• Who is Ben Shapiro and why is Berkeley treating his upcoming speech like a nuclear attack?

    On Thursday, Ben Shapiro is scheduled to speak at the University of California, Berkeley, which has tried very hard for months to prevent him from speaking.

    Some Background on Ben Shapiro

    Shapiro is a reasonably well-known talk show host with conservative views, multiple books to his credit, and a superb academic record.

    He has strident views, but he is neither a kook nor a (metaphorical) bomb-thrower. (With Antifa rioters throwing real bombs, you have to add “metaphorical” to the Shapiro description.)

    He’s smart and extremely well-educated: As an undergraduate at UCLA, he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At Harvard Law, he graduated cum laude.  He practiced briefly with a top national firm in Los Angeles before turning to journalism.

    Smears against Shapiro

    The left has smeared him as a “fascist” and a “white nationalist.” He is neither. He is not a Trump supporter and, in private life, an orthodox Jew.

    He has the odd and unhappy distinction of being attacked both as a Jew (by numerous anti-Semites, a group increasingly prominent on the left) and as an Alt-Right White Nationalist.

    His association with Andrew Breitbart, with whom he work for several years, is another lightning rod. Shapiro continued to work with Breitbart.com after the founder’s death but resigned on grounds of principle when the news outlet refused to defend one of its reporters allegedly manhandled by Corey Lewandowski, then-campaign manager for Donald Trump.

    College Speeches

    The left and anti-Israel activists have decided Shapiro should be prevented from speaking on college campuses, including public universities, and the target of physical confrontations when he does try to speak.

    In 2016, protesters form human chains around an auditorium at Cal State LA to prevent him from speaking. (They failed.)

    Later that year, DePaul University banned him from setting foot on their campus. He was banned from participating in an event to which he had been invited. DePaul, it should be noted, is one of the worst offenders against free speech in the country. Their treatment of Shapiro was par for their substandard course.

    When Shapiro appeared on television with a transgender activist, Zoey Tur, he was threatened with physical assault again after referring to Tur with male terminology.

    Cal-Berkeley

    Berkeley is so fearful of Shapiro’s speech that they are closing off nearby buildings on the day of the event.

    They are also–incredibly–offering psychological counseling for Cal students traumatized by the mere thought of Shapiro speaking on campus. That’s a real thing.

    What is also sadly read: anarchists and crazies are likely to show up and riot.

    Comment:

    The willingness to use violence to stop opposing views is a fundamental threat to our constitutional democracy. That willingness is rising, and people of all political stripes need to speak out clearly and forcefully against it. 

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for September 2

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

    ◆ Melania Trump–to her great credit–wore high heels to Texas today. 

    Comment: I normally would not comment on such trivia. But the haters in Manhattan, Cambridge, and San Francisco and their fellow travelers in the media made it a big deal on Melania’s trip earlier this week.

    It was their behavior, not her’s, that was disgusting.

    By wearing high heels today instead of sneaker, she effectively gave the finger to the haters. This from the NY Post:

    Btw, you might not remember that the media said nothing about Michelle Obama’s shoes or outfit during the Hurricane Sandy relief.

    Know why?

    She didn’t bother to visit.

    ◆ Corrupt justice? Comey wrote his “no charges against Hillary and friends” memo long before the FBI interviewed all the key witnesses

    He will wriggle out of any legal trouble. He told Congress he did not make a decision until after the interviews. That now seems like perjury. But he will claim that the memo was merely a draft.

    Equally damning was his decision to let two people who demanded immunity in the investigation sit in on Hillary’s interview. No prosecutors ever do that.

    Comment: This whole thing stinks.

    California prosecutor, leading a murder trial against a gang, beaten unconscious “Buckets of blood” from her (CBS Los Angeles)

    No robbery. No sexual assault. Just a beating.

    Comment: Sounds like a message.

     Good News in Higher Ed: Turns out parents and students shy away from colleges that cave to far-left demonstrators. Mizzou and Evergreen State pay the price. (Fox News)

     

    The University of Missouri had to temporarily close seven dormitories – renting them out for special events, such as homecoming games – and planned to cut 400 jobs. –Fox News

    Bad news: The level of political correctness has reach ridiculous levels: Students at the Univ of Minnesota vote down remembrance of 9/11 out of fear it would “incite racism” and “offend Muslim students” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) 

    Comment: The refusal of students to attend schools without robust free speech is the best sanction of all.

    Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of administrators like the loss of revenue.

    Meanwhile, the locust-plague of social justice warriors continues on many campuses, shutting down free speech, often with help from the university administration.

    Judge Richard Posner retires from senior status. Most important judge in US not on Supreme Court (Chicago Tribune)

    Posner [age 78] said in a statement he has written more than 3,300 opinions in his time on the bench and is “proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging.” He said he spent his career applying his view that “judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and wrong in every case.”

    Posner’s biting and often brilliant written opinions as well as his unrelenting questioning from the bench have made him an icon of the court for years.

    Known as a conservative at the time of his appointment, Posner’s views skewed more libertarian through the years, and he often came down in favor of more liberal issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights. –Chicago Tribune

    Comment: I have known Judge Posner for many years, as a neighbor and a colleague. And, man oh man, do the lawyers who appear before him tell stories bout his razor-sharp tongue on the bench and his penetrating questions.

    In every generation, there are one or two judges not on SCOTUS who have enormous impact because of their clear thinking and writing. Judge Posner was the one of his generation. His academic impact was equally vast since he helped forge the entire field of “law and economics” (essentially the application of microeconomic logic to a wide range of legal issues).

     

     

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  • Censoring those statues: When YOU do it, you are an uncultured redneck. When I do it, I am respecting diversity

    If you have a long memory, you might recall George W. Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft deciding to change the backdrop at the Department of Justice.

    Initially, when he held press conferences, he stood in front of the Department’s half-nude, art deco statue, “Spirit of Justice.”

    He preferred a more modest, less distracting backdrop, so he had blue curtains installed.

    It seemed a little silly, but harmless enough.

    The national media had a field day mocking him as a cultural cretin.

    “What kind of backwoods idiot is he?” was the view in Manhattan, Cambridge, and the swankier sections of Washington. They deigned to look down their collective noses at him and his kind of people, much as they laughed at Victorians who covered up piano “legs.”

    Typical were the views of always-grating Maureen Dowd (link here):

    A Blue Burka for Justice

    By Maureen Dowd

    New York Times, January 30, 2002

    I had to call Attorney General John Ashcroft recently to ask if he had instructed his advance team to remove naked lady statues and calico cats from his vicinity because they were wicked.

    I know it sounds loopy. But with these guys, you never know. –NYT

    Yuck, yuck, yuck!! Those rubes.

    (Btw, Dowd’s column is not an example of newspaper bias, IMO. You can agree or disagree with her, but she is writing an opinion column, and it is clearly labeled as such. The Times’ problem with bias is not that its opinion columns tilt one way but that its editorial opinions suffuse its hard-news coverage.)

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    Now, the tables have turned, and I await the mockery from the NYT, the Post, and others.

    I suspect I’ll have a long wait.

    Here’s the story:

    Yale University censors ‘hostile’ historic artwork (Link here)

    Officials at Yale University recently censored a stone work of art on campus depicting an armed Native American and Puritan side by side, which has been described as a “hostile” image by the Ivy League institution’s alumni magazine.

    The stone carving was edited to cover up the Puritan’s musket, while the Native American’s bow was left as is, reports Yale Alumni Magazine (link here).

    The decision to censor the carving was made by both head librarian Susan Gibbons and Yale’s Committee on Art in Public Spaces, the latter of which advises President Peter Salovey “on ways to better represent the diversity of the Yale community through the art and other symbolic representations found around campus,” according to the university’s website. –The College Fix, referencing Yale Alumni Magazine

    Did anybody complain or even notice the shocking musket? Nope, no record of any complaints.

    Is Yale unique in such censorship? Alas, no.

    A number of universities in recent years have censored or concealed art on campus. Earlier this year, Pepperdine University removed a Christopher Columbus statue from its grounds while late last summer the University of Wisconsin-Stout moved a painting of Native Americans and French frontier trappers from a public area to a private conference room. The art in these two cases was deemed “painful” and “harmful,” respectively. –College Fix

    I just hope the New York Times doesn’t find out. Surely they will be outraged at this artistic censorship.

    Yeah, sure.

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    Comments:

    1. It is not unexpected that Yale would censor anything it considers politically incorrect. That’s its standard practice today.
      • It encourages the same kind of robust diversity of political opinion you find on the back of a cereal box.
      • Yale sets standards for free and open discourse Google can only aspire to.
    2. Judging from Yale’s abject behavior, and the lack of public criticism, John Ashcroft should have tried a different spin. He should have said the magic words, “This statue is offensive to the vital cause of female equality in the workplace.”
    3. I look forward to Maureen Dowd, New York Times, WaPo, and others attacking Yale’s censorship. So far, crickets.
    4. My own comment, as an alum is simple
      • Free Speech at universities is the most important issue in higher education today.
      • Yale doesn’t just fail on this issue. Under Pres. Peter Salovey and his administration, it sets the gold standard for politically-correct suppression of speech, all in the name of social justice. It is, I’m afraid, a standard made of fools’ gold.

  • 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.

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    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

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