• 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.


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, Dec. 19

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

    ◆ Home construction has lagged the rest of the US recovery. (Wall Street Journal)

    ◆ Before the Kardashians, there was Zsa Zsa Gabor. The same idea: bling, glamor, strange voice, no talent except for publicity. Now Zsa Zsa is dead dead.  She was 99. (LA Times)

    ◆ It is with great personal pleasure I announce the following: my spellcheck does not recognize the word “Kardashian.”

    ◆ Most reports about Trump’s nominee to be US ambassador to Israel have been critical, emphasizing his conservative views and lack of foreign policy experience. Elliott Abrams has a far more positive view of the nominee, David Friedman. (Abrams’ blog at the Council on Foreign Relations)

    ◆ Well, that was a bad idea, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says of her meeting with Bill Clinton. Jake Tapper of CNN does a fine job bringing out her views. (CNN)

    ◆ For years, Middle East Studies departments in US universities have been cesspools of hatred for Israel and for anyone (Jewish, Evangelical, or other) who supports Israel. They have received no pushback from university administrators or faculty. The federal government has funded them for language training, even though the departments’ hatred of the US government is strong and deep. Now, Middle East Studies Departments across the country are lashing out at the prospect of a Trump presidency, using the language of victimization they have taught students for years, writes Cinnamon Stillwell and Michael Lumish at Campus Watch.

    ◆ GQ has an article entitled “Mitch McConnell is the Real Evil One.” The subtitle is equally subtle, “Where Do You Think Trump Learned to Gaslight America?”

    I am not being hyperbolic when I say that Mitch McConnell is evil. The coming Trump Presidency is already an assembly line of shitty, apocalyptic consequences getting cranked out 24/7, and the fact that McConnell now holds near-total power over Congress is perhaps the most unbearable side effect of them all. –Drew Magary in GQ

    Comment: When I need political analysis, I go to GQ for fashion advice.



  • US-Israel Academic Collaboration Rises Dramatically

    ◆ Israel is most visible on college campuses when it is being blackballed. But there is quiet pushback from serious scholars.

    The anti-Israel movement is known at “BDS,” which stands for “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israel.

    It means boycotting not only Israeli products, but severing cooperation with Israeli universities and the faculty who teach there. The goal is to delegitimate the Jewish state, and it is pushed non-stop by Palestinian students and their allies among activist Muslims and student leftists.

    ◆ Comment: BDS has largely failed. The movement has garnered plenty of attention, but it has failed in its more ambitious goals, at least in the US. (In Europe, the picture is grimmer. Anti-Israeli sentiments and full-blown anti-Semitism have risen to toxic levels, on both left and right.)

    In the US, the BDS movement has gained some traction among left-wing students and faculty in the humanities and some social sciences, as well as Muslim activists. These groups constantly harrass pro-Israel students, demonstrating whenever there is an “evil Zionist speaker,” a benign Israeli birthday celebration, and so forth. Beyond that, the movement has accomplished little. They embrace defeat and futility as marks of honor. Every spring on college campuses across America, they hold “Israel Apartheid Week” and attempt to build broader opposition to Israel.

    They are not gaining much support beyond the committed left and self-proclaimed Social Justice Vigilantes.

    • No universities or corporations have agreed to boycott investments in Israel.
    • Corporate investments in Israel are very strong, especially in the high-tech areas where Israel is a global leader.
    • Many universities have also increased their collaboration with Israeli counterparts.

    ◆ Beneath the surface, there are also important signs of rising civic and academic cooperation between the US and Israel. A recent report shows a dramatic rise in collaboration between US and Israeli scholars, particularly in biomedicine and the physical sciences. (Times of Israel) The study, led by Dr. Daphne Getz, looked at academic papers with co-authors from both Israel and the US.

    The highest number of joint U.S.-Israel publications are in the field of Medicine, followed by Physics and Astronomy, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences, Material Sciences and Earth and Planetary Sciences. –study by Dr. Daphne Getz of the Samuel Neaman Institute

    There is also extensive cooperation in information technology and cyber-security, fields where Israeli scientists are among the world’s leaders.

    The study also shows a 78% increase in the number of American students attending Israeli universities between 2004 and 2014.

    The leading Israeli research universities are

    • Technion: Israel Institute of Technology
    • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    • Weizmann Institute of Science
    • Tel Aviv University
    • Bar-Ilan University
    • University of Haifa

    Comment: The rising numbers of research collaborations and international co-authorships reflect the strength of Israeli academic institutions and much lower costs of communicating among co-authors around the world. They also show that street demonstrations by aggressive anti-Israel activists mask a rising connection among serious scholars.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Ron Hassner
     for the news item


    ◆ Send interesting stories to
    Charles (dot) Lipson at Gmail (dot) com


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Tuesday, Nov. 22

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–

    Linked articles in bold purple

    putin-on-horse Putin moves nuclear missiles closer to Europe as a strong statement against NATO and its defense of Baltic states (Telegraph)

    ◆ Palestinian activists in the US and Europe try to delegitimate Israel with “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” tactics.

    anti-semitism-on-campus-140px-margins-on-all-sidesThey have many tactics to attack the Jewish state, but one of their most important is to “Boycott all Israeli products, Divest from all investments in Israel or Israeli-companies (or sometimes all companies that do business in Israel), and Sanction Israel, Israeli institutions (such as universities), and sometimes ordinary Israeli citizens.”

    Boycott, Divest, and Sanction–BDS–is popular with the left on college campuses.  Miriam Elman, a professor at Syracuse University, clearly explains what BDS is and why it is despicable. Well worth reading. (Syracuse.com and the Post Standard)

    kim-jung-un-on-flag-300px-square-no-margins◆ China, eager to protect its North Korean ally, blocks internet searches for “Fatty Kim the Third”  (ABC17News)

    ◆ Hampshire College bans the American flag: it’s just too controversial.

    Students at the western Massachusetts school took down the flag on Veterans Day and burned it, protesting the election of Donald Trump.

    So Hampshire did what any institution of higher learning would do: they replaced the flag and immediately announced it would be flown at half-staff,

    both to acknowledge the grief and pain experienced by so many and to enable the full complexity of voices and experiences to be heard –Hampshire College, announcing US flag would be flown at half-staff after Trump election

    Not good enough for students at the western Massachusetts college. And, oddly enough, some military families thought it might be disrespectful.

    So, once again, Hampshire acted decisively. They have now removed all US flags from campus since, as the college president noted, people have a “range of views” about the nation’s symbol. The Washington Post story is here.hampshirecollegelogo

    ◆ Meanwhile, students at Oxford University have appointed an official to protect its students from microaggressions. (Heat Street)

    doj-dept-of-justice-logo-clear-200px◆ The Department of Justice has fined the city of Denver $10,000 for hiring only US citizens as police officers. DOJ says the citizenship requirement is unlawful. (Daily Caller)

    ◆ And a great picture, thanks to Robin Steward, who claims “it’s not mine!”regret-nothing-tatoo


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Timothy Favero
     for the Hampshire College story
    ◆ Miriam Elman for her article on the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement
    ◆ Robin Steward for the tattoo picture

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Friday, Nov. 18

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

    mike-flynn-labeled-300px-no-margins◆ Retired 3-star general Michael Flynn will be Trump’s National Security Advisor
    . (Washington Post) He headed the Defense Intelligence Agency under Pres. Obama but left the administration and became a sharp critic.

    ◆ “We’re going to move an agenda,” VP-elect Mike Pence told House Republicans. Working with Congress, the new administration intends to pass a lot of legislation, Pence told the closed-door meeting. (Bloomberg)

    Comment: That’s not an idle promise. It’s not just Trump’s ambitious agenda. It’s Capitol Hill under continuing Republican control. Over the last few years, the Republicans have passed lots of bills that died on Pres. Obama’s desk. The same leaders are in place in the House and Senate. They know these issues, have already written bills on the big issues, and will be ready to push legislation early in 2017.


    ◆ “An Anti-Israel Brigade with Ties to Hamas Finds a Home in San Francisco State University,” writes Cinnamon Stillwell (Independent Journal Review) Oppose the people doing this at SFSU, and guess what they call you? That’s right, you would be an Islamophobe, McCarthyist, hatemonger and–worst of all–a Zionist. The deal is an official tie between SFSU and a Hamas-dominated university, An-Najah University, located in the West Bank.

    ⇒ Related story: Palestinian group is demanding that Kent State University remove an incredibly offensive object: a picture of the late Israeli leader, Golda Meir. The simple photograph hurts their feelings because, well, you can guess. (Abraham Miller in The Observer)

    ◆ One of the makers of the modern world, Jay Forrester, has died at 98. Forrester, an MIT professor raised on a Nebraska cattle ranch, developed the field of computer modeling complex systems. He is also one of the men who invented magnetic core memory for computers. His obituary is here. (New York Times)

    ◆ The Washington Post thinks this is newsworthy: “Trump terrifies me. Should I rent my house to his supporters for the inauguration?” by Cari Shane. It perfectly captures the Post’s view and the Beltway Zeitgeist.

    kris-bryant-labeled◆ Go, Cubs, Go. Their second-year star, Kris Bryant, is the nearly unanimous choice as National League MVP. (Chicago Tribune)

    ◆ Chicago’s Skyline To Be Sold as Lego Set. The set will be smaller than the original, according to the Chicago Tribune.

    ◆ I love it: A startup says it has created a robot that cuts grass and shovels show. (CNN)



  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, October 10

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

    ◆ Comment on the debate: Trump won, both in the ordinary sense and in the sense that he put a tourniquet on the bleeding. Still, he cannot undo the damage of the tapes. That’s red wine spilled on a white carpet. He’ll never get it all out, and for good reason. People think it reveals his real character and temperament. Trump probably did not make much headway in winning back the female vote during the debate. What he did well was emphasize the need for change, stress that Hillary is (in his opinion) all talk and no action, and highlighted her defects on foreign policy and decision-making more generally. Hillary did an equally good job emphasizing Trump’s defects of temperament. As for demeanor: I thought Hillary didn’t look as comfortable as she did in the first debate. Her smiles seemed forced and formulaic, even contemptuous. That shouldn’t matter but it does because it underscores the inauthenticity voters see in Clinton.

    The moderators? Anderson Cooper was fair. Martha Raddatz was not. She’s normally a pro, but she entered the debate at one point. That’s not her job, and it’s not fair. (Charles Lipson. This commentary is an analysis, not a surrogate’s argument for either candidate. That’s a different task.)

    ◆ What Options Does the US Have After Accusing Putin and Russia of Hacking Our Electoral System? (NYT) Obviously, the US has formidable tools to cyber attack Russia, but that could lead to an escalating cyberwar, one where America’s millions of open systems would be targets.

    The deeper concern is that Russia, like other major powers, has a long playbook ready for potential future attacks. Security experts point to evidence that a well-funded Russian hacking group, known as Energetic Bear, has been probing the networks of power grid operators and energy and oil companies in the United States, Europe and Canada. That could be exploration — or it could be preparation of the battle space in the event of a future conflict.

    Mr. Obama seems likely to invoke some kind of financial sanctions under the new executive order, which allows the Treasury secretary to freeze the financial assets of individuals tied to hacking attacks or prevent them from conducting financial transactions. — David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, reporting in the New York Times

    ◆ The Rise of “Soft” Holocaust Denial, where Israel-haters do not deny the genocide outright but downplay its significance. (The Tower) The locus: US universities and all of Europe. The culprits: Palestinian activists and Social Justice Warriors, who form an awkward coalition that can only exist as long as they have a common enemy.

    brexit-eu-light-purple-background-201px-no-margins◆ Britain’s tough, effective new Prime Minister, Theresa May (Conservative) is taking her country into a “hard” exit from the EU, reports the Economist. What’s the difference between a hard and soft exit?

    The essential problem that Brexit poses for [PM May] is clear. On the one hand, she wants to keep the economic benefits of facing no barriers to trade in the world’s largest single market, the EU. But on the other, her 27 EU partners are not willing to agree to this unless she also accepts the single market’s obligations, including free movement of workers and a plethora of EU regulations. The dilemma has come to be known as “soft” or “hard” Brexit. Soft Brexit means giving priority to the single market at the price of accepting some limitations on control over borders and laws, as well as contributing to the EU budget. Hard Brexit puts the emphasis on taking back such controls even if that means walking away from the single market. –The Economist

    ◆The ten most competitive US Senate races this year, with synopses of each one. (Washington Post)

    ◆ Marc Andreessen, a leading tech innovator and investor, analyzes the “bifurcated economy,” where high technology sectors (and their workers) are thriving, but many Americans and low-tech sectors are suffering. (Business Insider) 

    tortoise-and-hare-w-green-background-200px◆ It’s not just a fable anymore. A real race between the tortoise and the hare. Here they go!


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Michael Lipson 
    for the tortoise and the hare.
    ◆ Gary Hoover for the story on US Senate races