You may have read my long piece about the racist left-wing insanity underway at DePauw University in Indiana. One of the grievances that set off the (mostly but not entirely) black mob was the appearance of a white student, Ellie Locke, in blackface at a social event.
So I went online looking for photographic evidence of her blackface. Here it is:
Yeah, looks like Bull Connor in a blonde wig, don’t you think? Ellie Locke is actually the young woman on the left. It doesn’t look like she’s in blackface. She is wearing dark glitter. She is reported to have been spotted in a bar dressed like that, with a nametag that said “Blackie.” She explained that it was a reference to her friend, who has a habit of blacking out. It would appear from the image above that Locke and Boesel (who is wearing an “Ellie Locke” nametag) were dressed up as caricatures of each other.
But of course nobody gets the benefit of the doubt. No innocent explanation is ever allowed. Now, this sorority girl is History’s Greatest Monster:
@DePauwU decided that they were worried about the safety of one individual. They had Public Safety sit outside of the Kappa Alpha Theta house, where Ellie Locke’s lives, last night. Depauw puts a racist colonizer above a whole community. WOW🙃 #DePauw #WeAreNotoKKKay @DMarkMcCoy
— Rionna (@ThatsoRionna) April 17, 2018
How do my professor expect me to write an essay, when I’m terrified for my safety. When the same place I rest my head, is the same place that my hall mates defended a racist and said they felt “SO bad for her” with their door wide open as I walk pass #DePauwKKK #WeAreNotoKKKay
— nat 🌞 (@nmb_xcx) April 18, 2018
— Denisse (@2018Denisse) April 16, 2018
— Staisy Cardenas (@estaysi_) April 17, 2018
What if you were Ellie Locke? What if you were Ellie Locke’s parents?
The university has security guards outside the sorority house where she lives, out of concern for her safety. Because she might be physically assaulted by black students who are terrified of her, because of her evil black glitter. Unbelievable. And the faculty and administration are feeding this paranoia!
A powerful Chronicle Of Higher Education essay from Eric Bennett, a college English professor, says that the humanities are dying, and humanities professors have killed them.
Bennett begins by talking about how influential literary studies were at midcentury. Then, after around the accursed year 1968, everything changed. Excerpts:
Beauty became ideology; poetry, a trick of power, no more essentially valuable than other such tricks — sitcoms, campaign slogans, magazine ads — and no less subject to critique. The focus of the discipline shifted toward the local, the little, the recent, and the demotic. “I find no contradiction in my writing about Henry James, bodybuilding, heavy metal, religion, and psychoanalytic theory,” Marcia Ian stated in PMLA in 1997. In Classics and Trash: Traditions and Taboos in High Literature and Popular Modern Genres (1990), Harriet Hawkins argued that much pop culture “has in practice … been a great deal more democratic and far less elitist, even as it has often been demonstrably less sexist than the academically closeted critical tradition.” Within the bosky purlieus of a declining humanism, everything had become fair game for study: Madonna and Lost, Harry Potter and Mad Men.
The demographic exclusivity of the midcentury canon sanctified the insurrection. Who didn’t feel righteous tossing Hawthorne on the bonfire? So many dead white men became so much majestic smoke. But now, decades later, the flames have dwindled to coals that warm the fingers of fewer and fewer majors. The midcentury ideal — of literature as an aesthetically and philosophically complex activity, and of criticism as its engaged and admiring decoding — is gone. In its place stands the idea that our capacity to shape our protean selves is the capacity most worth exercising, the thing to be defended at all costs, and the good that a literary inclination best serves.
Democratizing the canon did not have to mean abdicating authority over it, but this was how it played out. In PMLA in 1997 Lily Phillips celebrated a new dispensation in which “the interpreter is not automatically placed above either producers of texts or participants in events but is acknowledged as another subject involved in a cultural practice, with just as much or as little agency.” This new dispensation — cultural studies — “emerged forcefully because the awareness of positionality, context, and difference is endemic to this historical period.”
Having eaten the tail of the canonical beast they rode on, scholars devoured their own coccyges. To profess the humanities was to clarify one’s situatedness, one’s limited but crucial perspective, one’s opinion and its contingent grounds. Yet if “opinion is always contingent,” Louis Menand asked laconically, “why should we subsidize professionals to produce it?”
By the 1990s, many scholars equated expertise with power and power with oppression and malicious advantage. The humane gesture was not to fight on behalf of the humanities — not to seek standing — but rather to demonstrate that literary studies no longer posed a threat. Unmaking itself as a discipline, it could subtract at least one instance of ideological violence from the nation and world.
If the political events of 2016 proved anything, it’s that our interventions have been toothless. The utopian clap in the cloistered air of the professional conference loses all thunder on a city street. Literature professors have affected America more by sleeping in its downtown hotels and eating in its fast-food restaurants than by telling one another where real prospects for freedom lay. Ten thousand political radicals, in town for the weekend, spend money no differently than ten thousand insurance agents.
Brutal. Mind you, Bennett is not a conservative; he identifies himself in this essay as “left-leaning”. More:
For going on 50 years, professors in the humanities have striven to play a political role in the American project. Almost without exception, this has involved attacking the establishment. As harmful as institutionalized power can be, as imperfect as even the most just foundations inevitably appear, they are, as it turns out, all we’ve got. Never has a citizen been so grateful for institutions — for functioning courts, for a professionalized FBI, for a factually painstaking CBO or GAO — as since November 2016.
Even the most devoted relativist cannot behold Fox News or Breitbart and not regard these media outlets as propagandistic in the most flagrant sense. Eisenhower would have balked. Promoting conspiracy theories, granting vile charisma a national platform, amplifying peccadillos into crimes and reducing crimes to peccadillos, they embody everything that literary studies was meant, once, to defend against — not through talking politics, but by exercising modes of expression slow enough to inoculate against such flimsy thinking. Yet the editorial logic of right-wing media resembles closely the default position of many recent books and dissertations in literary studies: The true story is always the oppositional story, the cry from outside. The righteous are those who sift the shadows of the monolith to undermine it in defense of some notion of freedom.
Turns out that when you cut down all the laws in England to get at the devil, so to speak, but then the devil turns on you, you have no place to hide. Really do read the whole thing.
Meanwhile, they’re digging in deep at DePauw.
What is happening at Indiana’s private DePauw University is the collapse of a university into collective madness, paranoia, and racial hatred. Whether it can recover remains to be seen.
Racist messages were left in campus restrooms and at the DePauw Nature Park.
DePauw Spokesman Ken Owen said the first incident occurred April 11, when a racist threat was found in a men’s bathroom stall at The Inn at DePauw and Event Center. Photos of the message, written in black marker, were circulated later that night through social media.
McCoy described four separate incidents that the university is investigating:
• The racist threat in a restroom at The Inn at DePauw.
• A homophobic and an anti-Semitic message also found in a restroom.
• An incident of a student engaging in offensive behavior at the restaurant and event center called The Fluttering Duck.
• The “n-word” formed by rocks in the nature park.
Bathroom graffiti off campus. Racist rocks in a park. A student (identified later as Ellie Locke) engaging in nondescript “offensive” behavior. And now the campus is convulsing.
On Wednesday, university president Mark McCoy and vice president Alan Hill held a press conference on campus, the day after a student mob disrupted an appearance by an actress.
“I’m hurting too, but nowhere near like our students are hurting today,” said Alan Hill, who is black. The language is remarkable. You would think by the way he was talking that these students had witnessed a massacre. President McCoy mewled about “this time of pain on our campus.”
At just past the five minute mark during the press conference, the president agrees to let a student mob into the event. Bad move. The group, mostly black students, took the thing over, chanting, “Meet our demands! We’re not safe!” Look:
The students bullied McCoy and Hill, some screaming hysterically at them. Among their taunts:
“As a black man, how could you?!”
“You WILL listen to us!”
And so forth. The men just stood there and took it. Hill looks like he’s about to cry. It is a stunning tableau of the abdication of adult authority at DePauw University. I don’t know what would make me angrier or more ashamed if I was a parent of one of those kids: my child behaving like a petulant brat, or an authority figure letting her get away with it.
A DePauw source describes the event captured on video:
In the video, [McCoy] does not call for respectful discussion. He fails to adequately defend a colleague from being called a liar. He fails to defend the university from general allegations of racism. He also fails to defend the student Ellie Locke whose “blackface” can be seen in photographs to be dark glitter. Moreover, her “Blackie” name tag was a jest in reference to a friend who blacks out when drinking. Finally, the president should never have let the protesters in, as the video shows he does. This puts people’s safety at risk and, since it would be filmed, paints the worse of pictures of DePauw. Both are in the university’s worst interests.
Additionally, the president has not conveyed to the students the need to wait for the results of the university’s own investigations. He offers no defense of anything like due process. The graffiti incidents are being investigated, but nobody reasonable believes these investigations will show who wrote graffiti on a bathroom stall or when. Yet the university has already caved to several protester “demands” despite the fact the university’s own investigation has yet to conclude. What’s more is that the individual who initially reported the graffiti is known to be unreliable and prone to promulgating racist conspiracy theories of the most vicious sort. It is widely believed he is the likely culprit, but the administration refuses to indicate that the graffiti may be phony. This is shocking since if phony, the students would not have to feel unsafe.
The IndyStar has an article declaring that the protesting students aren’t brats. I am not sure what video the IndyStar reviewed or whom they interviewed to arrive at this conclusion. The protesters make demands rather than suggestions, unreasonable demands. The protesters refuse to extend courtesy and respect to others including the university president. There are reports to faculty that the protesters menace non-protesters in public spaces with impunity. There are also reports that protesters are intimidating sorority members associated with Ms. Locke’s sorority. People can draw their own conclusions as to whether the term “brat” is appropriate.
I hope that this email finds you and that you can bring some light to the darkness here. A lot of faculty, staff and students are assailed and in positions too precarious to speak out.
Here are e-mails sent to faculty. The all-caps are in the originals:
EVERY CLASS TOMORROW NEEDS TO GIVE TIME TO TALK ABOUT THE PROTESTS THAT TOOK PLACE IN KRESGE, AND TO CONFRONT THE SYSTEMIC RACISM, ANTI-SEMITISM, ISLAMOPHOBIA, AND HOMOPHOBIA THAT MAKE THE HATE-FILLED WORDS THAT HAVE VIOLATED OUR CAMPUS SPACES POSSIBLE AND THAT MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR STUDENTS OF COLOR, JEWISH STUDENTS, MUSLIM STUDENTS AND LGBTQ STUDENTS TO FEEL SAFE.
WE, AND I REFER ESPECIALLY TO WHITE, DOMINANT-RELIGION, CIS-GENDERED FACULTY WHO EXPERIENCE THE PRIVILEGE OF SAFETY, MUST ALL ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SAFETY OF OUR STUDENTS THROUGH VIGILANCE OF OUR SPACES AND FOR THE WORK THAT WE SO DIRELY NEED TO DO IN OUR INSTITUTION. TALKING ABOUT RACE, RELIGION, AND SEXUAL IDENTITY IS PART OF THE JOB DESCRIPTION.
IF WE DID NOT RECEIVE TRAINING TO TALK ABOUT IDENTITY, SOCIETY, AND SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION IN OUR DEGREE-GRANTING INSTITUTIONS, WE WERE ILL-SERVED BY THEM FOR THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A CONTEMPORARY FACULTY MEMBER. AND SO WE HAVE TO ACT.
CLASSROOM BIAS INCIDENT TRAINING IS A NECESSARY SKILL FOR A FACULTY MEMBER TODAY. TRAINING WILL BE AVAILABLE AT DEPAUW DIALOGUE (WORKING ON EARLIER) AND ALL FACULTY MEMBERS WILL RECEIVE TRAINING WITHIN THE NEXT ACADEMIC YEAR. IN THE MEANTIME, THE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION LIBGUIDE PROVIDES RESOURCES – THE “PEDAGOGY” TAB WILL HAVE RESOURCE ON CLASSROOM DISCUSSION. IF YOU NEED ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR A STUDENT(S) IN DISTRESS, YOU CAN CALL EXT. 4270.
EDUCATION THAT BREAKS DOWN WHITE DEFENSIVENESS AND CRITICALLY ANALYZES PRIVILEGE IS NECESSARY. “WHITE FRAGILITY” (ATTACHED) AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WHITE?, BOTH BY ROBIN DIANGELO WILL BE NECESSARY READS TO UNDERSTAND THE RADICAL DIFFERENCE OF EXPERIENCES PROTECTED BY PRIVILEGE AND THOSE NOT PROTECTED BY IT. WE ALL HAVE CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS TO BRING TO THESE CRUCIAL TEXTS.
THE ONLY WAY THAT THINGS WILL CHANGE AT DEPAUW IS IF WE CHANGE. CANNOT BE BUSINESS AS USUAL – IF YOU WERE IN KRESGE TONIGHT, YOU KNOW THE INTENSITY OF THE PAIN AND FRUSTRATION AND THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF A SUSTAINED RESPONSE TO THE SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION THAT TOO MANY OF OUR STUDENTS LIVE WITH; IF YOU WERE NOT, PLEASE HONOR THE EXPERIENCES AND LISTEN TO LEARN MORE. DIFFERENT STUDENTS WILL NEED DIFFERENT KINDS OF ROOM TOMORROW – PLEASE BE SENSITIVE TO THEIR NEEDS. AND PLEASE TALK TO EACH OTHER, AND ACT.
ANNE F. HARRIS
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS, DEPAUW UNIVERSITY
JOHNSON FAMILY UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF ART AND ART HISTORY
SEVERAL OF YOU HAVE ASKED FOR A LIST OF PARAMETERS FOR TODAY’S CLASSES. I PROVIDE SUGGESTIONS BELOW AND WELCOME FURTHER EXPERTISE. THESE ARE BY NO MEANS EXHAUSTIVE – THERE IS MORE TO DO AND LEARN.
GIVE MARGINALIZED STUDENTS THE ROOM TO NOT ATTEND OR NOT PARTICIPATE TODAY; OUR CAMPUS SPACES ARE UNDER SIEGE AND STUDENTS MAY WANT TO STAY OUT OF THE PUBLIC SPHERE TODAY.
INSIST THAT WHITE STUDENTS THINK BEYOND THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE (THAT PRINCIPLE IS AT THE HEART OF THE LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION) AND ENGAGE IN A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE STRUCTURES IN PLACE AT DEPAUW THAT MARGINALIZE STUDENTS AND CREATE EXCLUSION.
IF YOU ARE A WHITE FACULTY MEMBER, DO NOT ASK MARGINALIZED STUDENTS “WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO DO?” THAT IS A VERY TRIGGERING QUESTION, AS THE WORK IS ON US, NOT THEM – WE ARE THE ONES WHO BENEFIT FROM THE SYSTEM AND THUS NEED TO CHANGE IT. FOR THE SAME REASONS, SAYING “I AM SORRY” IS ALSO TRIGGERING – IT IS NOT ENOUGH.
DO NOT THINK YOU ARE GOING TO FIX THINGS OR MAKE THEM ALL RIGHT – THE ISSUES ARE SYSTEMIC; THEY ARE BOTH SPECIFIC AND CUMULATIVE. NOT BEING DEFENSIVE, NOT EXPLAINING THINGS AWAY, BUT CRITICALLY ANALYZING THE STRUCTURES THAT CREATE FEAR AND ISOLATION WILL BE KEY GOING FORWARD.
A third, this one from the Dean of Faculty:
DESPITE THE SHORT NOTICE, WE HAD ABOUT 45 FACULTY AND STAFF COME OUT TO DISCUSS ROBIN DIANGELO’S ESSAY ON WHITE FRAGILITY. IN THE COURSE OF AN HOUR, WE BEGAN TO FACE AND PROCESS TWO KEY POINTS FROM THE ARTICLE:
DEFINING RACISM AS THE INSTITUTIONAL AND SOCIAL POWER THAT WHITES HAVE AND EXERT OVER PEOPLE OF COLOR
NAMING WHITE FRAGILITY AS A SERIES OF EVASIVE MANEUVERS UTILIZED BY WHITES WHEN THE ISSUE OF RACISM COMES UP. WHITE FRAGILITY TAKES THE FORM OF RAGE, ANXIETY, GUILT, FEAR, TEARS, REFUSALS TO ENGAGE, WILLFUL IGNORANCE, SILENCE, INTELLECTUALIZING, SEEKING COMFORT, ARGUMENTATION, AND LEAVING/OPTING OUT OF DIFFICULT DIALOGUES AND SITUATIONS. THIS LONG BUT NOT COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF WHITE DEFENSE MECHANISMS LED US TO THINK ABOUT HOW IN OUR MULTIPLE ROLES ON CAMPUS — E.G, AS TEACHERS, ADVISORS, DEPARTMENT AND SEARCH COMMITTEE MEMBERS — THESE AND OTHER ACTIONS MAY SERVE AS “PROTECTIVE PILLOWS” THAT PRESERVE A HIGHLY UNEQUAL STATUS QUO AS WELL AS PROTECT WHITE INDIVIDUALS’ SELF-PERCEPTIONS AS INNOCENT, GOOD, AND DESERVING OF PRIVILEGES WITHHELD FROM GROUPS OF COLOR.
ANNE’S CALL TO ACTION EMAIL FROM TUESDAY WAS A CHARGE TO US, THE FACULTY, NOT TO RETREAT INTO WHITE FRAGILITY. SO, IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE SO ALREADY, READ THE DIANGELO ARTICLE ON WHITE FRAGILITY (ATTACHED). SHARE IT WITH YOUR STUDENTS. MAKE IT THE SUBJECT OF AT LEAST PART OF YOUR CLASS TIME THIS WEEK AND EARLY NEXT. UTILIZE IT AS A RESOURCE IN THE UPCOMING WEEKS TO NAME AND BEGIN DISRUPTING THE HABITS OF THOUGHT AND BEHAVIOR THAT FOSTER RACIST HOSTILITY. BRING IT INTO YOUR DEPARTMENT AND COMMITTEE MEETINGS FOR DISCUSSION.
BELOW ARE SOME RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES THAT I HOPE YOU’LL CONSIDER IN YOUR ONGOING WORK OF UNDERSTANDING WHITE DOMINANCE AND RESISTING WHITE FRAGILITY:
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION LIBGUIDE
AMERICAN WHITENESS LIB GUIDE (FALL 2015)
ANDREA SMITH’S — HETEROPATRIARCHY AND THE THREE PILLARS OF WHITE SUPREMACY — HELPS TO ACCOUNT FOR SOME OF THE OTHER HOSTILITIES WE’VE SEEN SURFACE ON CAMPUS AGAINST RELIGIOUS MINORITIES AND CERTAIN IMMIGRANT AND INTERNATIONAL GROUPS.
PEGGY MCINTOSH’S 1988 ESSAY ON WHITE PRIVILEGE AND MALE PRIVILEGE: A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF COMING TO SEE CORRESPONDENCES THROUGH WORK IN WOMEN’S STUDIES (ATTACHED)
MY HANDOUT OF EXCERPTS FROM DIANGELO’S WHITE FRAGILITY AND MCINTOSH’S WHITE PRIVILEGE (ATTACHED)
AY 2018-19 SEED SIGN UP
FALL 2018 PPD SIGN UP
TAKE GOOD CARE,
TAMARA BEAUBOEUF, ED.D.
DEAN OF FACULTY AND PROFESSOR OF WOMEN’S, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY STUDIES
So, these black students go into hysterical fits of rage over a report of anti-black graffiti in a bar bathroom, and DePauw is worried about white fragility?!
And another from Prof. Beauboeuf:
ON THU, APR 19, 2018 AT 11:42 AM, DEANOFFACULTY AT DEPAUW <[email protected]> WROTE:
MANY OF YOU HAVE SHARED WITH ME CONCERNS ABOUT HOW TO PROCEED IN THIS CONTEXT OF VISCERAL, VISIBLE HATE AND HARM. AS ANNE STATED IN HER EMAIL ON TUESDAY, WE CANNOT ENGAGE IN BUSINESS AS USUAL. FOR THOSE WHO ARE AT A LOSS TO KNOW WHAT NEXT STEPS COULD BE, I INVITE YOU TO AN OPEN MEETING TODAY AT 4 PM. TODAY IN WALLACE-STEWART. WE WILL GATHER TO ENGAGE IN SOME OF THE HOME-WORK THAT IS NEEDED, STARTING WITH A DISCUSSION OF ROBIN DIANGELO’S WHITE FRAGILITY ATTACHED BELOW.
TAKE GOOD, CARE,
TAMARA BEAUBOEUF, ED.D.
DEAN OF FACULTY AND PROFESSOR OF WOMEN’S, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY STUDIES
Here’s more campus correspondence from professors and administrators. Note well that most of these do not come from just any professor, but from those in positions of leadership. In this one, the Associate VP for Student Academic Life urges faculty to grant students even more time to get their work in, given that they have been too traumatized to study and write:
Academic Affairs and Student Academic Life are hearing from faculty members and students with questions about adjustments to academic requirements such as the timing of exams and due dates for assignments.
Anne and I have conferred, and we encourage faculty members to honor requests from individual students for extensions on exams and assignments over the course of the next week. We recognize that the best approach will likely vary based on the structure and pedagogy of specific courses but we do support any flexibility you can provide.
We will want to consider subsequent weeks on a week by week basis. If you have questions about options for handling particular situations please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for your flexibility.
Dr. Dave Berque
Associate Vice President for Student Academic Life,
Dean of Academic Life,
Executive Director of the Hubbard Center, and
Greenleaf Professor of Computer Science
(765) 658-4601 or (765) 658-4735
“Pronouns: He/His/Him.” That’s beautiful, Dave, but on the basis of your collapse here, I think you’re faking it.
Finally, this self-loathing professor below has laid down a marker: any professor who accepts this honor thereby declares himself an Enemy Of The People. That professorship will be a poisoned chalice, one taken up only by collaborators with White Supremacy.
Today is the deadline for the Johnson Family University Professorship 2018-2022. As an act of solidarity with marginalized members of our community, as a statement against the deeply systemic forms of oppression at DePauw University, and to highlight the perpetual series of crises our institution has been in for at least the past 3-4 years, I will not accept any nomination put forward on my behalf for this merit award. As our current crises has called into question the very legitimacy of our institution I am not able to put forward a self-nomination. While I think the Office of the President is not in the position to evaluate nominations, I foremost recognize the many ways that I have failed our students and have reproduced forms of institutional oppression.
Finally, if any faculty member among us is nominated I encourage that we nominate Professor Clarissa Peterson.
I’ve read these over several times, and find the anti-white racism and ideological bullying from these powerful campus figures to be shocking beyond words. (Note well: Berque, Kuecker, and Harris are all white) They have drunk deeply of the racist left-wing cant, and are stigmatizing white professors and students as thought criminals. If whites (or anybody else) tries to defend themselves, or to respond critically in any way of the claims from activists, university officials denounce it as “white fragility” and “white defensiveness.” This is stone-cold racism exercised by power elites at DePauw University. They are institutionalizing racism. They instruct faculty on how they must behave — on privileges they must extend to students who fit into approved Victim categories, and on the self-loathing and groveling whites must engage as the result of their guilt.
Are white faculty and students — as well as faculty and students of all backgrounds who believe in fairness and open discussion — going to take this? The DePauw University administration has put a target on the backs of every white student and professor, and handed over the classrooms and the university spaces to radical activists. They are destroying the university.
You would have to be insane to be a white person and to want to attend this identity-politics cesspit. There is no way in the world you can ever get a fair shake there under these Orwellian conditions. If you stand accused by an Approved Victim™ of any offense, you will be judged guilty without a trial. Professors who do not accept the ideological hard line will henceforth walk on eggshells in their classrooms. How in the hell are white students, straight students, and any students (and professors and administrators) who dissent in even the slightest way from this militancy supposed to feel safe at DePauw? How can this or any university possibly educate students and conduct research under these ideological conditions?
These radicals have drawn a bright line in the sand. Either professors and students stand up to it, without compromise, or they lose the university. Simple as that. Here’s the thing: the University of Missouri took a big enrollment hit after something similar happened on its campus a few years back. But it’s a state university, so it had a strong funding floor, and its overall enrollment was big enough to survive the hit. Yale suffered not at all from its racist turmoil; Yale has enough prestige that people will still want to go there, no matter how warped its campus may become from identity politics.
But DePauw? With an enrollment of 2,225?
Aside from the practical effects of this display, it’s evil. What they’re doing to DePauw is evil. What the gutless McCoy — this year’s George Bridges — and campus administrators and senior faculty are allowing to happen is a repulsive dereliction of duty. They are allowing these young people to think that if they feel something, it must be true. Are they unsafe, really? Because someone — possibly an agent provocateur from within campus activists — put racist graffiti on the bathroom wall of a bar in town? The students are melting down emotionally and psychologically, and the adults in charge are indulging them, giving them whatever they want. And left-wing radicals on the faculty are taking advantage of this opportunity to impose a fanatically anti-liberal, identity-politics thought regime on the campus.
And no honest-to-god liberals — left-wing liberals and right-wing liberals — have the courage to stand up against this madness.
I know how it goes on this blog: the usual liberal suspects will downplay this. But this institutionalized left-wing bigotry is not just confined to campus. Andrew Sullivan comments on the latest from James Damore’s lawsuit against Google, over its hiring and personnel policies. Google is not a small Midwestern liberal arts college, but one of the most powerful corporations in the world. Excerpts (the Damore/Google stuff is the second item in his column):
Google then provides qualities that are “invisibilized” by white male culture: collective achievement; sustainability; “holding systems accountable for equitable outcomes” (in contrast to meritocracy); being narrative-driven, rather than numbers-driven, and so on. This too implies that a white cis straight man is not, by virtue of his race and gender, given to valuing long-term or collective achievement, or “seeking connections between contexts,” or seeing the value of subjectivity at times. And notice that what was once called racial tolerance is now called an unacceptably white “colorblind racial frame.” What we have here are mass generalizations about races and genders, and a belief in resisting one set of dominant cultural norms in favor of another. This is an invitation to racial and gendered conflict, and when you read the accounts in the Damore suit, the bitterness and anger and resentment overfloweth.
Second, an individual seeking to be hired or promoted at Google cannot, it seems, be seen simply as an individual. His race and gender and sexual orientation are integral to the hiring and promotion process. A “Hiring Innovation Manager” posted on an internal board a quote from a widely cited text for the social justice movement: “When you hire a non-marginalized person, you are not just supporting an applicant you like, you are rewarding a person who has been rewarded his entire life. You are justifying the system that makes him look good.” She went on to quote the following: “There is no objectivity. There is no meritocracy. Fight for justice. Fight even yourself.”
Now imagine for a second what it must be like to be someone at Google who works hard, believes in meritocracy, believes race is irrelevant to performance, and who aims for objectivity. Whatever race or gender that person is, Google is an uncomfortable place for him and her, one saturated with racial obsessiveness and condescension. Here’s another internal post written by someone on a promotions committee: “2/4 committee members were women: Yay! 4/4 committee members were white: Boo! 12/15 candidates were white men. Boo!” Can you imagine these statements if the race and gender were switched? It is one thing to encourage diverse promotion. It’s another for someone on a promotion committee to “boo” employees entirely because of their race and gender.
What you see here, I suspect, is the effect of the ideology now spreading far beyond left-liberal campuses to the entire corporate world. Crude and negative generalizations about individuals because of their race and gender are becoming quite commonplace – if they are white or cis or male and straight. But because those individuals, regardless of their own history, are the alleged beneficiaries of “structural racism,” this is — according to the ideology — perfectly fine. In fact, judging someone on the basis of their race is vital and moral if we are to overcome these oppressive power-structures. Equally, any system that relies on so-called “objective” criteria for evaluating success with no respect for race is itself racist, because such criteria — like workplace credentials, college or grad school grades or qualifications — are embedded in these white power structures.
Where on earth will this lead us? When you can identify the enemy by sight because of the color of their skin or their gender, fighting against a system quickly becomes a fight against individuals, whether that is the intent or not.
Where will it lead us? To four more years of Donald Trump. And after that, Bosnia.
Meanwhile, white students and faculty at DePauw ought to read the handwriting on the wall. They are henceforth considered guilty by virtue of their skin color, and dhimmis. When that college collapses into a shell of itself from the flight of white people and all other students who expect an actual education for the $50,000 per year they’re paying to be there, let the autopsy show that Mark McCoy, Alan Hill, and these woke faculty members of all races were to blame.
In the time between my starting to write this post and completing it, a reader sends in news that Reed College has capitulated to student radicals and revamped its mandatory humanities course to reflect contemporary identity politics. But that’s not enough for the protesters, Reedies Against Racism (RAR). Daniella Greenbaum writes:
RAR is now demanding that Athens and Rome be scrapped from the first semester of the new Humanities 110 syllabus.
“We’re calling for the Humanities 110 faculty to pick different cities from the old syllabus for the first two semesters,” the group said.
Why? Because “we feel that these cities should be outside of Europe, as reparations for Humanities 110’s history of erasing the histories of people of color, especially black people.”
RAR’s reaction to what any dispassionate observer would consider a victory for his or her group is telling. It’s also a harbinger of what universities should expect if they begin reimagining their curriculum to satisfy the identity-politics priorities of their undergraduate charges.
These people at all universities will never be satisfied until they’ve destroyed their universities and grown tired of bouncing the rubble. If it were only universities, that would be bad enough. But as the Google case shows, this bigoted lunacy is spreading to corporations.
You will have heard, most likely, of Randa Jarrar, a professor of English at Fresno State University. Her Twitter account is locked at the moment, but this is what brought her to infamy this week:
Randa jarrar is the epitome of what is wrong with the left.
— 🇺🇸 MARQUIS 🇺🇸 (@RealMarquis7) April 19, 2018
Randa Jarrar is a terrible person, repulsive in every way. Damon Linker gives a bit more information about the Jarrar case:
For readers who don’t follow the online political outrage machine: Jarrar took to Twitter shortly after the death of former first lady Barbara Bush to denounce her and the Bush family in vicious and vulgar terms. “Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist,” she said in one tweet. “I’m happy the witch is dead,” she said in another. Her tweets quickly went viral — the original ones as well as follow-ups in which she bragged about her six-figure salary and invulnerability as a tenured professor, taunted the president of her university (Joseph Castro), and posted a phone number that was ostensibly her own but turned out to be the number of a crisis hotline that was soon overwhelmed with calls from people irate about her provocations and clamoring for her to be fired. Within 24 hours, Castro had announced that Jarrar would be investigated, and indicated that she could well lose her job after all.
I saw the Jarrar tweets when they first appeared, and decided that I didn’t want to dignify them by posting them. I know, right? Shocking for me to resist the opportunity to indulge in Dreherbait. But I did, because what Jarrar said was so beyond the pale of decency. However, her case has become a test of free speech principles.
My basic stance is that as deplorable as she is — listen to her various rants for more — protecting free speech means enduring speech you despise. I think Jarrar ought to be condemned — but not lose her job. Those calling for her firing over her insults to the Bush family are wrong (and note well than many conservatives and libertarians have spoken out against firing her). If the university wanted to can her for that prank to the crisis hotline, that would seem just to me. But not for her vile speech.
On the other hand, what if she had taken to Twitter to post anti-Semitic or otherwise racist statements? What if Jarrar were a thin right-wing white male who took to Twitter to dance on Ted Kennedy’s grave? Keep in mind that she did not say these things in a classroom.
Damon Linker points out that the president and board of trustees of Fresno State have a responsibility to protect freedom of expression, but they also have the responsibility to protect the university’s reputation. While Fresno State doesn’t have to worry as much about suffering from legislators punishing it, California being a very left-wing state, this is a needless provocation. The fact that Jarrar taunted her employer, saying she couldn’t be fired because of tenure, makes her a poster child for obscene academic arrogance. There are countless men and women who hold advanced degrees yet cannot find stable work in the academy — and this arrogant troll uses her extreme privilege to spite everyone.
She is not a sympathetic character.
Linker points out something true and important:
Is there any employer in any industry in the United States that would not treat an outburst like Jarrar’s as a fireable offense? The answer, I think, is no. If anything, norms against employees engaging in offensive speech have become stricter in recent years, with many insisting that public statements that demonize any person or group be punished swiftly and severely, the better to send a stern message about the importance of treating bigotry and hatred of any kind as intolerable.
Those saying that Jarrar should keep her job therefore seem to be defending the view that professors should have employment protections, even outside of the classroom and their specialized areas of academic research, that pretty much no one else in the country enjoys.
My job here at TAC involves opinion writing. I have been paid for most of my career to state my opinion. Yet no employer of mine — no newspaper, no magazine — would keep me on if I tweeted something as vile as what Jarrar tweeted. It would be devastating to the institutional reputation of these newspapers and magazines. TAC would lose donors left and right, and would take a real hit in terms of its credibility. Any magazine or publication would. I would never abuse the privilege I have. With that privilege comes responsibility.
So, today, I am much less sympathetic to Randa Jarrar than I was when she first spouted off. I still lean towards not firing her. But boy, is she ever a poster child for left-wing academic privilege and arrogance. If the university president fires her for pranking the crisis hotline, I won’t be sorry.
Seattle University president Stephen Sundborg, SJ, brings 21st century Ignatian cogitatin’ to a moral crisis enveloping his Jesuit-run campus. From The Spectator, the campus newspaper:
Seattle University hosted its 10th annual Drag Show earlier this month. The event was lauded as a celebration of inclusion and acceptance that provided a safe space and fun environment for students to explore their identities. The cover of the April 11 edition of the Spectator featured a photograph of a Seattle U student performing on stage at the drag show.
The photo featured a provocative crotch shot. That upset Father Sundborg, 75, muchly:
Sundborg told the Spectator he was “very, very embarrassed and ashamed” of the cover photo.
“I thought it was indecent,” Sundborg said. “I thought it offended all dignity and respect of sexuality and of persons of bodies. I think it was a mistake on the part of the editorial staff to put that on the cover. I was offended by it… Anybody who would see that who has a sense of propriety would find that offensive.”
“Persons of bodies.” Whut? More:
Sundborg said he was not alone, and that he encountered other faculty on campus who expressed a similar disdain for the photo, though he would not disclose who.
“I allow the drag show,” Sundborg continued. “Most Jesuit-Catholic universities would not. But then to go and show that pose—indecent pose—from a drag show on the cover is taking it too far. It doesn’t support me in my support of having the drag show on campus, which I allow to have, which I needn’t do, but I do. But then to take it and to push it to the cover of a magazine with an indecent pose from that, expose it out—these are not people then that have chosen to go to a drag show that are seeing that. These are not people who understand what that is. They’ve taken it too far.”
So Father Sundborg lets young men dress up like women and perform on stage for an audience, but he’s angry at the campus newspaper for showing a photo of what he, Father Sundborg, permitted on campus?! What a silly, silly man.
Another Jesuit on campus admitted to removing copies of the drag issue of the campus paper from distribution points, and throwing them away. Chris Paul, head of the communications department at Seattle Jesuit, said that’s not cool, man:
“When I saw the cover image, I didn’t understand the consternation. I felt like it was a really beautiful image and a great cover shot,” Paul said.
Paul continued, explaining that the university often supports the Spectator and other student-run media when it is more tame. But, once reporting becomes deeper and more critical, Paul said, the university changes its tune.
“We need to get told the truths that are uncomfortable, too,” Paul said. “That’s how we press forward. Taking a bunch of newspapers doesn’t help us do that.”
The truth that … what? Crotches exist? The Marshall McLuhan of his generation sets down the bong pipe to offer sage advice:
Instead of removing newspapers from stands, he suggested a better approach would have been to write an open letter to the Spectator in order to engage in a community-wide dialogue on issues pertaining to gender identity and censorship.
“We should challenge ourselves to dare forth,” Paul said. “If we’re going to ask [students] to be leaders for a just and humane world, they’re going to do things that are just and humane. Shutting down that speech when it is uncomfortable for us doesn’t help us get our students there. We’ve taught them skills to help them push buttons, and sometimes the buttons they push are gonna be ours.”
It is just and humane to stage Jesuit college drag shows and publish crotch shots of college boys masquerading as wimmen. Isn’t it obvious? To persons of bodies, I mean. Those that push persons of buttons. On the butt. Which they needn’t do, but they dare forth to do.
My four years at Seattle University were powerful. I came out in September of my freshman year and didn’t waste any time making it known. After 17 years of hiding, fear, and anxiety, I burst out of the closet because it was my only option.
It was Seattle University—a Jesuit Catholic institution—that propelled me out of that dark and restrictive space. In combination with friends, professors, and OMA programs, it was a Jesuit on campus who encouraged me to live openly, honestly, and to be myself because I, too, was made in the image of God. That is precisely why the administration’s response to an editorial choice like this is so jarring and disappointing.
The photo itself is not egregious. It’s fierce. That bodysuit and heels combo is not an easy thing to pull off, nor is the pose itself. While my guess is the majority of the student body saw the image and didn’t bat an eye, it is clear that Fr. Sundborg and Fr. Leigh evaluated the photo from a cisgender, heterosexual-lens. Anything outside this antiquated scope may be deemed “embarrassing and indecent” if you’re operating under the context of gender as binary.
As a person of body, I was thinking the same thing. More:
This cisgender, heterosexual lens is not new for queer people. We’ve had to try and fit within the frame our entire lives. Spaces are not often designed for us. Movies and plays and books and television and music is not made for us. It is events like this drag show that allows students to escape the strict and rigid confines of heterosexual spaces and explore gender. A space on campus is completely queered if only for one short evening; queer bodies are celebrated; queer experience is celebrated. Celebrating students, Fr. Sundborg, is never embarrassing or indecent.
Poor Father Sundborg, who so recently and wokely asked, “Where are whites demanding that Colin Kaepernick deserves a job?” This elderly Jesuit is speaking truth to white power and letting the young folks have their annual drag show, and this is the thanks he gets from those punks at the student paper? Geez!
It costs $61,608 per year to be educated at this freak farm.
Below, members of the men’s rugby team doing their drag routine at the recent to-do. Seems to me that The Spectator‘s crotch-shot cover image told the truth about Father Sundborg’s post-Christian cabaret. If only the Holy Father knew! (Mmmmph!).
UPDATE: After this, let’s have a big round of applause for what Catholic University of America president John Garvey is doing at his school to retain its Catholic identity. I’m serious. This is a Goofus-and-Gallant comparison.
When the state recognises marriage, it does three things: it defines, it endorses, and it regulates.
First, state-recognised marriage means that the state defines marriage and controls access to it. In a marriage regime, the state dictates who may marry. It determines whether marriage must be between a man and a woman, or whether same-sex marriage is allowed. It determines how many people can be married to each other. It determines whether and when divorce and remarriage are available. In a marriage regime, the state may also place religious or racial restrictions on marriage.
In making these regulations, the state determines the meaning of marriage. Is it an institution for loving couples or an instrument of religious and cultural kinship? Does it institutionalise traditional religious values, or can it encompass diversity? State recognition of marriage directly and inevitably engages the state in making complex and controversial statements about value and meaning, statements that promote some ways of life and family forms, and demote others.
Second, when the state recognises marriage, it provides public and official endorsement of the state of being married. A marriage regime includes a state-sanctioned marriage ceremony, with officials and celebrants. Obtaining a state-recognised marriage is not like obtaining a driving licence or completing a tax return: it involves a solemnified and lauded ritual in which the state is intimately involved. And so, when the state recognises marriage, it declares that marriages are special.
The third aspect of state-recognised marriage is regulation: the state provides a married couple with legal rights and duties. Unmarried people have legal rights and duties too. But state-recognised marriage involves giving married people a bundle of rights and duties concerning many areas of life. These may include financial support, parental responsibility, inheritance, taxation, migration and next-of-kinship: crucial areas of life that affect everyone, married or not.
Well, she’s not wrong about that. Marriage is not and never can be a “neutral” institution. So what’s Prof. Chambers’s problem? More:
Each of the three aspects of state recognition have been used in ways that instigate and perpetuate a variety of hierarchies, most consistently based on gender but also on race, religion, sexuality and class.
Access to marriage has generally been limited to couples consisting of one man and one woman. Some countries have restricted access to marriage to people from certain racial or religious groups. For example, many US states had anti-miscegenation laws preventing interracial marriage, until such laws were found to be unconstitutional in the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v Virginia.
Access controls reflect sexist, heterosexist, racist and generally inegalitarian interpretations of the meaning of marriage, with the result that the honorific aspect of marriage is also applied unequally. Only some people are granted state sanctification for their relationship, and this unequal approval has been used to devastating effect, with unmarried couples and their children subject to stigma and discrimination.
State-recognised marriage means treating married couples differently from unmarried couples in stable, permanent, monogamous sexual relationships. It means treating people in sexual relationships differently from those in non-sexual or caring relationships. It means treating those in couples differently from those who are single or polyamorous. It expresses the official view that sexual partnership is both the ultimate goal and the assumed norm. It expresses the assumption that central relationship practices – parenting, cohabitation, financial dependence, migration, care, next-of-kinship, inheritance, sex – are bundled together into one dominant relationship. And so it denies people rights that they need in relation to one practice unless they also engage in all the others and sanctify that arrangement via the state.
Blah blah blah egalitarianism blah blah blah. It’s like she hasn’t given a moment’s thought to the reasons why marriage is an important institution. Chambers says that marriage should be abolished as a legal institution, and that the state “should regulate relationship practices.” Read the whole thing.
The reader who sent me that link writes:
Reading this article made me immediately think of the Benedict Option, as the millennial author’s [Note: Chambers was born in 1976 — RD] views on marriage are the end product of the cultural ‘inputs’ you elaborate on in your book. This is such a shallow, but thoroughly postmodern-Western, view of marriage that it is heartbreaking to read. This millennial lecturer is hardly alone in reducing marriage to a proxy for government sanctioned love, childbearing, and commitment. All these things, as the author points out, can be had outside of marriage. This is where a strong Christian community might step in to explain that, while marriages certainly have these things, that is not all they are. But we don’t live in a strong Christian community; the author can’t find a deeper reason for marriage, and so she concludes that the whole thing is (of course) an oppressive power structure and needs to be done away with. While I find her argument riddled with gaping holes, that really isn’t the point. The sad thing about this article is that we were too long complicit in viewing marriage in the same way the author does–a thing two people who love each other do, in the eyes of the government, to have a family and pick up a tax break.
Twenty years ago, Christians had no problem resting on the idea that marriage is about two people committed to loving one another. They couldn’t have dreamed how quickly and completely that logic would lead them to paths they didn’t wish to go down. By positioning marriage as a legal issue, we gave up on a higher, truer definition of marriage and essentially yelled to the culture that marriage could and would be ultimately defined by the government. In forfeiting our Christian identity, it suddenly became of great importance to us what the government chose to apply the word “marriage” to; we bet big that they would side with us, and we lost big.
I’m tired and having a hard time communicating what I’m trying to say, but it seems like we’ve created some kind of moralistic therapeutic marriage: just like this millennial author, most of us bought into the idea that marriage is just about two people in love, who want to spend the rest of their lives together and have children. If you fall out of love, you can just ‘consciously uncouple’. There’s no imagery of a consubstantial union reflecting the glory of God or Christ’s love of the church. No intimation of the sacrifice needed to love (in the deeper, non-contemporary sense) someone through sickness and health, good times and bad, ’til death do us part. No real metaphysical connection at all, really. Not even a church to get married in (and I know many ‘Christians’ who were married before a government official, but never a priest or pastor, further illustrating how much we bought into the idea that marriage is a government, and not a God, thing). When moralistic therapeutic marriage was used to justify gay marriage, we were in a logical conundrum, because these people love each other, and they want to spend their lives together, and some even want children. Most people could do little more than utter “…but the Bible says…” in defense of traditional marriage. If a Christian marries an atheist, no problem! But if a man marries a man using the exact same reasoning…now it’s an affront to God.
With this shallow proxy-based definition of marriage, is it any wonder this millennial wonders (in what is admittedly a terribly presented argument) if we should do away with the whole thing? I guess what it comes down to is this: presumably, if we were Christians and cared about what marriage meant for Christians, we would’ve just said, “They can call that thing anything they want; as far as we’re concerned, that’s not marriage.” Instead (again relating to BenOp), we tried to keep our political power, play the legal game, failed to recognize that the culture has no inkling of what marriage is beyond a privileged relationship between two people who love each other, and lost.
Yes, even if we had corporally decided before Obergefell that marriage was what we said it was, and that we’d treat it as such in our churches and communities without concern for government sanctioning, we’d still be derided, laughed at, sued, and all the rest. It’s not about saving face. But at least there would’ve been an alternative vision out there with a little more depth than “…but the Bible says…”. At least some additional people would come to know why marriage is different. At least this author would’ve had to have written, “True, Christians maintain that marriage does uniquely manifest and reflect divine love and grace like no other relationship because of what they believe to be the objective nature of their God,” before going on to call it BS and making her same ill-thought-out argument all the same.
I believe there are practical, non-religious arguments in favor of the institution of marriage, but the reader has a point. If Christians accept that the definition of marriage is only about ratifying and formalizing emotional commitments, then they have conceded too much. Being better catechized by pop culture than the church, many of us have.
A Christian friend asked me recently why there is so much anxiety, even some panic, on the Christian right about the situation for traditional Christians in US society. This Christian simply doesn’t see any evidence of persecution or oppression. Another person in the conversation — an atheist and a liberal — said that to him, it looks like conservative Christians are simply angry about losing power, nothing more.
Well, there’s a lot going on here. There are all kinds of traditional Christians. Some are no doubt concerned about losing power. Others are concerned about the decline of the faith among younger generations. Still others worry about the liberty of orthodox Christians to run our organizations according to our values. And yes, there are some who worry about the Apocalypse; those folks have been there at least since my childhood. There are various intersections of these concerns, depending on the Christian group, and even the individual Christian. I, for example, am only worried about Christians losing power and influence because I am worried about the decline of the faith, and the waning of religious liberty. Has there ever been a minority group that was easygoing about its loss of political and cultural power? Given human nature, how can one be?
This, from California (of course), is a sign to Christians. It is a bill that would, in effect, ban Christian books that conflicted with pro-LGBT orthodoxy. David French explains:
Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in “a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
The bill then defines “sexual orientations change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” (Emphasis added.)
This is extraordinarily radical. Christian orthodoxy is simple — regardless of a person’s desires (their “orientation”), the standard of right conduct is crystal clear. Sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. When it comes to “gender expression,” there is no difference between “sex” and “gender,” and the Christian response to gender dysphoria is compassion and treatment, not indulgence and surgical mutilation.
Put another way, there is a fundamental difference between temptation and sin. California law would intrude directly on this teaching by prohibiting even the argument that regardless of sexual desire, a person’s sexual behavior should conform to Biblical standards.
Here is the full text of the bill. Supporters claim that it only bans so-called “reparative therapy” and other attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation or “gender expression.” But Robert A.J. Gagnon reads the fine print:
The bill in question is California Assembly Bill 2943. It would treat as a criminal violation of the state’s consumer fraud act “the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that consists of “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” Don’t be misled into thinking that this bill bans only professional counselors from trying to alter same-sex attractions. It goes well beyond that.
“Orientation change” can be as innocuous as stating at a paid conference that homosexual and transgender desire can be overcome (not necessarily eliminated) by the Spirit of Jesus. Or even complying with an attendee’s request for prayer that the Spirit of God empower the attendee not to succumb to the power of same-sex attractions.
That’s not all. More than “orientation change” is at issue, for the bill expressly states:
‘Sexual orientation change efforts’ means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.
Did you catch the part that says: “This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions,” not just orientation change? You cannot treat homosexual expression or transgenderism as the product of disordered desires.
To sell any materials or offer any counseling for a fee that present homosexual practice and transgender identity as wrong or a sin, including all commentaries on the Bible and theological or exegetical treatments that affirm the biblical position on these matters (perhaps even the Bible itself) is to incur criminal sanctions in the state of California.
The bill is wildly unconstitutional, it seems to me — yet it was easily passed out of House committee, and is headed for a vote in the full state Assembly. If it passes there, it’s over to the Senate. Both houses of the California legislature are held firmly by Democrats.
If the bill passes, I assume — maybe that’s risky — that it will eventually be struck down by courts. But who knows? And which bookseller or author wants to be the one to go to court?
Besides, the greater point here is that a bill like this appears at all, and has so little trouble getting through the system. It says a lot about the contempt California has for religious liberty, and indeed for any speech that offends LGBTs and their allies.
In 2016, Christians rallied in California to beat back a bill that would have made it impossible for the state’s Cal Grants program — which provides college tuition for bright students with financial needs — to be used at state colleges that in any way discriminate against LGBT students. This would have compelled Christian colleges that have codes governing the sex lives of their community members either to change their policies, or surrender Cal Grant-funded students. For many, even most, of those conservative Christian colleges, this would have meant either a severe violation of conscience, or closure.
After a huge lobbying effort, especially by Latino and African-American Christian leaders (black and Hispanic students are disproportionately served by Cal Grants), the sponsor withdrew the bill, but nobody thinks this was the end of it. A white Evangelical source involved in the negotiations told me that many of the state’s white suburban Evangelicals were useless in the resistance, even though they may have opposed the bill. They were terrified of being called bigots.
As David French points out in his piece, California is not the kooky, unrepeatable fringe of the left, but is more typically at the leading edge of where the rest of America is going. And this, says French, is the answer to Jonathan Chait’s query. Chait writes:
Looking around at what 16 months of President Trump has wrought, watching Fox & Friends, refreshing the news sites for the latest national-security debacle, would you decide, each morning, to remain in the Republican Party? And yet in varying ways, anti-Trump conservatives have all taken the impossibility of trans-partisan cooperation as a given.
Well, as readers know, I left the GOP in 2008, though I still identify as a conservative, so what Chait says here applies to me as well. French, in replying to Chait, speaks for me:
Chait’s premise implies that Republicans have gone extreme, yet more-sensible conservatives are strangely refusing to join a mainstream opposition. Yet that’s not how the world looks from the right side of the aisle. From there, it looks as if the Democratic party is responding to Trump by galloping away from the center, doubling down on the very policies and ideologies that led Evangelicals to vote en masse for Trump as a form of simple self-defense.
On Monday night at a dinner in Miami, I told a liberal journalist sitting next to me that I would love to vote for a Democrat as a way of bringing the Republican Party back to its senses, but that it is impossible for a conservative Christian like me to vote Democratic, because I am the Enemy to the Democratic Party.
It’s all about religious liberty. I am convinced — beyond convinced — that there is no religious liberty that the Democrats would not smash in an effort to advance whatever the LGBT activist leadership wants. It’s not that I believe that all Democrats are radically anti-Christian, or that all LGBT folks are. But those who just want to live and let live are not in charge of the Democratic Party’s direction.
About the proposed California law, Daniel Mattson, a same-sex-oriented Catholic who is chaste, converses with the writer Michael Brendan Dougherty:
As I’ve said, their argument reduces to the view that all forms of self-reproach in this should be criminalized. I don’t see how sacramental confession isn’t brought under the censure of this proposed law. https://t.co/Rsef5RU7c0
— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) April 17, 2018
Do you think these fears are extreme? Well, let me tell you, Christians who pay attention are by now immune to the reassurances from the cultural left that their worst fears are overblown. We have been through the dialogue deception time and time again.
This is what’s blowing up on social media this morning — both among conservative Christians and radical trans-negative feminists: a questionnaire whose purpose seeks to erase gender binaries in the delivery of health care. Here’s how it begins:
Gender neutral terms for anatomy and healthcare education/research for pregnant and birthing people
We’re calling on our community to help us improve academic syllabi and lectures in healthcare education and materials. In healthcare education settings the terms used for anatomy need to be broadly applied in the creation of a syllabus and in lectures for all genders. Our goal is to identify problematic medical terminology terms used in healthcare education and identify terms that are inclusive. We’re hoping to brainstorm a list of terms for medical terminology, anatomy, and medical procedures that are inclusive to people of all genders, as well as gender inclusive terms for general use in healthcare education and materials.
We are already very clear with students and residents that in the clinic setting patients and clients should be asked their preferred anatomy terms, and that their request should be honored in every circumstance.
In this survey, you’ll see the current standard medical and/or anatomical term. You’re invited to check other terms that you’ve heard or used, and to add other terms in response. Please check all that apply.
Take a look at the document. These healthcare radicals are trying to allow psychological states of mind to determine anatomical truth. If a man calls his penis a vagina, then the woke medical services provider must agree.
At first, my digging showed that it started with Melissa Smith-Tourville, the admissions director of the Midwives College of Utah, one of the biggest training programs for midwives. Spend some time on its website and you’ll see that it’s a very woke institution. Here’s the initial request from Smith-Tourville:
But Miriam Ben-Shalom, a radical feminist who is doing great work opposing the trans agenda, dug deeper:
That’s the Human Rights Campaign, the premier LGBT lobby. A Washington lobbyist once told me that “the gay rights lobby is to the Democrats what the NRA is to the Republicans.” His point? That you cannot cross them and stand in good stead within the party. If the HRC wants this radical remake of basic medical terminology, you can bet that it’s going to get it sooner or later.
The HRC is 100 percent behind the California bill. One could certainly understand the HRC opposing conversion therapy, but as French and others point out, this bill is written very broadly. This does not bother the nation’s premier gay rights lobby, nor does it bother the Democrats (and at least one Republican) in the California Assembly who sailed it through two Assembly committees.
Extremism in the pursuit of LGBT rights and the punishment of dissenting Christians is no vice. , it appears. And that’s why many conservative Christians grit our teeth and vote Republican anyway.
UPDATE: It’s like this: better a party that doesn’t do much for you than a party that actively despises you.
UPDATE.2: Like I was saying:
Southern Baptist chaplain Jerry Scott Squires is fighting a U.S. Army investigator’s charge of unlawful discrimination for refusing to preside over a marriage retreat including same-sex couples.
But Squires followed federal law and Army and Southern Baptist Convention chaplaincy protocol when he rescheduled a Feb. 9 Strong Bonds marriage retreat in order to involve a non-SBC chaplain, thereby accommodating the attendance of a lesbian couple, First Liberty Institute said in an April 17 letter to the Army in Squires’ defense.
“Federal law and Army policy both make clear that chaplains must remain faithful to the tenets of their faith,” First Liberty attorney Michael Berry wrote in the letter. “The failure of a chaplain to do so exposes the chaplain to risk of losing their ecclesiastical endorsement, or worse, violates … federal law and policy…. Squires’ actions here are fully protected by federal law and regulation.”
Squires, who follows the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message in protocol established by the North American Mission Board as an SBC-endorsed chaplain, told First Liberty he was shocked when an Army investigator concluded he should face disciplinary action, which is currently pending.
“I hope the Army sees that I was simply following Army regulations and the tenets of my church,” Squires, a decorated major with more than 25 years of military service, said in a First Liberty press release April 17.
It is not enough that the chaplain worked around this issue to make sure the lesbian couple was served. He has to be crushed. By the US Army, which he has served for 25 years. If only we had a Commander In Chief who stood up for the little guy…
Via Sohrab Ahmari:
The sexual left is at war with freedom of conscience. For the broad right, every other internal political disagreement–even those having to do with the president's character–must be subordinated to preserving the first freedom. https://t.co/oHUCTRuytK h/t @ccpecknold
— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) April 19, 2018
I’m just hearing about a small community in the rural Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania called Al-Maqasid. A Muslim reader (who is not part of it) says that some Muslim families moved out there to raise their kids around this education and spiritual formation start-up. They not only don’t want to lose their kids to liquid modernity, they also want to form their children to be able to serve in the world as faithful Muslims. I understand that they’ve been at it for five years, and that more and more Muslim families are moving out there.
Here’s a fundraising video they did:
Here’s a link to a brochure explaining what their vision is. I don’t know anything about the group other than what I’ve read here, but it seems interesting.
I’m really interested in knowing more about this group, and I hope to have the opportunity at some point in the next year to visit. It sounds pretty Ben Oppy to me. You know that Muslims in America have a much harder time doing something like this than traditional Christians do, in terms of outsiders regarding them with mistrust. I see opportunities for building solidarity, though it’s understandable that both sides approach the other with suspicion. That’s something that’s real, and not always based simply on misunderstanding. We have to work through it.
Still, I believe this is a risk worth taking, though both sides should go into it with eyes wide open. I say “both sides,” but I also would like to include Orthodox Jews, so, all three Abrahamic sides. I assume no one who would be interested in this initiative is interested in happy-clappy ecumenism that denies our meaningful differences. But I do believe that we can learn from each other’s experiences — the effective things we have tried, and the mistakes we have made — and defend each other’s religious liberties when they’re challenged.
I’ve said here before that I find it easier to converse with traditionalists within Christianity, and in non-Christian religions, than with liberal Christians. I’m not exactly sure what the difference is, but I think it has something to do with the basic orientation towards religion, and towards truth. For trads, generally speaking, religion is not simply part of life, it is the basis for our life. America is not only post-Christian, it is moving towards post-religious across the board. The receding of Christian hegemony may make life easier in some ways for Jews and Muslims, but I think in most ways it will make life harder, because the things that liberal culture resents traditionalist Christians for also apply to Jews and Muslims. Liberals may not sue Orthodox Jewish or Muslim bakers over wedding cakes, but the kind of society in which that sort of thing happens is a society that is hostile to traditional Judaism and traditional Islam, even if the hostility never ends up in court. Raising kids in that kind of culture is a great challenge to traditionalists of all three Abrahamic faiths.
Shouldn’t we talk about it, together, and get a sense of where we all are, and what common interests we share? I’ll be talking with some folks about putting together a conference at some point where we can establish some common ground, and discuss first steps. Advice welcome.
Hey, Northern Virginia readers, I’d love to see you at my talk on Thursday night in Fairfax.
I’ll be speaking at 7:30 at the Lorien Wood School in Vienna. There will be Q&A and book-signing there. Tickets are $10 per person. Seating is limited. The first 150 people who sign up will get a free paperback copy of The Benedict Option. The paperbacks have a Study Guide in the back, to guide group reading.
I hope you’ll come, not only because it will be nice to see you, but also because it’s important to meet other creative minorities in your area who care about the Benedict Option, and with whom you might collaborate.
In 1969, the future Pope Benedict XVI predicted that the Catholic Church would suffer a purification in the years ahead, that it would lose a lot of its power, and many of its people — but that from that would emerge a smaller church composed of true believers. From this, the renewal will come.
I think of this prophetic statement a lot. I hadn’t really thought about it in terms of Catholic universities, until a friend e-mailed this Chronicle of Higher Education piece inquiring into whether or not the Catholic University of America is hurting itself by emphasizing Catholic distinctives. The piece is behind a subscriber paywall, but I can quote bits and pieces here.
Here is the gist of the problem:
A cost-cutting proposal at Catholic University of America, where administrators are seeking to close a $3.5-million operational deficit through layoffs and buyouts of 35 faculty members, has divided the campus and provoked a broader discussion about whether the institution has overplayed its religiosity to the detriment of student recruitment.
It is self-evident that Catholic University, a 131-year old institution founded by American bishops and considered the national university of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, is inextricably linked to Catholicism. But at a time when many students of traditional college age have eschewed organized religion and come to question the church’s social teachings, Catholic University finds itself in an intensifying dialogue that pits the university’s core identity against market imperatives.
This is not a new debate for Catholic or for religiously affiliated institutions in general. Such colleges have long wrestled with how best to preserve their deepest values while still attracting students who want a vibrant social life and a collegiate experience that is more spiritual than it is strictly religious.
Yet, Catholic University, based in Washington, D.C., is at a particularly critical moment.
The visceral threat of faculty job losses has invited emotional exchanges about whether the bishops’ university — whose leaders have waded into today’s culture wars and tried to discourage college kids from having sex — has scared off some of the very prospective students that it needs most. Changes at the university, which in recent years has done away with co-ed dorms and promoted itself as a cultivator of “Catholic minds,” are now being scrutinized by campus critics as the unforced errors of an administration in need of a course correction.
CUA brought in consultants to help them figure out the situation:
In January, Catholic University professors huddled in Great Room B of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, the same building where, a decade earlier, Pope Benedict XVI told an audience of Roman Catholic educators that they had a “particular responsibility” to “evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith.”
On the stage that day in January 2018 were guests of less renown, but their message got the professors’ attention. After a year of research, Art & Science Group LLC had concluded that prospective students do not see Catholic University as a top choice, that they are confused about its pricing, and — even among practicing Catholics — they are unlikely to respond favorably to additional faith-based marketing.
Prospective students, the consultants said in a videotaped presentation, perceive religion as a more-integral part of the student experience at Catholic University than at its peers.
“Unfortunately, that doesn’t help you,” said Eric Collum, a senior associate at Art & Science. “In fact, to the extent that they see you as being a religious place, it actually hurts you.”
“Students are open to having their experience enriched by Catholicism, but not necessarily defined by Catholicism,” Collum later added. “They want to go to college; they don’t want to go to church necessarily.” [Emphasis mine — RD]
Abela and others chalk up most of the university’s challenges to demographic shifts. Roman Catholic high schools, the most reliable pipeline for Catholic University students, are graduating fewer and fewer people. [Emphasis mine — RD] This fall, more than half of private colleges, religious or not, missed enrollment targets, a Chronicle survey found.
In other words, factors beyond religiosity are no doubt in play.
“To lay it all at the feet of Catholic identity seems a narrow interpretation,” said Christopher P. Lydon, the university’s vice president for enrollment management and marketing.
In its analysis, Art & Science stressed the need for Catholic to emphasize its existing research opportunities for undergraduates, to guarantee on-campus housing, and to not skimp on “athletics and fun.” At the same time, Lydon says, the consultants found that “we had no more market share to gain through Catholic identity alone.”
“It’s not about the relegation of Catholic identity. It’s about the elevation of the academic student experience.”
I’ll stop there.
It would be a pity — actually, a tragedy — if CUA watered down its Catholic identity. There are scores of Catholic colleges where Catholics can get a Catholic-in-name-only education. It’s hard to see what the advantage accrue to CUA if it becomes one of the crowd.
On the other hand, holding on to its identity will probably cost it here in post-Christian America. Conservative Catholics — and conservative Christians in general — don’t like to think about this. We have told ourselves for a long time that standing firm in orthodoxy will rally those who are looking for institutions with confidence, as opposed to those led by uncertain trumpeters. But what if this is no longer true?
It shouldn’t surprise us. The studies of younger generations of Catholic Americans show that they are only nominally Catholic. For example, this takeaway from sociologist Christian Smith’s book about young Catholic Americans. Excerpt:
4. Catholic schools and parishes appear to have little effect. Smith spends some time on parishes and Catholic primary and secondary schools. On the surface, emerging adults who went to church and attended Catholic schools knew more about the faith and were more likely to practice it. Yet, these differences seem to be more associated with the parents’ faith than the parish or school itself. In other words, it is the parents and their religious commitment behind their children going to church, attending Catholic schools, and continuing to believe. The most significant factor for these institutions that Smith found was that Catholic schools prevented young adults from totally abandoning their faith.
5. Emerging adults need more than religious parents. If schools and parishes are less significant than parental commitment, is it all up to the parents? Supportive parents are one of the three most important factors affecting the faith of emerging adults, but Smith insists there are two more. Emerging adults must also regularly engage in religious behaviors and practices, and emerging adults must internalize the beliefs and make them their own. While parents are practically necessary, they are not sufficient on their own. Emerging adults need to choose the faith and practice it themselves.
(You see why The Benedict Option emerged in large part out of my reading Christian Smith’s work.)
What does this have to do with CUA? There are many fewer serious young Catholics in the US because there are many fewer serious older Catholics in the US. Smith found that most “emerging adults” — a demographic that includes older teenagers — think of their Catholicism in connection with their family heritage, but that’s about it. Parish life and Catholic school life doesn’t really change that. From the perspective of CUA, the formation of Catholic students who want what CUA has to offer is in serious decline. Thus, its enrollment.
Let’s assume that CUA changed its stance and direction. It might be easy enough to do. Pope Francis has given the school the cover it needs to liberalize: they could call it fidelity to the Holy Father’s “paradigm shift”. What then? I suppose theoretically it could see a rise in applications from nominal Catholics who would be interested in the Washington experience, but can’t afford or can’t get into Georgetown. CUA would become less attractive to students going to college with serious Catholic commitments, but then again, there aren’t a lot of choices for them anyway, so the losses at first might be relatively small.
But over time? Being just one more fallen-away Catholic college among many would pressure CUA constantly to be reinventing itself — no doubt further distancing itself from magisterial Catholicism.
If, however, CUA’s leadership sticks to its current vision, it also seems clear that the university will shrink. This is the cost of being faithful in post-Christian America.
It comes down to a question of vision. Again, conservative Christians like me have long been quick to jeer at liberal churches for casting off dogmas and doctrines that conflict with being a politically correct liberal. We snort when they fail to turn around their institutional decline in terms of numbers.
But what if we are in the same boat? What if those institutions are pursuing a vision that is unpopular, but one its leaders believe to be true? Aren’t we doing the same thing? We can (and should!) point out that the difference is that ours is based in Scripture and Tradition, whereas theirs is built around conforming to the Zeitgeist. But from the point of view of living out ideals, even when it costs you, we are more or less in the same boat.
The common problem is that Americans broadly just aren’t that interested in serious approaches to religion. Leaders of American churches and religious schools and colleges are going to have to face the question of what cost they are willing to pay to be faithful.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput today publishes a beautiful, deep letter he received from a young Catholic man, a husband and father, urging the Catholic bishops to be uphold the truths they’ve been given to teach and to defend. The young man wrote, of the situation in the Catholic Church today:
This shift away from clarity is demoralizing for young faithful Catholics, particularly those with a heart for the New Evangelization and my friends raising children against an ever-stronger cultural tide. Peers of mine who are converts or reverts have specifically cited teachings like Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, and Veritatis Splendor as beacons that set the Church and her wisdom apart from the world and other faiths. Now they’re hearing from some in the highest levels of the Church that these liberating teachings are unrealistic ideals, and that “conscience” should be the arbiter of truth.
Young Catholics crave the beauty that guided and inspired previous generations for nearly two millennia. Many of my generation received their upbringing surrounded by bland, ugly, and often downright counter-mystical modern church architecture, hidden tabernacles, and banal modern liturgical music more suitable to failed off-Broadway theater. The disastrous effect that Beige Catholicism (as Bishop Robert Barron aptly describes it) has had on my generation can’t be overstated. In a world of soulless modern vulgarity, we’re frustrated by the iconoclasm of the past 60 years.
As young Father Joseph Ratzinger predicted nearly 50 years ago, the Catholic Church would decline precipitously, and lose much. But men and women like the unnamed letter-writer are the seeds of its future, and of its rebirth. This is also true for Protestants and Orthodox. Churches and church institutions can withstand the loss of those nominally committed to the mission, but they cannot withstand the loss of men and women like Archbishop Chaput’s correspondent.
If CUA should become a college where men like that do not want to send their children, what is its reason to exist? If Catholic colleges and universities are nothing more than lightly Catholicized versions of private secular institutions, what’s their point? In another couple of generations, the sentimentality that keeps young people seeking out Catholic schools because it seems like the family thing to do will have dissipated. What then?
UPDATE: A reader of this blog who is — let me put this delicately — in a position to know what’s going on at CUA, e-mails to say that this piece is a symbol of a fundamental conflict at CUA. On this person’s account, there is significant tension between a faction that wants the university to be less Catholic and more conventional, and a faction that wants to double down on Catholic identity. This reader identifies with the latter, which is why he finds the university an appealing place to work. He said that fortunately, the leadership of CUA is firmly committed to Catholicism.
The reader said not to be misled by consultants, who “exist primarily to compare you to other ‘peers’ so that you can behave like them.” The consultants in this case recommended that CUA use photos of the football team in its promotional materials, not students praying. The administration wisely ignored this advice. Said the e-mailer: “No student is going to come to CUA for football or for ‘fun’. But they might come for prayer.”
Bottom line: CUA does face some enrollment issues, but its leadership is strongly focused on Catholic mission and Catholic identity. This source is relatively young, and said this commitment makes CUA a great place to work for him. He said that whatever decline the US Catholic Church might be experiencing, there will always be faithful orthodox Catholics in the US looking for places to send their kids where the kids can get a reliable Catholic formation — and CUA intends to be one of them, and not part of the herd of assimilationist academies.
Great to hear.
UPDATE.2: Erin Manning comments:
Tuition, room, board, and fees at CUA are going to run you almost $61,000 a year. UD is up to a little over $57,000 a year for room, board and tuition (not counting the extra costs of the Rome semester). Most of the other “true Catholic colleges” are going to cost you between $35,000 and $60,000 a year in room, board, and tuition.
We were not blessed with a large family, but in some ways that hurts us more when it comes to financial aid.
I have no problem whatsoever with Catholic colleges and universities for those who can reasonably afford them. I urge caution for parents who would have to go into significant debt, or allow their children to do so, in order to go to these schools; the old “your education is an investment that will pay for itself!” mantra is disintegrating in the global economy (and especially if you study the humanities in a Catholic school), and you can only put off the day of reckoning by getting advanced degrees for so long. And I have no problem whatsoever warning parents who are on the poorer end of the economic spectrum that going deeply into debt (yourself and/or your child) while your child skips things like meals and health care to scrape up one more semester’s worth of Catholic Higher Ed. (while taking plenty of gap semesters/years to work crap jobs and live on a shoestring budget just to get that one more semester) makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Some of you will get pressure from your local Catholic friends and/or family to make whatever “sacrifices” are necessary to send your kids to the good Catholic colleges (with dire warnings about how they will all become sexually profligate atheists if they set foot in a secular school), but what you probably don’t realize is that they most likely have resources you don’t (more income, more financial aid, grandparents who chip in, that sort of thing), and their idea of “sacrifice” is “my child doesn’t get as many expensive clothes as her classmates and has to put up with an Android phone,” not “my child ran out of money completely and has borrowed $20 from a classmate to purchase two weeks’ worth of food while she’s waiting for her last paycheck to get deposited.” (Which, by the way, was not something I actually ever told my parents about back in my day when that happened to me.)
Now, if a Catholic educational organization were to create and finance a community college type of entity where young Catholics could obtain an affordable associate’s degree that would meet the requirements to transfer into the local university system so they’d have two years of solid, Catholic-grounded humanities courses as well as some practical STEM classes before finishing up at State U., I’d be excited about that, and would probably support it wholeheartedly. The truth, though, is that for the most part Catholic high school and college education is for the relatively wealthy American Catholic families (and a handful of very poor kids who get full rides). CUA, like all the other Catholic universities, is competing for a niche market within a niche market; that is, for faithful Catholics who value higher Catholic education and expect orthodoxy AND who can afford around 60K per year per child (even if by “afford” we mean “cobble together enough aid to pay for what we can’t cover in cash). Truth is, there aren’t that many people who meet that description anymore, and the orthodox Catholic schools will be competing desperately for the same few slices of an already tiny pie, if they aren’t already.