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.
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 …
A less sensational title would be “what the heck ever happened to critical thinking”?
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.
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.
Bingo. And given what we see today, we’re hardly “A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country”.
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.”
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 Cash, here.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
This is actually quite amusing to me because it is the left getting caught up in a trap of their own making. Via Powerline we learn of Laura Kipnes, a Northwestern University feminist film professor (no, really, that’s what she is) who penned a piece entitled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” for the Chronical of Higher Education in which she had the temerity to say:
If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama . . .
But what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life? What becomes of students so committed to their own vulnerability, conditioned to imagine they have no agency, and protected from unequal power arrangements in romantic life? I can’t help asking, because there’s a distressing little fact about the discomfort of vulnerability, which is that it’s pretty much a daily experience in the world, and every sentient being has to learn how to somehow negotiate the consequences and fallout, or go through life flummoxed at every turn. . .
The question, then, is what kind of education prepares people to deal with the inevitably messy gray areas of life? Personally I’d start by promoting a less vulnerable sense of self than the one our new campus codes are peddling. Maybe I see it this way because I wasn’t educated to think that holders of institutional power were quite so fearsome, nor did the institutions themselves seem so mighty. Of course, they didn’t aspire to reach quite as deeply into our lives back then. What no one’s much saying about the efflorescence of these new policies is the degree to which they expand the power of the institutions themselves. . .
The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist. . . The new codes sweeping American campuses aren’t just a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom, they’re also intellectually embarrassing. Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims.
Seems pretty tame to me, even though it also seems a pretty accurate description of the problem that now exists on any number of college and university campuses.
As you might imagine, to the feminist left at the college, that’s heresy. And, as if she were an Islamic apostate, she was immediately attacked. Protests erupted on the Northwestern campus, “complete with feminists aping the mattress-carrying stunt of Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University.” How dare she say what she said?!
Interestingly enough, the publication which came to Kipnes defense was none other than the bedrock of the far left – “The Nation”. It too seems to realize that enough is enough when it comes to stifling free thought:
As the protesters wrote on a Facebook page for their event, they wanted the administration to do something about “the violence expressed by Kipnis’ message.” Their petition called for “swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article,” and demanded “that in the future, this sort of response comes automatically.” (University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily Northwestern, a student newspaper, that he would consider it, and the students will soon be meeting with the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs to further press their case.) Jazz Stephens, one of the march’s organizers, described Kipnis’s ideas as “terrifying.” Another student told The Daily Northwestern that she was considering bringing a formal complaint because she believes that Kipnis was mocking her concerns about being triggered in a film class, concerns she’d confided privately. “I would like to see some sort of repercussions just so she understands the effect something like this has on her students and her class,” said the student, who Kipnis hadn’t named.
Kipnis could hardly have invented a response that so neatly proved her argument. . .
This atmosphere is intellectually stifling. “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious,” Kipnis told me via e-mail. “I got many dozens of emails from professors (and administrators and deans and one ex college president) describing how fearful they are of speaking honestly or dissenting on any of these issues. Someone on my campus—tenured—wrote me about literally lying awake at night worrying about causing trauma to a student, becoming a national story, losing her job, and not being able to support her kid. It seemed completely probable to her that a triggered student could take down a tenured professor with a snowball of social media.” . . .
“It’s the infantilization of women fused with identity politics, so that being vulnerable, a potential victim—or survivor, in the new parlance—becomes a form of identity,” Kipnis told me. “I wrote a chapter on the politics of vulnerability in The Female Thing from 2006, and since then it strikes me that vulnerability has an ever more aggressive edge to it, which is part of what makes the sexual culture of the moment so incoherent.”
As a quick aside, this statement had me laughing out loud – “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious.” Yes, Ms. Kipnis, we agree – we dealt with Professor Oblivious yesterday.
Moving on though, it appears that the left is eating its own. The Nation realizes that what has happened has become “intellectually stifling”. It was a natural end state to the creeping oppression of speech codes, the “right” not to be offended and the idea that colleges should be “safe spaces” removed from the reality of the world where nasty things (and ideas apparently) can hurt you. If you don’t agree or if you wander outside the bright lines of approved speech and thought, they think nothing of subjecting the violator to everything they’re trying to avoid. Heresy is, after all, a serious matter when speaking of “religion”, and that certainly is how the devotees treat their ideology.
Steve Hayward wonders that if these attacks will actually cause the administrators at Northwestern to grow a spine and “tell the mob to sod off”. My guess? No, not yet. Don’t forget it was these university administrations that put this structure in place as well as aiding and abetting its growth. They’re hardly about to now say they were wrong to let this intellectual fascism bloom.
Another interesting perspective was found on Tumblr by Hayward. Another professor confessing his or her fears:
Personally, liberal students scare the sh*t out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.
The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.
Paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn’t uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.
The fact that this problem is now a monster that devours its own is probably considered an “unintended consequence”. The fact that they didn’t take into consideration that limiting speech they found “unacceptable” would come back to bite them seems to be a result of some very sloppy thinking, doesn’t it? Or was there any real thinking going on at all when they began to impose their will? And then, of course, there’s the problem of the inmates essentially running the asylum. Hayward’s hope that a spine will somehow grow among the administrators of that school is a fairly farfetched hope. There is no prior history of that so why would we expect this instance to be any different? Until the administration does act in such a manner that tells the students to “sod off”, we shouldn’t expect it at all.
In the meantime, pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and enjoy the show.
The short answer is “yes”. Megan McArdle makes the point :
Higher education is becoming the ginseng of the policy world: a sort of all-purpose snake oil for solving any problem you’d care to name, as long as we consume enough of it. Education is a very good thing, but it is not the only good thing. An indiscriminate focus on pushing more people into the system is no cure for society’s ills–and indeed, often functions as a substitute for helping the people who are struggling in the current system.
In fact (beside the fact we can’t afford “ObamaCare for colleges”):
What if people in the policy elite stopped assuming that the ideal was to make everyone more like them, and started thinking about making society more hospitable to those who aren’t? My grandfather graduated into a world where a man with a high-school diploma could reasonably hope to own his own business, or become someone else’s highly valued employee, a successful pillar of a supportive community. His grandchildren graduated into a world where a college diploma was almost the bare necessity to get any kind of a decent job. Why aren’t we at least asking ourselves if there’s something we can do to create more opportunity for people without diplomas, instead of asking how many more years we can keep everyone in school? Why do all of our proposed solutions essentially ratify the structure that excludes so many people, instead of questioning it?
Indeed. For too long our policies have been driven by an elite. And for the most part, the elite have made an awful mess of things. Now they want to take on “community colleges”.
Anyone? How long before they start looking at 4 year colleges?
McArdle suggests the following probable effects of any program like Obama has proposed:
1. Offer a subsidy to middle-class kids who don’t really need the money?
2. Encourage middle-class families to transfer their kids to community college for the first two years of school, and thus help to moderate college costs?
3. Encourage financially constrained students who might not have gone to college to enter the system en route to a degree?
4. Encourage marginal students with a low chance of completing a career-enhancing degree to attend school, mostly wasting government money and their own time?
As she points out 2 and 3 are actually not bad policy goals in and of themselves. However, the much more likely effect will be 1 and 4. Another government sponsored and taxpayer funded boondoggle that will essentially give community colleges a subsidy (it’ll be all about headcount – no one will really care if the student’s succeed) and create bureaucratic jobs while doing little or nothing in terms of “education advancement”.
Oh, yeah, did I mention we can’t afford it?
I thought I did.
What’s old is new again.
What you need to focus on is the way the feminists would have you take any rape allegation made, without exception. That in the wake of any number of examples of false (Duke LaCross) and exaggerated stories (Dunham/UVa, etc.) and the propensity of certain institutions to ignore due process while having no qualms at all about forever branding the alleged perpetrator as a rapist for life. Facts are not necessary, just an accusation in many cases. No appeal. No place the accused can present evidence or demand evidence be presented (I’m talking particularly here about universities and the so-called rape epidemic that feminists are trying to allege is happening). If you’re accused, you’re condemned. the accuser’s narrative is inviolate (until it comes apart).
Automatic belief of rape accusations was a central principle of the KKK’s war on rape, too. This was one of the things that most shocked Ida B Wells, the early twentieth-century African-American journalist and civil-rights activist. ‘The word of the accuser is held to be true’, she said, which means that ‘the rule of law [is] reversed, and instead of proving the accused to be guilty, the [accused] must prove himself innocent’. Wells and others were startled by the level of belief in the accusers of black men, and by the damning of anyone who dared to question such accusations, which was taken as an attack on the accuser’s ‘virtue’. The great nineteenth-century African-American reformer Frederick Douglass was disturbedby the mob’s instant acceptance of accusations of rape against black men, where ‘the charge once fairly stated, no matter by whom or in what manner, whether well or ill-founded’, was automatically believed. Wells said she was praying that ‘the time may speedily come when no human being shall be condemned without due process of law’.
The author of this article goes on to say that at least no lynching is going on today. I disagree. There are all sorts of “lynchings” going on, they just don’t result in the death of the accused. But it certainly results in his reputation being lynched.
I can hear the feminists now – “how dare you compare us to the KKK”!?
I’m not. I’m comparing your tactics to those of the KKK. You can draw your own conclusions from there.
In reality the left is everything it condemns and is apparently not bright enough to know it:
A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans,” which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they’re being graded fairly.
“I hate Republicans,” communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”
She writes that although the fact that her “tendency is to blame the Republicans . . . may seem biased,” historical and psychological research back her up, and so it’s basically actually a fact that Republicans are bad! . . .
Republicans now, she writes, are focused on the “determined vilification” of others, and have “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy.
Wow … irony anyone?