Free Markets, Free People

Academia

The emptiness of post-modernism

“Nihilism denies that there are any objective grounds for truth, especially regarding morality.” – Tom Lindsey

And Nihilism’s child is post-modernism.

Lindsey is talking about the recent outcry among liberal professors concerning the stifling of speech on campus due to … feelings.  Lindsey continues:

True enough. But I wonder whether Schlosser or Kipnis, or most of academe, understand fully the depths of the Academy’s complicity in the atrocities they cite. Take for example, my own field, political science, which, like all the modern social sciences, is grounded in a radical distinction between “facts” and “values, “ according to which, facts alone are knowable, because “empirically verifiable” (provable using only the five senses).  Values, in this account, are subjective preferences regarding facts.  Hence, for social science, the terms “right,” “wrong,” “just, and “unjust” are unknowable by reason or science.

And there’s the rub: Neither the academic freedom for which Schlosser and Kipnis rightly plea nor political freedom can be defended authoritatively on the basis of the moral-cultural relativism (often termed, “postmodernism”) taught today in the social sciences and the humanities. Why?

If all “values” (moral principles) are equal due to being equally unprovable through reason, then the embrace in the West of values such as political liberty, tolerance, equality, and the rule of law are demoted to mere “subjective preferences,” which are no better or worse than their opposites—slavery, intolerance, inequality, and tyranny. But while the postmodern Academy asserts reason’s impotence at answering life’s deepest questions, it simultaneously denies that we are capable of the “moral neutrality” that seems to follow from relativism. Simply put, they teach that we have no rational basis to make “value judgements,” but neither can we avoid making them.

And that’s what we face today.  As “Schlosser” said, “a simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice” has produced “higher ed’s current climate of fear,” enforced through a “heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity.”

We’ve heard about the application in academia and how, now, some liberal professors are pushing back.  But it isn’t just academia which is infected with this nonsense.  Society at large is also becoming more and more infected with it – likely the product of the left’s constant pursuit of Nihilism since the ’60s at least.  How many times have you been told that we are not “fit to judge” another’s culture or choices?  How dare we assert “right” and “wrong”.  It’s all relative.  And thus everything is acceptable.

Except when it isn’t.

Take the case of Rachel Dolezel.  The most significant “judgement” I’ve seen of her deceitful life is to be found in, of all publications, in Salon.

So this isn’t about being an ally, or making the family of your choosing, or even how one feels on the inside. It’s about, apparently, flat out deception. It’s about how one person chose to obtain a college education and jobs and credibility in her community. It about allegedly pretending to speak from a racial experience you simply don’t have. You want to live your truth, that’s not how you go about it. And it’s an insult to anyone honestly trying to do just that to suggest anything otherwise, for even a moment.

Even this denouncement is careful though.  Note the qualifier – “You want to live your truth, that’s not how you go about it.”

Anyone know what that’s about?  That’s about carving out an exception to the basic rule of the left that you can indeed make up your own “truth” if you go about it an acceptable way.  I’m not sure who gets to judge what is “acceptable” in the world of non-judgement, but there you go.

Rachel Dolezal is a fraud and a fake.  It really doesn’t make any difference what her intent was given she has lied and defrauded her way to her present position … or former position given she resigned from the NAACP.  She is what she is – white bread as white bread can be.  Even her art is a fraud.

So how did someone so fraudulent rise to the level she did?

Well, it’s the wages of being “non-judgemental”.  Naively accepting.  In this world, you just accept on its face the claims of someone like Dolezal.  You let them invent their “victimhood” and revel in it.  “Authenticity” is more important than the truth even if the authenticity is counterfeit.  A good and useful story is much more important than facts.

It’s about “need” – on both sides.  The “need” of Rachel Dolezal to be someone other than she is.  And the “need” of those who are “authentically” black to have a “victim” to point too and say, “See! Racism”.  She claims to have been the victim of “8 documented hate crimes”.  How perfectly lovely.  The fact that they pretty much all were found to be baseless isn’t important.

Why was she allowed to go on without questioning?  Because she was politically useful.  Because she represented a narrative that many want to perpetuate.

And, as with most liars who have told the story so often they begin to believe it, she’s now rationalizing her actions and denying a problem.  Her rationalization “I’ve always identified as black” somehow justifies her deceit and she believes her declaration is all that is necessary to provide “truth” to the matter.   To her it justifies all her actions, her lies and  her misrepresentations.  What’s awful and hilarious at the same time is she has allies in this endeavor.

The “deny reality” brigade have so programmed some that they believe that whatever you “believe” to be true is true, even if the reality that everyone else deals in daily says you’re full of beans.

And thus we’re at the point, now being discovered in academia by the left, where “feelings” rule over “reality”.

Lindsey provides us with a quote in closing (remember that he’s talking academia primarily);

 “I sit with Shakespeare, and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm and arm with Balzac and Dumas. . . . I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the veil. Is this the life you grudge us, O knightly America?”

Who is he quoting?  Well someone Dolezal claimed we who wouldn’t “understand” about race should read – W.E.B. Dubose.

I wonder what he’d think of her sham life or the moral relativity she and others champion.

The quote says, at least to me, that he wouldn’t be too friendly to the idea.

~McQ

 

A trot around the intertubes

There’s a lot going on but not much that needs a long and laborious explanation or rant.

The Clinton Foundation and our former Secretary of State are really starting to stink it up.  And my guess is there’s a lot more to come.  Years ago Terry Goodkind wrote a book called “Wizard’s first rule”.  The Clinton’s operate by that rule.  The rule?  “People are stupid”.  And there’s a Clinton corollary – “so is the media”.  They’ve operated off of that rule and corollary for decades.  They don’t see any reason to stop now.

The administration is claiming it has killed 10,000 ISIS members since it began its campaign of airstrikes.  Most people in the know doubt that number is anywhere near the truth and that, in fact, it’s much, much lower.   Here’s why:

Three out of every four times that Obama dispatches American warplanes over Iraq, they return to base without dropping any bombs or firing any missiles.

“Seventy-five percent of the sorties that we’re currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs, mostly because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target,” said U.S. Army General (ret) Jack Keane in testimony before the U.S. Senate last week.

That’s why White House and Pentagon briefers usually talk about the number of sorties, not the number of air strikes. The number of missions flown is four times larger than the number of bombing runs.

There’s a simple fix, but it is politically unpalatable to the “lead from behind” crowd:

Gen. Keane offered a straightforward solution. “Forward air controllers fix that problem,” he said.

You know, “boots on the ground?”  Doing what they’re doing is sort of like firing artillery without forward observers.  Yeah, you’re likely to hit something every now and then, but is it really effective?  Uh, no.

Apparently ISIS acted as our own forward air controllers:

“Defense Tech reports that at a Air Force Association breakfast meeting in Washington DC on Monday, General Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, shared a story of how a careless social media post directly led to an airstrike against ISIS.”

While that is all well and good and wonderful, my question is why we have a General out there sharing this intel?

“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command. And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL,” Carlisle said.

“And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”

He was careful not to share sensitive details about the location of the building and airstrike, but he noted how ISIS’ enthusiasm of social media was turned against them in this case.

“It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” he said. “Incredible work when you think about [it].”

He shared a timeframe for a mission to be put together and why they were successful.  Who is the real “moron” here?  Before ISIS may have been guessing why they were hit.  Now they know.

This is going to disappoint the enviro-whacko crowd:

A decade into an energy boom led by hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded there is no evidence the practice has had a “widespread, systemic impact on drinking water.”

The report is the federal government’s most comprehensive examination of the issue of fracking and drinking water, and it bolsters the position staked out by the energy industry.

Yeah, fracking has only been around 66 years and been used on a million wells.  One might think that if there were a drinking water problem it would have been discovered before now.

That won’t stop the narrative however.  “Science” is only useful when it backs that narrative.  When it doesn’t, it’s just to be ignored.  See “climate change”.

 

Another liberal professor speaks out about the SJW “crisis” on campus:

The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed’s current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.

Hey, you created it.  You get to live with it.  Either that or you grow a pair and take academia back.

Finally, in the “out of control government” category, we have this little jewel:

IRS lawyers have ruled that once illegal immigrants get numbers, they can go back and re-file for up to three previous years’ taxes and claim refunds even for time they were working illegally.

The lawyers said since the EITC is a refundable credit, that’s allowed even when the illegal immigrants worked off-the-books and never paid taxes in the first place.

Now, these are “laws” the Obama administration is more than happy to follow.  Pay up, sucker.

~McQ

Feminism being redefined on the college campus

It seems everyone is weighing in on the oppressive nature of today’s college campus where “rape culture” is a given (even if it isn’t true) and “triggers” and perceived “aggressions” are treated as unforgivable sins to be punished by the “student collective” in the name of feminism.  I remember when feminism used to mean strong, empowered women. Now, apparently, it means women who are victims of hurtful words and are afraid to come out of their “safe spaces” lest they hear some.

David Brooks actually does a fair job of describing the problem.

The problem is that the campus activists have moral fervor, but don’t always have settled philosophies to restrain the fervor of their emotions. Settled philosophies are meant to (but obviously don’t always) instill a limiting sense of humility, a deference to the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality. But many of today’s activists are forced to rely on a relatively simple social theory.

According to this theory, the dividing lines between good and evil are starkly clear. The essential conflict is between the traumatized purity of the victim and the verbal violence of the oppressor.

According to this theory, the ultimate source of authority is not some hard-to-understand truth. It is everybody’s personal feelings. A crime occurs when someone feels a hurt triggered, or when someone feels disagreed with or “unsafe.” In the Shulevitz piece, a Brown student retreats from a campus debate to a safe room because she “was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against” her dearly and closely held beliefs.

Today’s campus activists are not only going after actual acts of discrimination — which is admirable. They are also going after incorrect thought — impiety and blasphemy. They are going after people for simply failing to show sufficient deference to and respect for the etiquette they hold dear. They sometimes conflate ideas with actions and regard controversial ideas as forms of violence.

Essentially the special snowflakes, who can only exist in a closed system like a college campus, have created an oppressive atmosphere in a place that should be open and free because … feelings.  And college administrators have allowed this nonsense to go on because of two reasons – students are paying the freight and Title IX.  But Brooks is right … the end state of this nonsense is the creation of thought police.  And the SJW’s on campus use their leverage (paying customer) and a wildly misinterpreted law (Title IX) to carry out their vendettas.  And for years, college administrations have been complicit in advancing this nonsense to the the point, now, of absurdity.

However, it has begun to bite back, as it had to, within the college collective.  Megan McArdle brings you up to date on the latest:

In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern, wrote an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education in which she decried the creeping bureaucratization and fear that surrounds sexual activity on campus. Last week, she revealed that as a consequence of that article, she had been investigated for violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

No, I’m not eliding some intermediate step, where she used printed copies of the article as a cudgel to attack her female students. The article itself was the suspect act. According to Kipnis, it was seen as retaliation against students who had filed complaints against a professor, and would have a “chilling effect” and create a “hostile environment” for women in the Northwestern community. Northwestern put Kipnis through a lengthy process in which she wasn’t allowed to know the nature of the complaint until she talked to investigators, nor could she have representation.

You need to read that article to understand what kangaroo courts the “system” within colleges have set up to appease their Title IX requirements as directed by the Obama Administration.  They are incredible and a far cry from anything anyone in the country would call “fair”.  But then fairness isn’t the goal … silence is.  They want to silence all “uncomfortable” ideas that may “trigger” their angst.  And, as you’ll note, the inmates are running the asylum.  Title IX is out of control as Naomi Schaefer Riley points out:

Yes, that’s right, legislation that was originally supposed to combat sexual discrimination in public education and athletics is now being used to silence professors who write essays that contradict progressive wisdom.

Because, you know, they were offended.  They thought they were “safe”.  And since they weren’t or at least didn’t consider themselves to be, they had to act by attacking the source of their angst.  Anonymously, of course.  With no burden of proof.  Just an accusation is all that is necessary, because in SJW-land, feelings rule, no matter how arbitrary and capricious they may be.

Is this the new face of feminism?

~McQ

 

Boston U, Grundy hire update

What a debacle the hire of Saida Grundy has been for Boston U.  8 years ago, Ms. Grundy apparently plead down two felony accounts for a misdemeanor in an act of irrational jealousy in which she tried to hurt, bully and harass someone she’d never met:

Grundy used the identity of a Virginia woman in a jealous fit over a man in late 2007 to create online accounts in the woman’s name, including one on an adult website for people looking for trysts, according to a police report obtained by the Herald under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Grundy got one year of probation after pleading guilty to malicious use of telecommunication services, a misdemeanor, according to online court records and Dan Dwyer, the court administrator at Washtenaw County Trial Court in Michigan. Two felony charges, identity theft and using a computer to commit a crime, were dismissed.

The cyber harassment took place in December 2007 when Grundy was at the University of Michigan, where she earned a master’s degree in sociology and a doctorate of philosophy in sociology and women’s studies in 2014.

The victim told police in Charlottesville, Va., that someone was creating accounts in her name and posting her personal information online, according to the police report.

A detective traced the suspect, identified as Grundy, to Ann Arbor and reached out to police there.

During an interview with detectives at her home in May 2008, Grundy said she had never met the victim but “this was a jealous thing regarding another man,” according to the police report.

She claims it was a bad decision by a 24 year old.  Yet we saw last week that she’s either not learned a thing or is still prone to bad decisions.  This was highlighted with her bullying a white rape victim on line.

Boston U’s reaction?  “Meh”:

In a statement Wednesday night, Boston University said: “A number of years ago, when she was a student at the University of Michigan, Dr. Grundy made a mistake. She admitted the mistake, accepted the consequences, and brought closure to that case. Eight years later, we do not see any reason to reopen it.”

In other words, character doesn’t matter when it comes to “diversity”.  Diversity always wins out.  Boston U would rather inflict a racist bully on it’s student population than admit it’s made a wrong decision in hiring her.

Oh, and the department she will teach in?

On Monday, BU’s African American Studies faculty posted an online message welcoming Grundy, saying she had been hired after a nationwide search and chosen from over 100 applicants. The post mentioned Grundy’s tweets and said they’ve been “shocked by the number of voicemails left and the hostile emails sent to our office and our individual accounts. … However, most troubling was that among the numerous that were serious expressions of dismay were many vile messages, explicitly racist and obscene, that consider cyber-bullying a substitute for frank discussion and freedom of speech.”

“Physician, heal thyself.”  You’re welcoming a cyber-bully into your bosom, for heaven sake.  You ought to be ashamed.

~McQ

Hypocrisy in academia … what a surprise!

As you can probably tell by the frequency of these sorts of posts, I’m fascinated by watching the left’s civil war, especially in academia.

On the one hand we have defacto speech codes on college campuses that describe anything considered to be hurtful to be “hate speech”.  And, of course, you can’t utter “hate speech” without sanction and shaming by the left – or being shouted down if you dare to introduce a topic that doesn’t conform with the ideology of certain vocal minorities.  “Safe spaces” and “micro-aggression” along with “trigger warnings” are the what, as Kathleen Parker calls our “swaddled class”, use to attack those who apparently threaten their pseudo-well-being.

On the other hand, we see real hate defended – or at least that’s the case at Boston U where this execrable excuse for an assistant professor has just been hired:

 On Friday, her new employer’s spokesman, Colin Riley, told FoxNews.com that the tweets came from Grundy’s personal Twitter account and that she was “exercising her right to free speech and we respect her right to do so.”

Then, amid a deluge of angry emails from former students, the school sought to amend the comment.

“The University does not condone racism or bigotry in any form and we are deeply saddened when anyone makes such offensive statements,” Riley told FoxNews.com Saturday.

Well, isn’t that nice – defending what in anyone  else would have been termed “hate speech”. (What Dr. Grundy said can be seen here.)  Obviously she thinks all of this is acceptable even if she is woefully wrong (in terms of history).  Quite simply she’s a “troll.”  Anyone of the opinion that’s how she’ll likely be in the classroom as well?  Yeah, me too.

And then there’s where she went after an apparent rape victim simply because she’s white.

Ms. Grundy, a newly hired black sociology professor who recently apologized for tweeting that white males are a “problem population,” is now accused of mercilessly mocking Meghan Chamberlin in a Facebook thread on Feb. 25, Fox News reported.

The woman who wrote, “my name is *Sai*, but you can call me Dr. Grundy,” posted the comments after Ms. Chamberlin took issue with an article on racism and sexism by The Grio that the Facebook thread had linked to, Fox News reported.

“I LITERALLY cry and lose sleep over this,” Ms. Chamberlin wrote, adding she had been raped as a child, Fox reported. “What this article did was tell me that I’m not aloud [sic] to ask for help… Because I am a WHITE woman… So when I read this article… you do understand what that does to me, right? It kills me…”

“‘I literally cry’…. While we literally die,” replied the woman identified as Sai Grundy, using the same profile photo the Boston University professor used on tweets she acknowledged last week, Fox News reported.

“[T]ry this article. A white woman explaining this issue to other white women… who manages NOT to cry while doing it!” Ms. Grundy wrote.

Ms. Chamberlin responded: “No really. I got it. You can take your claws out, thanks.”

To which Ms. Grundy exploded:

“THIS IS THE [expletive] I AM TALKING ABOUT. WHY DO YOU GET TO PLAY THE VICTIM EVERY TIME PEOPLE OF COLOR AND OUR ALLIES WANT TO POINT OUT RACISM. my CLAWS?? Do you see how you just took an issue that WASNT about you, MADE it about you, and NOW want to play the victim when I take the time to explain to you some [expletive] that is literally $82,000 below my pay grade? And then you promote your #whitegirltears like that’s some badge you get to wear… YOU BENEFIT FROM RACISM. WE’RE EXPLAINING THAT TO YOU and you’re vilifying my act of intellectual altruism by saying i stuck my “claws” into you?”

Ms. Chamberlin responded: “I am choosing to ‘exit’ this conversation. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. It’s really as simple as that.”

Ms. Grundy responded: “YOU DONT HAVE TO KNOW ME. what you SHOULD know is that you don’t know more about this issue than marginalized women. And instead of entering this conversation with an iota of humility about that, you have made it a celebration of your false sense of victimization. now go cry somewhere. since that’s what you do.”

This is someone who is going to teach sociology to students? This is a person committed to “diversity” and learning?  Given her Twitter tirade, what white student is going to bother taking her class?

Let’s face it, she’s a racist.  And yeah, I don’t buy this new definition that you have to have “power” and not be a “minority” to be racist.  That’s the usual leftist copout.

She’s as racist as they come.  She also indulges in hate speech.  And she has every 1st Amendment right to do that, a right I defend completely.

However, the exercise of such a right in the manner in which she has exercised it has consequences.  Far fewer students than might have taken her class will take it now.  And many alumni are promising never to contribute another dollar to the school if she’s employed there.  Not only that, Boston U’s reputation has taken a horrible hit.

Debora Tyler gets to the essence of Grundy’s trolling and tirades:

Professor Saida Grundy recently introduced herself as a new faculty member at Boston University with a blast of obscene and abusive bigotry against a race and gender student group.  A brief refresher in the psychology of scapegoating explains why she must be terminated: blaming a racial or gender group for social ills is an intransigent form of ignorance that blocks the capacity for complex problem solving. Isn’t that capacity a quality required of professors?

The AP reported she made statements “critical” of white students. This is an example of AP leftwing bias. She did not make “critical statements.” The hate she expressed is typical of classic scapegoating, paralleling the Nazi transference of blame against Jews. Professor Grundy characterized the entire group of white college males as a problem population. From her tweets: “white masculinity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, white masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges… for the record, NO race outside of europeans had a system that made slavery a *personhood* instead of temporary condition.” We can overlook her tweets’ problematic capitalization and punctuation, but must Boston University students be forced to suffer her baneful and ill-informed opinions? Her assertion about the unique “personhood” of European slavery is particularly, and stunningly, ignorant.

Boston U. must be so proud …

~McQ

What do people use their brains for today?!

A less sensational title would be “what the heck ever happened to critical thinking”?

Example:

The University of Colorado-Boulder would like students to inform on each other when they witness “bias incidents,” by reporting the perpetrators and turning over all relevant information—including names, phone numbers, addresses, and university ID or Social Security Numbers—to the administration.

What counts as a bias incident is, as always, entirely subjective. An official who spoke with The College Fixclarified that “this in no way is meant to curtail free speech.”

Say what?  “This is in no way meant to curtail free speech”?  I can’t think of anything which would tend to chill it more than reporting something as arbitrary and subjective as a “bias incident” with name, phone number, address and SSAN to the administration, can you?

For the purposes of this protocol, a “bias-motivated incident” is any of the following:

  • Discrimination — Occurs when an individual suffers an adverse consequence, on the basis of one or more of their protected classes.
  • Harassment — Verbal or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational or living environment.  Examples may include, but are not limited to, epithets, images, slurs, jokes; electronic communication or other verbal, graphic or physical conduct.
  • Acts of Intolerance — Conduct motivated by discriminatory bias or hatred toward other individuals or groups based on perceived or actual characteristics of race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, political affiliation, or political philosophy or other attribute.

Good grief … why not spend your entire collegiate career pretending you’re mute?!

But … and there is always a “but”:

Nevertheless, the university’s website encourages students to report each other for engaging in a broad range of constitutionally protected speech.

What a load.

What in the world do these people who “administer” colleges these days use for critical thinking.  They may as well feed their brains to zombies for all the good they do them.

~McQ

Some collected quotes to make your day

From Reason, a Nick Gillespie quote that perfectly sums up the precious snowflake/SJW phenomenon in colleges:

But really, what the f*ck is wrong with kids these days and, more important, the supposed adults who look after them? They act as if they are raising human veal that cannot even stand on their own legs or face the sunlight without having their eyeballs burned out and their hearts broken by a single deep breath or uncomfortable moment. I’m just waiting for stories of college deans carrying students from class to class on their backs.

“Human veal”.  A perfect metaphor.  Calling PETA … lol.

A well known and respected scientist resigns from the American Physical Society?  Why?

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

Read the whole thing.  His point, of course, is that any scientist with a shred of integrity who has examined the “evidence” presented should be doing precisely what he is doing – shaming those perpetrating the fraud and refusing to be associated with them.

Billy Bob in his usual role as Denier-in-Chief:

“No one has ever tried to influence me by helping you,” the former president added while channeling his wife. “There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy. That just hasn’t happened.”

There was no doubt in  his mind he hadn’t had sex with that woman too! If his lips are moving he’s … yeah, he is. And his wife is no better.

Nothing to see here citizen … keep moving, keep moving.

Guy Benson lays it out:

“A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country is not obliged to be confined to a bedazzled ideological straitjacket because that’s how they ‘ought’ to think and ‘ought’ to vote and ‘ought’ to rank their priorities,” he said. “It’s not true, it shouldn’t be true, and I think part of liberty and tolerance and coexistence is understanding that, ‘Hey, I might have something in common with this person over here, and they have every right under the sun to disagree with me on this whole panoply of public policy questions over here.’ And if their views on those things lead them to another conclusion about how they exercise their right to vote, to jump to the conclusion that that is borne of some secret, deep-seated, self-loathing is just lazy and boring.

“And false.”

Bingo.  And given what we see today, we’re hardly “A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country”.

~McQ

More stray voltage

Has anyone been following this “raisin taking” case before SCOTUS? It has to do with the government literally taking a portion of a producers crop because they want to keep prices artificially high:

The forced transfer is part of a 1937 program that requires farmers to turn over a large portion of their raisin crop to the government so as to artificially reduce the amount of raisins on the market, and thereby increase the price. Essentially, the scheme is a government-enforced cartel under which producers restrict production so as to inflate prices.

And, of course, you know who loses – consumers. And producers. But note the program’s birthdate – yup, a New Deal bit of nonsense that should have long been trashed. Given how the oral arguments went yesterday before the SCOTUS, it may soon see the dumpster. The government first tried to argue that it really wasn’t a “taking”. That didn’t go well. So:

[Deputy Solicitor General Edwin] Kneedler put most of his emphasis on the argument that there is no taking because the Hornes and other raisin farmers actually benefit from the program that confiscates their raisins. In the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, the government’s argument here is that the Hornes are actually “ingrates” who should be grateful for the government’s largesse. As several justices emphasized, even if the Hornes really do benefit from the confiscation of their property, that does not change the reality that a taking has occurred. The fact that property owners benefit in some way from the taking of their property may affect the level of compensation they are owed. But it does not change the reality that a taking has occurred in the first place. Justice Samuel Alito noted that the government’s logic leads to the conclusion that there is no taking in any situation where the government seizes personal property for purposes that might potentially benefit the owners in some way.

The most important argument, and the one usually overlooked or ignored, is as follows:

If private firms tried to establish a similar program on their own, the government would bust them for a blatant violation of antitrust law.

So why is our government doing it?

The Advice Goddess (Amy Alkon) takes on “trigger warnings” and does a very credible job explaining why they and those who would impose them should be ignored:

I’ve thought this for a while. They are yet another way for people who have done nothing noteworthy to get attention and have unearned power over others.

In fact, she entitles her piece “Trigger Warnings: A Form of Covert Narcissism.”  She also quotes a Kent State professor who “gets it”:

Kent University’s professor of sociology Frank Furedi claims that calls for trigger warnings are a form of “narcissism,” with a student’s desire to assert their own importance acting as more of a factor than the content they are exposed to.

In other words, it’s a form of avoidance they can lay on the person who “triggers” them.

This brings me to my favorite line in the Alkon trigger warning piece:

And as I’ve noted before: If you are so emotionally traumatized by the normal college curriculum, you do belong in an institution, but not one of “higher learning.”

Indeed.

The Climate Change Nazis are just not happy with “liberal democracy” because, you know, it depends on the will of the people instead of the will of the all knowing elite. Some selected passages from a piece by  Mark Triffitt (Lecturer, Public Policy at University of Melbourne), and Travers McLeod, Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at University of Melbourne:

… Specifically, the failure to tackle climate change speaks to an overall failure of our liberal democratic system…

… Successfully tackling climate change and other big policy challenges depends on making tangible the intangible crisis of liberal democracy.

It means understanding that liberal democracy’s governance machinery – and the static, siloed policy responses generated by such democracies – is no longer fit for purpose.

So, solution? (I bet you can guess):

[D]emocratic powers should be transferred to unelected bureaucrats, who would still somehow be “accountable” to parliament, despite having “staying power” beyond individual political cycles.

Or in their own words:

Granting more decision-making power to institutions independent of the government of the day, but still accountable to parliaments (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office or Infrastructure Australia). This would increase the capacity of policy planning and decision processes to have staying power beyond individual political cycles.

Yes, because when the party in power is the same party that wants whatever the bureaucracy wants, oversight is so exceptional and wonderful and our freedoms are protected to the nth degree – not!   There are closet despots everywhere, and especially among the climate alarmist crowd.

And finally there is the Hill/Billy update, this one concerning a uranium deal with the Russians:

The latest installment in the ongoing saga of shady Clinton Foundation finances is a story involving a deal in which Russians took take greater control of a major U.S. uranium company, Uranium One.

The details are somewhat involved, but the gist is that because the takeover deal involved uranium, a strategic asset, it required approval from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Around the same time the deal was going through, the Clinton Foundation took millions of dollars in donations from a foundation run by the founder of Uranium One and did not disclose the transaction, in defiance of an arrangement made with the Obama administration to identify Clinton Foundation donors. In addition, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by a Russian financial firm linked to the Kremlin for a speech in Moscow as the deal was happening. The New York Times has an extensive report, building on work from Peter Schweizer’s book about the Clinton Foundation’s foreign funding, Clinton Cashhere.

The questions raised by the story are obvious: Did the millions in donations to the Clinton Foundation, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Bill Clinton for his speech, have any influence on Clinton’s decision as Secretary of State to approve the project?

Seriously?  You have to ask that question?

The reaction to the story from team Clinton, meanwhile, does not exactly inspire confidence that the Clintons have been entirely transparent about what transpired.

For example, Fox News reporters, also drawing from Schweizer’s book, dug into various aspects of the story, and found evidence that officials from Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company Kazatomprom visited with Bill Clinton at his home in New York to inquire about a possible deal with Westinghouse, which is also involved in the nuclear energy business. When contacted about the meeting by Fox News, a Clinton Foundation spokesperson denied that the meeting had ever happened. But when Fox News produced photos of the meeting, the Clinton spokesperson changed the story and said that it had happened.

In short, Clinton’s spokesperson flatly lied about a meeting Bill Clinton had with foreign officials, and admitted the truth only when presented with evidence to the contrary.

“Flatly lied”.  Or as most would put it, “business as usual”.

~McQ

“Sustainability” – it marks the change from eduction to indoctrination in academia

Remember this?

Traditionally, academic disciplines conveyed a body of knowledge to students: chemistry, biology, history, literature, foreign languages, philosophy, economics and so on.

And what colleges and universities then did was teach critical thinking and the application of that knowledge taught in those traditional disciplines.

But no longer:

About 25 years ago, American higher education was swept up in the identity studies fad. A great many colleges and universities created courses, departments, degree programs, and related administrative posts in Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Latina/o Studies, Queer Studies, and others.

Few college officials could resist the loud demands for that expansion even though it diverted funds from serious academic uses. Giving in demonstrated their fealty to a host of “progressive” notions about social injustice and oppression, while saying “no” would badly tarnish a college leader’s liberal halo. A Hobson’s Choice.

Giving in to that has led to this:

And now there is a new fad rampaging across the college landscape—sustainability. For the last ten years, this mania has been gathering momentum because, like identity studies, sustainability pushes the hot buttons for leftist academics: environmentalism, anti-capitalism, salvation through liberal activism, and the chance to hector all those wrong-thinking people. It’s almost irresistible.

The problem, however, is that sustainability isn’t an academic discipline, ” it’s an “ideology that unites environmental activism, anti-capitalism, and a progressive vision of social justice.” Like a religion (hence the reference to fundamentalism), sustainability never questions its tenets. It posits them and even has “pledges” for students and school officials to adhere to. And the courses that go into the sustainability curriculum are far more like preaching than teaching.”  Or so a study from the National Association of Scholars claims.

And yes, the study refers to “sustainability” as a sort of fundamentalism.

What other sorts of courses do students take in the sustainability curriculum? It’s a hodge-podge, including “trash studies,” “environmental poetry,” and my favorite, ”Small Spaces Studio” where students learn how best to live in mini-spaces. Frequently, courses link some “identity” belief with sustainability, such as that “patriarchy” is the enemy of sustainable life and therefore must be ended.

Most often, however, courses involve the supposedly unquestionable science of global warming and impending catastrophe. There are plenty of serious questions for academic study here. Wood and Peterson write:

“Is the climate really changing? In the direction of global warming? Because of human activity? And if the answers to these questions are ‘yes’ are the interventions proposed by sustainability advocates plausible responses? These are key questions, but the sustainability movement does not welcome them.”

The sustainability movement isn’t interested in the kind of analysis that scholars bring to controversies. It wants zealots, such as the “eco-reps” now employed on many campuses to push the agenda. Recycling, for instance, is always advanced as an imperative for saving the planet. There are trade-off questions about recycling that have caused many people to conclude that its costs often exceed its benefits, but students are not encouraged to think about them.

Sustainotopians (as the authors call them) don’t want doubts about their creed seeping in. As the report documents, when students dare to question the beliefs that undergird sustainability, they’re often treated in an uncivil, unscholarly fashion. That’s what happens when true believers take charge of education; a “you’re with us or you’re against us” mindset shoves aside reflective inquiry and discussion.

It’s bad enough that there are openly doctrinaire sustainability courses, but at least students can avoid them. Frequently, however, sustainability precepts are smuggled into other courses, where, Wood and Peterson write, “the unsuspecting student meets it not as a tenet to be discussed, but as a baseline assumption on which all subsequent scholarship and dialogue rests.”

George Will took notice of this study as well.

The word “fundamentalism” is appropriate, for five reasons:

Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated. Second, weighing the costs of obedience to sustainability’s commandments is considered unworthy. Third, the sustainability crusade supplies acolytes with a worldview that infuses their lives with purpose and meaning. Fourth, the sustainability movement uses apocalyptic rhetoric to express its eschatology. Fifth, the church of sustainability seeks converts, encourages conformity to orthodoxy and regards rival interpretations of reality as heretical impediments to salvation.

As Will points out, this is simply political correctness repackaged.

He goes on:

They see [sustainability] as indisputable because it is undisputed; it is obvious, elementary, even banal. Actually, however, the term “sustainable” postulates fragility and scarcity that entail government planners and rationers to fend off planetary calamity while administering equity. The unvarying progressive agenda is for government to supplant markets in allocating wealth and opportunity. “Sustainability” swaddles this agenda in “science,” as progressives understand it — “settled” findings that would be grim if they did not mandate progressivism.

And progressivism  mandates authoritarianism.  It always has and it always will.  The point is to make it as palatable as possible until it can be established.  One way to do that is through indoctrination.  Sustainability is nothing more than that if you consider how it approaches the subject in a strictly unacademic way.  No one is taught to think for themselves or actually weigh “evidence” – the demand is they believe what they’re fed and act on it.

The very definition of propaganda.  And indoctrination.

However, not all is lost.  Will says there is a silver lining to this cloud:

There is a social benefit from the sustainability mania: the further marginalization of academia. It prevents colleges and universities from trading on what they are rapidly forfeiting, their reputations for seriousness.

I quit considering them to be serious quite some time ago.  What I am enjoying is the entertainment value as they increasingly are hoist on the petard of their own making concerning identity studies and now sustainability.  Both seem to be synonyms for abject stupidity masquerading as academic pursuits.  At some point, the whole house of cards has to come down – especially when consumers realize that they’re being robbed by colleges and universities who are supposed to be teaching real academics instead of this repackaged political correct ideology.

~McQ

 

Narrative Journalism, ideology and serving the “greater good”

I don’t know about you but I’ve been fascinated by the UVA/Rolling Stone “rape” debacle.  And while it is clear that Rolling Stone, in general, and the author of the RS article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely specifically, broke every journalistic rule out there, there’s a deeper story here (I’ll get to RS and Erdely later).

It’s about why the story even had a chance of being published.  It’s about the combination of “narrative journalism” and an ideological agenda.  It was about one supporting the other without any real evidence that what had been claimed (a gang rape by fraternity members) was true or had even happened.

The story was out there before Erdely had ever inquired about it.  And you have to understand that that story had largely been accepted as “the truth” by people who wanted to believe it to be so.  These weren’t just students and a couple of teachers, by the way.  These were very well connected people who knew exactly where to go to push their agenda.  Here’s that backstory:

As the Rolling Stone article fell apart, Catherine Lhamon’s involvement has gone virtually unmentioned. But a deeper look reveals her ties to Emily Renda, a University of Virginia employee and activist who put Erdely in touch with Jackie, the student whose claim that she was brutally gang-raped by seven members of a fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, served as the linchpin for the 9,000-word Rolling Stone article.

President Obama nominated Lhamon to become the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in July 2013. The Senate approved her unanimously the following month.

She has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force.

Besides that link, both spoke at a February 2014 University of Virginia event entitled “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.”

Lhamon has been invited to the White House nearly 60 times, according to visitor’s logs. Renda has been invited six times. Both were invited to the same White House meeting on three occasions. One, held on Feb. 21, 2014, was conducted by Lynn Rosenthal, then the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Twenty-one people, mostly activists, were invited to that meeting. Lhamon and Renda were invited to two other larger gatherings — one on April 29 and the other on Sept. 19.

It is unclear if both attended the three meetings. Renda did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Renda and Lhamon also testified at a June 26, 2014, Senate hearing on campus sexual assault. It was at that hearing that Renda cited Jackie’s story that she was brutally gang-raped by five fraternity members — a statement that was inconsistent with Jackie’s claim to Erdely that she was raped by seven men. According to the Columbia report, Renda first told Erdely about Jackie’s allegation on July 8, nearly two weeks after her Senate testimony.

During her testimony, Lhamon claimed that “The best available research suggests that 20% of college women, and roughly 6% of college men, are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.” That “one-in-five” claim about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been heavily disputed.

So when Erdely showed up wanting to do the rape story, she had Renda to encourage her to do this one, because both had the same agenda:

The reporter used Jackie’s story about a gang-rape to introduce readers to what she asserted was a systemic failure on the part of universities, police, and society to prevent and investigate sexual assault.

Rape culture.  Rape crisis.  How else does one advance such a story except finding the perfect “rape” to feature all of those things?  Bingo.  The prefect story. And who was more than willing to offer it?  Renda.

Now some may ask, “why do you contend that advancing such a narrative was Erdely’s motive?”  For one thing, she’d done it before on another “rape” story – this one in the military (another institution that is “misogynist”).  And it followed a very similar pattern.  The case involved a female Navy Petty Officer who claimed to have been sexually assaulted.  Leon Wolf, doing some great research, finds that Erdley did for that case exactly what she did for the UVA case – and so did the Rolling Stone editors:

The point of this story is this: the evidence is clear all over the face of this story that Erdely – as enabled by her editors at Rolling Stone – has a serial habit of reporting rapes without conducting any more fact checking than she did of the UVA story. It is facially obvious that she did not talk to the accused rapist because there wasn’t one. There is no evidence that she talked with anyone who was present at any of the bars where Ms. Blumer drank on the night before her DUI to attempt to verify even her story about meeting the three guys. And, again: the sources who spoke to RedState were clear that Ms. Erdely made no effort to contact any member of the Naval command who was involved with the investigation to get their side of the story with respect to what manner of investigation was conducted into Ms. Blumer’s allegations or what that investigation revealed.

After an exhaustive investigation that spanned a year and a half (which Erdely and Rolling Stone ignored and/or did no research into whatsoever), no one was able to produce any evidence that a sexual assault had occurred, physical or otherwise. The alleged victim herself had no recollection of it happening, did not report it to the police who arrested her, and had a ready motive for latching on to the narrative, which is that it would have stopped or possibly prevented punishment at the hands of her military superiors and possibly prevented her from permanently losing the top secret clearance necessary to keep her job.

Sound familiar?

This was an important story for the “rape culture” agenda.  It was to be the cherry on the top of the narrative that says, “college men are misogynists and serial abusers who need to be punished for their actions”.   That’s why the fictitious “20%” number was invented.  That’s why the DoE’s civil rights division is involved.  As noted, this story shows the connection all the way to the top and the narrative that was being pushed.  Erdley and Rolling Stone were heaven sent to these people and they used her just as she used them.  The result was shoddy journalism of the worst stripe that apparently is standard operating procedure for Rolling Stone (I have another example of precisely the same problem with another author that I highlighted February of 2011.)

Of course, as we’ve seen, the narrative, as presented by Erdley, failed spectacularly.  It not only couldn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny, it had holes in it wide enough to drive a tank through.  Yet, that was precisely the narrative that had survived up until that time.  Why hadn’t the school investigated it more thoroughly before accepting the story?

Well, here’s why:

In December, as Erdely’s article began to collapse, Julia Horowitz, a student journalist at UVA, tried to explain why the campus newspaper had been caught flat-footed by the falsity of Jackie’s tale. She conceded that “factual inconsistencies” and “discrepancies” might exist in Erdely’s tale, but, she cautioned, “To let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.” Horowitz, exponent of this horrifying view of journalism, went on to become editor-in-chief of UVA’s student newspaper. Much of the media has been quick to pillory Rolling Stone, but Horowitz’s fear of allowing facts to overwhelm the narrative would be at home in vast swaths of our media — and government and higher education, too.

Facts shouldn’t define the narrative – got that? Now you understand why an administration, a magazine reporter and editors and a student “journalist” would let a tale like the UVA rape story exist and flourish – it fit the narrative like a glove if you didn’t look to closely.  And no one did – including Rolling Stone.

As to the reputations ruined and lives tarnished by all of this?  Well, that’s just collateral damage in a world where the narrative is much more important that the individual.  It serves the “greater good”, you see.

~McQ