• Berkeley: A Feckless Administration Caves, in advance, to the Heckler’s Veto

    Why not free speech at colleges?

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has the story here.

    Since [the riots protesting a planned but cancelled speech by Milo Yiannopoulo], the Berkeley College Republicans’ property has been destroyed, the group cancelled a speech by conservative activist and Berkeley alumnus David Horowitz after the administration threw up numerous roadblocks, and now it has been told that conservative commentator Ann Coulter may not speak as planned due to the danger posed by potentially violent protesters.

    This is a chilling and dangerous precedent. –FIRE

    FIRE has it exactly right, as usual. They are a politically-neutral organization that supports free speech and does more than any organization to promote it.

    Hecklers should never receive a veto. NEVER.

    At Berkeley, the hecklers and rioters not only have a veto, they have established an effective deterrent threat. They can merely threaten to go berserk and prevent speech they oppose.

    The rights (and limitations) surrounding the First Amendment should apply fully on campuses, even at, gasp, the University of California, Berkeley.

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    The three keys:

    1. Universities need to state strong free speech principles. Those are essential, and it is essential to state them without weasel words. But even the best principles are not enough. Berkeley falsely stated its commitment to free speech in cancelling speeches.
    2. Universities need to enforce those on the ground through its deans and safety officers
    3. Students and outsiders who violate those rules need to face sure and serious punishments.

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    To see the right example, look at Purdue, Chicago, or others. I have some positive examples and a wonderful video here. And remember…

  • Drowning in politically-correct language

     Quick tip on how to spot a university drowning in politically-correct ideology:

    ⇒ Your daughter’s acceptance letter calls her “they” so the school can avoid a gender-specific pronoun

    No surprise here, the school is Brown. (James Freeman in the Wall Street Journal)

    Other schools may be equally PC, but none tops good ole Brown. No, siree.

    There were labor camps in the Cultural Revolution that had more robust political differences.

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    Comment: Even tough-minded universities have succumbed. Alas.

    At the University of Chicago, where the Dean of Students sent out the famous “no safe spaces here” letter to incoming students, some Deans end their emails with a standard signature that explains “my preferred pronouns.”

    The last one I received was from a person named Stephanie, and I was shocked to discover her preferred pronouns are “she, her,” and . . . wait for it, yes . . . “hers.” That’s right. These administrators think you are so dumb, so clueless you need to be told the correct possessive. 

    Why? First, they are probably trying to show how oh-so-sensitive they are to people who are “gender fluid” and who, as a personal preference, use other pronouns. I am happy for folks to use whatever pronouns they want. Honestly. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So, why not simply let them include that “preferred pronoun” thingy in their letters, without everyone else having to follow them like lemmings? Because, of course, it is crucial to display how sensitive and politically correct you are. Or, perhaps you simply fear your “sensitive” boss, who effectively demands conformity from underlings. That is an all-too-familiar type on campus: sensitive-but-tyrannical.

    Another group that might want to include preferred pronouns are people with names from other languages. Since I don’t speak Chinese, I wouldn’t know “Bojing” was male, “Bingwen” female. Again, if they want to include their preferred pronouns, that’s fine. In fact, I would find it helpful. 

    But don’t make everyone do it to display how earnest and sensitive they are.

    My name is Charles, and I’m going to make a wild assumption here that I don’t need to tell you  I prefer the pronouns “he, him, and his.” 

    As a special bonus, I won’t assume you are such a dunderhead that I prefer the pronoun “he.” An odd choice, I know.

    I will also assume that, knowing I’m a “he,” I gonna go with “him” and “his.”

    But I fervantly hope, dear reader, you could have figured that out on your own.

    Even if you went to Brown.

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    Thanks to James Freeman for the article and David Herro for sharing it  

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, March 21

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     The top three stories all involve public testimony by FBI Director James Comey

    1. Comey confirms his agency is conducting a counter-intelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, including any possible contacts with Trump campaign officials. He said no one was excluded from the investigation, but said little beyond that. (Washington Post report here.) 
    2. Comey said no US Government agency authorized any wiretaps or surveillance of Trump Tower. He added that no foreign agencies have been discovered doing such surveillance. Democrats focused on stories #1 and #2. (New York Times report on take-aways from the hearing here.)
      • Comment: Comey’s testimony directly contradict’s Pres. Trump’s tweet. So do the comments of senior members of Congressional Intelligence committees, who have been briefed on the matter. The White House is refusing to back down from its allegations and says it will present evidence later. Perhaps. But no one outside the White House is convinced.
      • Sidenote: Fox News judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, asserted last week that British intelligence had done the surveillance and had done so at the request of the Obama White House. That has been vigorously rejected by the British and has not been confirmed by another else. For that reason, Fox News has temporarily taken him off the air, according to the New York Times.
    3. Comey said that a major criminal investigation is being conducted into the “unmasking” of Gen. Michael Flynn’s name from an intercepted phone call with a Russian diplomat.  Republicans focused on this crime, led (as they are so often) by Rep. Trey Gowdy’s skilled prosecutorial questioning. (Los Angeles Times story here.)
      • Comment:
        • The release of Flynn’s name is a felony. US intelligence agencies charged with surveillance of foreign countries sometimes capture their conversations with US citizens. By law, the names of those citizens are supposed to be “masked,” that is, kept secret since they were captured without an appropriate court warrant.
        • VERY few people in the intelligence community, White House, and Department of Justice have access to these “unmasked names.” Professionals say it is probably less that two dozen, all senior political appointees of the Obama Administration, such as National Security Adviser Susan Rice, her number 2, Ben Rhodes, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director James Brennan, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, as well as the President.
        • One of those senior people leaked Flynn’s name to selected reporters, leading to a bombshell story in the Washington Post (link here), and then to Flynn’s resignation. It is possible, but less likely, that another senior administration official learned the information and then leaked it. But the crucial point is that the information itself was tightly held.
        • The FBI is now under enormous pressure to solve this.
      • My Advice: Once the groundwork has been laid, the Department of Justice should convene a Grand Jury and take testimony, under oath. Every official who had access to Flynn’s unmasked name should be questioned.

     Healthcare Bill: House Republicans unveil changes to bill, on which they expect to vote this Thursday. According to the Washington Post,

    The tweaks addressed numerous GOP concerns about the legislation, ranging from the flexibility it would give states to administer their Medicaid programs to the amount of aid it would offer older Americans to buy insurance. They are the product of two weeks of negotiations that stretched from the Capitol to the White House to President Trump’s Florida resort.

    The bill’s proponents also appeared to overcome a major obstacle Monday after a key group of hard-line conservatives declined to take a formal position against the bill, known as the American Health Care Act. –Washington Post

    Comment: With these changes, the bill should pass the House. It will likely require significant changes to gain 50 votes in the Senate (the number needed for a Reconciliation Budget Bill, with VP Pence breaking the tie). The bill will then go to a conference committee to produce a single joint bill, repealing and replacing Obamacare. That bill will then have to pass both Houses before Pres. Trump can sign it.

    Comment: If this process seems unfamiliar, it is only because Pres. Obama never used “regular order,” even when he controlled both Houses. Until then, it had been the normal way to pass legislation (which, in turn, is the normal way the US passes its laws, not via bureaucratic rule-making).

     Neil Gorsuch hearings for Supreme Court  The NYT lists six highlights. Actually, there were zero.

    Comment: Gorsuch made a calm opening presentation, following by Republicans preening (accurately saying he is supremely well qualified) and Democrats complaining (accurately saying they would not be sitting here if Pres. Obama’s nominee had been given a hearing and a vote).

    That’s why Republicans are secretly so grateful to Mitch McConnell, who saved this seat for them. 

     Kudos to the University of Chicago:

    Free tuition for any children of Chicago Public School employees admitted to the University.

    The parents can be children of teacher, nurse, janitors, counselors–anyone employed by CPS, and do not have to be graduates of Chicago Public Schools. (WBEZ)

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, March 11

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Comment: The Trump presidency will be in deep trouble if it cannot pass a repeal-and-replace bill.

    Right now, the White House and Congressional leadership face real problems from the right in House (which doesn’t want to keep Obamacare’s big subsidies to the poor, locking in an entitlement) and centrist Republicans in the Senate (who fear they cannot be reelected in moderate states if they repeal these subsidies). Think: small fairway with a water hazard on the right and thick bushes on the left.

    The House Freedom Caucus expresses principled opposition to entitlement expansion. Basically, they want repeal without replace. The members are all in safe districts that Trump won, so the members may be reluctant to oppose a president popular among their voters. It’s hard to know if these members can be pressured by Speaker Ryan and the White House to sell out their principles.

    The moderate Senators are harder to pressure because they fear a wrong vote could cost them their seats. In the past, they could be coaxed by side-payments. That’s what Pres. Obama did with the “Cornhusker Kickback” and “Louisiana Purchase.” Those backfired and they won’t work this time.

    This is sausage-making at its bloodiest. It’s not even clear the pig is dead yet.

     Michael Flynn, former NSC adviser, was paid to represent Turkish interests during the Trump campaign  (New York Times)

    Comment: Although Turkey is a NATO member and the lobbying work was not illegal, it is stunning that he did not register as a “foreign agent” contemporaneously (he is only doing so now) and that the Trump vetting team didn’t catch this advance. He can’t say he forgot. The check was for $500k. It is a very good thing he’s already gone. 

     Top Democrats’ tech aide, now under criminal investigation, had access to their private emails, including DNC emails  The details are here. (Daily Caller)

    Imran Awan — the lead suspect in a criminal probe into breaches of House of Representatives information security systems — possessed the password to an iPad used by then-Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz when DNC emails were given to WikiLeaks. . . .

    The FBI requested access to the DNC’s server to find out who was responsible, but the DNC refused, FBI Director James Comey said, according to The Hill.

    Politico reported that New York Rep. Gregory “Meeks and, to a larger extent, Wasserman Schultz, are said to have a friendly personal relationship with Awan and his wife, according to multiple sources.”

    House authorities set their sights on the Awans while investigating the existence of a secret server that was funneling congressional data off-site.

    They also suspect Imran of stealing money and equipment. –Daily Caller

     Good News on Free Speech: Univ. of Chicago proposes ‘free speech deans’ to prevent disruptive conduct (Campus Reform)

    The University of Chicago could soon implement new policies that would severely limit “those engaged in disruptive conduct” from preventing “others from speaking or being heard.”

    A recently-released faculty committee report also suggests establishing “free speech deans-on-call” trained to “deal with disruptive conduct” in order to ensure students are not prevented from expressing themselves on campus. –Anthony Gockowski at Campus Reform

     

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, February 19

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump’s HUGE rallies: He is clearly buoyed by the crowds, using the campaign-style rally to push his agenda

    Comment: I watched the enthusiastic, campaign-style rally in central Florida. Here is what struck me.

    • Pres. Trump’s effective showmanship–and his love of being in the public arena. His calling a fan out of the audience and asking him to speak was brilliant. To the cheering crowd, it was not only fun and unexpected, it said “we are all in this movement together.”
    • His ability to move easily between the teleprompter and improvisation; it was difficult to tell when he was reading, and when he was ad-libbing.  That is a skill he has mastered in several months and will serve him well since it allows him to have a more-disciplined agenda in the written text, without constraining his ability to go off-script occasionally.
    • His straightforward appeal to old-fashioned American values: love of country, desire for a strong military and safe communities, respect for law enforcement, and a thirst for economic growth that helps ordinary working people.

    There was not a trace of condescension. These voters can smell the contempt of Beltway insiders and economic elites. They have known that stench for decades. They would grudgingly tolerate it if those elites were delivering the goods. They aren’t.

    What Trump conveyed at the rally was a sense that he is working for people with jobs at a grocery story or auto plant, kids in public school, no retirement savings, lousy healthcare, and clothes from the sales bin at Wal-Mart. They are working hard and want better jobs, not handouts. They want safer neighborhoods, not apologies for the criminals who endanger them. And they damned sure don’t want to be told they are “privileged” by people living off their tax dollars.

    Trump was particularly effective in his attack on the federal courts’ adverse ruling on his temporary immigration ban. Instead of the reckless, personal attacks he used last week, he was substantive. He actually read the law to the cheering crowd. Its plain language, he said, gives the President the power to do what he did in the Executive Order. Then he landed the knockout punch. Because the law is so clearly on his side, he said, the judges didn’t cite any of its language in ruling against him. That is a substantive argument. It says these courts have arrogated to themselves authority over national-security policy that the law doesnot grant them. That is a far better argument than personal attacks, which he continued on the media.

    At these rallies, Trump renewed his campaign promises to his voters, and they renewed their support of his presidency.

    What they have seen in the first weeks has been rocky–did they really buy his lines that his administration is a “smooth-running machine?–but they have been reassured by one crucial thing the media considers a flaw. Trump is showing his base that he has not been sucked into the Washington world. He remains the guy they voted for.

    Now, he has to deliver on those promises.

     CNN is not happy being called “fake news.” They show it with their headline on the rally: “Trump gets what he wants in Florida: Campaign-level adulation”  

     Two important deaths:

    • “Roe” of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, “Roe v. Wade,”
    • “The blind sheik” who waged terror inside the US

     Roe’s real name was Norma McCorvey. She died of heart failure, aged 69. (New York Times)  In 1970, she a young, unmarried mother, pregnant with a third child she did not want. 

    Plucked from obscurity in 1970 by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, two young Dallas lawyers who wanted to challenge Texas laws that prohibited abortions except to save a mother’s life, Ms. McCorvey, five months pregnant with her third child, signed an affidavit she claimed she did not read. She just wanted a quick abortion and had no inkling that the case would become a cause célèbre.

    She had little contact with her lawyers, never went to court or was asked to testify, and was uninvolved in proceedings that took three years to reach the Supreme Court.

    On Jan. 22, 1973, the court ruled 7-2 in Roe v. Wade (Henry Wade, the Dallas County district attorney, was the defendant in the class-action suit) that privacy rights under the due process and equal rights clauses of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion in a pregnancy’s first trimester “free of interference by the state,” in the words of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the opinion. –New York Times

    Her daughter, born in 1970, was given up for adoption, as her second child had been.

    Later in life, Ms. McCorvey became an Evangelical Christian and then a Roman Catholic and a strong foe of abortion.

     The blind sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, plotted the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, which killed 6, injured over 1,000, and inspired the 9/11 attacks. Abdel-Rahman died of natural causes, aged 78 (CNN) Before being sentenced, he told the judge (in Arabic), “This case is nothing but an extension of the American war against Islam.”

    Comment: It was, of course, exactly the opposite.

     NATO: VP Pence confirms what Sec. of Defense Mattis said the day before: the US remains committed to NATO  (Boston Globe)

    Comment: Meanwhile, at Trump’s campaign rally in Florida, the President demanded that freeloading nations pay their fair share.  Some would call these mixed messages; others would say they are precisely the mix the US needs to convince European allies to pay up while still deterring Russia.

     With so more controversy surrounding Milo Yiannopoulos on college campuses, it is wonderful to have a thoughtful essay on “Why Milo Scares Students and Faculty Even More” by Prof. Rachel Fulton Brown.  (Personal note: I know and respect Prof. Brown, who teaches medieval Christian history at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She has a special focus on medieval ideas about the Virgin Mary.)

    The issues that Milo talks about are usually considered political, but in fact have to do with people’s deepest convictions: the proper relations between women and men, the definition of community, the role of beauty, access to truth. Milo professes himself a Catholic and wears a pair of gold crosses around his neck. He speaks about the importance of Christianity for the values of Western civilization. As he put it in one interview: “[Western civilization] has created a religion in which love and self-sacrifice and giving are the highest possible virtues… That’s a good thing… But when you remove discipline and sacrifice from religion you get a cult.”

    None of these issues, most especially the civilizational roots of culture and virtue in religious faith, are typically addressed in modern college education in America. Rather, they are, for the most part, purposefully avoided. Judging from my own experience of over 30 years in the academy, it is considered a terrible breach of etiquette, horribly rude even, to mention your religious faith if you are a Christian, never mind suggest that it in any way affects your work as a scholar. This relic of the self-censoring of the late 19th century is now so deeply embedded in American academic culture that most people are not even conscious of it. The real problem, however, is that while discussion of Christian theology may no longer be at the center of university education, religion still is—we just don’t call it that anymore. –Prof. Rachel Fulton Brown 

     

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  • Good News from Higher Education: Wonderful architectural review

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    Chicago loves its architecture and with good reason. The Chicago Tribune recognizes that love and, to its great credit, employs an insightful, full-time architectural critic to evaluate buildings in the planning stages (often leading to significant improvements) and to discuss the final, built versions. In an era when newspapers are cutting back severely on reporting, the Tribune’s decision to keep an architectural critic should be recognized and praised.

    Today, that critic, Blair Kamin, took a close look at the University of Chicago’s impressive new dormitory, designed by Jeanne Gang Studios. The review is overwhelmingly positive, mostly pluses and a few minuses. The headline:

    Jeanne Gang’s U. of C. dorm weaves together a unique example of town and gown (link)

    uc-print-logo-clear-background-200pxMost dramatic of all are 15th-floor reading rooms that offer knockout views of the downtown skyline, Lake Michigan and the university’s neo-Gothic towers. To its credit, the dorm does not ape those towers. Rather, it extends their legacy in a new direction, reflecting the contemporary values of sustainability, transparency and connectivity. Yale may pursuing a different [more traditional] path, but this one is right for the U. of C. — and for the innovative architectural city it calls home. –Blair Kamin, architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune

    On a personal note, I am particularly pleased that Kamin thinks so highly of the new quadrangle, created when the University purchased a small, rarely-used street between the new dorms and some existing buildings. I had initially suggested that purchase and pushed for it. It creates a wonderful new space for the students and replicates the university’s existing quadrangular layout.

    The best stroke is the quad, an outdoor room that occupies land formerly given over to an athletic field and a now-closed portion of Greenwood Avenue. It’s outlined by the dorm and two neighboring buildings, the neo-Gothic Henry Crown Field House and the modernist Smart Museum of Art. There used to be nothing but dull open space between these buildings. Now they frame a lively campus crossroads. –Kamin

    uc-north-residential-commons-1

    uc-north-residential-commons-3

    The traditional, Gothic look of the main Quadrangles nearby.

    UChicago campus labeled big

  • Media Appearance on “Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont”

    I joined host Bruce DuMont and a great panel for a brisk back-and-forth on his long-running political show, “Beyond the Beltway.” The other panelists are

    • Dave Lundy, a centrist Democrat, supports Hillary Clinton.
    • Mike Miller, a conservative economist, dislikes both Clinton and Trump and will vote Libertarian.
    • Michael Lotus, another conservative, supports Donald Trump.

    The program is streamed below, as well as nationally syndicated on radio and broadcast locally on public television.

    Not only were the panelists well-informed advocates, they expressed profound differences while showing respect for each other. That’s testimony to their courtesy and to the way Bruce runs his show. Thanks to them, producer Dan Dorfman, and audio-visual whiz Fritz Golman for providing the streaming video.

  • More Praise for Chicago’s Free Speech Policy, this time from the great Thomas Sowell

    Thomas Sowell, himself a gem, writes “A Gem in Chicago.” A student of Friedman and Stigler, Sowell has been a fearless voice for decades, sometimes in the wilderness, sometimes in favor. Here he writes in praise of his old university’s free-speech policies.

    It is a long overdue surprise to see a sign that at least one major university has shown some backbone. . . . By contrast with many other colleges and universities where speech codes restrict what students can and cannot say, freshmen students entering the University of Chicago have been informed by a letter from the Dean of Students that “freedom of expression” is one of that institution’s “defining characteristics.”

    The uniqueness of the University of Chicago is not something new. Back in the 1960s, as campus riots spread across the country, and academic administrators caved in to even the most outrageous demands, dozens of disruptive students were simply expelled from the University of Chicago and dozens more were put on probation.

    One of the many name-calling responses to people who do not go along with political correctness is to use the all-purpose smear, “racism.” But the first time I saw a white professor at a white university with a black secretary, it was Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago in 1960 — four years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Years earlier, the first black tenured professor at an elite white university was Allison Davis at the University of Chicago. But who cares about facts in these politically correct times?

    Thomas Sowell, writing at Real Clear Politics

    Tip of the chapeau to Seth Charnes for sending me the column.

    And kudos to Gene Dattel for his important letter to the Wall Street Journal, following up on UChicago Pres. Robert Zimmer’s op-ed. Dattel stresses the importance of following up the university’s rhetorical commitment with on-the-ground practices. Exactly!

    The eloquent defense of free speech by President Zimmer is indeed refreshing. However, wait for the victory lap. The question is whether these are empty words or the language of commitment. The University of Chicago’s response to recent disruptions caused by protesters is no different than that of “the timorous souls at Yale” cited in your same-day editorial “The Chicago School of Free Speech.” What will the university actually do when confronted with the reality of a disruption of free speech or a demand for disinviting a speaker?

    Gene Dattel, letter to the Wall Street Journal

    Gene’s letter and other responses to Zimmer’s op-ed can be found here. (WSJ)

    Another article critizes UChicago for failing to live up to its principles in practice. (Washington Examiner) Here is my response:

    One reason the UChicago letter is so important is that it comes from the Dean of Students Office, which handles these student issues. Among other things, the newish Dean there is signaling that these old practices should not continue because they do not conform to our free-speech and fair-play principles. I am NOT commenting on the case mentioned in the article since I know nothing about it. But I do know that our on-the-ground practices have not accurately reflected our principles. That is what needs to change. And that’s what the Dean’s letter says WILL change.

    Charles Lipson, writing on Facebook, where a friend had posted the article

     

  • Social Justice Warriors against Free Speech at Universities (my op-ed at Real Clear Politics)

    My latest at Real Clear Politics
    After a day of national praise for the Univ. of Chicago’s free-speech letter to incoming students, the Social Justice Warriors have begun their sustained pushback. They don’t want free speech to spread to other campuses. And they are afraid it might.
     
    Here I take on their four main arguments and explain why vigorous debates are essential to universities’ missions of teaching, learning, and research.  The column is here at Real Clear Politics, “Social Justice Warriors Against Free Speech.”
    Freedom of Thought-Ben Franklin2
  • More on Free Speech. Excellent, thorough article by Matt Foldi

    Matt Foldi, a student at the University of Chicago and a prominent conservative, explains the background to the Dean’s letter. Foldi introduced a free-speech resolution at the Student Government last year, but, incredibly, it was defeated by the Social Justice Warriors. Still, the defeat may have encouraged university administrators to recognize that free speech was endangered, even at the U. of Chicago, which has strong principles on the subject and recently reiterated them.

    Foldi recounts several disruptions at the University of Chicago, and adds:

    In addition to these events on the University of Chicago’s campus, earlier this year, DePaul University in Chicago descended into chaos when its chapter of College Republicans invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus, and Donald Trump’s rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago was shut down before it even started. I was at both the Milo and Trump events, and both were absolutely insane. I have problems with both Milo and Trump, but I was also legitimately interested in hearing what they had to say, which was denied to me when both of their events were cancelled entirely. The events chronicled in detail are only the ones that I have first or second-hand knowledge of (Jason Riley has an excellent first person account of what it is like to be disinvited as a campus speaker here)!

    The whole piece is well worth reading.  (An Elephant in the Woods, blog)