underscores that it is not a free, open and democratic [process].
WHY THE HELL DID YOU THINK OXFORD WAS A DEMOCRACY? It is a college, not a country.
Oxford University’s statue of Cecil Rhodes is to stay in place after furious donors threatened to withdraw gifts and bequests worth more than £100 million if it was taken down, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. … The governing body of Oriel College, which owns the statue, has ruled out its removal after being warned that £1.5m worth of donations have already been cancelled, and that it faces dire financial consequences if it bows to the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign.
100 million pounds is worth about 144 million dollars.
So I decided to see how Rhodes’s colonialist legacy is working out. According to Wikipedia, Cecil Rhodes created the Rhodes Scholarships, which pay for international students to come study at Oxford, in order to:
promote civic-minded leadership among “young colonists” with “moral force of character and instincts to lead,” for the purpose of ‘extending British rule throughout the world…the consolidation of the Empire, the restoration of Anglo-Saxon unity…” and the foundation of so great a Power as to render wars impossible and to promote the best interests of humanity.”
What kinds of students win such a scholarship? Luckily for us, Harvard Magazine has a helpful article on Harvard’s winners:
The Rhodes Trust has announced that five Harvard seniors have been awarded American Rhodes Scholarships this fall. Among them, one is vice president of the Harvard Islamic Society and co-founder of the Ivy League Muslim Council, a second is pursuing Islamic studies, and a third, the son of a Syrian immigrant, is studying global human-rights institutions. …
Alacha is “concentrating in Social Studies. For his senior thesis, he is studying global human rights institutions and examining their effect on local practices in Jordan. … He is the son of a Syrian immigrant and is interested in the movement for Islamic human rights.” Alacha plans to pursue an M.Phil. in modern Middle Eastern studies at Oxford.
Huckins is “concentrating in Neurobiology and Physics. …
Hyland “majors in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Islamic Studies). Her primary academic interest is the common intellectual heritage of medieval Islamic and Christian theologians. … She is a leader in community and campus work, especially addressing the problem of sexual assault. …
Lam is pursuing “a joint concentration in Neurobiology and Philosophy. He is interested in philosophical problems of free will, moral responsibility, and punishment, and has career interests in criminal justice reform. He is an active advocate of the effective altruism movement …
Shahawy “is pursuing a double major in History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He has devoted himself to working with marginalized communities to correct social injustices and improve access to opportunity, while also studying Islamic jurisprudence and global health and medicine. He worked with Los Angeles County inmates with the American Civil Liberties Union, as an intern in rural health clinics in Kenya with Vecna Technologies, and as an analyst with small-business lender Liwwa Inc. in Amman, Jordan. He has also conducted research on transplant surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and on the causes of Saudi Arabia’s private sector labor shortage at the Harvard Center for International Development. Hassaan is the Vice President of the Harvard Islamic Society and Co-Founder of the Ivy League Muslim Council. He has volunteered at the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Cairo, Egypt and mentors prison inmates in Norfolk, Massachusetts.” Shahawy will pursue an M.Phil. in Islamic studies and history.
or ragey hour, whichever emotion you want to go with.
I was recently asking myself, “What happened to drag queens? Sure, you hear about trans folks all the time these days, but what about good ol’ fashioned drag queens? Are people just not doing that anymore?”
I’m sure you ask yourself these sorts of things all of the time, so take heart! I’ve found some, and it turns out that politically active drag queens are crazy Cultural Marxists. Who knew?
Yup, it’s those guys I highlighted the other day, Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian, claiming that Norway was “colonizing” black people by expecting migrants to Norway to obey Norwegian laws and hosting voluntary classes to explain to the immigrants some of the ins-and-outs of Norwegian social codes.
This has been said so many times but I’m reading some troubling comments about the news from Norway (https://tinyurl.com/norwaycolonialism) and I suppose it needs to be constantly pushed.
Yes, constantly push that narrative! Constantly! Push, push!
Gender based violence can never be discussed outside of colonialism because gender based violence is foundational to colonialism.
Concrete used in my sidewalks can never be discussed without discussing the World Trade Center, because concrete is foundational to the World Trade Center. It’s also foundational to almost every large building on Earth, so discussing this crack in the sidewalk outside my house is going to take a really, really long time.
Also, colonialism was about conquering land and making money.
Also, Norway hasn’t colonized anyone since the Viking era.
Norway’s training of refugees in European “sexual norms” is part of a long history of the West understanding Black & brown masculinities as “backwards” and white feminism as the answer.
Actually, it’s an immediate response to these migrants raping Norwegians.
Funny how people who are quick to proclaim that “race is a social construct” will turn around and talk about “The West” as though it were a single, coherent entity–of which Norway constitutes less than half of one percent!
Norway, with no history of colonialism and no (until now) imported minority of non-Europeans, has no “history” of “understanding” black and brown “masculinities”–at least, not until they altruistically let in a bunch of people who started raping the locals.
White supremacy would have you dwell on the particular (“But who did Norway colonize anyways?” “Isn’t it harmless?”) without addressing bigger systems and ideologies. Whiteness is the privilege to observe the particular and not experience the structural.
Who needs facts? What facts? Sure, all of the facts might actually contradict all of the bullshit I’m blathering, but that’s some kind of “white privilege” to notice actual reality! Nonwhites get to notice “structures”, even when those structures are completely contradicted by actual facts.
The West isn’t a saint because it’s taking in (a few) refugees because it was the West who drew the borders the refugees are being forced to cross to begin with!
1. Norway had nothing to do with the drawing of anyone’s borders.
2. The Syrian refugees are genuinely fleeing violence, but the black migrants are went to Norway voluntarily.
Blah blah blah…
The fact that you are unaware about the long and brutal history of the West “training” the Global South into gender and sexual norms (read: imposing Victorian sexual ethics, codifying the gender binary, importing homophobia and transmisogyny, etc.) has everything to do with colonialism. The fact that it’s easier for you to think of Black & brown masculiniteis as sexist/homopohbic moreso than white European culture (the most (trans)misogynist of all!) has everything to do with colonialism.
Oh hey, you know how people claim that whole “Cultural Marxism” thing is just a conspiracy theory? (How does anyone who has ever been to college claim such a thing?)
Marxism became a popular ideology among the de-colonializing nations because colonialism was capitalist, and Marxism is anti-capitalist. Cultural Marxism takes the original Marxism’s economic arguments and replaces them with cultural arguments. So we get this weird and completely a-historical argument about colonization having to do with gender oppression and homophobia.
Of course, no statistics are given on rates of homophobia, transmisogyny, etc. Statistics are like “facts”; things that only white people use. But hey, since I am white, how about some poll data on what Muslims think of homosexuality?
Yeah, whites are SOOO homophobic.
It reveals a deep and misplaced anxiety that white supremacy has always held: that immigration is really about penetration, that opening white imposed borders for Black & brown men is inviting in rape.
Someone here is a Freudian, and it isn’t me.
Just as economists don’t discuss Marxism anymore, especially since the major test case crashed and burned, psychologists don’t discuss Freud anymore, since his theories were found to lack predictive value.
This is the point where one might want to cite some data that proves that black and brown men rape at the same rate as white men.
Of course he doesn’t, because data is for white people he knows the data overwhelmingly contradicts him.
(Newsflash: White people already did this very thing: it’s called colonialism!) Colonialism IS rape culture.
Wait, now he’s arguing that invasion is rape?
White feminism is never the answer unless your solution to ending gender based violence involves mass criminalization, detention, torture, bombing, occupation, and war. … White feminism is never the answer because it actually can and will never be about the liberation of all women and femmes: it will always only be about the conditional safety of white women and femmes. Never forget: White men have used the alleged “safety” of white women as an excuse to occupy the whole world haven’t they?
Nope. They haven’t.
It keeps going, and going, and going, like the Energizer Bunny of made-up history and bad logic. I’m going to stop here, because it really isn’t worth continuing with this idiocy, but you can read the whole delusional thing if you want to.
The sad thing is that this is not some obscure, random voice, but a post that received over a 1,000 likes.
This month, I decided to take a look at Dartmouth, better known for drunken frat parties than Ivy League-style academic excellence.
So it turns out that being part of the Ivy League actually has nothing to do with academic excellence; it’s just an athletic conference. That’s right, the entire perception of academic prestige is due to Dartmouth and Harvard occasionally playing football together.
Dartmouth’s motto is Vox clamantis in deserto, which is Latin for “Help, I’m stuck in New Hampshire!”
Technically, that’s still better than Cornell’s motto, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”
(That’s… not a motto.)
Dartmouth comes across like a culturally blue-tribe white frat guy who’s never actually met any black or Hispanic people, but knows that anti-racism is the difference between people like him and beer-swilling rednecks from the South.
Don’t ask me why; I hail from one of those regions where Prohibition is still in force.
As you would expect, Dartmouth is therefore trying to correct its “whiteness problem.”
Anthony’s new position was publicized during College President Phil Hanlon’s “Moving Dartmouth Forward” speech late last month, in which he also said the College has committed $1 million per year to further this diversity initiative. …
Diversity is big business these days.
“To the extent that we are an educational institution and really training the next generation of thinkers and leaders, it is also necessary to have a diverse faculty to be training those leaders to recognize the value of diversity,” Anthony said.
If you were my student and you produced a sentence like that, I would circle it in red and tell you to fix it. There is no “extent” to which Dartmouth is an educational institution; Dartmouth is an educational institution.
Her goal, she said, is to increase recruitment and retention for underrepresented groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans in a variety of fields and women in science.
I’m circling this one in red, too.
Any time a department does a faculty search, that department works with the dean to create a search committee. The $1 million in annual funds will go in part toward increasing resources for department search committees, such as websites and literature on unconscious bias that search committees can utilize before they commence a search, she said. These resources will be available to any department.
Wow, a million dollars to recommend a website!
The sheer level of scam astounds me. This woman is being given $1 million dollars a year to email links to other professors. Hey, Dartmouth, I’ll make you a deal: pay me a measly $900,000 per year, and I’ll email you all the links you want. You get to save $100,000, and my links will be much more entertaining.
Plus, I’ve got much better credentials.
Success for the program would mean an increase in the number of underrepresented faculty and in their retention, along with the full engagement of those faculty members.
Not the production of knowledge or education of students or any of those silly, results-based measures of “academic” success. After all, Anthony thinks Dartmouth is only an educational institution “to an extent.” Perhaps its other purpose is simply “to hire people.”
Anthony said she meets with faculty and staff from the Geisel School of Medicine and the Thayer School of Engineering daily to talk about diversity on a student and staff level.
Every day? What do they have to talk about?
Anthony: So, is the Engineering Department still mostly white?
Engineering Faculty: Yes.
Anthony: Well, that’s enough talk to justify billing this lunch to the department. Let’s get started on our appetizers.
Anthony: So, is the Engineering Department still mostly white?
Engineering Faculty: … You know new students only really start school once a year, right? And that day wasn’t yesterday.
Anthony: Is that a yes?
Engineering Faculty: Yes.
Anthony: Well, that’s enough talk to justify billing this lunch to the department. Let’s get started on our appetizers.
Repeat ad nauseam. But moving on with the article…
Chair of the African and African American studies program and English professor Gretchen Gerzina, who has been teaching at the College for 10 years, said that she thinks faculty of color leave Dartmouth for a variety of reasons…
Gretchen Gerzina is about as black as Rachel Dolezal, complete with the fake-permed hair:
You know, I might think this is funny, but I bet actually black women don’t think it’s funny when majority white-DNA women perm their hair and take jobs meant for blacks.
Fact is, it is actually trivially simple to hire black people if you want to. There are, after all, nearly 42 million black people in this country, and even though Dartmouth is, as Gerzina notes, located in an isolated backwoods with little to do on a Friday night but attend frat parties, it still would not take much effort to find a couple hundred who would be willing to come write poetry and opine for Dartmouth’s students on the “African American experience.”
These might not be folks with the kind of credentials traditionally looked for in Ivy League professors, but it is easy to wave that away by pointing out, quite accurately, that such credential requirements disproportionately rule out black (and Hispanic) applicants.
But finding (and keeping) qualified black professors, especially in fields with technical requirements that you can’t just wave away, is much harder, hence the continuous demands that elite institutions allocate more money to attract them. Being even vaguely black is a high-demand commodity.
Let’s finish the article:
Between 2006 and 2013, Yale University had a faculty diversity initiative, which focused on increasing the number of underrepresented minority faculty members and women in science. The initiative set the hiring goal of 30 minority and 30 female professors from 2006 until June 2013.As of February 2013, the University was able to retain 22 minority and 18 female faculty members, one year after the university hired 56 minority and 30 female faculty members.
Black-clad protesters gathered in front of Dartmouth Hall, forming a crowd roughly one hundred fifty strong. Ostensibly there to denounce the removal of shirts from a display in Collis, the Black Lives Matter collective began to sing songs and chant their eponymous catchphrase. Not content to merely demonstrate there for the night, the band descended from their high-water mark to march into Baker-Berry Library.
“F*** you, you filthy white f***s!” “F*** you and your comfort!” “F*** you, you racist s***!”
These shouted epithets were the first indication that many students had of the coming storm. The sign-wielding, obscenity-shouting protesters proceeded through the usually quiet backwaters of the library. They surged first through first-floor Berry, then up the stairs to the normally undisturbed floors of the building, before coming back down to the ground floor of Novack.
Throngs of protesters converged around fellow students who had not joined in their long march. They confronted students who bore “symbols of oppression”: “gangster hats” and Beats-brand headphones. The flood of demonstrators self-consciously overstepped every boundary, opening the doors of study spaces with students reviewing for exams. Those who tried to close their doors were harassed further. One student abandoned the study room and ran out of the library. The protesters followed her out of the library, shouting obscenities the whole way.
Students who refused to listen to or join their outbursts were shouted down. “Stand the f*** up!” “You filthy racist white piece of s***!” Men and women alike were pushed and shoved by the group. “If we can’t have it, shut it down!” they cried. Another woman was pinned to a wall by protesters who unleashed their insults, shouting “filthy white b****!” in her face.
“These allegations of physical assault are lies to make white students look like the victims and students of color to look like the perpetrators,” Abera said. “The protest was meant to shut down the library. Whatever discomfort that many white students felt in that library is a fraction of the discomfort that many Natives, blacks, Latina and LGBTQ people feel frequently.” …
Many of the demonstrators then approached the sitting students and chanted “F**k your white privilege” and “F**k your white asses,” demonstrator Dan Korff-Korn ’19 said.
“It was important to point out that the students sitting there in the library at the computers represented this greater degree of ignorance, apathy and privilege that you see at Dartmouth, …” Korff-Korn said. …
Comments such as “F*** your white privilege” were not personal or racist attacks on individual white persons in the library, Diakanwa said. Instead, these comments were meant to target the legacy of white supremacy that many students have benefited from and students of color are fighting against, he said.
Got that? “Fuck your white ass” is not supposed to be a personal or racist attack.
(Also from the article about the guy hit with the hammer:
Some of the protesters made their way to a freeway in Oakland and blocked traffic. The California Highway Patrol said some tried to light a patrol vehicle on fire and threw rocks, bottles and an explosive at officers. Highway patrol officers responded with tear gas. [source])
No, it’s about some dudes in Oregon occupying a building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which, while lovely:
Is not exactly densely inhabited.
The Death of Peaceful Protests? claims that:
If the armed men were African-American, they would be called thugs. If they were Muslim, they would be called terrorists. The showdown between the armed protestors and the government illuminates a tremendous hypocrisy. We label violent groups based on the race or religion of their members.
Look, I am the first person to complain about inconsistent language use, but I’d like to see one credible news source that has called Time Magazine’s #4 Person of the Year “thugs.” I’d like to see a single non-violent (and until violence happens, I’m going to call this non-violent) Muslim take-over of a building in some rural part of the country called a “terrorist” act.
The author further argues:
The federal government has not been quick to respond due to its experience with right-wing militant groups in Waco and Ruby Ridge in the 1990s. …
Additionally, the occupation has exposed the government’s fear of antagonizing right-wing groups. Our nation’s leaders have given such extremists carte blanche. They can act with impunity. If the armed men were African-American or Muslim, the government would have mustered all of its strength to crush the opposition.”
The government hasn’t been “hands off” with the Oregon militia thing because they’re afraid of antagonizing right-wing groups, (goodness knows militias aren’t exactly one of Obama’s core voting demographics,) or because we’ve somehow become more pro-white guys with guns since 1993, but because everyone basically agrees that this:
We found the women and children huddled together, under blankets. There were 27 bodies, two of them pregnant women. They were covered in debris—not just construction debris but spent rounds of grenades and ammunition. I suspect that the blankets were moist, to try and keep out the smoke. But there was such a rip-roaring fire that they were trapped. That was the most profound and distressing aspect of this entire case. To see that mass of human remains was a horrific thing for all of us. …
Many of the Davidian children’s remains went unclaimed because whole families were dead or their relatives were too poor to pay for funeral services or no one wanted them. And so all those bodies that had been at the coroner’s office were buried, without markers, in paupers’ graves in a Waco cemetery.
Martin We had to stand behind the caution tape. We watched them bring out coffin after coffin and drop them in the ground. It was a horrible thing.
No one really cares about some random building in rural Oregon, even if there are some guys with guns holed up in it.
In our final article from The Dartmouth, Educated Action reminds us that young people vote liberal, therefore, be sure to vote, because who could argue with logic like this?
Today we come to a flaw in my methods: I usually write my posts a few weeks before they actually go up. Normally, this is not an issue–genetics tends not to change very much from week to week. And to keep a them evenly paced, I just write each Cathedral Round up on the day the previous one goes up. Since articles from the Yale Law bulletin or Princeton Magazine are not normally of interest to outsiders, the delay between publication and commentary hasn’t been a big issue.
But this month, all the stuff going on in the echelons of higher education has made it into the actual news! Do you know how weird it is to suddenly have relatives complaining about student protests at Yale or U Missouri? Obscure campus news–that’s my schtick, not theirs.
Next month, I’m going to try out a new methodology for keeping the Cathedral Round Up both on-schedule and topical. For today, though, here’s what was going on before all this stuff broke into the media:
This month, I decided to focus on Yale, Princeton, and Penn (though Stanford managed to sneak back in, because Stanford.)
Yale is in the process of cannibalizing itself. Princeton is halfway there, but some students are still holding out due to Princeton’s stronger culture of elitism. Poor Penn is never going to get taken seriously as an Ivy so long as it continues insisting on publishing mostly reasonable articles about itself, instead of concentrating on world-breaking levels of crazy.
The Yale Alumni magazine has a transcript of Deal Holloway’s Freshman Address, Yale’s Narrative, and Yours, (gosh, that comma bugs me. Commas are for lists of three or more things, or separating two different actors in a sentence, eg, “She went to the store, and I vacuumed the house.” This title should not have a comma,) which I am going to quote quite a bit from because it is just so awful:
Class of 2019, I am thrilled to see you and look forward to getting to know you well in the years ahead. … But who, exactly, are you? You hail from across this country and from around the world. Many of you are the children of parents who are already Yale alumni. More of you will be the first in your families to graduate from college at all. Most of you went to public school. Nearly half of you are receiving financial aid. …
I’d like you to turn to the images that are in your program. … The images you see are something of a triptych—three different paintings of British merchant Elihu Yale that when brought together tell a fascinating story. For those who don’t already know, Elihu Yale rose to power and accumulated wealth through his leadership in the East India Company. In 1718, Yale received a request to finance a new building for the Collegiate School of Connecticut, a small enterprise founded in 1701 for the training of Congregationalist ministers. Yale sent hundreds of books, a portrait of King George I, and bales of goods that were later sold to finance the building. In short order, the Collegiate School was renamed in his honor. …
In all of the paintings Elihu Yale is wearing and surrounded by sumptuous fabrics. … In the two paintings on side one we see ships in the distance—a reference to the fact that Elihu Yale built his career on trade that navigated the ports in the British empire. In the second and third paintings we see an unidentified attendant. Much like the wearing of exquisite clothes suggested, placing a servant in a portrait was an articulation of standing and wealth. But when we look more carefully at these two paintings we notice that in addition to the fine clothes the servant and page are wearing they also happen to have metal collars and clasps around their necks. What we are seeing in each painting, then, isn’t a servant or a page, but a slave.
We are fairly certain that Elihu Yale did not own any slaves himself, but there’s no doubting the fact that he participated in the slave trade, profiting from the sale of humans just as he profited from the sale of so many actual objects that were part of the East India trade empire. As such, Elihu Yale’s wealth was linked to a global economy that was deeply, practically inextricably, interwoven with the sale of human beings to other human beings. In fact, when we look at the paintings it is safe to assume that Elihu Yale was a willing participant in that economy. Since he could have selected anything to represent him in these paintings we can conclude that he chose to be depicted with enslaved people because he believed this narrative would best signify his wealth, power, and worldliness.
This is a difficult story to hear, especially on an occasion of welcoming and celebration. But I share it with you because just as proper histories are unafraid of their darker corners you should be unafraid to ask difficult questions of this university. Indeed, we expect you to do so.
… The first of your three images hangs in the Corporation Room of Woodbridge Hall—the nerve center of the university. That this specific portrait hangs there, however, is fairly recent history. Until 2007, the second painting of Elihu Yale you see in the program insert is what you would have found in the Corporation Room. That year, recognizing that this representation was terribly jarring whether it was understood in its historical context or not, the university removed the painting. …
So, Class of 2019: here you are, in a place that has been waiting a long time for you to arrive, a place where you emphatically belong. Whatever your race, religion, wealth, sport, political philosophy, taste in music; whatever your sexuality, your passport’s origin, or the number of stamps in your passport, this place is yours, ready for you to make your contribution to it. …
You have come here at a unique moment, when this university engages with questions of its own identity, at a time when national conversations about race have shined a light on social constructions and assumptions that for many (but not for all), have lain dormant for decades, if not centuries. …
I have to interrupt here. Who the fuck thinks that our ideas about race have been lying dormant for centuries? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Were there no Civil Rights marches in the 1950s? Did no one in the 60s and 70s ever mention race? Did we never celebrate Martin Luther King Day in school? Are there no streets named in his honor? People talk constantly about race, but for some strange reason keep claiming that we have not been talking about race.
These big questions will form part of the education that awaits you, even more than problem sets, term papers, or exams. But so will the conversation that begins today, as you write your own story and build your own Yale.
This is hard but joyous work, and you embark on it with many others. Joining you are your peers and your professors, the friends you are about to make, and the students who have preceded you. I join you, too.
Welcome to this work. Welcome to this place. Welcome to Yale.
TL; DR: White history is shit and white people should feel bad. Welcome to Yale!
Good morning and welcome, Class of 2019, family members, and colleagues sharing the stage with me. …
Well, as the events in South Carolina shook the nation, many members of our own community could not avoid considering a matter that ties us here in New Haven to similar questions of history, naming, symbols, and narratives. …
About one in twelve of you has been assigned to Calhoun College, named, when the college system was instituted in the 1930s, for John C. Calhoun—a graduate of the Yale College Class of 1804 who achieved extremely high prominence in the early nineteenth century as a notable political theorist, a vice president to two different US presidents, a secretary of war and of state, and a congressman and senator representing South Carolina. …
Calhoun mounted the most powerful and influential defense of his day for slavery. …
Are we perhaps better off retaining before us the name and the evocative, sometimes brooding presence of Yale graduate John C. Calhoun? He may serve to remind us not only of Yale’s complicated and occasionally painful associations with the past, but to enforce in us a sense of our own moral fallibility as we ourselves face questions about the future.
So it was not surprising that within a short time of the massacre and subsequent debate in South Carolina, we found that the issues of honoring, naming, and remembering that have occasionally surfaced regarding Calhoun College returned to confront us again. … And inevitably we found ourselves wondering, and not for the first time, how best to address the undeniable challenges associated with the fact that Calhoun’s name graces a residential community in Yale College, an institution where, above all, we prize both the spirit and reality of full inclusion. …
As entering Yale students of the Class of 2019, what are your obligations to wrest from this place an education that encourages you to question tradition even while honoring it, to chart your own history even while learning from the past, to enter fully into difficult conversations even while respecting contradictory ideas and opinions?I know in the next four years, you will make progress on figuring all this out. Let’s get started together. Let’s get started today.
Yale has, apparently, no heroes worth honoring or inspiring its students to emulate, only villains. The grand duty of Yale students is to decide whether their past heroes should cast out and forgotten, or remembered solely as a warning about evil.
Take Yale’s bond from a Dutch water authority: it was originally issued in 1648, it is inscribed on goatskin, and recently, it added €136.20—about $153—to Yale’s coffers. … the bond was acquired as part of “a collection that traces the history of capital market development and financial innovation.”
A bestselling memoirist, the poet for Barack Obama’s first inauguration, and Yale’s first endowed professor of poetry, Elizabeth Alexander ’84 is one of Yale’s highest-profile professors. But not for long: Alexander is leaving the Yale faculty for Columbia next fall.
Her departure, along with that of anthropologist Vanessa Agard-Jones ’00, also for Columbia, was reported in the Yale Daily News as a sign of “systemic problems” in Yale’s efforts to make its faculty more diverse. (Alexander and Agard-Jones are both African American.)
Columbia has invested $63 million in its faculty diversity initiative to finance “recruitment, support, and related programs” since 2012.
“We have not made nearly enough progress on diversifying the faculty, and my colleagues in the higher administration know that I have long believed we need to have powerful commitments from on high, both in continued, stated vision and also with extensive resource allocation,” Alexander told the News. “Yale lags behind its peers where we should be leaders, and [faculty diversity] goals, in my opinion, should be a priority, as they are elsewhere, including Columbia.”
Ultimately, it all comes down to money. Qualified black professors are few and far between, and so capable of commanding much higher salaries than they would if they were white.
The world does not need more scientists, engineers, or people who build complicated systems for the delivery of electricity or removal of waste. The world needs more vaguely black-looking poets and gender studies professors. Those are the folks who will bring us the next set of civilization-building innovations!
Here at Yale, your worth as a person is not determined by what you do, by what you accomplish, or by the content of your character, but by the color of your skin. And maybe your sexual proclivities and gender.
I have a proposal: Let’s rename the whole shebang. Get rid of “Yale”. Let’s rename them “Rosa Parks University” and “Caesar Chavez College” and be done with it. It’s not like anyone actually cares about Elihu or Calhoun, except as representatives of a hated history.
Penn had an interesting article on helping ex-cons start companies by teaching them how to fill out paperwork, but that kind of practical approach to the world will never get Penn the kind of attention it needs to be a world-class university.
Meanwhile, over at Princeton, one of the nation’s most prestigious and selective colleges, a student noticed that in order to have a functional social club that pursues a particular interest (in this case, literature), some people have to be excluded. The student therefore decided not to join a social club, because excluding people is bad.
A group of students is in the process of creating a new student organization that aims to raise awareness and educate the community on the subject of campus sexual assault. …
Because no one has ever done that before. Seriously, I bet no one on the entire Stanford campus has ever thought to raise awareness of sexual assault before.
The idea for the student group grew out of a Sophomore College course this summer called “One in Five: The Law, Policy and Politics of Sexual Assault” with law professor Michele Dauber. The group will be called One in Five after the class.
The three-week experience was “completely immersive,” according to Dauber.
“Immersive”? What, did they rape the students in the course?
Perhaps more troubling than Whitman or Rockefeller are the cases of individuals like Matt Wage ’12. Wage took Peter Singer’s ethics class and decided to work on Wall Street after graduation in order to make large amounts of money that he could then donate to life-saving causes. In his book, Singer argues that Wage exemplifies the model of effective altruism, a concept that enshrines individual charity as the most effective force for good while ignoring entirely the power of collective action against structural injustice.
Wage joined a toxic system of finance dominated by rent seekers that helps maintain an environmentally unsustainable global economy. This economy is already taking lives and bringing suffering [PDF] for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. While Wage can take credit for the lives that he has supposedly saved with his Wall Street earnings, he can also conveniently ignore his complicity in a system of finance inextricable from climate injustice as well as other forms of oppression like private prisons, sweatshops, the domestic and global exchange of weapons and practices like insider trading, cronyism and corruption.
If you look at the PDF about “taking lives and bringing suffering,” you’ll note that Wage is being blamed for global warming.
While I actually dislike Wall Street and economic theories based on the idea of endless growth, which are bad for long-term resource maintenance necessary for people to have nice lives, this is not a critique of Effective Altruism. Coherent critiques of EA exist, but “EA => Global Warming!” is not one of them.
… it is time for our University to reevaluate its blind veneration to its deeply racist demigod. … This response assumes that Wilson’s racist actions were minuscule despite the fact that he actively worked to destroy, hinder and thwart the communities of black and brown peoples in America. … I told the administrator that Wilson is arguably the most racist U.S. and Princeton president, and the administrator agreed that Wilson was indeed racist.
I think the Cherokee might disagree with that assessment.
“Jennifer Eberhardt’s research shows subconscious connections in people’s minds between black faces and crime, and how those links may pervert justice. Law enforcement officers across the country are taking note.
“The first time Jennifer Eberhardt presented her research at a law enforcement conference, she braced for a cold shoulder. How much would streetwise cops care what a social psychology professor had to say about the hidden reaches of racial bias?
Instead, she heard gasps, the loudest after she described an experiment that showed how quickly people link black faces with crime or danger at a subconscious level. In the experiment, students looking at a screen were exposed to a subliminal flurry of black or white faces. The subjects were then asked to identify blurry images as they came into focus frame by frame.
The makeup of the facial prompts had little effect on how quickly people recognized mundane items like staplers or books. But with images of weapons, the difference was stark—subjects who had unknowingly seen black faces needed far fewer frames to identify a gun or a knife than those who had been shown white faces. For a profession dealing in split-second decisions, the implications were powerful. … “
This is actually quite interesting research, but it does not investigate why people might have become hyper-vigilant about danger around black people to start with. Given that crime victimization surveys consistently show that blacks actually commit crimes at rates similar to their rates of incarceration, Professor Eberhardt is capturing, at best, a miniscule effect. The effect of black people actually committing real crimes explains the vast, vast majority of black incarceration, and any research on the subject that doesn’t take this into account is ignorant at best.
Keep in mind:
The police disproportionately shoot whites and Hispanics, not blacks, and even when they do shoot at blacks, they are mysteriously less likely to kill them. Police officers are actually less likely to use force against black suspects because they fear backlash:
“A Birmingham, Alabama, police detective who was pistol-whipped unconscious said Friday that he hesitated to use force because he didn’t want to be accused of needlessly killing an unarmed man. …
“”We don’t want to be in the media,” he said. “It’s hard times right now for us.” …
“Adding insult to injury: several bystanders, instead of helping, took pictures of the bloodied officer as he was facedown on the concrete and posted the images on social media, where the officer was mocked. …
“”Pistol whipped his ass to sleep,” one user wrote, employing the hashtag #FckDaPolice. Another mockingly offered the officer milk and cookies for his “nap time.””
• Officers were less likely to erroneously shoot unarmed black suspects than they were unarmed whites — 25 times less likely, in fact
• And officers hesitated significantly longer before shooting armed suspects who were black, compared to armed subjects who were white or Hispanic
“In sum,” writes Dr. Lois James, a research assistant professor with the university’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology who headed the study, “this research found that participants displayed significant bias favoring Black suspects” in their shooting decisions.
“… I, too, am a Stanford Indian. I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a proud Stanford alumna. But nothing about the caricature on that shirt represents me, my family, my community, or the hundreds of other Native students and alumni of the university.
Whenever the Stanford Indian resurfaces, I’m reminded that the Native members of the Stanford community still aren’t viewed as equals. …
Adrienne Keene, ’07, is a postdoctoral fellow in Native American studies at Brown University. She writes about Native representations on her blog, Native Appropriations.“
If Indians don’t like being used as mascots, politeness dictates not using them as mascots.
However, the idea that you aren’t viewed as an equal at a university that is at least 50% non-white is really quite a stretch; the idea that the mascot has anything to do with it makes about as much sense as saying that the Irish aren’t viewed as equals at Notre Dame.
If anything, I’d think that attending a place like Stanford is rather akin to having the world handed to you on a big silver platter, and so maybe it looks bad to complain too much that your platter isn’t shiny enough or it wasn’t handed over with sufficient deference.
Let’s take a moment to look at these two covers. Stanford recently had a “Protest” cover, showing Stanford students shutting down a highway in support of Black Lives Matter; today’s cover is even starker.
Harvard’s cover also features black people, but more subtly, and these are black people who actually live in Africa, rather than America. The overall feeling I get when reading official (non-student run) Harvard publications is one of internationalism–here are pictures of our Ugandan law students, here’s what up with our European investments, here a story about a professor in China–while Stanford’s publications feels decidedly mired in common American problems.
This is not to say that Harvard students aren’t protesting in favor of Black Lives Matter–they definitely are. But the university’s official publications chose not to highlight this the way Stanford’s do. Harvard’s vision of itself is global; Standford’s is national.
Anyway, back to the article, a discussion of how difficult it is to be economically successful in Africa, because even though food grows perfectly well there, people haven’t figured out how to get it all to market before it rots. A country like Nigeria, therefore, is reduced to importing tomato paste while millions of tomatoes rot in the countryside. So some Harvard guys are trying to teach Nigerians how to efficiently preserve their tomatoes so they can actually get them to market before they rot. (Wouldn’t the most efficient solution be sun-dried tomatoes? I know plenty of African fishermen sun-dry their catches because it’s an easy and free way to preserve food in their environment.)
Unfortunately the whole process is impeded by Fulani tribesmen who like to herd their cattle through the tomato fields.
Open borders rule!
Then we get to the meat of the article:
“Imagine a simple triangle diagram of the planet’s population. A fortunate couple of billion upper-income people—in the United States and Canada, much of Europe, Japan, Australia, and prospering urban centers in parts of Asia and Latin America—occupy the apex. The invisible hand of market capitalism supplies this prominent minority with bountiful goods and services. But that leaves a lot of people out. At the very bottom of the pyramid, a billion or more humans live in poverty (on less than $1.25 per person per day), often depending on government programs and charitable aid to subsist.
” … In a conversation, he compared the lives of these people, the base of the pyramid, with those at the top. Because they likely do not own property, and lack rent or tax receipts, they are not bankable, so they turn to exploitative money lenders for credit to stock a shop or start a small business. For medical care, they choose among local healers, vendors of patent nostrums, or queues at public clinics (where it may take a bribe to advance in line). Their labor, often interrupted by those queues or long bus trips to remit cash to a rural family, may be seasonal, itinerant, and legally unprotected. Functioning markets, he noted, imply a level playing field between consumers and producers, but most of these people aren’t getting a remotely fair deal. It is as if the broad base of the pyramid were an alternate universe where familiar rules don’t apply.
“Rangan quickly credited the late corporate strategist C.K. Prahalad, D.B.A. ’75, of the University of Michigan, for saying (most prominently in The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits, published in 2004) that the same rules ought to apply.”
As I have said over and over, societies are built by the people in them. At this point, invoking the Invisible Hand is tantamount to invoking Voodoo or the influence of Mercury retrograde in Taurus.
Countries where the people have high levels of trust, low levels of aggression, and low time-discounting end up with efficient, complex markets where they can do business with strangers without fear of being cheated or killed. In nice countries, like Japan, Finland, and even the US, the people depending on government aid and charitable programs to subsist do not have to bribe their way into medical care because people in those countries believe that bribery and line-jumping are immoral.
Nice countries are places where everyone agrees to cooperate in the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Shitty ones are places where everyone is looking for a chance to defect–say, by running their cattle through a neighbor’s tomato fields.
“Philanthropic and development agencies tend not to scale or sustain themselves, he found, and public entities often fail to assure efficacy and efficiency. In contrast, “Through the ages, one actor has proven consistently able” to satisfy these criteria: competitive private industries.
“… Rangan applied his scholarly perspective to suggest inverting the telescope through which companies view prospective lower-income markets. “Typical marketing sells the organization to the customer,” he and research associate Arthur McCaffrey wrote a decade ago. (Need a car? We at GM/Mercedes/Toyota make good ones.) Within the base of the pyramid—devoid as it is of cash, roads, and gas stations—there are no such customers. But enormous demand exists for carts to ease the burden of hauling loads along muddy paths or cheap pumps to irrigate fields. Here, the proper paradigm is to “sell the customer to the organization.”
Long-term, I think making the opportunities to become successful available to people is actually a good strategy. The article is too long to continue quoting, but you can read it there if you’re interested in the opportunities/difficulties of investing in developing markets.
“The nature of censorship in China, to give just one example, can be explored by monitoring the types of communication suppressed by the government, a project that relies on sifting through millions of social media posts.
“At the same time, real-world experiments can inform economic, political, and social theory. Are people more likely to save for retirement with the help of targeted brain stimulation? Can gender bias in hiring, promotions, and work assignments be overcome by evaluating candidates jointly rather than individually? How do malnutrition and sleep deprivation among low-income individuals influence economic outcomes? Faculty supported by cross-school research programs such as the Behavioral Insights Group and the Foundations of Human Behavior Initiative are answering these and other questions by undertaking discipline-spanning research that can shape everything from the decisions we make at the grocery store to the votes we cast in the ballot box.”
Personally, I think trying to electrocute people into having lower time preference is really scraping the bottom of the idea barrel; you might as well just throw in the towel and say that some people just aren’t very good at delaying gratification and there’s not much you can do about it. Faust continues:
“This is a time of remarkable promise for the social sciences. Yet short-sighted federal funding cuts are threatening our ability to answer questions that have the potential to inform and shape all of our lives. The last 51 of the United States’ recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics were supported by the research divisions of the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, which may soon face a more than 50 percent reduction from current federal funding. If we hope to address complex and consequential issues such as climate change, global pandemics, and inequality and human rights, we cannot ignore unique insights into the human and behavioral that the social sciences alone can provide.”
Harvard has more money than god and could send a mission to Mars if it felt like, but more taxpayer dollars to investigate whether or not we can alter people’s brains to get them to save money is critical.
Harvard then turns to women’s issues, with a spotlight portrait of history Professor Catherine Brekus:
“Catherine Brekus ’85 specializes in hearing the voices of America’s early female religious leaders, nearly lost to history …
” “I did not like studying history in high school,” the Warren professor of the history of religion at Harvard Divinity School confesses, smiling. “I was always good at it…but the idea is that you memorize a lot of facts, mostly about political history, and what happened when.” When she taught the subject to high-school students for two years, Brekus noticed that textbooks “have this narrative of political events…and then you have this little human-interest thing in a box. That was where the women would appear. My goal as a historian,” she adds, “is to get women out of those boxes and into the main texts.””
And she’s going to fix this by studying the lives of women whom no one cares about?
If you want more women in the history books, do (or encourage them to do) something worth recording in a history book.
“When Nitin Nohria became Harvard Business School (HBS) dean in mid 2010, he detailed five priorities, ranging from innovation in education and internationalization to inclusion. In setting out the latter goal, he said in a recent conversation, he aimed not at numerical diversity, but at a broader objective: that every HBS student and teacher be enabled to thrive within the community.”
If you can’t “thrive” at HBS without the faculty making special sure to pander to your needs, you do not belong in business. The idea that women are special little wilting flowers who have to be coddled at every turn because they can’t take care of themselves, even at the highest levels of intelligence and achievement, is absolutely repulsive.
““I have launched an initiative that will focus…on the challenges facing women at the school,” Nohria wrote. He created an institutional home for the work—a senior associate deanship for culture and community—and appointed Wilson professor of business administration Robin J. Ely to the post: a logical choice, given her research on race and gender relations in organizations. …
“Just as M.B.A. cases have become increasingly global in the past decade, he aims for at least 20 percent to “feature a female” leader within the next three years. (And because HBS sells cases to schools worldwide, that shift will radiate far beyond Allston.) …
“Ely recently recalled the concerns that prompted Nohria’s initial interest, including persistent underrepresentation of women among M.B.A. students earning highest academic honors.”
In other words, Nohria is making pity-jobs for women because they can’t hack it at HBS. Next time you look at the skyrocketing cost of college tuition, remember that college is now a make-work program for unemployable women.
In Empathy and Imagination, author Ceridwen Dovey (now there’ a British name for you!) talks about how guilty she feels over apartheid in her childhood home of South Africa, a place she doesn’t actually bother to live in anymore, now that her political activist parents’ goal of racial harmony and integration have been achieved.
“Motherhood also played a role [in the writing of her new novel]: “It made me more grateful for the time I have to write,” she adds—and ultimately more creative, especially while finishing Only the Animals in 2013. The nature of pregnancy, nursing, and caring for a newborn intensified her kinship with “the whole family of mammals.”
“… Like Coetzee, Sax, an author and academic best known for his writings on animal-human relations, has influenced Dovey, who also admits to feeling “bewildered to the point of inaction in terms of the ethical responsibilities we have toward animals and the obligations we owe them as the dominant species on earth. We treat animals in the most appalling ways right now.” …
““I am very aware that we are all creatures who suffer together, and that existence is hard for us all,” Dovey reflects. “There is something, also, about the bond we have with animals, the care and connection that we don’t appreciate or see the magic in as much as we should.””
As Staffan points out, vegetarianism and Englishness (in this case, perhaps Welshness) are extremely correlated:
The English and their near kin are probably unique in the world in their ability to consistently extend their circle of concern not only to non-tribally related humans, but even to animals–even other whites do not share this trait:
Since the English are included in whites, removing them from the graph would result in an even lower correlation.
“In those distant days, every Harvard and Radcliffe first- and second-year student was required to complete one full Gen Ed course in each of three broad areas: only 18 (not 574) two-semester courses qualified for “Humanities,” “Social Science,” or “Natural Science” credit, plus a two-semester Gen Ed A writing course required of virtually all entering freshmen.”
Hopefully I can get back to this in more depth later, but I suspect the massive increase in the sheer amount of media (books, movies, TV shows, etc.,) available to everyone over the past hundred years, while in many ways quite wonderful, has contributed to an intellectual fracturing where we no longer have a common set of ideas and metaphors at our disposal with which to communicate with others.
I was going to do Princeton and Yale, but Harvard gave me so much material that I’m just going to save them for next month.