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.
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.
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).
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
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ There are three stories today about Russia’s involvement in US politics, and all three are bad for the Democrats
How big the stories become–how serious the resulting scandals–depends on additional investigation and investigative reporting.
◆ Story #1: That scandalous, largely-discredited “Russian Dossier,” which led to the federal investigations of the Trump Campaign, was financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary’s Campaign
The Washington Post broke the story (link here) They report that the Clinton campaign, using a Washington lawyer as a cutout, retained Fusion GPS to do the dirty work. Fusion GPS has fought strenuously to prevent any disclosure of who paid them and invoked their 5th amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before Congress.
The Clinton campaign, like others, used a lawyer to hire these contractors so their communications would be protected by attorney-client privilege.
The Clinton people have never acknowledged a connection to Fusion GPS or the dossier.
◆ Story #2: Mueller’s Russia Probe turns toward key Democratic insiders
Paul Manafort is also a major target but, according to reports, this top Republican operative worked closely with the Podesta Group, closely aligned with the Clintons.
A thus-far-reliable source who used to be involved with Clinton allies John and Tony Podesta told Tucker Carlson that press reports appearing to implicate President Trump in Russian collusion are exaggerated.
The source, who Carlson said he would not yet name, said he worked for the brothers’ Podesta Group and was privy to some information from Robert Mueller’s special investigation.
While media reports describe former “Black, Manafort & Stone” principal Paul Manafort as Trump’s main tie to the investigation, the source said it is Manafort’s role as a liaison between Russia and the Podesta Group that is drawing the scrutiny.
The “vehicle” Manafort worked for was what Carlson called a “sham” company with a headquarters listed in Belgium but whose contact information was linked to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. –Fox News
Comment: National news media have not reported this news.
◆ Story #3: Russian bribery, money-laundering, speaker fees to Bill Clinton, and over $100 million to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was Sec. of State and the Russians were federal approval to buy US uranium assets
Actually House Republicans announced two new investigations (link here):
In the first of two back-to-back announcements, the top Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees said they would formally examine the Obama Justice Department’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s emails. Less than an hour later, Republicans from the Intelligence and Oversight Committees said they were opening a separate inquiry into the administration’s approval of a 2010 agreement that left a Russian-backed company in control of much of the United States’ uranium. –New York Times
Comment: The NYT story downplays the significance and suggests it is all simply partisan squabbling about a now-departed administration.
I think they underestimate the possible ramifications of both investigations.
The Uranium One deal is a particularly thorny issue for the Clintons and the Obama Administration because Obama’s FBI and DOJ knew of Russian bribery and other criminal activity before the deal was approved. Congress was not informed, as it should have been. Their objections might have blocked the deal. The public was kept completely in the dark. Mueller was head of the FBI at this time. One of the Russians reportedly involved in this illegal activity was given a US visa twice during this period by Hillary’s State Department. One major question is whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from these Russia issues, will appoint a Special Counsel to investigate this and perhaps the Clinton emails, where then FBI-director Comey wrote a memo clearing Hillary long before key witnesses had been interviewed.
The most important implication: The FBI (under Mueller) looks to be deeply compromised.
◆Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will not run for re-election. He and Sen. Bob Corker (D-TN), who is also retiring, lacerated Pres. Trump in speeches, interviews, and social media. Their rebukes are reported here(Reuters)
Flake’s attack was on Trump’s conduct and dishonesty. Flake’s actual voting record is very supportive of Trump legislation.
Flake, who has very high disapproval numbers in his home state, was likely to lose his primary contest.
All seven members of the Party’s Standing Committee were in their 60s. Rising stars in their 50s were not included.
Comment: The absence of an heir-apparent, Xi’s cult of personality, and his name’s inclusion in the party constitution all raise speculation he might eventually seek a third-term, which had been ruled out after Mao’s death.
“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” [Prof. Rochelle] Gutiérrez argued [in a book aimed at K-12 math teachers].
Truly, you cannot make this up. Here’s what the professor writes:
If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”
To fight this, Gutiérrez encourages aspiring math teachers to develop a sense of “political conocimiento,” a Spanish phrase for “political knowledge for teaching.”
Comment #1: Please note, Prof. Gutiérrez thinks it is rank racism to judge people in a math class on whether they can reason abstractly. In fact, math is abstract reasoning.
Comment #2: Why, Professor, does all this whiteness and white privilege in math not seem to hold back Asians and Asian-Americans in US math classes? This is not a trivial issue or mere debating point. Note, too, that many of the Asian-American students come from lower-income families. Hmmmm.
Comment #3: Gutiérrez is a professor of education, where this kind of political blather, masquerading as scholarship, is commonplace. Poor scholarship and political propaganda are major problems in Ed Schools across the country. So is the soft curriculum, which leads to adverse selection (namely, compared to other students, those who major in education consistently have some of the lowest SATs and lowest GPAs outside their majors).
I remember all the justified complaints by feminists when a Barbie doll said, “Math is hard.” They said, rightly, that the comments were demeaning to women and sending the wrong message to girls. Sorry to see Prof. Gutiérrez sending the same message to minorities and dressing up in the costume of social justice.
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.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ The devastating news from Las Vegas has rightly dominated coverage.
In the process, other stories can be lost. Today’s ZipDialog will concentrate on them.
◆ Here’s a huge story that has received virtually no attention
US Manufacturing expands at fastest pace in 13 years (Bloomberg)
The details are in a report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). Readings above 50 indicate expansion
⇒ Factory index climbed to 60.8 (est. 58.1), the highest since May 2004, from 58.8
⇒ Measure of new orders increased to 64.6, the strongest since February, from 60.3
⇒ Employment gauge rose to 60.3, the best reading in more than six years, from 59.9
⇒ Index of prices paid advanced to 71.5, the highest since May 2011, from 62 –ISM via Bloomberg
The growth was spread across all sectors. Of the 18 industrial sectors reporting to ISM, 17 reported expansion. Only furniture making contracted.
◆Why disaster relief has lagged in Puerto Rico
Virtually all levels of government performed poorly.
The White House was slow to waive an old law preventing non-US ships from carrying supplies from mainland ports to the island. That waiver was finally given but it should have been done immediately.
FEMA, which has a division tasked with the Caribbean, failed to pre-position vital supplies, especially fuel for electric generators.
When the storm hit and knocked out electric wires, many essential facilities turned to their backup power generators. They soon ran out of fuel. If they were in Florida or Texas, then tanker trucks could come quickly with more fuel. In PR, though, the fuel needs to be pre-positioned.
Local officials were woefully unprepared–and, in many cases, utterly incompetent. They, too, did no advance work, even though they live in a hurricane zone.
The one piece of good news is that relatively few people died, given the scale of the damage. (Btw, most of the damage was related to wind, not flooding.)
The next problem is even more serious: long-term rebuilding. The island has been badly mismanaged, and so has its capital city. Since all disaster rebuilding involves a big local effort–physically and fiscally–expect trouble here, too.
Comment: North Korea is sending a message: we don’t want talks. You cannot bend our arms–or our minds.
◆ More Jew-hatred by Students for Justice in Palestine
SJP does this regularly on many campuses, combining loathing for Israel and for Jews. Its latest tactic is to call Jews and Israel “white supremacists” and, of course, “racist, colonialist, homophobic” and all the other epithets in the “victim basket.”
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East explains:
At the University of Illinois, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter held a “Smash Fascism” rally on campus that announced there was “no room for fascists, white supremacists, or Zionists at UIUC.” Advertising for the event stated that the “confluence of fascism and Zionism is becoming more obvious by the day” and that “two forms of racial supremacy merge seamlessly together, the Palestinian struggle for human rights and dignity can set the model for discursive changes.”
The statement also noted “violent resistance, whether it is a black bloc or full-scale armed conflict, also has its place.” During the protest itself participants yelled “no justice! No peace! No war in the Middle East! No Zionists, no KKK, resisting fascists all the way” and “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist U.S.A.!”
In partial response, the university chancellor issued a statement which stated that “Painted swastikas, chalked epithets on sidewalks, KKK costumes and anti-Semitic attacks hidden under the guise of anti-Zionist rhetoric are all too common” and that “Bigotry, racism and hate will never be tolerated here at Illinois.” –Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Similar slanders have been spread recently at NYU and Tufts.
Their familiar chant, “Palestine must be free, from the [Jordan] River to the Sea,” implies that Israel should be wiped off the earth completely.
Comment: The radical Palestinians use a well-known propaganda tactic:
Everybody hates X (e.g. Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan)”
The trick, then, is to liken your political opponent (Trump, Hillary, Mexicans, Jews, whoever) to X
So, the propagandists say “Group Y is just like the awful Group X, which we all hate.” “And Group Z is just like the awful Group X.”
Therefore, “Groups X, Y, and Z are all alike, and we should all hate them.
One aspect of this propaganda campaign is to keep all the “victims groups” together. If Victims Group P (Palestinians) hate Israel, and Victims Groups G (Gays) hate Homophobes, then the Palestinians and Gays will say that they both hate Israel and Homophobes–and then go one step further and say that “Israel is homophobic” and “Homophobes are pro-Israel.” Ludicrous, of course, but commonplace on campus. Since Palestinians are part of a victims coalition with blacks and gays, they will say that Israel and pro-Israel students must be “white supremacists” (and thus opposed to blacks in the coalition) and homophobic (thus opposed to gays in the coalition). These false and defamatory tactics are standard propaganda techniques, used for years for dictatorial regimes. Seeing them used on college campuses is deeply disturbing.
Harvard, like all universities, admits less-academically qualified students to fill its “diversity requirements”
Predictable outcome: although some of these students rise to the top, many of those admitted with lower GPAs and SATs do not perform as well as other students.
This is not a statement about race or ethnicity. It is true regardless of demographic characteristics. If new students are less qualified according to standard markers, they perform less well, drop out more often, move to less challenging majors, and so on. There is increasing statistical evidence that these less-qualified students would achieve better outcomes if they were matched to universities where their GPAs and SATs predicted they would finish in the middle or higher.
Harvard, like all universities, gives out awards for outstanding academic achievement. A typical award is “best Honors BA thesis in computer science (or Latin or Philosophy).”
These awards are relatively new. They started in the mid-1600s.
According to the Harvard Diversity task force, “diverse students” don’t win many of these awards for outstanding academic performance
The Diversity Task Force is on the case. They know exactly what to do. If you think changing admissions is the answer, you are certainly not the kind of person who sits on a diversity task force.
The diversity task force recommends Harvard reduce this “overreliance on indicators of excellence that systematically favor historically dominant groups.”
Got it? Your achievement as the highest grade point average in chemistry should not be seen primarily as a mark of intelligence and diligence. It should be seen as a mark of a “historically dominent group.”
You cannot make this up. You have to find it lying around–usually in the University Office of Demographic Diversity and Thought Conformity
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
By “Diverse” we mean only black like me, not black like you
Story #2: Cornell’s Black Student Group Complains Too Many Black Students at their university come from Africa, Caribbean, and Latin America.
Links here and here. Here’s the key sentence and student demand, as reported in the Cornell Sun, the student newspaper.
The irony is that this kind of “grandfather” clause was originally used in the South’s Jim Crow laws, passed in the 1890s. If you grandfather couldn’t vote, they said, then you couldn’t vote. Of course, if your grandfather was a slave, then your grandfather couldn’t vote. So, those laws kept blacks from voting.
Now they are advocated by black US students at Cornell to gain an advantage over black students from the Caribbean and Africa.
This kind of politics occurs when groups win a special benefit as a group and then try to exclude others from sharing in that benefit. (It is typical rent-extraction politics.) It has happened among Hispanics, as well. They sometimes tried to exclude Cuban-Americans from various Hispanic groupings for two reasons. First, the Cuban-Americans were more conservative politically than the other groups. Second, the Cuban-Americans were winning disproportionate shares of competitive awards.
There is one important countervailing tendency. The black students strategy at Cornell is divisive within the minority community on campus. It splits them into US and non-US and pits them against each other. That weakens their overall power as a collectivity, even though US blacks become more powerful within the smaller group.
To see professional politicians deal with this, look at the Congressional Black Caucus support for very liberal immigration policies. Those allow more low-skilled immigrants (legal and illegal) from countries such as Mexico, with a significant and obvious negative impact on employment in black communities. Why does the CBC support it? Presumably because they fear that “divided they fall.” If they split with Hispanic Democrats who support these immigration politics, both groups will lose politically. So, they give the Hispanic caucus what it wants and expect reciprocity on issues important to them.