I came across this entirely by accident.
I’ve been reading about the wars of Louis XIV and his tenacious opponent, William of Orange, the Netherlands’ leader who also became king of England with his wife, Mary (as in “William and Mary”), after the Glorious Revolution (1688-89).
Some of the very best studies are by Paul Sonnino. I don’t know him and, since I’m a political scientist, didn’t know where this distinguished historian was based. UC-Santa Barbara, it turns out.
On his departmental webpage, I came across this spectacular quote, which he put at the top of his self-description:
I approach history with a combination of radical empiricism, existentialism, and incomprehension, and I am completely opposed to the postmodern combination of nihilism, preciosity, and political correctness.
If you would like to read 3-4 of Prof. Sonnino’s very short essays on post-modernism, they are here as a PDF.
Swarthmore students preen before the virtue mirror
Swarthmore College’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter wants to permanently knock Sabra hummus off campus shelves, calling it “morally unacceptable” because of what they called the Jewish State’s human rights violations. They claim the company once sent care packages to the Israeli Defense Forces.
“By selling Sabra, Swarthmore is an accessory to the occupation of Palestine,” the petition reads. “We call upon President Smith to affirm the dignity of Palestinian life, recognize the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and deshelve all current Sabra products and end their future sale at Swarthmore College.” –WGMD radio
They are supported by the usual suspects:
- Swarthmore African-American Student Society
- Swarthmore Indigenous Students Association
- LatinX Students Organization
- Interfaith Center Interns
- Muslim Student Association and
- Swarthmore Queer Union
This is not an isolated incident. It is part of a continuous, nationwide campaign to label everything related to Israel as noxious and illegitimate, worthy of being boycotted.
Even the hummus is a frequent target. At an Israel birthday party a couple of years ago on the University of Chicago campus, the Usual Hate-Israel Suspects had signs saying that hummus, a regular Israeli dish, constituted “cultural appropriation.”
The current Swarthmore protesters have said nothing–absolutely nothing–about yet another chemical gas attack on civilians in Syria.
As for the virtual preening by the Swarthmore Queer Union, they should be ashamed, considering the treatment of gays in virtually every country in the Middle East, except one.
I am happy–I repeat–happy to wish people a Merry Christmas.
Perhaps that’s because I actually hope they have a Merry Christmas.
I say that even though I celebrate Hanukkah. True, I am never quite sure how to spell it. Its English spelling seems to meander, at least for me.
Back to Christmas . . . as a kid, I was always delighted to see friends riding around on their new bicycles and going to church with their families to celebrate the day.
I had my holiday. They had their’s. No harm, no foul.
All was well between us, even if no one had ever heard of multiculturalism.
I remembered these warm sentiments the other day, as I walked past DePaul’s building in the Chicago Loop. (It’s a satellite campus. Their main one is farther north.)
There, taking up the side of a building, was a big sign wishing everyone, “Happy Holidays.”
DePaul, mind you, is a private school, so they can wish you anything they want.
It’s also a Catholic school, which would seem to give it some connection to . . . well, Christmas.
I wanted to see if DePaul’s website was more forthright. Nope.
I assume DePaul’s administrators have only the most benign sentiments. They are probably thinking, “If we said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ it might not be inclusive enough. It might offend. There are lots of other faiths and lots of agnostics and atheists out there, and we want to wish them a happy time, too.” That’s a fine thought, but it assumes we wouldn’t respect their integrity as a Catholic institution for saying what they really believe. The only people it will hurt, IMO, is people who are rigid and intolerant, either because of their own religious beliefs or because they hate all religions. Why give them a veto?
When people wish me a Merry Christmas, I take it with the good cheer with which it is extended. Why not?
The University of Minnesota goes much further in stamping out these greetings. Granted, it is a public university, which places some limits on what they can and cannot do legally. But I don’t see why that should prevent the employees from wishing each other all kinds of holiday greetings and putting up Christmas decorations or Hanukkah decorations if they wish.
Not so, they say.
Employees of the University of Minnesota received a document this week saying:
In general, the following are not appropriate for gatherings and displays at this time of year since they typically represent specific religious iconography:
Santa Claus, Angels, Christmas trees, Star of Bethlehem, Dreidels, Nativity scene, Bows/wrapped gifts, Menorah, Bells, Doves, Red and Green or Blue and White/Silver decoration themes (red and green are representative of the Christian tradition as blue and white/silver are for Jewish Hanukkah that is also celebrated at this time of year).” —University of Minnesota memo to employees, reported at Intellectual Takeout
Documents that authoritarian tend to come from offices named “Diversity” and “Inclusion.” And those are the Orwellian Scrooges behind this gem.
Got that? RED and GREEN are forbidden as “religious iconography.” So are BLUE and White (because they are Jewish religious iconography, I guess).
Santa Claus? Oh, the horror.
And why, pray tell, is Festivus excluded? Are they not worthy enough to be prohibited?
Somewhere, I fear, the University of Minnesota’s librarians are burning “A Christmas Carol” to keep the administrators warm for the season.
It happened in London, but it could just as easily have happened at any American university.
The outrage, which is either feigned or hypersensitive, illustrates the usual combo that work together to suppress independent thinking on campus after campus:
- Group A, progressive students (“I am offended by everything”) and
- Group B, spineless university administrators (“I apologize completely, abjectly, and with total humility. You are my moral superior. I will go and work in the rice fields with the peasants and learn from their wisdom.”)
Today’s example comes from London’s large, distinguished university: UCL (University College London)
Here is the tweet and the abject apology. I will spare you the “outraged” tweets from SJWs.
What saddens me most is how singing groups like the Drifters buy into this invidious White Supremacist Ideology.
Btw, their version is wonderful!
Purdue professor, Donna Riley, has a great way to make the engineering profession more inclusive.
No, my friend, it is not to recruit more widely and offer supplementary courses to bring everyone up-to-speed.
No, it is not to offer mentoring to underrepresented groups.
No, siree. (Ooops, sorry for that patriarchal phrase.)
The leader of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education recently declared that academic “rigor” reinforces “white male heterosexual privilege.”
Defining rigor as “the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality,” Riley asserts that “rigor is used to maintain disciplinary boundaries, with exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”
“One of rigor’s purposes is, to put it bluntly, a thinly veiled assertion of white male (hetero)sexuality,” she writes, explaining that rigor “has a historical lineage of being about hardness, stiffness, and erectness; its sexual connotations—and links to masculinity in particular—are undeniable.”
Hence, Riley remarks that “My visceral reaction in many conversations where I have seen rigor asserted has been to tell parties involved (regardless of gender) to whip them out and measure them already.” –Donna Riley, Purdue Prof. of Engineering Education, quoted in Campus Reform (link here)
If this kind of academic malpractice were rare, it wouldn’t be worth mocking.
If this response to academic failure were rare, it wouldn’t be worth mentioning.
In fact, these specious arguments, seemingly in favor of marginalized groups, are commonplace on campus. They need to be rebutted. They have also gained favor on among progressive politicians. Eric Holder’s Department of Justice made police and fire departments lower their standards–and pass students who had failed their competency tests–not because the tests were biased (they were not), not because the tests were irrelevant to performance (they were directly relevant), but simply because, in Holder’s opinion, too many of his preferred groups did not pass.
Turning to the Purdue Engineering professor . . .
- Prof. Riley is not just any professor. She’s the head of the entire school of engineering education at a major research university, known for its science, math, and engineering.
- Notice the patronizing argument. The clear implication of Riley’s position is that “marginalized groups” cannot actually do difficult, mathematical work. Even if that were true, the right response wouldn’t be to lower standards but to remedy the underlying problem.
- Notice the ad hoc inclusion of different groups, mainly because they are part of Prof. Riley’s putative coalition. Is there any evidence that gays cannot perform engineering courses at the same level as non-gay students? I haven’t heard of any. Same for women. If they are underrepresented, then try and recruit them. If any other group is having problems–as a group–then figure out why and solve the problem. Don’t say, “Rigor is just too demanding for, say, brain surgeons.”
- Btw, I just clicked on Purdue’s School of Engineering Education and the first picture is of a female student being named a prestigious Marshall School, a major national competition across all fields.
- “Whip them out and measure them already.” Is this Blazing Saddles or an academic journal? Moreover, ask yourself whether this phrase is itself a form of invidious sexism and even harassment. Ask yourself what would happen if any male professor made the same statement in print about women’s breasts? The over/under on that professor’s severe punishment and possible firing is 3 seconds.
- However laudable your aims, you marginalize your own position when your argue in favor of dangerously lowering standards. Moreover, you patronize the “marginalized” and offer ideological nostrums instead of real solutions.
- Finally, let’s assume that Purdue’s Engineering School does exactly what you say. How would potential employers cope? They would hire from other schools or demand real proof of competence beyond your degree. If every engineering school followed your silly advice, then employers would institute their own tests for competence and other schools would see a huge opportunity to enter the field and offer rigorous training.
McGill, one of Canada’s elite universities, is infected with virulent hatred of Jews and Israel, according to a new report from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
There have been repeated campaigns to “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israel, the homeland of the Jewish People. The McGill Daily student newspaper has an established policy of rejecting any article supporting or defending Zionism, the national movement of the Jews, or presenting Israel in any but a negative fashion.
Most recently, in response to the failure of the BDS movement to be validated at McGill, disappointed supporters voted down three nominated members of the Student Society Board of Directors, one Jewish and two not, on the grounds that their ties to Jewish organizations and supportive attitudes toward Israel made them biased. –Philip Carl Salzman, report for FCPP
The student paper is saying pro-Israel views are so far beyond the pale that they should never be expressed.
The Student Society is saying, more bluntly, that Jews and Jew-lovers are not allowed.
This, mind you, is in Montreal, in a major public university. The report is written by someone who knows the intimidating atmosphere well, a professor at McGill.
The report adds that vitriolic hatred of Israel is now commonplace on the left, especially on college campuses. On campus after campus, the cheerleaders are Palestinians, Muslim extremists, and a hodge-podge of leftist groups. The atmosphere is even worse, and more threatening, in Europe, which adds deep veins of traditional anti-Semitism to the modern coalition of Palestinians, Muslim extremists, and cultural Marxists.
This hatred goes beyond criticism of particular policies; it attacks the very existence of the Jewish state. As the repeated chant says, “Palestine, Palestine must be free. From the Jordan to the sea.” Since that is also where Israel is, the chant is a call for the state’s destruction.
In the 21st century, anti-Semitism has taken a new form, hatred of the Jewish collectivity, of the Jewish people in their collective representations, particularly hatred of Israel. This is not a matter of criticism of government policies of Israel, as one might make of policies of the U.S., Russia, or China. Rather, this hatred of Jews is reflected in the demand and intention that Israel be destroyed. We hear this regularly from Iran, from Palestinian Hamas, from Hezbollah, and, more stealth fully from Palestinian Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, as well as from the supporters of these organizations. –Salzman at FCPP
The whole piece, troubling as it is, is well work reading (link here).
The problem, alas, extends far beyond McGill.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Trump in Asia: What Matters about the Trip (a comment)
The trip has three main goals, all important but in tension with each other
- Contain or eliminate North Korean nuclear threat to US and US allies (depends on China’s cooperation)
- Reduce China’s trade surplus with US, ideally by opening China’s domestic market to US exports
- Deter an expanding Chinese threat in South China Sea (reinforce America’s partnership with nations surrounding China)
Trump is also likely to meet with Putin, with North Korea, Syria, and Iran as major topics
◆ Texas church shooting: A crazed, well-armed guy furious with his former in-laws, who worshipped at the church he attacked
That’s the report from local news outlets in the San Antonio area (KSAT in San Antonio)
Comment: Some commentators will stress his beliefs (“he was an atheist”). That is not what drove him. Anger and crazed impulsiveness, not ideology, are the drivers here.
Comment: Vassar, like so many small, elite colleges, is suffused with hard-left ideology.
They should call these schools “Illiberal Arts Colleges.”
◆ Chicago nearing 600 homicides, most since 2003 (Chicago Tribune)
How bad is it? The city has instituted a new program to show people how to stop bleeding from gunshot wounds (Chicago Tribune)
In U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Fusion GPS, the dossier’s financier via the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign money, is fighting a House committee chairman’s bid to find out if the opposition research firm paid journalists.
In U.S. District Court in Florida, a self-described dossier victim wants a judge to order the news website BuzzFeed, which published the dossier in full, to disclose who gave it to them. –Washington Times
Comment: Fusion GPS is fighting so tenacious to prevent any disclosures of their receipts and expenditures, you can’t help but think they might have something to hide.
Pleading the 5th Amendment before Congress was also a hint.
Hat Tip to
◆ Tim Favero for the Vassar, William Jacobson story
The delicacy of these students pales beside that of theology students at the University of Glasgow. More on that in a minute.
At Cambridge, one of the “distressing” Shakespeare plays is named perfectly: Comedy of Errors.
According to The Telegraph (link here):
English literature undergraduates have been advised that a lecture which focusses on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and The Comedy of Errors will include “discussions of sexual violence” and “sexual assault”.
The trigger warnings were published in the English Faculty’s “Notes on Lectures” document, which is circulated to students. –The Telegraph
As is so often the case, the warning were included by the ubiquitous bureaucrats and administrations that now attempt to control academic life.
The best response came from David Crilly, artistic director of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival:
If a student of English Literature doesn’t know what Titus Andronicus contains scenes of violence they shouldn’t be on the course.
This degree of sensitivity will inevitably curtail academic freedom. If the academic staff are concerned they might say something students find uncomfortable they will avoid doing it. –David Crilly, quoted in The Telegraph
You think the Shakespeare warning is bad?? Oh, you delicate soul.
Wait for this gem:
The University of Glasgow alerted theology students that they may see distressing images of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and gave them the opportunity to leave the room. –The Telegraph
To assist these students, I have xxx’d out the discomforting parts of these images.