Given that Israel has a profoundly democratic political system, the freest press in the Middle East, a fiercely independent judiciary and astonishing religious and racial diversity within its universities, including affirmative action for Arab students, the charge is rather strange.
Jonathan Haidt writes: Here is the fine-tuned liberal democracy hypothesis: as tribal primates, human beings are unsuited for life in large, diverse secular democracies, unless you get certain settings finely adjusted to make possible the development of stable political life. This seems to be what the Founding Fathers believed. Jefferson, Madison, and the rest of those eighteenth-century deists clearly did think that designing a constitution was like designing a giant clock, a clock that might run forever if they chose the right springs and gears.
Thankfully, our Founders were good psychologists. They knew that we are not angels; they knew that we are tribal creatures. As Madison wrote in Federalist 10: “the latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” Our Founders were also good historians; they were well aware of Plato’s belief that democracy is the second worst form of government because it inevitably decays into tyranny. Madison wrote in Federalist 10 about pure or direct democracies, which he said are quickly consumed by the passions of the majority: “such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention . . . and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
So what did the Founders do? They built in safeguards against runaway factionalism, such as the division of powers among the three branches, and an elaborate series of checks and balances. But they also knew that they had to train future generations of clock mechanics. They were creating a new kind of republic, which would demand far more maturity from its citizens than was needed in nations ruled by a king or other Leviathan.
Here is the education expert E.D. Hirsch, on the founding of our nation:
The history of tribal and racial hatred is the history and prehistory of humankind. . . . The American experiment, which now seems so natural to us, is a thoroughly artificial device designed to counterbalance the natural impulses of group suspicions and hatreds. . . . This vast, artificial, trans-tribal construct is what our Founders aimed to achieve. And they understood that it can be achieved effectively only by intelligent schooling. (From The Making of Americans)
Thomas Jefferson wrote, in 1789, that “wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government;” he backed up that claim by founding the University of Virginia, about which he wrote, in 1820: “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error as long as reason is left free to combat it.”
So, how are we doing, as the inheritors of the clock? Are we maintaining it well? If Madison visited Washington, D.C. today, he’d find that our government is divided into two all-consuming factions, which cut right down the middle of each of the three branches, uniting the three red half-branches against the three blue half-branches, with no branch serving the original function as he had envisioned.
And how are we doing at training clock mechanics? What would Jefferson say if he were to take a tour of America’s most prestigious universities in 2017? What would he think about safe spaces, microaggressions, trigger warnings, bias response teams, and the climate of fearfulness, intimidation, and conflict that is now so prevalent on campus? But first, let’s ask: How did we mess things up so badly? Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing has been increasingly clamping down on use of VPNs in recent weeks. This has prompted concerns among various groups that it will stifle academic research and international trade.
We just discussed the free speech and academic freedom issues of schools investigating professors for their postings on social media. Now we have A New Jersey college professor who was fired by Essex County College after appearing on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Professor Lisa Durden staunchly defended a black-only Black Lives Matter event and caused an uproar of criticism over her highly insulting comments about “white people.”
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Wellesley Students Editors Endorse Silencing Opposing Speakers And Declare ‘Hostility May Be Warranted’Posted: April 17, 2017
We have been discussing the erosion of free speech on our campuses across the country. Much of that trend is the result of faculty members who have taught that free speech itself is a threat to students. The erosion of free speech has come in stages. First, schools began to declare speech to be hate speech while creating “safe zones” from the exercise of free speech. Second, schools began to enforce the ill-defined “microaggressions” to punish speech that is deemed as contributing to hostile environments or fostering stereotypes. Now, faculty and students are increasing declaring opposing views as simply outside of the definition of free speech. That extreme argument was advanced this week by the editors of The Wellesley News who published a column entitled “Free Speech Is Not Violated At Wellesley.” It is chilling message from the Editorial Board composed of Co-Editors in Chief Sharvari Johari and Michele…
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Peter Robinson talks to economist Thomas Sowell about his book “Intellectuals and Society.” Robinson and Sowell discuss the fact that intellectuals play a disproportionate role in society, as evidenced by linguist Noam Chomsky‘s influence on liberal politics. Is a fancy education a high speed rail ticket to fallacy? Read the rest of this entry »
Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election.
George Will writes: Many undergraduates, their fawn-like eyes wide with astonishment, are wondering: Why didn’t the dean of students prevent the election from disrupting the serenity to which my school has taught me that I am entitled? Campuses create “safe spaces” where students can shelter from discombobulating thoughts and receive spiritual balm for the trauma of microaggressions. Yet the presidential election came without trigger warnings?
“Only the highly educated write so badly…the point of such ludicrous prose is to signal membership in a clerisy.”
The morning after the election, normal people rose — some elated, some despondent — and went off to actual work. But at Yale University, that incubator of late-adolescent infants, a professor responded to “heartfelt notes” from students “in shock” by making that day’s exam optional.
Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election. The compound of childishness and condescension radiating from campuses is a reminder to normal Americans of the decay of protected classes — in this case, tenured faculty and cosseted students.
As “bias-response teams” fanned out across campuses, an incident report was filed about a University of Northern Colorado student who wrote “free speech matters” on one of 680 “#languagematters” posters that cautioned against politically incorrect speech. Catholic DePaul University denounced as “bigotry” a poster proclaiming “Unborn Lives Matter.” Bowdoin College provided counseling to students traumatizedby the cultural appropriation committed by a sombrero-and-tequila party. Oberlin College students said they were suffering breakdowns because schoolwork was interfering with their political activism. California State University at Los Angeles established “healing” spaces for students to cope with the pain caused by a political speech delivered three months earlier . Indiana University experienced social-media panic (“Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight”) because a Catholic priest in a white robe, with a rope-like belt and rosary beads, was identified as someone “in a KKK outfit holding a whip.” Read the rest of this entry »
Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia examine the origins of intersectional feminism and “safe spaces”, and discuss Paglia’s own interpretations of feminism—what she labeled over the years as “amazon feminism”, “drag queen feminism”, and “street smart feminism.”
This is part three of a nine part series featuring Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia. The other videos in the series can be found here:
Part 1 – The state of contemporary feminism: https://goo.gl/nRJ0ss
Part 2 – The fight for student liberties: https://goo.gl/dS1QKF
Part 3 – Intersectional feminism and safe spaces: https://goo.gl/cmbj8g
Part 4 – Based Mom and Based Goddess on #Gamergate: https://goo.gl/ZFfuzh
Part 5 – Trigger warnings and the danger of overprotecting students: https://goo.gl/WE29Yc
Part 6 – The “male gaze”: https://goo.gl/hRWfhi
Part 7 – Fixing a broken university curriculum: https://goo.gl/pWmpwh
Part 8 – The absence of biology in gender studies: https://goo.gl/QrZQEU
Part 9 – The danger of looking at history through a contemporary political lens: https://goo.gl/D82LYB
Merkel Bows to Primitive Censorship: Comedian Faces Prosecution for Poem About Turkish president Recep Tayyip ErdoğanPosted: April 15, 2016
Under section 103 of the criminal code, insults against organs or representatives of foreign states are punishable with up to three years in prison, or three months to five years if a court judges the insult to be slanderous.
Philip Oltermann reports: Angela Merkel, has been criticised by members of her cabinet after acceding to a request from Ankara to prosecute a comedian who read out an offensive poem about the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The German chancellor insisted her government’s decision did not amount to a verdict on whether Jan Böhmermann was guilty or not, but should be understood as a reaffirmation of the judiciary’s independence.
“I consider this to be the wrong decision. Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”
— Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction
“In a constitutional democracy, weighing up personal rights against freedom of the press and freedom of expression is not a matter for governments, but for public prosecutors and courts,” Merkel said in a press conference on Friday.
The chancellor expressed “grave concerns” about the prosecution of individual journalists in Turkey, as well as growing limitations to the right to protest, but emphasised Germany’s close diplomatic ties with the country.
Merkel was left with the final decision on whether Germany’s state prosecutor should start proceedings against Böhmermann after Erdoğan requested the comedian be prosecuted.
“Throughout his reading, the comedian is advised by another comedian impersonating a media lawyer, who tells him this poem is precisely the sort of thing that does not qualify as satire and is therefore illegal.”
Under an obscure section of Germany’s criminal code, prosecution for insults against organs or representatives of foreign states requires both a notification from the offended party and an authorisation from the government.
Merkel and other ministers confirmed reports that there had been disagreements on how to handle the Böhmermann affair between ministers within her coalition government.
The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Social Democrat ministers, including himself and the justice minister Heiko Maas, had been overruled by Merkel in allowing the prosecution to proceed. “It is our view that the prosecution should not have been authorised,” Steinmeier said. “Freedom of the press, freedom of expression and artistic freedom are the highest goods requiring protection in our constitution.”
“I consider this to be the wrong decision,” said Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction. “Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”
The little-used paragraph of the German legal code that had allowed the Turkish president to request the prosecution is likely to be scrapped in the aftermath of the affair. Merkel said on Friday that she considered the law unnecessary, and that legal steps would be taken towards deleting it from the penal code within the next two years. Read the rest of this entry »
The philosopher talks to Mick Hume about politics, marriage and Islam.
Mick Hume writes: Ours is an age of intellectual conformism, in which expressing offensive opinions often seems to be deemed the worst offence of all; academia is decreed a ‘safe space’ where ‘uncomfortable’ ideas are banished, and using the wrong word can see you accused of committing a ‘microaggression’. And you are supposed to apologise at the first sign of a wagging finger.
“When I was in Paris in ’68 I became indignant at the total ignorance of the people who tried to tell me that this revolution was something important. I couldn’t argue with them about the thing that really mattered to me, culture. To them that was just ‘bourgeois’. This word bourgeois really got up my nose.”
Roger Scruton apparently didn’t get the memo. During our conversation, the conservative philosopher gently but unapologetically delivered blunt and cutting opinions on subjects ranging from Slavoj Zizek to Jeremy Corbyn, from banning the veil to Islamist terrorism, from homosexuality to fox hunting. Whatever anybody thinks of his views, they should surely endorse his aversion to the ‘radical censorship of anything that disturbs people’ and his insistence that the controversial ‘needs to be discussed’ rather than continually ‘pushed under the carpet’.
“I decided, yes, of course there is such a thing as the bourgeoisie and you are it, these well-fed, pampered middle-class students whose one concern was to throw stones at working-class people who happened to be in a policeman’s uniform.’”
Now 71, Scruton has been the bête noire of British left intellectuals for more than 30 years, and gives them another beastly mauling in his new book Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left. It is a tour de force that, the introduction concedes, is ‘not a word-mincing book’, but rather ‘a provocation’. In just under 300 pages he Scruton-izes a collection of stars, past and present, of the radical Western intelligentsia – the likes of Eric Hobsbawm and EP Thompson in Britain, JK Galbraith and Ronald Dworkin in the US, Jurgen Habermas, Louis Althusser, Jacques Lacan and Gilles Deleuze in Europe. An expanded and updated version of his controversial Thinkers of the New Left(1985), the book ends with a new chapter entitled ‘The kraken wakes’ dealing with the ‘mad incantations’ of Alan Badiou and the left’s marginally newer academic celebrity, the Slovenian Zizek.
The slightly pained look on his face suggests that I am not the first to ask Scruton why he has devoted a book to taking on a collection of largely declining or deceased intellectuals and a culture that he concedes ‘now survives largely in its academic redoubts’. ‘They may seem like obscure intellectuals to the man in the street but actually they are still dominant on the humanities curriculum’, he explains. ‘If you study English or French, even musicology or whatever, you have to swallow a whole load of Lacan and Deleuze. Take Deleuze’s book, A Thousand Plateaus – the English translation has only been out a few years, but it’s already gone through 11 printings. A huge, totally unreadable tome by somebody who can’t write French.’
“Defending academic freedom against the forces of conformity matters to Scruton because ‘My life began, insofar as it had a beginning, in the university. That’s where I grew up, and I love my subject, philosophy, love the whole idea of the academic and scholarly life, that one has a place apart where people are pursuing the truth and communicating that to people who are eager to learn it.”
‘Yet this is core curriculum throughout the humanities in American and English universities. Why? The one sole reason is it’s on the left. There is nothing that anybody can translate into lucid prose, but for that very reason, it seems like a suit of armour around the age-old prejudices against power and authority, the old unshaped and unshapeable agenda.’
“‘And this thing has completely destroyed the intellectual life.’ He considers these leftists prime culprits in what might be called the closing of the university mind, though ‘whether they caused the closing of the mind or are the effect of it is another matter’.”
Defending academic freedom against the forces of conformity matters to Scruton because ‘My life began, insofar as it had a beginning, in the university. That’s where I grew up, and I love my subject, philosophy, love the whole idea of the academic and scholarly life, that one has a place apart where people are pursuing the truth and communicating that to people who are eager to learn it.
And this thing has completely destroyed the intellectual life.’ He considers these leftists prime culprits in what might be called the closing of the university mind, though ‘whether they caused the closing of the mind or are the effect of it is another matter’.
“Scruton’s powerful aversion to ‘the French gurus of ’68 and their jargon-ridden prose’ dates from that student revolt in Paris in 1968. It gave birth to a generation of radical thinkers, and, in the process, helped turn at least one young Englishman into a conservative.”
Scruton’s powerful aversion to ‘the French gurus of ’68 and their jargon-ridden prose’ dates from that student revolt in Paris in 1968. It gave birth to a generation of radical thinkers, and, in the process, helped turn at least one young Englishman into a conservative. ‘I was there in Paris and I was indignant at the stupidity of what I observed. I was a normal young person in England, I was brought up in a Labour Party family and as far as I had any views they’d be vaguely on the left.’ His father was a working-class lad from Manchester who became a schoolteacher and moved his family south, where Scruton attended High Wycombe Royal Grammar School, played bass guitar and listened to The Beatles before being expelled shortly after winning a scholarship to Cambridge University. Read the rest of this entry »
Suicide in The Fast Lane: European Civilization in Accelerated Decline, Politically Correct Universities ‘Are Killing Free Speech’Posted: December 19, 2015
British universities have become too politically correct and are stifling free speech by banning anything that causes the least offence to anyone, academics argue.
Javier Espinoza writes: A whole generation of students is being denied the “intellectual challenge of debating conflicting views” because self-censorship is turning campuses into over-sanitised “safe spaces”, they say.
“A generation of students is being denied the opportunity to test their opinions against the views of those they don’t agree with.”
Oriel College says the statue of Rhodes, on a building he paid for, jars with the values of a modern university. It is facing a battle with Historic England, which has listed the statue as an object of historical interest.
Writing in The Telegraph, the academics, led by Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Canterbury, and Joanna Williams, education editor, Spiked, say it is part of a “long and growing” list of people and objects banned from British campuses, including pop songs, sombreros and atheists.
“Students who are offended by opposing views are perhaps not yet ready to be at university.”
They say the “deeply worrying development” is curtailing freedom of speech “like never before” because few things are safe from student censors.
Because universities increasingly see fee-paying students as customers, they do not dare to stand up to the “small but vocal minority” of student activists who want to ban everything from the Sun newspaper to the historian David Starkey.
“In September, the University of East Anglia banned students from wearing free sombreros they were given by a local Tex-Mex restaurant because the student union decided non-Mexicans wearing the wide-brimmed hats could be interpreted as racist.”
The letter says: “Few academics challenge censorship that emerges from students. It is important that more do, because a culture that restricts the free exchange of ideas encourages self-censorship and leaves people afraid to express their views in case they may be misinterpreted. This risks destroying the very fabric of democracy.
“An open and democratic society requires people to have the courage to argue against ideas they disagree with or even find offensive. At the moment there is a real risk that students are not given opportunities to engage in such debate.
“A generation of students is being denied the opportunity to test their opinions against the views of those they don’t agree with.”
Calling on vice-chancellors to take a “much stronger stance” against all forms of censorship, they conclude that “students who are offended by opposing views are perhaps not yet ready to be at university”.
Professors have complained recently that they are being bullied online by students who are easily offended by opposing views.
In recent months, students at British universities have banned, cancelled or challenged a host of speakers and objects because some found them offensive. Maryam Namazie, a prominent human rights campaigner who is one of the signatories to the letter, was initially banned from speaking at Warwick University because she is an atheist who, it was feared, could incite hatred on campus. She spoke at Warwick in the end. Read the rest of this entry »
Yale University have confirmed that the lecturer who sent an email stating that students should not seek to censor Halloween costumes has today resigned from her teaching position.
Richard Lewis reports: Erika Christakis, an expert in childhood education, sent the email as a result of student activist complaints about cultural appropriation and perceived racism on campus. The protests will best be remembered for producing this video where a female student screamed into the face of Nicholas Christakis, husband of Erika and a Bowdoin Prize winning academic, making the bold claim that the university campus isn’t an “intellectual space.” Mr. Christakis shall also be taking a one term sabbatical in the aftermath of the incident.
Why the email generated any controversy is anyone’s guess. Mrs. Christakis asked the question, “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious, a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Read the rest of this entry »
Racism be damned:Zandria Robinson who launched racist tweets against white people has now landed at job teaching at Rhodes College which has enrollment of over 77% white students
TRIGGER WARNING! University of Michigan Student Writer Suspended by Campus Newspaper for Satirical ColumnPosted: November 25, 2014
The column was offensive to progressives so obviously, the student needed to be punished.
Read it below, courtesy of the College Fix.
Read the ‘hostile’ column that got student writer suspended by campus newspaper
Editor’s note: Below is a satirical column penned by University of Michigan student Omar Mahmood, who writes for both the mainstream campus newspaper The Michigan Daily and the conservative independent publication the Michigan Review. Or at least he did.
After his column was published last week, Mahmood tells The College Fix: “I received a call from the editorial editor [of the Daily] telling me that I had created a ‘hostile environment’ among the editorial staff and that someone had felt threatened because of what I had written … The issue had been taken to the editor in chief who procured a bylaw by which I was given an ultimatum to leave the Review or leave the Daily within a week. I was not allowed to know the name of the offended individuals.” He added the newspaper’s leaders are “forcing me to write a letter of apology as a condition for staying on the Daily” and suspended his regular column in the Daily.
Mahmood has written for both the Review and the Daily concurrently for this fall semester, but after this controversial column was published the Daily’s editors decided “Mr. Mahmood’s involvement with the Michigan Review presents a conflict of interest. Our bylaws say that once a determination is made that a conflict of interest exists, the person in question will have one week to resign from either the Daily or the organization causing the conflict of interest,” according to a statement from the Daily to The College Fix.
Without further ado, we present to you “Do The Left Thing” by Omar Mahmood:
TRIGGER WARNING! Read the rest of this entry »
[Check out Jason Riley’s book “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” at Amazon.com]
For The Federalist, M.G. Oprea writes: Harvard student Sandra Y.L. Korn recently proposed in The Harvard Crimson that academics should be stopped if their research is deemed oppressive. Arguing that “academic justice” should replace “academic freedom,” she writes:
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?”
In other words, Korn would have the university cease to be a forum for open debate and free inquiry in the name of justice, as defined by mainstream liberal academia.
“This does not mean that westerners are excluded from writing about the Middle East and Islam .A westerner can do so successfully so long as their research is void of criticism. Write anything else and you will find yourself labeled an orientalist and no graduate course will touch your work with a ten-foot pole.”
Unfortunately, this is already a reality in most universities across America, where academics and university administrators alike are trying, often successfully, to discredit and prohibit certain ideas and ways of thinking. Particularly in the humanities, many ideas are no longer considered legitimate, and debate over them is de facto non-existent. In order to delegitimize researchers who are out of line, academics brand them with one of several terms that have emerged from social science theory.
Made more so when you consider the state of human rights in Israel’s neighborhood. As we speak, Syria’s government is dropping “barrel bombs” filled with nails, shrapnel and other instruments of terror on its own cities. Where is the ASA boycott of Syria?
And of Iran, which hangs political, religious and even sexual dissidents and has no academic freedom at all? Or Egypt, where Christians are being openly persecuted? Or Turkey, Saudi Arabia or, for that matter, massively repressive China and Russia?
OBERLIN, Ohio — An Oberlin College student acknowledged posting anti-Islam fliers and racist cards around the campus of the historically liberal Ohio university earlier this year, saying he meant them as a “joke” to provoke a reaction, according to statements he made after being detained by campus security.
The student also took credit for the display of a large Nazi flag, which he also said he meant as a joke, and posting the face of Oberlin’s president onto a picture of Adolf Hitler, according to the statements contained in an Oberlin city police report.
The student, detained after allegedly being seen posting anti-Islam fliers in the college’s Science Center Feb. 27, denied involvement in other, earlier racist postings and said he was trying to show people had overreacted to them.
The student, whose name was blacked out, said the people who put up earlier fliers were just looking for attention.
“I put out these fliers to get a similar over-reaction to prove this point,” the student said, according to the report. Read the rest of this entry »
By Heather Mac Donald
The Los Angeles Times recently published a devastating case study in the malign effects of academic racial preferences. The University of California, Berkeley, followed the diversocrat playbook to the letter in admitting Kashawn Campbell, a South Central Los Angeles high-school senior, in 2012: It disregarded his level of academic preparation, parked him in the black dorm — the “African American Theme Program” — and provided him with a black-studies course.
The results were thoroughly predictable. After his first semester, reports the Times: