The Other Poison Gas Killing Syrians: Carbon Dioxide Emissions
If Trump and his cronies really cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn’t be trying to spew ever more CO2 into the atmosphere –Juan Cole
You see, it’s about drought. Yeah, that’s the ticket. It’s the drought that caused everything to go wrong in Syria.
Oh, yes, and Trump is to blame. Plus, he’s a hypocrite for bombing a Syrian base to stop more chemical weapon attacks because Trump doesn’t also agree with Al Gore on climate change. If you can follow that logic, check with your doctor. If you agree with it, apply to graduate studies with Prof. Cole at Michigan.
Again, to quote the professor:
The Syrian civil war has left more than 400,000 people dead, among them graveyards full of children and innocent noncombatants. About half the country’s 23 million people have been left homeless, and of those, 4 million have been driven abroad (some of them contributing to Europe’s refugee crisis and its consequent rightward political shift). The war occurred for many complex reasons, including social and political ones. The severest drought in recorded modern Syrian history in 2007–10, however, made its contribution. –Juan Cole
Comment: Notice that, in the fine print, Cole relegates the drought to a much more ambiguous status. It “made a contribution” to the humanitarian disaster, he now says. How much contribution? He refuses to say.
Yet the whole point of the article is that carbon dioxide in Syria is more deadly than poison gas attacks, which are war crimes (for good reasons). In short, the article is bait-and-switch, seasoned with hyperbole, political correctness, and a steadfast refusal to look true evil in the eye.
The most appropriate comment comes from the movie, Billy Madison. It is pitch perfect for Prof. Cole’s analysis:
In other words, a drought may have contributed, indirectly, to the carnage in Syria. But to emphasize it as a major cause is misleading, tendentious, and wrong.
To put it differently, California had multiple years of drought and, according to recent statistics, the civil war there has claimed far fewer than 400,000 lives. Perhaps under 300,000.
Hey, let’s at least give Jerry Brown some credit for avoiding barrel bombs in the Central Valley. So far.
Hat Tip: Daniel Pipes and Campus Watch. They found the Cole article and publicized it. Kudos.
Tom Blumer at NewsBusters, who initially publicized the article.
Since [the riots protesting a planned but cancelled speech by Milo Yiannopoulo], the Berkeley College Republicans’ property has been destroyed, the group cancelled a speech by conservative activist and Berkeley alumnus David Horowitz after the administration threw up numerous roadblocks, and now it has been told that conservative commentator Ann Coulter may not speak as planned due to the danger posed by potentially violent protesters.
This is a chilling and dangerous precedent. –FIRE
FIRE has it exactly right, as usual. They are a politically-neutral organization that supports free speech and does more than any organization to promote it.
Hecklers should never receive a veto. NEVER.
At Berkeley, the hecklers and rioters not only have a veto, they have established an effective deterrent threat. They can merely threaten to go berserk and prevent speech they oppose.
The rights (and limitations) surrounding the First Amendment should apply fully on campuses, even at, gasp, the University of California, Berkeley.
The three keys:
Universities need to state strong free speech principles. Those are essential, and it is essential to state them without weasel words. But even the best principles are not enough. Berkeley falsely stated its commitment to free speech in cancelling speeches.
Universities need to enforce those on the ground through its deans and safety officers
Students and outsiders who violate those rules need to face sure and serious punishments.
Comment: The situation is incredibly dangerous. North Korea’s leader is not only bellicose. He may well be mentally unstable. No one is sure.
South Korea’s capital and largest city, Seoul, is very close to the DMZ, and very vulnerable to attack–including a nuclear attack by Pyongyang.
China could put the squeeze on North Korea, but that does not mean it has control over the Kim regime’s actions. Beijing knows that China’s population is also threatened by North Korean weapons and that the two countries have a complicated, sometimes fraught history.
My hunch is that Beijing would prefer to engineer a change of leadership that is friendly to China, less bellicose, and willing to pursue a Chinese-style market opening. But trying to achieve that is very risky.
An embattled student group at Wichita State University is finally free to engage in on-campus activism as a registered student organization. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the Wichita State University Student Government overturned the Student Government Association’s unconstitutional decision to deny recognition to Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian student group, because of the group’s belief in First Amendment principles. –FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
Comment: If you support free speech and don’t already know about FIRE, you’ll be happy to learn about it. It is truly even-handed, defending right and left alike.
◆Related Story: Meanwhile, at Wellesley, a very selective liberal arts college, the student newspaper writes:
Wellesley is certainly not a place for racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech. Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech. (The Wellesley News via HotAir)
These students actually say that the “Founding Fathers” (a phrase that must stick in their craw) “put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised . . . [and] suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging.”
Comment: The First Amendment does not mean “anything is acceptable.” As everyone knows, you cannot yell fire falsely in a crowded theater. Nor can you take a bullhorn and wake up the whole neighborhood at 3 am with your rendition of “I did it my way.” There are, in other words, some legal restrictions on the time, place, and conditions for speech. There are legal remedies for “damaging” speech, if it is false and defamatory (and perhaps known to be false when uttered).
But for Wellesley students to actually defend their speech suppression as being true to the First Amendment is either disingenuous or historically clueless. Either way, it is wrong.
◆ Two data-driven opinion pieces on wealth disparities between blacks and whites with college degrees
There were the obvious crazy things happening like the website melting down, Ukraine, and the horrible ISIS beheadings; these sort of manufactured press stories that hopefully you all have forgotten about. –Daily Caller
Comment: Those manufactured stories were nothing compared to that fake moon landing.
Many thanks to Christopher Buckley for the Wellesley story
Comment: Mitch McConnell won’t let it prevent Gorsuch’s confirmation. For D’s in purple and red states, this opposition is perilous. Their base loves it, their donors love it, but the general public does not.
Parini and Callanan, the distinguished scholars who have headed up this effort, deserve high praise for it.
At the bottom of this blog post, I quote the exemplary principles they lay out.
◆ Let’s go beyond praising the free-speech petition and use the signatures to show where support free speech comes from and where the opposition lies.
◆ So far, 63 faculty members have signed on. More might join in the next few days.
◆ They come from a broad variety of departments–but not all.
In fact, it is worthwhile to examine the departmental affiliations of who signed up for free speech and, on the other side, those who signed the counter-petition (prior to the speech), demanding Murray stay away and then sliming him with false allegations about his views and scholarly findings.
Most (but not all) of Allison Stanger’s colleagues in political science signed the pro-free speech petition, as did she. That’s not surprising. She was, of course, injured in the riots, and some of her friends and colleagues undoubtedly wanted to show solidarity with her.
Parini’s colleagues in English and American Literature signed in larger numbers than most departments. Support from literature departments would not happen at most universities. That it did at Middlebury may reflect the kind of department Parini helped build or simply his colleagues’ friendship.
Who signed the petition beyond faculty in Political Science and Literature? The bulk were in the “hard social sciences” (Economics, Psychology), History, Russian, Math, Chemistry, Geology, and, surprisingly, Religion.
(By “hard social sciences,” I mean those, like economics and psychology, that aspire to be sciences, emphasize large data bases, mathematical models, and empirical testing of causal models. Fields like anthropology and history certainly use data, but they are generally more interested in the actors’ mentalities, intentions, and meanings. Thus, “hard” does not mean difficult, and “soft” does not mean squishy.)
Who refused to sign? There were zero signatures from the following departments and minors:
African American Studies, African Studies, American Studies, Arabic, Comparative Literature, Dance, Education Studies, French, Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies, Global Health , Greek, Hebrew-Classical, Hebrew-Modern, International and Global Studies, International Politics and Economics, Latin, Linguistics , Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Physical Education, Physics, South Asian Studies , Spanish and Portuguese, Studio Art, and Theatre
That is based on the stated affiliations of the signatories, compared to Middlebury’s official list of its departments and majors. It is possible, of course, that some signatories have “affiliate appointments” in these departments or that the departments have no exclusive faculty of their own.
The data show
Supporters of free speech come disproportionately from the physical sciences, “hard” social sciences, and, to a lesser extent, the biosciences.
Opposition comes from the Humanities, Arts, and softer social sciences. Because social justice.
That distribution reflects my own experience across multiple universities (but is not based on systematic data).
On nearly every campus, the staunchest opponents are professors of gender, sexuality, women’s studies, race, Native American studies, education, and social work, all highly-politicized bastions of the left. American Studies is now essentially the same and so are most literature departments. (Middlebury is an outlier.)
They always lead the opposition to free speech. Because social justice.
If students don’t agree with the dominant political ideology of these departments, they leave or never enter in the first place. (It is snarky but true to add that students don’t enter them if they are thinking about building skills for future employers. My point is that they are not building skills for open-minded, critical thinking, either.)
These departments never hire professors who vary from the party line. Never.
Here, for example, are the three full-time faculty in Middlebury’s gender studies program. All three signed the “Keep Murray Away” petition. NONE signed the free speech petition. That is anecdotal, of course, but it is repeated on campus after campus. You would be hard fixed to find professors of Gender Studies, Sexuality, Race Studies, Education, or Social Work who take a strong position in favor of free speech. And they are pretty thin on the ground in theater or comparative literature. All think it would permit “oppressive” speech that hurts the weak, poor, and vulnerable.
The dominant ideology of departments like these is:
America is an exploitative country and a malevolent force in the world;
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the right track but too willing to compromise, too willing to work within “the system”
America and our college campuses are composed of two main groups: the oppressed and the privileged. Our departments stand with the oppressed. They are simultaneously powerful and vulnerable, needing “safe spaces” to express their views unchallenged. A space is unsafe not because of any physical threat but because certain views (or even the presence of certain people) can produce psychic injury.
As professors are activists, inside the classroom and outside. Our teaching is explicitly designed to improve the situation of the oppressed and to assign blame to the oppressors.
Designated oppressors should feel guilty and can partially absolve themselves by following our movement, not by leading or questioning it.
Put differently: February is “Black History Month” only because it is the shortest month.
Their viewpoint is summarized in Bernie Sanders’ angry rejection of the idea that America is a compassionate country. His fury is brief and telling.
Turning to the brighter side:
⇒ The Middlebury Principles are excellent.
It is hard to see why all faculty and students don’t endorse them enthusiastically.
That they do not is the tragedy of our time on campus.
Hand-picked and farm-fresh– ⇒Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Trump, the Democrats, and the Russians
Comment: Right now, we don’t know what lies beneath the to-and-fro. The Democrats are playing the Joe McCarthy card, not only because it hurts Trump but because it burnishes their long-tarnished credentials as “tough on foreign enemies.”
The kerfuffle over Jeff Sessions (and that is all it is) revitalized the Democratic attacks for two reasons.
First, Sessions’ answer to Sen. Franken could be taken as false (or true, if you think his “no contact” referred only to the campaign). His failure to correct the record was a mistake, in any second, Second, the contacts fit the Democratic narrative that Russian collaboration with Trump aides causes Hillary to lose. It didn’t, but they can’t face the reality that they lost because of a bad candidate, no message or vision for the future, and dreadful campaign tactics. Anybody who asks Robby Mook or Hillary Clinton for campaign advice is a moron.
Trump’s Tweet on Saturday stirred the pot again, instead of hoping this would die down. That could be because he expects more negative disclosures. Or it could be because his standard procedure is to swing back–and swing back hard–after he gets punched. Or both.
It is far too early to know how this will play out, but if President Obama’s administration did tap senior figures in the Trump campaign, they had better have done so on strong evidence presented to the FISA judges. Otherwise, this will look like political scheming of the worst kind. If they did have strong evidence, then that will be terrible for the Trump side.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration’s attacks on US intelligence agencies are why those agencies are doing something extremely dangerous to our constitutional government: they are leaking highly-classified materials, not just to back a policy (they have done that many times) but to undermine an elected government.
(1) the scale of the back-and-forth accusations will make it hard to keep this investigation within DOJ. There will be rising calls for an independent counsel.
(2) For the Democrats, the goal is not the investigation of wrong-doing. The goal is stopping Trump and the Republican majorities in both Houses from passing their agenda and dismantling the Democrats’ favored programs. Trump gave them the opening, and they have dashed through it. His goal now is to blindside them, partly for revenge, partly to weaken their ability to stop his programs.
Comment: Well, Obama’s spokesman did not quite say that. He said Obama’s White House had not done it. But the DOJ is responsible for these things, and he said nothing about them. Of course, we all know the DOJ is completely independent from the White House. Sarcasm off.
It would have been better for CNN to report accurately that Pres. Trump threw out an incendiary allegation and has provided no evidence for it so far. The press will rightly demand such evidence.
If [those who disrupted the speech] are students, they should have the remainder of the year at home to contemplate what education and ordered liberty mean. If Middlebury College refuses to take strong action, then students and their parents should look elsewhere for education.
If the disrupting protesters came from outside, they should face criminal penalties. –Charles Lipson
◆ The Associated Press thought it was a good idea to publish the private email address of Mike Pence’s wife. The VP is not happy about it.(New York Post). The issue arose because Pence was said to have used his private account for some official business when he was governor of Indiana.
Comment: The AP was once considered a gold-standard for neutral, fact-based reporting. Of late, they have been part of the dumpster fire.
The picture is particularly important since it clearly shows how the thuggish mob was shouting down the speaker in the room, preventing his talk. They later attacked him and a professor as they left the event.
The mob could have protested peacefully outside the event–showing their respect for free speech and their opposition to Murray. That is the back-and-forth our First Amendment permits. Instead, the students and outsider haters elected to impose their views on everyone and shut down the speech.
Their behavior was noxious. If they are students, they should have the remainder of the year at home to contemplate what education and ordered liberty mean. If Middlebury College refuses to take strong action, then students and their parents should look elsewhere for education.
If the disrupting protesters came from outside, they should face criminal penalties.
My extended comments are below.
What happened, in a nutshell
For now, the important facts are these:
The college administrators tried hard to let Murray speak,
He was stopped by a thuggish mob, one of whom injured the professor accompanying Murray
Murray’s speech was stopped when the mob kept shouting, stomping their feet, setting off fire alarms, and more.
What we don’t know yet is whether Middlebury will follow up and do what it should: expel the students who prevented the speech and demand legal consequences for the off-campus rioters.
If Middlebury does, it will reestablish a climate of learning.
If it refuses to punish its out-of-control students, then young people interested in genuine learning should not go there.
Free Speech and Its Foes on Campus
When violent thugs have an effective veto over who can and cannot speak, our system of higher education is doomed. That is exactly what is happening on many campuses today.
Administrators stand by passively and some actually discourage free speech by publishing “principles” that place freedom of speech below other values, such as their particular view of social justice or comity on campus. Whatever you think of those values, their practical effect is straightforward. They are nothing more than sweet talk for speech suppression.
When the Media Covers Up for the Bad Guys
These problems would be bad enough without the media trying to cover up for the miscreants. Unfortunately, that is exactly what many of them do because they hold the same views about “social justice” trumping “controversial conservative views.” You would think the media, which lives on free speech, would be its staunchest defender. That they are not tells you how deeply the termites have eaten into the load-bearing walls of our liberties.
That’s what today’s Tweet of the Day is about–the dishonesty of the Washington Post‘s reporting:
Contrast the Washington Post’s treatment with the honest headline and fair treatment in Inside Higher Education: Shouting Down a Lecture by Scott Jaschik.
For spinning when it should be reporting honestly, the Washington Post wins today’s AgitProp Prize for corrupt, politically-biased reporting.
Many thanks to Michael Sokolow for The Middlebury Campus article