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Puny Ivy Leaguers, Principled Ivy Leaguers

I’m pleased to learn that this blog has multiple readers at Harvard Law School. One just forwarded me the following e-mail that the HLS Student Government sent out on behalf of the school’s “Affinity Group Coalition”:

We write to you today as a community of identity affinity group leaders at the law school, committed together to challenging discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, disability, religion, and nationality. As most of you know, on Thursday, November 19th, students woke up to the news that someone had placed tape over the faces of our Black professors’ portraits.

To those hurting, we are with you, we are here for you, and we want you to know that none of us will stand for racial hate crimes. This disgusting act targeted one group on this campus: the Black community. As a whole, we cannot fully comprehend your pain, one born by a history of slavery, segregation, and continued oppression and discrimination. Still, as a Coalition we stand against hatred and in the hopes that we can create a society that includes and welcomes us all.

To white allies, we recognize that this can be a time of questioning and confusion as to your roles and voices. There are many ways to be a good ally, but there is one thing that they all have in common: continue acknowledging your privilege. Ask how you can help, and listen to the answers you receive, even if they are just to be at a certain space to show support or to do nothing at all.

To those who do not think there is a problem, or who are not uncomfortable, please take this opportunity to ask yourself why not. Ask yourself why you are saying what you are saying, whether your goal is to help or to hurt other people, and whether how you are conducting yourself is what is best for the HLS community. We think there is a problem, a poison in this community. Indifference, under these circumstances, not only prevents progress but also compounds the pain. It is important to recognize that many of our peers can never avoid the topic of race.

Racist acts cut at the values we aspire to uphold, as does nonchalance in response. We believe in this community. We believe in its capacity for support. And we stand hopeful to see that capacity realized in the coming weeks. We stand with you.

With passion and affection,
The Affinity Group Coalition

In other words: Abase yourselves before us and do as we tell you to do, and don’t think your silence is going to protect you. 

The person who passed that letter on is scheduled to leave Harvard Law this academic year, and writes, “I’m immensely grateful that I’ll be [leaving] so I won’t have to continue to deal with this madness in the years to come.”

My correspondent sent along this contrasting — and inspiring — Change.org petition put up by Princeton students in opposition to the SJW effort to dictate terms to the university. It already has over 1,200 signatures, and reads as follows:

We, the undersigned members of the Princeton University community, appreciate the concerns but oppose the demands of the Black Justice League. We call for increased dialogue and the creation of a process that properly considers the input of all students and faculty, not merely those who are the loudest.

WHEREAS the Black Justice League has condemned Woodrow Wilson’s undeniable racism and demanded that the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs and Wilson College be renamed,

WHEREAS the Black Justice League has demanded that undergraduates be required to take “classes on the history of marginalized people,”

WHEREAS some members of the Black Justice League have reportedly demanded “affinity housing for people interested in black housing,”

WHEREAS some members of the Black Justice League criticized the university for “focusing on free speech;”

We, the undersigned members of the Princeton University community, affirm the following:

THAT the first of these three demands represents an alarming call for historical revisionism and seeks to eliminate vindication of a significant historical figure who, despite his flaws, made great contributions to this University,

THAT the second of these three demands represents a thinly veiled attempt to impose the Black Justice League’s unilateral narrative upon all undergraduates through the conduit of the core curriculum,

THAT the third of these three demands represents a morally abhorrent and blatantly illegal call for what is essentially racially segregated housing.

*Update: in response to the clarification that affinity housing would be for those interested in black culture (rather than a call for black-only housing as some protesters advocated for), we no longer consider this demand illegal, but all our other objections still stand.*

THAT free speech is fundamental to Princeton’s role as an institution of higher learning and excessive political correctness stifles academic discourse.

We, the undersigned members of the Princeton University community, request that the President, Trustees, and Faculty affirm the following:

THAT any steps to purge this campus of its Wilsonian legacy creates a dangerous precedent and slippery slope that will be cited by future students who seek to purge the past of those who fail to live up to modern standards of morality,

THAT a properly enacted “diversity requirement” should allow students to study a non-American culture or American minority of their choice—not merely those who have been deemed marginalized by the Black Justice League—and will be accompanied by a required course in Western or American civilization in order to better enable cross-cultural understanding,

THAT racially based housing creates segregation and is thus anathematic not only to the University’s purported goal of promoting a diverse student body but also to the core values of American society.

THAT this University maintains its commitment to free speech and open dialogue and condemns political correctness to the extent that it infringes upon those fundamental academic values.

Here’s a link to the petition page. Very, very well done! Good for you, principled Princetonians. Now, march in defense of your university.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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