• 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!

  • 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)

  • Chelsea Mourning: Harvard Students in a Snit over Her Cancellation as a Fellow

    Well, maybe “fellow” isn’t such a good title, either.

    In any case, Harvard students know oppression, imperialism, capitalism, and heteronormativity when they see it, and they are shouting back.

    Here’s the headline in the student newspaper:

    Outcry After Chelsea Manning Dropped from IOP Fellowship (The Crimson, Harvard)

    Controversy enveloped the Kennedy School of Government this weekend as critics on campus and around the country castigated the school for rescinding Chelsea Manning’s appointment as a visiting fellow this fall.

    Facing criticism on-campus and nationwide, Dean of the Kennedy School Douglas W. Elmendorf rescinded Manning’s invitation in a statement issued in the early hours of Friday, calling her selection a “mistake.”

    Now the school faces a fresh wave of controversy as commentators lambast Harvard’s decision to disinvite Manning, a transgender activist whose prison sentence former President Barack Obama commuted in 2017. –The Crimson

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The Aggrieved Left Pushes Back

    They and Chelsea Manning are “Victims”

    The pushback from the campus left, which now sees itself in its preferred position of “blameless victim,” includes a letter condemning the university for dropping the Manning offer:

    In light of her selfless sacrifices as a whistleblower, her dedication to the truth, and her commitment to human rights, we call upon the Harvard Kennedy School to reinstate Chelsea Manning’s designation as a fellow at the Institute of Politics,” read the letter, signed by the Trans Task Force, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and the Anti-Islamophobia Network, among several other groups. –Letter from student organizations supporting Chelsea Manning appointment at Harvard, quoted in The Crimson

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The Crimson’s Reporting: Fair and Competent

    The Crimson article, it should be noted, is fair-minded and includes on-the-record quotes from university members on both sides of the controversy.

    Its reporting on a disputed left-right issue is actually superior to that of the NYT, Washington Post, and other media.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Framing This Issue is Contentious

    Comment: This dispute is framed in quite different ways by the opposing sides–and that framing matters.

    The left sees it as primarily a snub to Manning because of her gender reassignment.

    The right sees it as a reasonable decision about someone who leaked classified information.

    The left sees the leaking as a valuable public service.

    The right sees it as a crime that was properly punished by a court-martial.

    Both sides see the designation as a “Fellow” of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics as an honor. One sees it as well deserved, the other as an endorsement of espionage.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    FYI: The headline of this post, “Chelsea Mourning,” is a nod to Joni Mitchell:

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Thanks to the wonderful Belladonna Rogers for this story

  • Berkeley defends free speech

    Yes, it cost a fortune–estimates run as high as $600,000.

    That number tells you just how determined and threatening the Social Justice Warriors, anarchists, and miscellaneous rabble are in trying to prevent free speech.

    But whatever the cost of defending Ben Shapiro’s appearance, it is far less than the cost to our country of letting threats of violence shut down our public sphere.

    That’s why I admire the post from my friend and fellow political scientist, Ron Hassner.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, September 14

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

    Dreamer Deal Possible: Chuck, Nancy and Donald agree to work on deal to avoid deportations (Washington Post)

    The border wall is not included.

    Democratic leaders announced late Wednesday that they agreed with President Trump to pursue a legislative deal that would protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation and enact border security measures that don’t include building a physical wall. –Washington Post

    Republican leaders are on the outside, looking in.

    And some of Trump’s base is furious.

    In a sign of the potential trouble for the president, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an immigration hard-liner and early Trump supporter, wrote that if reports of a potential immigration deal are accurate, the president’s “base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.” –Washington Post

    Post-Irma tragedy: Eight patients died in south Florida nursing home without power during sweltering heat (Orlando Sun-Sentinel)

    Police have launched an investigation.

    Comment: One larger policy issue: Why doesn’t Florida require nursing homes to have generators?

    The Sun-Sentinel reports that 150 nursing homes (out of 700 in the state) are still without power.

    North Korea threats to reduce US to “ashes and darkness” and “sink Japan” (Reuters)

    Regional tensions have risen markedly since the reclusive North conducted its sixth, and by far its most powerful, nuclear test on Sept. 3.

    The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a U.S.-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday in response, banning North Korea’s textile exports that are the second largest only to coal and mineral, and capping fuel supplies.

    The North reacted to the latest action by the Security Council, which had the backing of veto-holding China and Russia, by reiterating threats to destroy the United States, Japan and South Korea. –Reuters

    Comment: Meanwhile, there are reports North Korea is preparing another nuclear test.

    US News and World Report College Rankings

    Familiar names, great schools. They compete hard against each other and are not just tops in the US, they are tops in the world (along with Oxford and Cambridge)

    Two Comments: First, students can get a great education at many schools. The important thing is to find one that “fits.” Fit depends on your needs, your interests, and your personality, as well as the school’s strengths and weaknesses and the niches it provides for students.

    Second, I don’t see how you can say Harvard ranks above or below, say, Stanford or Chicago. I think you can say that some schools rank in the very top-tier and others are a half-step back. Even that depends on whether you are interested in biology or French literature.

    You knew it was coming: CEO of Equifax called to testify before Congress (The Hill)

    Prediction: Kabuki Theater. The CEO will be contrite, the Congressmen angry.

    The CEO will say his company takes this very seriously, is really working on these problems, and will help those affected.

    The Representatives will posture for the cameras, expressing the public’s genuine anger.

    Meanwhile, this extraordinary piece of news about Equifax’s internal security:

     

    Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduces bill to make it easier to conduct medical marijuana research (The Verge)

    The Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 would streamline the process for approving research and increase the national marijuana quota for medical and scientific research. Marijuana has been shown to have potential health benefits such as treating seizures and managing pain. –The Verge

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Hat Tip to

    ◆ Mike Lipson for the Equifax BBC story

  • 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. 

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • 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.)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    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.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    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.