• ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, March 9

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     “Economy is emerging as the untold story of Trump’s first 100 days” and much of it is about the prospect of cutting red tape (NY Sun)

    By every measure, the United States has been sinking into economic mediocrity over the last decade because of excessive regulation.

    When President Obama took office in 2009, the United States ranked third among all nations as a place to do business. Since then it has plummeted to eighth, according to the World Bank. Why? Eight years ago, it took 40 days to get a construction permit in the United States. Today, it’s double that.

    Regulatory overkill started long before Mr. Obama. But Mr. Donohue calls the last eight years a “regulatory onslaught that loaded unprecedented burdens on business and the economy.”

    The Heritage Foundation, which grades nations on economic freedom, now puts the United States 17th in the world, our lowest-ever ranking. That’s below Chile, and former Soviet states like Estonia, Lithuania and Georgia. –Betsy McCaughey in New York Sun

    Virtually the same story appears in Forbes, quoting top hedge-fund manager David Tepper on the growth impact of deregulation (Forbes)

     “FBI prepares for new hunt for WikiLeaks’ source” It is a very big deal (Washington Post)

    The FBI has begun preparing for a major mole hunt to determine how anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks got an alleged arsenal of hacking tools the CIA has used to spy on espionage targets, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The leak rattled government and technology industry officials, who spent Tuesday scrambling to determine the accuracy and scope of the thousands of documents released by the group. They were also trying to assess the damage the revelations may cause, and what damage may come from future releases promised by WikiLeaks, these people said. –Washington Post

    The Wall Street Journal says the focus will be on CIA contractors

     The depths of depravity: ISIS terrorists, dressed as doctors, attack a major hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 30 or more (CNN)

     Cloud computing services: Can Google complete with Amazon and Microsoft? They’ve spent $30 billion trying and they are “making some undeniable progress,” according to Business Insider.

     Uber gets permit to test autonomous cars in California, one of 20 companies now testing there. Uber is also testing self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh. (PC World)

     

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  • President Trump’s Address to Congress: Thoughtful in tone, Effective in selling a big agenda

    (Note: When I comment on events like this, I watch the event itself but not the commentators so I can avoid the “echo chamber” effect.)

    Bottom Line: The speech was quite good, both as a performance and as an outline of Pres. Trump’s policy agenda.

    • You can like the agenda, or loathe it, but he put its best foot forward.
    • Most of all, the speech was “Presidential” and far more effective than the sharp tone of his Inaugural Address.

    As a performance, it was serious but uplifting, outlining his big agenda in affirmative terms.

    His decision to begin by condemning racial and religious hatred, and doing so with a bow to Black History Month, was perfect. It set the right tone.

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    The most riveting moment, one that brought together this deeply divided audience, was the President’s recognition of the widow of U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens. It was heart-wrenching to watch her stand there, crying over her loss and visibly praying for strength. Pres. Trump’s phrase that his sacrifice for our country is “etched into eternity” was perfect.

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    The most disheartening moments, at least for me, came when the Democrats refused to stand for even the most banal and uncontroversial applause lines. Why sit on their hands? Part of it, naturally, is policy. But part is politics, a party base seething over all-things-Trump and demanding full-frontal opposition from their representatives. Democrats who stand and clap do so at their electoral peril.

    I was even more disheartened by the gasps, thumbs down, and even a few boos that came when Trump laid out the more contentious elements of his agenda, particular his plans to recognize and help victims of immigrant violence. The Democrats hated his reference to “draining the swamp,” and made that plain. I’m sure many Republicans did, too, but they were smart enough to shut up.

    Again, my objection here is not to the Democrats’ substantive views here (though I do disagree with them). I simply wish they had listened respectfully in the chamber and then expressed their opposition outside it.

    Along the same lines, I did not like the one or two moments when President Trump seemed to point out House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. At least he didn’t repeat her infamous line about needing to pass Obamacare to find out what was in the bill. In this setting, it’s unfair of the President, just as it was unfair of Pres. Obama to attack the Supreme Court Justices sitting in front of him. Pelosi had no chance to respond to Trump’s attacks during the speech. All she can do is sit there. She did, grumbling and visibly fuming.

    Related point: I am not sure about the appropriateness of female representatives wearing “suffragette white,” which was done to support a variety of feminist political issues and take some attention away from the President. I can see both sides of the “appropriateness argument.” Again, the issue is the time and place, not the substance. It was a very visible political gesture, meant to counter the President. I couldn’t help but think that, grouped together, they looked like a church choir.

    This hostile gesture will surely initiate a tit-for-tat spiral of clothing to indicate political stances at future addresses. I much prefer those statements to come before and after the speech, not during the speech itself.

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    Substantively, the most important takeaway is Trump’s embrace of the Paul Ryan approach to health-care reform. The package will emphasize market-oriented solutions, insurance sales across state lines, and health savings accounts. Trump made clear that he would include (costly) coverage for pre-existing conditions, though he did not say how he intends to pay for it. He underscored that there would be no mandates and that consumers could buy whatever plans they want. These health-care issues will be on the front burner for the next month and Trump turned up the heat.

    Other issues were treated in broad terms, with a big emphasis on patriotism, “America First,” and (alas) economic nationalism. He underscored that he was elected President of the United States, not the world, but explicitly said that the US was committed to NATO and would remain engaged abroad.

    As Trump laid out his agenda, he repeatedly said he is keeping promises made during the campaign.  That’s smart politically, not only because it buttresses his reputation but because it tells Congress, “I ran specifically on these promises and won.” It tells them he has a mandate to accomplish these policy goals.

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    Trump’s plea for bipartisanship will fall unheeded, of course, but the Democrats will have to determine whether they are more endangered by their “hell no” base or by a “get something done” general public. My hunch: the base wins.

    ⇒ For Trump and his Republican allies, the speech was a strong, effective performance. They’ll need it for the coming battles on health care and taxes, battles within the party and with Democrats.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, February 28

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     Man, that seemed like a short month

     NY Teamsters were promised excellent retirement benefits by the unions that handled the pension funds. Now, the pensions are running dry  (New York Daily News)

    [Tim] Chmil is one of roughly 4,000 retired Teamsters across New York State suffering a fate that could soon hit millions of working-class Americans — the loss of their union pensions.

    Teamsters Local 707’s pension fund is the first to officially bottom out financially — which happened this month.

    “I had a union job for 30 years,” Chmil said. “We had collectively bargained contracts that promised us a pension. I paid into it with every paycheck. Everyone told us, ‘Don’t worry, you have a union job, your pension is guaranteed.’ Well, so much for that.” –New York Daily News

    Comment: This is a tragic story. The only silver lining would be to learn from it. Workers’ retirement funds are their own in 401k plans so they cannot be lost like this. The downside is that workers (like me) have to invest their own money and never make as much as the “defined benefit” plans like those promised by the Teamster Local 707.

    But union leader will never, ever, never allow 401k plans if they can prevent them. Why? Because the unions themselves can determine who gets the heavy fees associated with their union funds. Because so much money is sloshing around, the chances for corruption are great. Those who control the pension money can direct it to their brother-in-law or to a friend who promises kickbacks. (Companies used to be able to do the same thing and often invested the money in those own company’s stock to raise the price. That is now illegal.) By contrast, 401k plans are normally very cheap to operate. Unions that control their own pension money can also determine which investments to fund. How do you think Las Vegas casinos were financed in the 1950s? 

    Among the few defined benefit plans still around are those of government employees. After all, the taxpayers have to pay them and, at the state level, cannot lessen the burden by bankruptcy.

    Well-governed states like Indiana have already converted all employees to 401k’s. Some states are unwilling to go that far but are at least putting all new public employees on 401k’s. And then there are Deep Blue states like Illinois, headed for a dumpster fire.

     “With Obamacare in jeopardy, California considers going it alone with ‘single-payer’ system”  (Los Angeles Times)

    The problem, in a nutshell, is that this program would be enormously expensive and California is already in financial trouble.

    In a single-payer system, residents would pay into a state agency that essentially functions as an insurance company. The agency would pay doctors and hospitals when people sought treatment.

    Single-payer has a long, troubled history in California. Bills made it through the Legislature in 2006 and 2008 only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    But advocates say Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) increased support for single-payer by championing it on the national stage last year while vying to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

    New York state unveiled single-payer legislation earlier this month. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced a similar bill in Congress that would expand Medicare to cover all Americans.

    But a 2008 report from California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office found that even with a tax on Californians and the state’s pooled healthcare funds, the state would still be short more than $40 billion in the first full year of single-payer implementation.

    “Where were they going to come up with the $40 billion?” said Micah Weinberg, president of the Economic Institute at the Bay Area Council. “It’s just not feasible to do as a state.”

    Weinberg pointed out that a single-payer initiative was scrapped in a state as liberal and small as Vermont. A single-payer measure on Colorado’s November ballot also failed.

    Comment: The proponents are California Dreamin’ on a winter’s day.

     Tom Perez, new head of Democratic National Committee, must rebuild his party from the bottom up. Opinion writer James Downie says “Tom Perez’s biggest problem as DNC chair: His backers” (Washington Post)

    [The] reason for Perez’s entry and victory was simple: In defeating Ellison, the establishment wanted to rebuke the progressive wing and retain control of the party.

    Therein lies Perez’s — and the party’s — biggest problem. The Democratic Party needs the progressive wing’s energy and new ideas if it is to recover. . . . The fact is that the party establishment doesn’t want to admit its failings. –James Downie in the Washington Post

    Downie’s conclusion:

    Rescuing the Democrats from this deep hole requires grass-roots energy — energy that clearly is most prevalent in the more liberal wing of the party, as seen in the surprisingly successful campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Capturing it means working with outside groups and listening to new ideas, not doubling down on establishment control.–James Downie in the Washington Post

    Comment: Perez is whip-smart, well-educated, and skilled at insider politics.

    He has only a slim chance of winning the Senate. He has a better chance of winning back the House, though he will have to do so with Nancy Pelosi as the facelift of the Party.

    His biggest challenges:

    • Recovering some heft in state politics
    • Integrating the Sanders/Warren/socialist wing of the party without alienated more centrist voters. That would normally be impossible, but their shared opposition to Trump personally and to his agenda will help.

    The oddity here is that Perez is on the party’s far left wing. It’s just that he is not as far left as Bernie Sanders, who, after all, is a self-declared socialist and not a member of the Democratic Party. (He joined only for the presidential race and resigned after it ended.)

     Bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, vandalism in Jewish cemeteries, and no arrests yet

    These threats are becoming regular events, as the Washington Post reports.

    It was the fifth round of bomb threats against Jewish institutions since January, prompting outrage and exasperation among Jewish leaders as well as calls for an aggressive federal response to put a stop to it. –Washington Post

    In addition to these bomb threats, Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized. Several hundred tombstones were pushed over in Philadelphia, on top of a similar attack last week in St. Louis.

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Tom Elia
     for the NY union pension story
    ◆ Ron Hassner for list of Jewish Community Centers dealing with bomb threats

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, February 27

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     The Democratic Party missed a bullet by saying “no” to Keith Ellison. That Tom Perez is considered a centrist, establishment figure tells you how far left the party has shifted under Obama.

    The Washington Post has a piece on why Ellison lost, but, unfortunately, it is biased and incomplete. The piece, written by David Weigel, cites these elements:

    • Former Pres. Obama’s support for Perez and the party’s unwillingness to depart from Obama’s legacy
    • Perez’ success in minimizing the ideological space between him and Ellison
    • Common opposition to Trump lessened Democrats’ internal differences
    • A “persistent smear campaign cost Ellison votes”

    In the final days of the campaign, Ellison’s harshest critics — including Alan Dershowitz, who donates to Democrats but is not particularly involved in the party — reemerged to smear the congressman’s record on Jewish issues. The National Jewish Congress put out fresh criticisms of Ellison, which Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), an Ellison supporter, publicly disputed. –David Weigel in the Washington Post

    Comment: Weigel’s characterization of attacks on Ellison as a “smear campaign” is a good example of why the Post is accused of serious political bias. It richly deserves the characterization.

    Even if you accept Ellison’s word that he has broken completely with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, Ellison’s public record of anti-Semitic statements was bound to create problems. So was his record of harshly anti-Israeli rhetoric. Those may not matter in his Congressional district, but they would matter nationally.

    Second, if the job of the DNC chair is to recruit strong local candidates and raise money for them–and that is exactly what the job is–then a candidate with Ellison’s background and record, plus his association with Bernie Sanders would be a death knell in many swing states. That’s why every Republican wanted him to win. Everyone. That’s why Republicans will point out that Ellison is now “Vice Chair” of the party. It is an honorific post, to be sure, but the Democrats have given it to someone who deserves no honor.

    Perez does have one advantage as incoming chair. No matter how bad he is, he can’t be worse than Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Donna “Here are the secret questions, Hillary” Brazile. They are the face of entrenched Washington insider backscratching.

     Millennials having troubling getting into the housing market. When they are “ready to buy a home, the pickings are slim(Washington Post/Chicago Tribune)

    Overall millennials are falling behind other generations in homeownership, with first-time home buyers, who usually consist of 40 percent of the market, stuck at 34 percent.

    That could become damaging to this generation’s future prosperity. Housing experts say homeownership remains one of the primary ways for the middle class to build wealth, despite the ups and downs of the past decade. And with mortgage rates beginning to creep up, millennials who have to wait to buy could miss out on historically low rates. –Chicago Tribune

    Comment: There are building cranes all over downtown Chicago, erecting housing. Almost all of it is rental, I’m told.

     Good news on millennials’ economic fortunes  The same article reports that many more are now in the workforce and that their wages are up sharply. Very good news, indeed.

    As the economy has improved, so have millennials’ fortunes.

    The most recent employment data shows that the percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds in the labor force is the largest in eight years. This group has also recently begun to enjoy stark wage gains. Recent census data showed that in 2015, millennials’ incomes jumped 7 percent, far more than most other groups’.

    In a stronger financial position, more millennials are starting families. The census projects that household formation will average about 1.5 million per year through 2020, up from the 900,000 annual average in the past five years.

     The high cost of higher minimum wages: Wendy’s plans self-ordering kiosks at 1,000 locations by year-end  (WHIO)

    Comment: This is not rocket-science: labor-saving devices are more attractive when wages are high.

    The substitution of computers, artificial intelligence, and robotics will happen inexorably for low-skill jobs (and increasingly for cognitively-difficult jobs). Raising wages artificially only speeds the process. The biggest losers are those who need low-wage jobs the most. Those are people just starting out who lack other marketable skills and need to prove their competence and reliability so they can move up the wage scale.

     Ted Lowi has died. He was one of the most important scholars of American politics in the mid-20th century.  (New York Times) Originally from Gadsden, Alabama, he was a professor at Cornell for many years.

    Comment: Ted was part of the Marks family, which founded my hometown in Mississippi. 

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  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Wednesday, January 18

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     German court rules burning a synagogue is a justified expression of criticism of Israel

    The article in the Jerusalem Post says

    A regional court in Germany has decided that a brutal attempt to set fire to a local synagogue in 2014 was an act meant to express criticism against Israel’s conduct in its ongoing conflict with Hamas.

    A German regional court in the city of Wuppertal affirmed a lower court decision last Friday stating that a violent attempt to burn the city’s Bergische Synagogue by three men in 2014 was a justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.

    The court sentenced the three men – Muhammad E., 31, Ismail A., 26, and Muhammad A., 20 – to suspended sentences for tossing firebombs at the synagogue. and causing €800 worth of damage.

    The original synagogue in Wuppertal was burned by Nazis during the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938. –Jerusalem Post

     Betsy DeVos survives tough questioning, on path to confirmation as Sec. of Education according to Politico. (Story here.)

    Comment: Listening to Sen. Elizabeth Warren ask DeVos if she or her children had taken out student loans to go to college left me embarrassed as a fellow human being. When DeVos said “no,” that she and her family had been fortunate but that she had worked with children who had experienced student debt, Warren could see the answer was going in a bad direction and immediately cut off DeVos. Whether you agree with Warren’s views or not, this is demagoguery masquerading as inquiry.

     Samantha Power’s exit speech is a blistering attack on Russia  Time magazine has the story.

    Comment: It is a very strange world, indeed, to see a Republican president-to-be so restrained about Russia and to see the Democrats so hawkish.

    ◆ Related Story: NYT Editorial headlined, “Russia Gains When Donald Trump Trashes NATO”  Editorial here.

    Comment: The Times is absolutely right. Although NATO has serious flaws, including free-loading by allies, it is the lynchpin of US international relationships. Trump’s comments create serious dangers for America, particularly if they encourage Putin to think he can push harder against Russia’s European neighbors. 

     State Department sends $500 million to UN Climate Fund this week, just beating the change of administration  Obama had pledged $3 billion; he send $500 million in March, and now this next $500 million, according to the Washington Post. (Story here)

    Comment: I am sure Kerry and Obama are correct in thinking, “no one’s going to cut that check next week.”

     Why aren’t any Senators boycotting the Trump Inauguration, as more than 50 Congressmen are?  Simple, says the Washington Post. They are looking at broader constituencies, including lots of people who voted for the President-elect. For some, that’s people in their own state. For others, that’s a national electorate for a future presidential run.

    Senate Democrats represent far broader numbers of people and have to be respectable and responsive to, in most cases, millions of their constituents who voted for Trump. And 25 of them are up for reelection in 2018. “So there are 25 senators who probably think it’s risky,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who will join [Rep. John] Lewis’s boycott. –Washington Post

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Seth Charnes
     for the disturbing story about the firebombing of a German synagogue

    ◆ Andrew Aronson for the Betsy DeVos hearings

     

  • Media Bias Alert: BBC, a frequent winner

    A Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem did what Jihadis have done in Germany, France, Canada, and elsewhere. Sometimes they use cars, sometimes small trucks or large ones, sometimes even bulldozes.

    In Jerusalem this week, the Islamist attacker had a good job and family, so the familiar media tropes did not apply.

    Here is the disturbingly-biased BBC tweet describing the attack:

    Notice:

    • A “lorry attack,” not a terror or jihadi or Islamacist attack
    • “Allegedly”?? The picture itself shows it actually happened. This is a tweet, not a court of law where we preserve the presumption of innocence
    • Pedestrians, yes, but specifically aimed at Israeli soldiers and killing them

    Everything about this attack–from the earliest information–indicated a terrorist attack, designed to kill Jews. That is the painful truth the BBC tweet deliberately obscures.

    That’s not reporting. That’s editorializing.

    As the Jewish Press put it, the only thing missing here is the BBC not calling city “Al Quds.”

    The underlying BBC story’s first sentence described what really happened, though it still does not call it terror.

    The BBC tweet is shameful. It deliberately obscures the truth, protecting Islamists, demeaning Israelis killed by them.

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    Hat tip to my friend, Marcia Sukenik Weiss, for alerting me to this tweet.

     

     

     

     

  • Canary in the Coal Mine: Another 5,000 Jews Leave France

    Their exit tells us something very troubling about what is happening on Europe’s streets

    Before miners had sophisticated sensors, they used canaries to detect deadly gasses. A canary that was dead or dying warned, “Danger for everyone else is coming.” Hence, the metaphor.
    When gays move out of European neighborhoods because they can no longer walk safely, they give us advance warning. Our cities are filling with intolerant people, who might beat or kill us just for being who we are. 

    Comment: This problem is not confined to Paris, Amsterdam, or Copenhagen. It is serious in many other cities as well. Gay couples cannot walk hand-in-hand in heavily-Muslim neighborhoods in many European cities. They have told me so themselves.

    Single women are fearful of walking in their normal street clothes in those same neighborhoods.

    Police are wary of going in and providing social order.

    Second comment: When Europe’s mainstream parties do not address citizens’ reasonable concerns about these issues, then noxious, extreme-right parties will step in and exploit them. That is exactly what is happening, posing a great threat to constitutional, democratic governance.

    For centuries, Jews have been canaries in the coal mine in Europe. Since Jews are often the first to be demonized, they are sensitive signals of trouble ahead.

    In France, they are leaving. Their exit should tell all Europeans that their free and open societies are in peril.

    Agence France Presse reports the grim numbers:

    Paris (AFP) – Another 5,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel last year, figures showed Monday, continuing a trend that has seen tens of thousands quit the country after a series of attacks targeting the community.

    The Jewish Agency of Israel issued the update as France marked two years since attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, where four shoppers were shot dead.

    Daniel Benhaim, who heads the Israeli-backed group in France, said that insecurity had been a “catalyst” for many Jews who were already thinking of leaving.

    The 5,000 departures in 2016 add to the record 7,900 who left in 2015 and 7,231 in 2014. In total, 40,000 French Jews have emigrated since 2006, according to figures seen by AFP.

  • Students at top London graduate school want most Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and more dropped from the Syllabus

    Go ahead, guess why.

    You are correct. They are white.

    The school is SOAS, a part of the University of London.

    It used to be called “The School of Oriental and African Studies” until “oriental” became unfashionable after Edward Said’s writings.

    SOAS: A Sinkhole of Anti-Western Vitriol

    For years, SOAS has been a hotbed of left-wing ideology among students and faculty. Over time, that has become less and less tolerant of opposing views.

    One of SOAS’ prominent features is its vitriolic hatred of Israel. To say hatred of Israel there is particularly strong at SOAS is saying something important since hatred of Israel is a common feature of all British universities and nearly all its intellectuals. (That is true in continental Europe, as well.)

    In 2015, three-quarters of SOAS students voted to “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israeli academics, universities, products, corporations, and more. It was a “landslide victory,” as the anti-Israel blog, Electronic Intifada, proudly proclaimed. The blog also noted the “festive atmosphere” that greeted the BDS victory on campus. (The EI blog post is here.)

    Almost all Israelis and supporters of Israel consider the BDS movement to be not only anti-Zionist but also anti-Semitic.

    Now, this pervasive anti-Western ideology has reached its logical conclusion, a reductio ad absurdum.

    Let’s Not Read Authors from the “Wrong” Race or Nationality

    As the Daily Mail reports:

    Students at a University of London college are demanding that such seminal figures as Plato, Descartes, Immanuel Kant and Bertrand Russell should be largely dropped from the curriculum simply because they are white.

    These may be the names that underpin civilisation, yet the student union at the world-renowned School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is insisting that when studying philosophy ‘the majority of philosophers on our courses’ should be from Africa and Asia. –Daily Mail

    Granted, these authors might help SOAS students think deeply and rigorously about fundamental topics. Granted, these authors have posed intellectual challenges to serious thinkers for decades–or centuries, even millennia.

    Alas, the students do not grant these points. Their goal is not to confront intellectual challenges.

    The students are absolutely right to want some thinkers from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa on their philosophy syllabi if those thinkers are pertinent to the class topic and are the best writers on that topic.

    But the students are absolutely wrong to want to replace great thinkers with anything less for “intellectual affirmative action” reasons.

    If only

    • Plato and Aristotle knew something about citizenship and constitutions, or
    • Hobbes knew something about anarchy, or
    • Locke knew something about rebellion and governmental legitimacy, or
    • Machiavelli knew something about the dark arts of ruling, or
    • Mills knew something about free speech, or
    • Rawls knew something about fairness and equality. . .

    if, perchance, they had insights into these issues, then they might contribute something to these clueless and arrogant students.

     

    In this case–and in many others at SOAS–the students are as contemptible as they are contemptuous.