The Madness Spreads
A reader who is a college professor posted this comment last night:
There is a demonstration tomorrow on my campus to show solidarity with the black students at Mizzou whom the organizer claims are being terrorized. It was strongly suggested by my department chair that the faculty attend to show solidarity.
This is a big deal and it is not over.
I corresponded with the reader, and verified his name and where he teaches. You would probably be surprised that an institution of this character, in this place, would have this. He asked me to keep those identifying details off this blog for his own professional safety, so I will. Point is, this is not going away. I don’t mind if students have demonstrations (but “terrorized”?); it’s the “strongly suggested by my department chair that the faculty attend” is what is chilling.
Speaking of terrorized, at Mizzou, a professor made a very serious political error by sending this to his students:
He apparently thought he was encouraging them to be strong in the face of online threats. But he learned who the real bullies are when this kind of thing began to happen:
Professor Dale Brigham reduced the terroristic threats to “bullying”. Unacceptable. Especially when the target isn’t on your back. #Mizzou
— ☯☽♥Sojourner♥☾☯ (@SoJoXOXO) November 11, 2015
And note well this (the screen shot of the e-mail sent to Dale Brigham is far too profane for me to post here, but you can read it by following this link).
Which prompted this:
The university has reportedly declined to accept his resignation. I find it discouraging that he let these cretins make him feel that he had to resign, but when you read the tweet that I didn’t embed — and you should — you can see why somebody would be so disgusted by what campus life has become that they wouldn’t want any part of it any more. Still, I wish he had stood his ground.
Will somebody let us know when the grown-ups once again have control of Mizzou’s campus? At this point, I find it almost more disheartening that students who oppose this left-wing McCarthyism are standing by and letting it happen without protest. The administration there is destroying the school’s reputation.
I want to commend two men of the left — academic Freddie de Boer and journalist Jonathan Chait — for taking strong stands against the insanity. First, this post from de Boer, who is not really a liberal, but an actual leftist. He teaches at Purdue. Excerpt:
As I’ve said before, there’s a confusing and frustrating divide on these issues for me. One part of my life, the part that engages with the broader political conversation, is filled with well-meaning liberal and left people who say “oh, there’s no illiberal attitudes among college students — that’s all a conspiracy by the conservative media.” These people, generally, are not on campus. Meanwhile, my extensive connections in the academy, and my continuing friendships with many people who are involved in the world of campus organizing, report that this tendency is true — and often justify it, arguing that this illiberalism is in fact a necessary aspect of achieving social justice. It’s disorienting and frustrating to get arguments of denial in one part of my life and arguments of justification in another.
Even worse, though, is a common response I hear: OK, yes, there are college students who display illiberal attitudes and aren’t very committed to free speech. But they’re just college students, and they’ll grow out of it, and who cares what a bunch of 19 year olds think, anyway? I find this very frustrating as well. Teaching college students is the only job I’ve ever really wanted. It’s uncool to talk about having a calling, but I have one, and it’s to be a college educator. And that means that it’s my job to take college students seriously. To take their intellectual and political commitments seriously. I would be abdicating my responsibility to them if I just dismissed these passionate political protests as a fad, a transitory phase that they’ll get over someday. I’m not sure that’s true. But even if it is true, right now, these young people are filled with a profound sense of moral and political responsibility. My own life was enriched by college educators who took my intellectual and political commitments seriously, who never treated them as juvenile, temporary, or unimportant. I can’t fail to provide students with the same respect today.
The upsurge of political correctness is not just greasy-kid stuff, and it’s not just a bunch of weird, unfortunate events that somehow keep happening over and over. It’s the expression of a political culture with consistent norms, and philosophical premises that happen to be incompatible with liberalism. The reason every Marxist government in the history of the world turned massively repressive is not because they all had the misfortune of being hijacked by murderous thugs. It’s that the ideology itself prioritizes class justice over individual rights and makes no allowance for legitimate disagreement. (For those inclined to defend p.c. on the grounds that racism and sexism are important, bear in mind that the forms of repression Marxist government set out to eradicate were hardly imaginary.)
That these activists have been able to prevail, even in the face of frequently harsh national publicity highlighting the blunt illiberalism of their methods, confirms that these incidents reflect something deeper than a series of one-off episodes. They are carrying out the ideals of a movement that regards the delegitimization of dissent as a first-order goal. People on the left need to stop evading the question of political correctness — by laughing it off as college goofs, or interrogating the motives of p.c. critics, or ignoring it — and make a decision on whether they agree with it.
So, what’s it going to be? If you were a teacher at a college or university, and your department head strongly suggested that you go to a demonstration to show solidarity, would you do it?
“They do not provide any type of resources for black students to thrive and succeed at the University,” she said to the group. “Emory prides itself on being diverse so they lump us in here and just expect us to swim.”
In addition, she listed numerous demands for Emory administration that were later posted publicly online. The group’s demands are:
recognition of traumatic events for black students by the University
institutional support for black students facing trauma on campus
repercussions or sanctions for racist actions on campus
the consultation of black students and faculty during the implementation of diversity initiatives
higher compensation and positions for black staff and administrators
tighter job security for black administrators
increased funding and decreased policing for black student organizations
more faculty of color in all departments
The demand for racial privilege is really quite something. The protesters blocked traffic, on account of their feelings:
“I hope all of y’all heard me today,” [the protest leader] shouted. “This what I’m feeling. This is what we’re feeling. And if it’s not recognized then we’ll come back again, and the next day, and the next day. And we will block traffic and you won’t eat and you won’t sleep and you’ll run out of gas. Do you understand me?”
The chant: “Tom Rochon. No confidence” echoed across campus Wednesday, shouted by at least a thousand students who took part in a “Solidarity Walk Out” at Ithaca College.
The demonstration was a response to ongoing concerns of racial injustice on the campus of 6,723 students.
“We stand here in solidarity,” a woman standing with POC at IC, People of Color at IC, said into a microphone Wednesday in front of hundreds. “Our hearts are heavy with the pain of Mizzou and Yale and Smith and every person of color on a college campus simply because of the color of their skin, the texture of their hair or their ancestry. This a problem of the nation. However, how can a campus dedicated to preparing us for the real world not actively foster growth to our consciousness of oppression and privilege?
This is interesting. Emphases mine:
Those sentiments were echoed by a woman who stood with POC at IC, shouting from Free Speech Rock: “We desire his resignation, not his input.” She went on to list some goals, including Rochon to resign or be removed from his position, a “radical transformative change in government and structure at Ithaca College” and “we want to bring a sense of safety, emotional stability and dignity to the experiences of POC at IC, other marginalized groups and the intersection between us as well as the entire Ithaca College community.”
The students want the administration of their college to make them feel okay. How the hell did we get to this moment? Come, backlash, come quickly.
UPDATE.3: Lucky Freddie de Boer — he teaches at a college that looks like it’s going to stand on free speech and open inquiry. This letter went out from the Purdue president to faculty and staff:
November 11, 2015
To the Purdue community,
Events this week at the University of Missouri and Yale University should remind us all of the importance of absolute fidelity to our shared values. First, that we strive constantly to be, without exception, a welcoming, inclusive and discrimination-free community, where each person is respected and treated with dignity. Second, to be steadfast in preserving academic freedom and individual liberty.
Two years ago, a student-led initiative created the “We Are Purdue Statement of Values”, which was subsequently endorsed by the University Senate. Last year, both our undergraduate and graduate student governments led an effort that produced a strengthened statement of policies protecting free speech. What a proud contrast to the environments that appear to prevail at places like Missouri and Yale. Today and every day, we should remember the tenets of those statements and do our best to live up to them fully.
President Mitch Daniels