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Diversity McCarthyism

A reader in academia writes to say that Kennesaw State University, a large state school in Georgia, is looking for a new president. The hiring committee wants to consider hiring Sam Olens, the Georgia attorney general. [1] “Ah, but you know what’s coming,” says the reader. More, from a local TV station’s report: [2]

Olens defended Georgia’s gay marriage ban and sued the federal government over the transgender bathroom directive. That’s why students organized Monday afternoon’s protest and drafted a petition that has more than 5,000 signatures.

In the petition, students ask the Georgia Board of Regents to not appoint Olens as KSU’s next president.One student, who wouldn’t give 11Alive his name, said he’s disappointed.

“The support groups would probably be disbanded and not to mention the scholarships that are offered for people active in LGBT rights,” he said

After the rally ended, he stayed around to continue the protest.

“I feel it’s my duty. I’m a student here and I have to make sure the school is safe for me and students. If this place becomes unsafe, I’d have to leave,” he said.

Oh for pity’s sake, this snowflake thinks hiring the Georgia AG as the school’s president would lead to anti-gay pogroms? I hate the way this Orwellian “safe space” concept has become the cudgel with which campus progressives use to club the expression of opinions with which they disagree. Anyway, the reader comments:

Okay, a couple things. First, KSU gives scholarships for “people active in LGBT rights”? I’d love to know details on that. Second, note the alleged disqualification here: Olens defended the laws of his state — laws that were created by a democratically elected legislature. In other words, he did the job he is elected to do. But as you and I know, this now constitutes Thoughtcrime.

Leonard Witt, a KSU professor, wrote a column [3] criticizing the choice in which he concludes: “Let’s, this time, show the world that Cobb County carries the torch for all its diverse communities.” Yes, diverse communities — as long as one of those communities isn’t Christians or people fulfilling the duties of their elected office.

Now, I should note that as a college professor myself I happen to agree with Witt’s other point: that a college president should be an academic, not someone plucked from business or politics. If I taught at KSU, I would oppose Olens for that reason. But this is something different: opposition to him because of something he believes, and because he did his job according to the constitution of the state of Georgia.

Eventually we’re going to have to call explanations like Witt’s the “Eich Maneuver,” as an homage to Mozilla’s preposterous explanation that they had to fire Eich because of how much they value diversity of viewpoint.

The reader says to be sure to note this reasoning from KSU’s Prof. Witt (what follows is a quote from Witt’s column):

Already the KSU LGBTQ community members are signing petitions. A headline in Project Q, a popular Atlanta blog, screams out “Gay marriage bigot Sam Olens to become KSU president.” Unfair? Perhaps, but how do we know,since the selection process is coming from the darkest corners of state government. As attorney general, Olens ardently opposed both gay marriage and now gender neutral bathrooms. Hence, the headline.

Given Cobb County’s history, try as the chancellor may argue otherwise, important national constituencies are going to be outraged­ about the secret meetings aimed at appointing a candidate who they know will infuriate the LGBTQ community and their allies at Kennesaw State, in Cobb County and throughout the state and nation.

The nation’s largest foundations that support higher education demand respecting diversity in all its forms. An active foe of gay marriage or transgender neutral bathrooms for KSU president? Cobb County again? We have better places to put our money. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Nike and just about every other major corporation may well openly or silently boycott Kennesaw State University. Plus, the tainted brand name will not exactly be a student resume builder.

Says the reader:

Echoes of Indiana and RFRA. If we don’t keep up with the LGBT agenda, no corporations will want to do business with us! And note the fear that we could “infuriate the LGBTQ community and their allies.” If I even mentioned to my academic colleagues that something could upset we Christians and our allies, I’d probably hear laughter.

We should be hearing Republican politicians, churches, and civic leaders calling this stuff out for what it is: diversity McCarthyism. Olens may or may not be qualified to run the university, but what these SJWs are attempting is frightening — or should be. Where does it stop?

56 Comments (Open | Close)

56 Comments To "Diversity McCarthyism"

#1 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On October 7, 2016 @ 10:12 am

sunshine,

All right, another foodservice venue parallel (perhaps I really should go buy a couple of burritos when I finish to write this comment). A guy comes to a restaurant. Suddenly he notices a rifle tattoo on chef’s hand and freaks out cause he’s against the 2nd Amendment / local NRA representative’s Pom Pom bit his Peke in the ass. He insists that the owner should fire the chef or otherwise. What will happen to the guy? That’s right. The bouncer will happen.

#2 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 7, 2016 @ 5:40 pm

Alex, well said.

I’m curious how opponents of racial integration were treated when it was still controversial. Does it hold a lesson for today?

My mother remembered a time when Readers Digest was careful to present “both sides of racial segregation.” I have seen on YouTube an old video of Mike Wallace respectfully interviewing Senator James Eastland as “the voice of the South” and doing so with great respect for his right to be heard.

The fact is, as long as a significant minority, or a modest majority, of the population considers a point of view valid and worthy of being heard, it cannot be written off as beyond the pale.

That was also Abraham Lincoln’s dilemma with slavery — he could not simply crush it forthwith, because too many people either favored it or didn’t much care about abolishing it.

I don’t have to RESPECT racial segregation merely because at one time many people did, but I cannot with any integrity say, almost all of us now recognize that racism is unacceptable, therefore, anything I consider unacceptable now, everyone else should darn well accept that it IS unacceptable.

I might add that racial laws and customs imposed real, unearned, disabilities on people who happened to be of dark skin color. Merely teaching that there is something morally unsound about homosexuality imposes no such disabilities, so long as these teachings are not sanctioned with the force of law.

The Mormons did not admit people of African descent to the priesthood until 1978… and the Civil Rights Acts had no jurisdiction over this at all.

#3 Comment By sunshine On October 8, 2016 @ 3:05 am

Siarlys,

It is irrelevant what your personal beliefs on homosexuality, duty, etc. are. It’s fine that they influence your thinking, but they *do not make it more correct* – and your constant need to reiterate them in this context is mystifying. They certainly provide no relevant context for your queer reading of this situation.

There are three ways the students might err. They might have been incorrect to judge and incorrect to act on that judgment. They may have been incorrect to act, regardless of their judgment – and they may have been incorrect to judge at all. You have plenty of reasons for thinking these kids were wrong in their judgment. That’s fine. But I take issue with the idea that the problem is their right to judge.

For better or for worse, a right to judge is also a right to judge *incorrectly* – just as freedom of speech also means freedom to speak odiously and freedom of association also means freedom to associate poorly. This is the nature of rights. It is beyond absurd to assert that a right can be withdrawn when it is used poorly – certainly, at the very least, you run into the problem of figuring out who gets to judge. (Incidentally, this whole issue is a common axe to grind around these parts, so this is a pretty surprising angle for you to take).

“But lawyers,” you say – but you’re wrong on this too, and your strawmen do not help you. There are many things it would be foolish to condemn a lawyer for. There are just as many that they should be condemned for – or, if not outright condemned, evaluated on. A defense attorney who defends the most odious accused criminal isn’t worthy of scorn, but the one who defends the most worthy is. Judging an individual’s commitment to the well-being of LGBT individuals by examining what cases he took and how he took them is not wrong. An attorney’s commitment to free speech would be questionable if he were to prosecute or defend a censorship law, for instance. Can one judge crudely and unfairly? Sure. But the argument at hand is not whether students judged correctly or not. It’s whether the thing they judged can be rightfully judged. Handwaving this question by reference to *other* ways judging lawyers for acting as lawyers is not especially relevant.

But, let’s say they had a right to judge, and even judge incorrectly. What’s wrong is that they acted on that judgment! Alex asserts as much. But this too is weak. It isn’t as though the president has no effect on official regulations, campus climate, or student life. His views – and any history which might inform our understanding of those views – are very relevant.

Since you like food industry analogies, let me give a more useful one: a cook is hired at a local barbecue restaurant, and it turns out that he’s knowingly fed meat to vegetarian customers in previous restaurants. It is unknown whether this was out of laziness or spite or obedience to very rude

#4 Comment By sunshine On October 8, 2016 @ 3:29 am

Siarlys,

It is irrelevant what your personal beliefs on homosexuality, duty, etc. are. J It’s fine that they influence your thinking, but they *do not make it more correct* – and your constant need to reiterate them in this context is mystifying. They certainly provide no relevant context for your queer reading of this situation.

There are three ways the students might err. They might have been incorrect to judge and incorrect to act on that judgment. They may have been incorrect to act, regardless of their judgment – and they may have been incorrect to judge at all. You have plenty of reasons for thinking these kids were wrong in their judgment. That’s fine. But I take issue with the idea that the problem is their right to judge.

For better or for worse, a right to judge is also a right to judge *incorrectly* – just as freedom of speech also means freedom to speak odiously and freedom of association also means freedom to associate poorly. This is the nature of rights. It is beyond absurd to assert that a right can be withdrawn when it is used poorly – certainly, at the very least, you run into the problem of figuring out who gets to judge. (Incidentally, this whole issue is a common axe to grind around these parts, so this is a pretty surprising angle for you to take).

“But lawyers,” you say – but you’re wrong on this too, and your strawmen do not help you. There are many things it would be foolish to condemn a lawyer for. There are just as many that they should be condemned for – or, if not outright condemned, evaluated on. A defense attorney who defends the most odious accused criminal isn’t worthy of scorn, but the one who defends the most worthy is. Judging an individual’s commitment to the well-being of LGBT individuals by examining what cases he took and how he took them is not wrong. An attorney’s commitment to free speech would be questionable if he were to prosecute or defend a censorship law, for instance. Can one judge crudely and unfairly? Sure. But the argument at hand is not whether students judged correctly or not. It’s whether the thing they judged can be rightfully judged. Handwaving this question by reference to *other* ways judging lawyers for acting as lawyers is not especially relevant.

But, let’s say they had a right to judge, and even judge incorrectly. What’s wrong is that they acted on that judgment! Alex asserts as much. But this too is weak. It isn’t as though the president has no effect on official regulations, campus climate, or student life. His views – and any history which might inform our understanding of those views – are very relevant to what a student gets out of college. That being the case, it seems they’re not wrong to raise a fuss.

Since you like food industry analogies, let me give a more useful one: a cook is hired at a local barbecue restaurant, and it turns out that he’s knowingly fed meat to vegetarian customers in previous restaurants. It is unknown whether this was out of laziness or spite or obedience to very rude restaurant codes. Some customers at this barbecue restaurant decide they don’t like this, and raise a stink. The restaurant owners decide that the cook is more trouble than he’s worth and let him go.

But why didn’t the customers just go to a different restaurant? This is where the food service analogy breaks down, because college is not like buying a meal. Students sign on for four years, for one. Transferring colleges is a much more troublesome option than walking to a different restaurant. Colleges – without exception – make claims and promises of a nurturing and welcoming environment. And so on and so forth. Any restaurant that operated like a college would be a queer place. Imagine you’re a Jew. You walk into a restaurant that advertises tself as serving kosher food. You order a meal, and then find out that a new cook has been known to put pork fat in kosher meals. You ask for a refund and are refused. You think you’ll go somewhere else, but every other restaurant is full, and you don’t know whether a spot will open or not. And so on. This is a weird restaurant scene.

I really don’t care if you think the students are whiny or ignorant or rude or what have you. I really don’t care if you think homosexuals should just shut up, or if you think campus promises are lies, or if you think that states don’t need to offer gay marriage licenses. Those are all related issues, and we go back and forth on them all the time in this blog. But none of those issues are relevant to the argument at hand, the argument kicked off by Rod and defensed by you. The only relevant issues are whether these kids could have rightfully judged an incoming president for past lawyerly deeds, and whether they could justly act on their beliefs. I think the kids are fine, if dumb. It worries me that the argument against dumb kids is one that infringes on more important things, like whether moral evaluation is even permitted in certain contexts.

This will be my last comment on this post. I’ve said all i have to say, more or less. Siarlys can no doubt find more clumsy sentences to sneer at, but I’m not interested in sparring for the sake of sparring right now. Pick whichever last word you like, it’s yours.

#5 Comment By sunshine On October 8, 2016 @ 3:33 am

*the lawyer who defends the most worthy criminal in an odious way ought be judged.

Excuse me, I’m not sure how I let that slip by.

#6 Comment By Fran Macadam On October 8, 2016 @ 11:27 am

Where does it stop? When all of us who don’t pledge allegiance to these absurdities of perversion are cast into the “basket of deplorables” and purged from their Brave New World.