• No offense, please. That’s the hyper-sensitive approach to that nameless holiday in late December

    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.

    But, nooooooo.

    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.

  • Today in University Snowflakes, figuratively and literally: “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” is Now Deemed Racist

    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:

    1. Group A, progressive students (“I am offended by everything”) and
    2. 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!

  • Professor Wants to Drop “Rigor” in Engineering Education. Why? Because It “Reinforces White Male Heterosexual Privilege”

    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 . . .

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. “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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

  • Open anti-Semitism at one of Canada’s top universities

    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.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, November 6

    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.

     Mueller Leaking: NBC reports he has enough evidence to charge Mike Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser

    Special ZipDialog commentary here

    Another college attack on free-speech: Vassar students smear Wm. Jacobson (of Legal Insurrection blog) because he supports free speech (USA Today)

    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)

    Comment: N

    Investigators suspect US journalists were paid to spread materials from the Clinton/FusionGPS/Russian Dossier (Washington Times)

    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

     

  • Cambridge students given trigger warnings: Shakespeare plays may distress them

    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

    The Topper???

    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.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

  • Marching into the Past: Self-Segregation as a Natural Outcome of Identity-Group, Victimization Politics

    Brown University will offer segregated student dinners for black, Muslim students (The College Fix)

    The contorted logic is straight out of Orwell’s Big Brother state.

    Separate dining, they say, will promote “racial reconciliation” as the segregated groups discuss common issues.

    It looks like the Muslim group is only for women.

    Private donors are actually paying for this.

    Funds come from Newman’s Own Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation via the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

    Comments:

    Student discussion groups are valuable. Nothing wrong with them. Discussing common issues is good, too.

    Sometimes students want to get together with like-minded people. That’s usually okay, barring some forms of invidious discrimination, but more and more university administrators want veto power over such private associations. That’s dreadful.

    Still, there are some problems with Brown’s new arrangements.

    • Since the students are already paying for meals, I don’t see why any extra money is needed, beyond the symbiotic relationship between do-good donors and the putative oppressed. The donors get to flaunt their virtue, the oppressed their continuing victimhood, even if they are attending a great university where they are clearly welcomed.
    • Does anyone really think that Brown University, one of the most progressive, selective institutions in the country, needs segregated dining to promote “racial and religious reconciliation” on campus? If Brown students are this intolerant, what hope is left for the rest of us?
    • If the students simply want to self-segregate to discuss issues, why can’t they do that already?
    • Sitting together as voluntary groups and organizing such private groups is perfectly acceptable, usually. But there are two problems with Brown’s arrangement.
      1. What would happen if a voluntary group at Brown wanted to exclude blacks or Muslims? That is, what are the boundaries of segregation at Brown these days?
      2. The university is officially promoting this. Inclusion is presumably still voluntary, but it comes with Big Brother’s seal of approval. It shouldn’t.  Big Brother shouldn’t play any role. Let the students do it unless there’s a problem.
    • By the way, do you notice one missing “oppressed victims group?” Hispanics. Know why? Because most Hispanic students see themselves as upward bound and taking advantage of America’s opportunities. For the most part, they aren’t buying into “victimization as a political strategy” on campus. Of course, progressive leaders and teachers in ethnic studies programs hate this attitude, which portends successful social integration. These “leaders” are trying their best to stamp it out. Let’s hope they keep failing.

    The Brown initiative comes as Cal State LA offers segregated housing for black students, while students at Michigan demanded a “no-whites-allowed” space on campus. (College Fix)

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, September 19

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Trump’s campaign manager wiretapped. That’s a big deal.

    The story was broken by CNN: Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman, starting in 2014 and continuing, off an on, until this year. The tap, authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), would include periods when he was known to speak with Donald Trump. (Manafort also owned an apartment in Trump Tower; that might be relevant because Trump spoke of wiretaps in Trump Tower.)

    There is increasingly strong public speculation that Manafort will be indicted by Robert Mueller’s office.

    At this point, we do not know who the FISA warrant(s) targeted.

    Comment: At this point, we simply don’t know enough about this surveillance. (In fact, the information released to CNN was almost certainly a felony violation of secret proceedings.)

    • Anti-Trump people think the fact that a federal judge would authorize surveillance on such a senior figure in the Trump campaign suggests something very bad was afoot and that collaboration with the Russians may have been Manafort’s aim (if not necessarily that of others in the campaign).
    • Pro-Trump people think this information vindicates his repeated claims that he was wiretapped.
    • And, of course, a lot of people, myself included, want to know more before they reach a conclusion.

    I think a lot of people will agree with Dan Drezner (a centrist and no friend of Trump’s):

    Trump at the UN: Very tough talk. Threatens to “totally destroy” North Korea, calls Kim “rocket man,” and labels Iran a “rogue nation” (New York Times)

    He included terms he had seldom used recently: “radical Islamic terrorism.”

    The full speech is available here on YouTube.

    Comment: Trump’s speech was an unusually blunt, full-throated defense of America’s interests, as opposed to globalism, and included particularly sharp and detailed attacks on Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

    Critical responses to the speech line up as expected.

    More censorship calls on campus, this time because a professor wrote a scholarly article called “The Case for Colonialism” 

    The article, by Prof. Bruce Gilley of Portland State, was published in a peer-reviewed journal that is very anti-colonial, which presumably thought the piece was serious, well-researched, and would spark scholarly debate. The basic argument does not deny the evils of colonialism but says they must be balanced against the benefits and that anti-colonialism has itself carried high costs.

    Recently, Gilley publicly resigned from the American Political Science Association for its ideological bias.

    Here’s the report at Legal Insurrection.

    Comment: Given the political climate on today’s campuses, especially those on the coasts, what Gilley’s article sparked was not discussion but calls for him to be fired, censured, and tarred-and-feathered.

    Will the End of Syria’s civil war spell disaster in Europe as battle-hardened terrorist fighters return? (BESA Center)

    Mordechai Kedar says “yes” and adds that Iran has now effectively taken over Syria, strengthened Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and given a free hand to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

    Comment: Iran’s expansion across the region was facilitated by the Obama administration and will cause death and destruction for years to come.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦