• 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

     

  • A WONDERFUL video on the value of free speech at universities

    The University of Chicago doesn’t hide its defense of free speech and open discourse in the footnotes. It puts free speech front and center, in a video directed at all students thinking of applying to the University. It states our university values forthrightly, explains why they matter, and shows that we have held them since the university was founded, sometimes against rich and powerful opposition.

    What’s amazing–and disheartening–is that these same values are not adopted by every college and university. What’s their principled objection to diversity of thought and free speech?

    A few may have such principled objections, based on their notions of “social justice.” They know what is socially just; they know what is not; and they know the whole topic is just too important to debate. So, they reason, agree with us or at least have the courtesy to keep quiet.

    DePaul is like that. It took away the students’ chalk last year after someone had the temerity to write “Trump 2016” on a sidewalk. This Catholic school banned a poster, “Unborn Lives Matter,” for fear it would upset black students. There’s more robust debate on the back of a cereal box.

    But most university administrators have no principled objections to free speech. They just go with the flow, unwilling to face the opposition from students and faculty that would greet them if they urged a hearing for unpopular viewpoints.

    The poster boy for this invertebrate position is Peter Salovey, president of Yale. It’s bad enough he fails to defend free speech. He goes further, patting himself on the back for supporting the First Amendment. “Lux et Veritas” may be the university motto, but only if the lux is environmentally-friendly and the veritas is approved by local truth squad. Otherwise, not so much.

    Salovey’s stance is similar to most college administrators. They simply do what successful career bureaucrats always do: protect their positions and that of their institutions from any controversy. That may keep the campus quiet, but is that really the highest goal of education?

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    I’m reluctant to post too much about my own university, despite my great admiration for its intellectual traditions and commitment to free speech.

    It seems too much like preening.

    (CAVEAT: Even at Chicago, there are some departments and centers that fall well short of the aspiration of diverse viewpoints. They are the same ones that rot and stink in the sun on all campuses.

    There are also student groups that are happy to stomp out speech with which they disagree. The misnamed “Students for Justice in Palestine” leads this vile pack, as they do on many campuses. They show no signs of accepting John Locke’s 1689 “Letter Concerning on Toleration,” or the Enlightenment ideals that build upon it and serve as this country’s foundation.

    Even with these gaps and missteps, Chicago’s values in principle and in practice are far better than at places like Swarthmore, Yale, or Berkeley, where free speech and discordant views go to die. They are buried in unmarked graves, unmourned by students who fritter away hard-won constitutional freedoms so they can signal their higher virtue.)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    This University of Chicago video is exactly what all schools should be saying to their prospective students. The punchline comes in the first 3 minutes, but the whole 10 minutes are worth watching.

    Kudos to the university’s faculty and administrators who put free speech and diversity of ideas front and center. Kudos to the Dean of the College and the admissions department for underscoring these principled commitments.

    Kudos, too, for adopting the informal motto: 

    Audiatur et Altera Pars: Listen Even to the Other Side.

     

  • BREAKING NEWS from University of the Obvious

    This, from the Connecticut Post:

    College students who spend a lot of time drinking and smoking marijuana might not have the best grades. . . . [That is] the heart of a new study conducted by researchers from Yale University and Hartford’s Institute for Living. –Connecticut Post [via Legal Insurrection]

    Wait, wait! There’s more:

    The students ended up falling into three clusters —

    1. those who drank little or no alcohol and smoked little or no pot,
    2. those who drank moderately or heavily but used marijuana infrequently, and
    3. those who used both substances moderately or heavily.

    There was little effect on grades in the first two clusters, but the grades of those who drank and smoked pot suffered the most–Connecticut Post

    Comment: Scientists from Ben and Jerry’s called the findings, “Unproven, man.”

     

    Tip of the rolling papers to

    ♦ Fred Lawson for this story

    ♦ Wm. Jacobson and Legal Insurrection

  • A Federal Judge, formerly Yale’s General Counsel, worries his university has lost its commitment to free speech

    Without that open expression, he says, it cannot remain a great university

    The Ivy League has led the way in speech suppression, all in the name of “social justice.”

    The key idea, which comes out of the Frankfurt School (cultural Marxism), is that only “liberating” speech should be permitted. Who decides what is liberating? Ah, there’s the rub.

    At universities today, who decides? The social justice vigilantes who bully everyone who disagrees.

    Yale has been among the worst at speech suppression, but it has plenty of competitors in this race to the bottom.

    Now, its former chief counsel, José A. Cabranes, has openly criticized Yale’s sinking ship of politically-correct speech suppression.

    What gives Cabranes’ views special weight, beyond his long, close association with Yale, is that he is now a highly-respected Federal judge. A native of Puerto Rico, raised in New York, he was appointed by Bill Clinton to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where he is Chief Judge. So, his words carry weight.

    Writing in the Yale Law and Policy Review, Judge Cabranes offers a somber view of Yale’s failure to protect free expression on campus.

    We have good news and bad news today. The good news is that we are printing in hard copy the (1975) Woodward Report on Freedom of Expression at Yale. The bad news is that we need to reprint the Woodward Report. We are dealing today with interrelated developments at Yale that threaten freedom of expression and the institutions that protect it, including faculty due process rights, sometimes described as academic tenure. Many writers on this subject understandably focus on the fate of students. But it is important to recognize that today’s developments are also redefining the rights of faculty—and the role of faculty in the governance of this University. These are developments that, if not addressed, ultimately threaten Yale’s place among the great universities of the world. –Judge José A. Cabranes

    The Woodward report to which Judge Cabranes refers was written in 1975 by one of Yale’s greatest scholars, C. Vann Woodward, a pathbreaking historian of the American South in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. When Dr. Martin Luther King led the Selma March to Montgomery, he quoted from Woodward’s on the Jim Crow South.

    Cabranes rightly calls Woodward “an old-fashioned liberal,” and says the report reflects those values, which were then widely-held in the University.

    Woodward’s report parallels one written a few years earlier at the University of Chicago by Law Professor Harry Kalven, Jr. The difference, Cabranes says, is that Chicago has stayed with those principles and renewed them, most recently with a report written by Law Professor (and former Provost) Geoffrey Stone. Meanwhile, Yale’s “Woodward principles of free speech” have fallen into disuse and decay. To quote Cabranes again:

    As Professor C. Vann Woodward said in 1974: “The University is in danger of sacrificing principle to expediency.” We cannot let that occur. –Judge Cabranes

    Cabranes lays out a “parade of horribles” at the university he loves. His analysis deserves quoting:

    Some of the developments of which I speak are already familiar to you. Each may seem minor in isolation, but together they form a larger pattern threatening the academic enterprise. These include:

    ♦ The shaming of community members who hold “uncivil” views, or who invite speakers embracing “distasteful” causes, under the purported banner of free-speech rights—combined with the University administration’s perfunctory genuflections before the Woodward Report with the absence of any meaningful effort to protect freedom of expression on campus;

    ♦ Vocal demands for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings,” lest students be exposed to ideas other than their own, combined with the hand-wringing apologies of university officials unable, or unwilling, to defend the institution they claim to lead;

    ♦ Yale’s adoption of a system of surveillance and anonymous reporting, designed, in part, to track and punish behavior that deviates from various campus orthodoxies. Call it the emergence of the Surveillance University; and

    ♦ Perhaps most troubling of all, the combined efforts of governmental and university sexual misconduct bureaucrats to eviscerate, in the name of nondiscrimination, the due process protections of faculty that have long underpinned academic freedom.

    Comment:

    Judge Cabranes’ parade of horribles is all too real and so is the price it entails.

    He is right, too, in saying that free-speech principles are being sacrificed for expediency.

    But he is only partly right, in my opinion.

    Yes, some university administrators cave in to student demands because they want to avoid confrontation. They lack backbone and a sense of what universities should be about.

    But many others are not seeking expediency but rather advancing principles they think more important than free speech and open inquiry. For them, the issue is not just expediency; it is that principles of social justice, as they understand them, ought to override free speech. They would never say they are sacrificing high principles for low expediency. They would say they are sacrificing a lesser principle (free speech) for a higher one (their view of social justice).

    But who decides what is social justice and who gets to suppress what speech in the name of that value? That is the chasm they cannot cross.

    If any speech can harm me, and if I alone determine that I have been harmed, then there is no lower bound to speech suppression. None.

    In practice, of course, there are bounds. Students from some groups are given strong protections against any speech or actions they don’t like. Others, with less favored viewpoints, are not only give no protection, they are often accused of violating others’ “safe spaces.”

    Indeed, the term “safe spaces,” which seems innocuous, has expanded from meaning a place that should protect students, staff, and faculty from physical harm and threats of coercion into intellectual cocoons, where seldom is heard a discouraging word–or a thought that goes against the herd.

    In this oppressive environment, the powerful, the most organized, or the loudest voices decide what is “social justice,” an ambiguous concept at best. They will suppress alternative views, as they are now doing on campus.

    Unless they are stopped, they will corrode the basic purposes of universities, and the cry of “social justice” will join history’s long list of reasons to crush other people’s views–and then the people themselves.  (Comment by Charles Lipson  [email protected])

  • Best Alumni “Class Note” I’ve Ever Read

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    If you graduated in 1941, you don’t expect many people to show up at your 75th college reunion.

    If you are named “Jerry A. Cohen, class of 1941” and you do show up, you probably don’t expect to be the only one in the class. Makes for sketchy dinner conversation in the class tent.

    Still, you are pleasantly surprised to find out the name of the speaker. Jerry Cohen, class of 1951.

    So, there are only two people in the room, Jerry Cohen and Jerry Cohen.

    Somewhere in heaven, the people who used to run the Yale admissions department are smacking their heads and saying, “This is exactly what we said would happen, and this was before we eliminated the quota.”

     

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