• ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, June 25

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Speculation grows that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will announce his retirement.

    The current Court year ends Monday, and any announcement would come soon after.

    Kennedy is 80, was appointed by a Republican, and has served 29 years on the Court, recently as a crucial swing vote.

    There are several elderly Democrats on the court, but they want to hang on (if health permits) in hopes of another Democratic president.

    Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane, have lawyered up to defend against allegations of bank fraud(CBS)

    When Jane was president of Burlington (VT) College, she got big bank loans for an expansion project that ultimately failed and bankrupted the college.

    The investigation is (1) whether the loans were based on Jane’s false representations about the college’s fundraising and (2) whether Bernie used his office to pressure the bank to make the loan.

     The battle for post-ISIS Syria is shaping up

    The background: the Obama Administration did nothing in Syria and pulled out of Iraq, opening the door wide for Iran to control Baghdad and Damascus (the Assad government) and providing political space for ISIS to build its “caliphate” for Sunnis.

    The change: Trump dramatically altered US policy, and, under the leadership of Mattis at DOD and McMaster at NSC, the US has been taking the fight to ISIS.

    The result: Iran is closing in on ISIS from one direction, the US from the other.

    There are three big issues in this end-game:

    1. Will ISIS turn to move civilian attacks in Europe (and possibly America)?
    2. Will US and Iranian forces be able to avoid direct military confrontation as they converge on ISIS’ last strongholds
    3. Who controls what territory in post-ISIS Syria?

    An excellent primer on the emerging issues is Udi Dekel’s “East-West-North-South: The Race for Syria after the Islamic State” from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS, Israel)

    The current race for control of territory in Syria now appears to be a competition between Iran and the United States, which have established two respective axes – with a vertical American (north-south) effort on the one hand, and a horizontal Iranian (east-west) effort on the other hand. In practice, this is another stage in the shaping of Syria in preparation for the day after the Islamic State. In the meantime, the country’s southwestern region, from Daraa to the Golan Heights, remains open for activity and influence by Israel and Jordan, which must begin taking action before it is too late. Contacts are apparently underway to formulate a joint Israeli-Jordanian-American strategy aimed at preventing Iranian influence and the presence of its proxies, especially Hezbollah and Shiite militias, in the southern Syria. –Udi Dekel

    ◆ Political correctness to stop free speech in Arkansas? Yep.

    But the University stepped in and did the right thing.

    The Univ. of Arkansas’ King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies decided to hold a symposium on honor killings.

    The Center’s director, a geosciences professor named Tom Paradise, included Prof. Phyllis Chesler (from CUNY) on one panel since she has published widely on the subject, arguing that scholars have underplayed the role of Islam in these killings.

    Three Arkansas professors raised holy hell about it, saying the could never “countenance” Chesler’s participation, even though it would simply be a Skype call.

    The Center caved and disinvited Chesler, according to an editorial in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

    Now, the University has done the right thing.

    They removed Prof. Paradise from the center’s leadership, saying “The decision to disinvite a participant for his or her views is not reflective of the values and practices of our institution.”

    Comment: The university did the right thing.

     Palestinians “disappointed” after “tense meeting” with Jared Kushner, Trump’s special emissary (The Hill)

    Key disagreement: US wants Palestinians to stop paying terrorists for killing Jews.

    Palestinian Authority likes paying them. Abbas told Trump it would stop and simply assumed the president knew he was lying.

    Trump held him to account.

    The PA has also been adamant about keeping incendiary, anti-Semitic materials in their school textbooks.

    The larger problems for Abbas: no succession lined up, and the Middle East is moving forward without them.

    Comment: My guess: Trump will look at Kushner’s report of the meetings and decide this is not a good time to push forward with negotiations.

    Trump has always understood something about these negotiations that most presidents don’t: the US can help if both parties want an agreement. But it cannot force an agreement on parties that don’t want one and aren’t prepared to make serious concessions.

     Oklahoma doctor prescribed so many painkillers, she’s being charged with murder in one patient’s death  (Washington Post)

    The patient, Sheila Bartels, received

    what drug addicts call “the holy trinity” of prescription drugs: the powerful painkiller Hydrocodone, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax and a muscle relaxant known as Soma.

    In total, pharmacists handed her 510 pills that day — all legal, because she had a prescription with the signature of her doctor, Regan Ganoung Nichols, scrawled at the bottom, according to a probable cause affidavit. –Washington Post

    Comment: Cracking down on excessive prescriptions is crucial in this fight.

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Sam Stubbs
     for the Sanders bank fraud story
    ◆ Gregg Roman for the University of Arkansas speech-suppression story

     

  • The Language Police Troll Me After the London Attacks. Here is My Response

    After my plain-langue posts on the London attacks, the language police tried to collar me with a Citizens Arrest.

    Here’s the comment, in its full glory.

    Stop saying “Islamist”. It’s a made-up, racist term only used for hate. Usually by hateful, right-wing “Christist” bigots, but sometimes by “Judeists”, too.

    ♦♦♦♦♦

    Why did I refuse to approve this comment?

    • I like dialog. I put it in the blog name for a reason.
    • I like intelligent, reasoned views, whether I agree with them or not.
    • I loathe ad hominem attacks.
    • I loathe moral poseurs, virtue signaling and trying to shut down arguments simply by saying “you are wrong,” “you are hateful,” etc.

    This comment fell firmly into the “I loathe” category.

    I wouldn’t stop them from broadcasting their views.

    But I won’t publish them as a “comment,” either. Set up their own “language police” page, if they wish.

    They don’t add to the discussion on ZipDialog. They attempt to shut it down

    ♦♦♦♦♦

    .

  • Yale Limbos Under the Lowest Standards for Free Speech and Integrity. It Honors Students who Bullied Teachers over “Halloween Costumes”

    Remember when a couple of faculty members who supervised a Yale dorm were run out of their position by screaming bullies? (The supervisory position was called “College Master” until recently. That term was dropped because students said it reminded them of slavery. You can’t make this up.)

    Remember what the bullies were so mad about? It was an email from the College Master who gently told them they could choose whatever Halloween costumes they wanted and, if they saw others wearing costumes they didn’t like, they should try to shrug it off.

    Sensible advice? If you think that, you clearly have no moral compass. You are certainly not fit for today’s Yale.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The “Halloween episode” occurred in 2015, and, when the students bullied, Yale’s most senior leaders immediately buckled. The bullies won.

    Now, it has doubled down on its mistake. It has showered the bullies with honor. They were recognized and rewarded for their “exemplary leadership.”

    Yale has awarded them the Nakanishi Prize for the “two graduating seniors who, while maintaining high academic achievement, have provided exemplary leadership in enhancing race and/or ethnic relations at Yale College.”

    You can easily imagine the committee that picked the winners.

    • Burgwell Howard, Chair, Assoc. Vice President for Student Life, Dean of Student Engagement
    • Risë Nelson, Assistant Dean of Yale College; Director, Afro-American Cultural Center
    • Kelly Fayard, Assistant Dean of Yale College; Director, Native American Cultural Center
    • Eileen Galvez, Assistant Dean of Yale College; Director, La Casa Cultural
    • and so on

    If you think these administrators want to stop the screaming and bullying in the Holy Name of Social Justice, you would be sadly mistaken.

    They have just demonstrated they wish to honor it. They think it “enhances race and/or ethnic relations at Yale College.”

    If they knew the intellectual heritage of their position–a doubtful proposition–they would trace it to the Frankfurt School of cultural Marxism, which teaches that speech can and should be suppressed for a higher goal, that of staunching the power of existing elites and ultimately overthrowing them, violently if necessary (as it surely will be), to create a better society.

    “Who determines this better society?” you ask. “Who determines who get to speak?”

    “Shut up,” they thoughtfully reply.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    James Kirchick tells the contemptible story in The Tablet:

    Yale Cements Its Line in the Academic Sand by Awarding the Student ‘Truthtellers’ Who Bullied Faculty

    In 2015, an email over Halloween costume propriety prompted a public debate over free speech and race. Its conclusion is telling.

    The professors being bullied were Nicholas and Erika Christakis, masters of Silliman College at Yale. The low point came when a student mob surrounded Mr. Christakis, not to engage in rational discourse but to demand an apology:

    Of the 100 or so students who confronted Christakis that day, a young woman who called him “disgusting” and shouted “who the fuck hired you?” before storming off in tears became the most infamous, thanks to an 81-second YouTube clip that went viral. (The video also—thanks to its promotion by various right-wing websites—brought this student a torrent of anonymous harassment). The videos that Tablet exclusively posted last year, which showed a further 25 minutes of what was ultimately an hours-long confrontation, depicted a procession of students berating Christakis. In one clip, a male student strides up to Christakis and, standing mere inches from his face, orders the professor to “look at me.” Assuming this position of physical intimidation, the student then proceeds to declare that Christakis is incapable of understanding what he and his classmates are feeling because Christakis is white, and, ipso facto, cannot be a victim of racism. In another clip, a female student accuses Christakis of “strip[ping] people of their humanity” and “creat[ing] a space for violence to happen,” a line later mocked in an episode of The Simpsons. In the videos, Howard, the dean who wrote the costume provisions, can be seen lurking along the periphery of the mob.

    Of Yale’s graduating class, it was these two students whom the Nakanishi Prize selection committee deemed most deserving of a prize for “enhancing race and/or ethnic relations” on campus.–James Kirchick in Tablet

    Kirchick has another article on the 2015 episode here.

    Here’s one of the videos, of Shrieking Girl. This is not just a terrible viewpoint, backed not by reason but by emotion.

    It is simply bullying, cloaked in the impregnable armor of victimhood-as-moral-righteousness.

    She yelled “who the fuck hired you?”

    A better question would be to the admissions department.

    The Simpsons captures this zeitgeist perfectly:

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Comment: This is Boolah Bull Shit. To honor it is worse than disgusting.

    It shows the people who run this university do not understand the most basic feature of a serious educational institution has to be the right to speak and inquire freely and to dispute others’ views through rational discourse, not shouting and bullying.

    That the heads of student affairs and various victims’ studies departments don’t understand this is not surprising. That’s par for the course on college campuses these days. They either agree with the shouting students or don’t want to risk irritating them and imperilling their jobs.

    What’s shocking is that senior administrators at Yale let this continue. Worse, they actually defend their spinelessness with transparently false statements that they support free speech. They don’t.

     

  • NOT APPROVED: “Students for Free Thought” rejected at Lawrence University

    You read that correctly.

    A voluntary student organization at a liberal-arts college was rejected by the student government because some students had watched a movie recently screened by the organization, “Can We Take a Joke?” and answered “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!! We cannot.” They said they were “triggered” by it, whatever that means. The story is here at Campus Reform.

    What being triggered means in this case is grabbing an ideological hammer and smashing in the heads of everyone who disagrees.

    Surely, some adults will step in. And they did . . . to help with the suppression.

    In a campus-wide email two days earlier, however, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Kimberly Barrett supportively acknowledged the “understandable anger” that students felt, adding ominously that she was “certain” that the issue would affect the prospective club’s application. –Campus Reform

    Quick Tip: Vice Presidents for Diversity and Inclusion are Kafkaesque creatures. They oppose diversity of thought. They are all about excluding the people they don’t want. They are essentially union-reps for rent-extraction politics on campus, giving special benefits to approved groups and helping them crush others.

    Special moment of Irony: Lawrence University is in Appleton, Wisconsin, the home of Joe McCarthy. They have adopted his tactics of fear and smear. It’s no more appealing from the left than it was from the right.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, May 23

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ My comment on the vile terror bombing in Manchester is posted separately (here).

    May the innocents rest in peace.

    May the wounded recover fully, in body and mind.

    May the police be safe as they root out the terrorists who prepared and executed this heinous act.

    These prayers have been said far too many times. And we fear this will not be the last time.

     Academic malpractice: Highly-esteemed professor at Duke Divinity School resigns after being attacked for not attending the university’s re-education and training camp for diversity.

    The story is here at The Weekly Standard.

    When Prof. Paul Griffiths refused to attend the “Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training” (it must have been named by Orwell) and explained his reasons, the Dean of the Divinity school attacked with full fury. According to Griffiths, Dean Elaine Heath

    initiates financial and administrative reprisals against Griffiths. Those reprisals ban him from faculty meetings, and, thereby, from voting in faculty affairs; and promise (contra the conditions stated in his letter of appointment) to ban him from future access to research or travel funds. –The Weekly Standard

    The faculty member who runs the re-education and peasant labor camp “launched her own disciplinary proceeding against Griffiths with Duke’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).”

    Griffiths’ refusal to attend and his explanation made her workplace “hostile,” naturally. If the PC deans and faculty had their way, Griffiths would be sent to the countryside to plant and harvest rice and learn from the honest peasants.

    The article concludes with a powerful comment by the author, Charlotte Allen:

    It’s hard to figure out what’s more appalling about this episode: the ease with which powerful faculty members can strip their colleagues of their ability to do their jobs just because those colleagues exercise free speech and don’t sign on to their ideological priorities—or the increasing power of bloated university bureaucracies, especially “diversity” bureaucracies over every facet of existence at a university that is supposed to be devoted to the life of the mind. –Charlotte Allen in The Weekly Standard

    Peter Berkowitz, another acute observer of academic follies, has an excellent piece on this Duke fiasco at the Wall Street Journal.

    Comment: Shame on Duke, a school repeatedly cloaked in politically-motivated misdeeds. They seem to learn nothing from their mistakes.

    Bravo to Paul Griffiths, distinguished professor of Catholic theology, who deserves a badge for his intellectual courage. I hope he retains counsel and goes after the malefactors.

     At Dartmouth, somewhat better news

    First the bad news: the university selected as its new dean of the faculty a professor (N. Bruce Duthu) who helped lead his professional association to boycott and sanction all Israeli universities and the professors who work there.

    This sort of thing passes virtually unnoticed among university administrators, who probably missed it when they reviewed Duthu’s qualifications.

    But outside the ivied walls, people did notice it. The university defended him, said he was a swell fellow, and, after some hesitation, he eventually said he had changed his mind about boycotting and sanctioning everything from Israel.

    The good news: after national publicity about his anti-Israel views, Duthu has decided that he shouldn’t take accept the Deanship after all.

    Here’s the story at the Observer.

    Comment: Kudos to Paul Miller and Haym Salomon Center for publicizing Duthu’s role in the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement. Ultimately, what Prof. Duthu did behind closed academic doors couldn’t be justified to a larger audience of Dartmouth faculty, alums, trustees, donors, and others. 

     World’s first operational robot-cop has started work in Dubai. They want them to make up about 1/3 of their police force by 2030. (Daily Mirror, UK)

    Fox News also has a report:

    The Robocop, five feet five inches tall and weighing 220 pounds, speaks six languages and reads facial expressions.

    “He can chat and interact, respond to public queries, shake hands and offer a military salute,” Brigadier-General Khalid Nasser Al Razzouqi, Director-General of Smart Services with the Dubai Police told the Mirror.

    Residents can use the Robocop to pay fines or report crimes, and it also can transmit and receive messages from police headquarters. –Fox News

     Chicago clinches spot as great food city: America’s first Nutella Cafe to open in City of Big Stomachs next week  (Chicago Eater)

     Metaphor alert: Huge sinkhole forms near Trump’s Mar-A-Lago (Forbes)

     The headlines about Betsy DeVos’ speech focused on her promise that “more school choice is coming.” That’s big, if vague.

    But she said something equally important: education should not be run from Washington (USA Today)

    Comment: Exactly right, she, Trump, and the Republicans are beginning to turn around decades of increasing centralization of educational decisionmaking in DC.

    Washington can help by allowing all kinds of experimentation. Let cities and states figure out what works and what fits best in different locales.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

     

  • Orwell Weeps: U of Arizona will hire “Social Justice Advocates” to police other students

    Just imagine it’s 1951 and they hire “Red Menace Preventers” to report suspected left-wing thought crimes.

    Or it’s 1963 and Gov. George Wallace gets Auburn and ‘Bama to hire students to report others who favor integration.

    Any problem for you?

    Bad enough at any university. Even worse at a public university with taxpayer dollars.

    Shame on the University of

    Story here.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Sat-Sun, May 13-14

    Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

    SPECIAL, NO POLITICS EDITION

     Another amazing genetic discovery. By accident, cancer researchers seem to have discovered the genes that make you go bald or get gray hair (Fox)

    Comment:  “Now you come up with this,” said the late Yul Brenner.

    A patch to protect your older PC from Ransomeware  (PC Mag)

    Comment: IMO, the crooks who did this should also be changed with harming the hospital patients affected.

    Brockmire (Hank Azaria) interviewed on NPR 

    Comment: As ZipDialog readers know, I’m a fan.

     Pope says Church has sex-abuse backlog of 2,000 cases (AP)

    Comment: Terrible situation, but good the Pope acknowledges it.

     Another university caves, disinvites speaker (Washington Post)

    Comment: Spineless administrators

     RIP, Allen Meltzer: free-market economist who helped end the great inflation of the 1970s  He and Paul Volcker were crucial in that Reagan-era effort.

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  • Students Boo Betsy DeVos at College Graduation: My Take (UPDATED)

    The story is here: “Students boo Betsy DeVos as commencement speaker at historically black university” (Washington Post)

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Students booed, and many turned their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she gave the keynote address at Bethune-Cookman University’s commencement Wednesday afternoon.

    The speech was part of an ongoing effort by President Trump and DeVos to reach out to historically black schools. But many students and alumni had objected to having DeVos as speaker in part because they said that outreach is an empty gesture. But the president of the university defended her work as a philanthropist and her commitment to education.

    –Washington Post

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Comment: I want to offer a both a defense and criticism of the students.

    I make that defense even though I disagree with their political view and consider their behavior discourteous.

    Still, as long as they did not disrupt the speech itself, threaten others, or use violence, their protest is within their free-speech rights.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    UPDATE and CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE:

    I have now listened to several tapes of DeVos trying to speak. The student boos drowned out her calm speech and seemed like a clear attempt to prevent her from speaking and others from hearing her. THAT IS SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Let’s consider a harder case. What if the students stood silently, perhaps with signs, perhaps simply with their backs turned, during the speech?

    To me, there are a couple of issues here. One is whether the actions made it difficult for others to listen to the talk. Those other people have rights, too, and so does the speaker. Second, is the talk essentially a voluntary-attendance event. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go inside. Almost all college events are like that. When they are, it violates others’ rights and tramples on free speech to go inside the auditorium and make it difficult for others to listen quietly. It is fine to protest peacefully outside the event. A brief, peaceful protest within the event might be okay, too. For example, students could stand and leave en masse.

    But this was not an ordinary, come-if-you-want speech. It was a commencement talk, which all graduating students wish to attend, not stand outside.

    A brief protest that did not affect others would have been fine. Booing when she was introduced would have been within their rights, however rude. But shouting over her is simply wrong.

    That said, these Bethune-Cookman students are far superior to the thugs at Middlebury, Berkeley, and other universities who deliberately shut down all speech they don’t agree with. The left-wing hecklers always get a veto.

    The Bethune-Cookman students also deserve censure for attempting to squelch the talk before it happened. According to the Washington Post:

    Here at Bethune-Cookman, alumni and others delivered petitions this week to administrators with thousands of signatures demanding that DeVos not be allowed to speak. The state’s NAACP chapter called on the university president to resign, and a national teachers’ union amplified the opposition, as well. –Washington Post

    Interesting to see the NAACP is in the pocket of the teachers’ union, but, hey, solidarity forever and the kids’ education be damned.

    The college itself also deserves credit for going beyond the usual list of speakers to pick Sec. DeVos. Why Brandeis tried to do that by inviting Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak at commencement, the anti-free speech crowd forced a spineless administration to back down and disinvite her.

    The administrators at Bethune-Cookman stood up to the bullies. Good for them.

    Bottom lines:

    • Fine: Peaceful protests that allow others to speak and listen.
    • Not fine: Violence, threats of violence, and active disruption
    • Not fine: Attempting to block speakers from appearing because you don’t like their views.
    • Kudos: to Bethune-Cookman administrators for inviting somebody whose views are different from the standard list of graduation speakers and for standing up to the bullies
      • You won’t find that sort of apostacy at Wellesley, Wesleyan, Brown, or Brandeis. Only approved, politically-correct views–and they call that an education.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

     

  • Occasional Quotes: George Orwell on the connection between Liberty and Free Speech

    If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear!

    –George Orwell in “The Freedom of the Press”

    Yes. Exactly.

    That is why the restrictions, now being imposed on campuses (formally by univ. administrators, informally by “progressive” bullies), are so damnable.

    I would add one thing, though. For political action, the right to speak must be accompanied by the right to assemble peacefully. That is why the First Amendment includes both.

    Some repressive regimes permit speech but not assembly, knowing that their control can be challenged only if people organize as groups.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Hat tip to Rob Schneider