Here’s an encouraging report from Chris Bodenner, writing about how some students at Reed are fed up with the intimidating militancy of campus Social Justice Warriors, and are fighting back. First, this is how crazy the SJWs there are:
At Reed College, a small liberal-arts school in Portland, Oregon, a 39-year-old Saturday Night Live skit recently caused an uproar over cultural appropriation. In the classic Steve Martin skit, he performs a goofy song, “King Tut,” meant to satirize a Tutankhamun exhibit touring the U.S. and to criticize the commercialization of Egyptian culture. You could say that his critique is weak; that his humor is lame; that his dance moves are unintentionally offensive or downright racist. All of that, and more, was debated in a humanities course at Reed.
But many students found the video so egregious that they opposed its very presence in class. “That’s like somebody … making a song just littered with the n-word everywhere,” a member of Reedies Against Racism (RAR) told the student newspaper when asked about Martin’s performance. She told me more: The Egyptian garb of the backup dancers and singers—many of whom are African American—“is racist as well. The gold face of the saxophone dancer leaving its tomb is an exhibition of blackface.”
Raaaaaaaaaaa-cism! RAR disrupted the basic Humanities course at Reed:
Beginning on boycott day, RAR protested every single Hum lecture that school year. In-class protests are very rare on college campuses. During the nationwide upsurge of student activism tracing back to 2015, protesters have occupied administrativebuildings, stormed into libraries, shut down visiting speakers in auditoriums, and walked out of classrooms—but they hardly ever disrupt the classroom itself. RAR has done so more than 60 times.
A Hum protest is visually striking: Up to several dozen RAR supporters position themselves alongside the professor and quietly hold signs reading “We demand space for students of color,” “We cannot be erased,” “F*ck Hum 110,” “Stop silencing black and brown voices; the rest of society is already standing on their necks,” and so on. The signs are often accompanied by photos of black Americans killed by police.
RAR militants intimidated everyone into silence — until this year. Now, some brave students are standing up to RAR. And get this: they are mostly students of color. More:
For the anniversary, RAR arranged an open mic for students of color. Rollo, a freshman from Houston, described how difficult it was to grow up poor, black, and gay in Texas. He then turned to RAR: “No, I won’t subject myself to your politically correct ideas. No, I won’t allow myself to be a part of your cause.” He criticized the “demagoguery” that “prevents any comprehensive conversation about race outside of ‘racism is bad.’”
Rollo later told me that RAR “had a beautiful opportunity to address police violence” but squandered it with extreme rhetoric. “Identity politics is divisive,” he insisted. As far as Hum 110, “I like to do my own interpreting,” and he resents RAR “playing the race card on ancient Egyptian culture.”
Over at the lecture hall, RAR covered the door with photos of police victims so that anyone entering would have to rip them. Shortly into Ann Delehanty’s lecture on the Iliad, a RAR “noise parade” shut it down—the third class canceled that month, after Kambiz GhaneaBassiri refused to teach the Epic of Gilgamesh in front of signs tying him to white supremacy. Where Delehanty had just stood, a RAR leader read a statement about how Reed is complicit in “modern-day slavery” because its operating bank, Wells Fargo, has ties to private prisons.
But her words faltered as she watched the freshmen walk out. “The thing that heartens me,” said Pax, “is that most of the student body followed the professor into another classroom, where she continued the lecture.”
Read the whole thing. It’s encouraging.
But hey, you know what would stop this garbage? College administrators finding some spine and expelling these illiberal cretins. It is beyond crazy that these militants were allowed to intimidate professors and stop classes more than once. They should have been expelled. Anyone who prevents a university from fulfilling its function has no business at a university. Period, the end.
At Oxford the other day, pro-choice militants no-platformed a pro-life group. From Cherwell, the Oxford student newspaper:
Oxford SU has been accused of attacking students’ freedom of speech after demonstrators disrupted a talk held by controversial group Oxford Students For Life (OSFL) at St John’s
Police were called to escort pro-choice campaigners from the college after they prevented the start of the OSFL talk for almost an hour through chants and heckling. This followed earlier failed attempts by private security and college porters to move the event into another room.
The move has sparked accusations from demonstrators led by Oxford SU’s WomCam that St John’s actions were “a clear attempt to intimidate protesters” who had entered the
In a statement they insisted they were “not protesting OSFL or their speakers’ right to free speech” but were instead “demonstrating that the speakers’ views deny millions of people bodily autonomy, that subject them to forced pregnancy, resulting in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and sometimes death”.
OSFL members rejected this account however, describing the protest as “a deliberate attempt to shut down discussion and dialogue through harassment and bullying”. Allegedly, pro-choice campaigners chanted from a prepared ‘chant sheet’ that included the lines “pro-
life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die”.
The heckling started almost immediately after the first speaker, Irish Times correspondent Breda O’Brien, began to talk. Around 15 students stood and began to chant continuously until O’Brien was forced to stop.
Matthew Kirtly, a student who attended the talk, told Cherwell: “The protesters banged on windows, placed themselves in front of the projector, and impeded access by guests to enter and leave the event by both taking up space and by obstructing the entrances and exits.
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“They also strongly intimidated many people, who chose to leave rather than be subjected to some very mean-spirited chants.
Any attempt to claim or imply that this protest was peaceful is false. It was predicated upon intimidation and obstruction.”
Any students who prevent other students from speaking must be warned, and if they do it again, expelled. No exceptions. No university can operate if some students reserve the right to prevent other students from the peaceful exercise of free speech. I genuinely do not understand why this point is controversial at all among students of the left and the right. Don’t they value liberal education?
Aside from the moral argument, get this: it costs $65,000 per year to attend Reed College, where Social Justice Warriors have been allowed by the administration to intimidate teachers and students, and to force the cancellation of classes. Why on earth would students going into that kind of debt for undergraduate degrees, much less their parents, put up with these insane young ideologues robbing them blind? More to the point, why would they put up with a college administration that allows them to do so with impunity?
The RAR loonies are in their 12th day of occupying the president’s office. They must know that in President John Kroger, they are dealing with a marshmallow in the mold of Evergreen State human doormat George Bridges. In response, Reed has closed down its finance office and relocated sensitive financial records. Reed’s administration, and in turn the college itself, is burning up its credibility. Read this op-ed by Reed professor Lucia Martinez Valdivia. Excerpt:
No one should have to pass someone else’s ideological purity test to be allowed to speak. University life — along with civic life — dies without the free exchange of ideas.
In the face of intimidation, educators must speak up, not shut down. Ours is a position of unique responsibility: We teach people not what to think, but how to think.
Realizing and accepting this has made me — an eminently replaceable, untenured, gay, mixed-race woman with PTSD — realize that no matter the precariousness of my situation, I have a responsibility to model the appreciation of difference and care of thought I try to foster in my students.
If I, like so many colleagues nationwide, am afraid to say what I think, am I not complicit in the problem?
At Reed and nationwide, we have largely stayed silent, probably hoping that this extremist moment in campus politics eventually peters out. But it is wishful thinking to imagine that the conversation will change on its own. It certainly won’t change if more voices representing more positions aren’t added to it.
Good on you, professor. If you are left-wing, right-wing, or somewhere in the middle, and these kinds of threats and intimidation are happening on your campus, and you don’t stand up to it, then you are complicit. Prof. Valdivia and others like her — including students who defend free speech and the right to an education — should not be standing on the front lines alone.