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Who Teaches Students That Words Are Violence? 

Malhar Mali writes:

…Ulrich Baer, a vice-provost and a professor of English at New York University, made an astonishing case against free speech in the New York Times. Baer framed the debate as one of speakers operating to “invalidate the humanity” of others — thus justifying shutting down the speech of speakers students might not be appreciative towards. But in doing so, he revealed far more about his mindset and that of many scholars who operate in the humanities. After all, who do you think teaches students that speech is dangerous, the ideas that cause the “snowflake” reactions we have become accustomed to viewing, or that anyone who is not a straight white male is experiencing oppression at unprecedented levels?

Baer’s article has already been skewered by Conor Friedsdorf in The Atlantic and Ted Gup in The Chronicle. I’m more interested in exploring how Baer argues as it lends us an insight into what’s causing students to behave in the ludicrous ways we have witnessed.

The most comically disturbing statement made by Baer, when referencing the at times odious views of controversial speakers, is:

“When those views invalidate the humanity of some people, they restrict speech as a public good.”

Views that invalidate humanity? The concept that speech invalidates the humanity of entire groups of people is preposterous hyperbole. A listener merely has to reject this idea to leave with their “humanity” intact. Violence is a physical act. Speech is not. If someone punches me, I feel its impact. That is not the same as someone disparaging me to the nth degree with their words. To think that an educator harbors views which effectively conflate words with violence provides us a clue to where students might gain these notions from. (Notions which are then repeated amongst peers until they are eventually parroted out with the zeal of preachers from days gone).

[Read the full story here, at Areo Magazine]

Yet the most important flags from Baer’s piece are that he is a professor of English and that he references Jean François Lyotard (and his book, The Postmodern Condition) as justification for his positions. As Phil Magness, a historian who teaches public policy at George Mason University notes after conducting an analysis of campus disinvitation letters which were also signed by professors, MLA departments, in which English sits, are the communities which most harbor individuals who are opposed to free expression. Describing the trend he sees, Magness writes:

“The pattern in each case is alarming, as it suggests that these and potentially other organized faculty-initiated attempts to impinge upon the academic freedom of their colleagues and their students are not randomly distributed occurrences. Instead they appear to concentrate heavily in the humanities, with English/MLA faculty invariably taking the lead. With that in mind, perhaps it is time to ask: why are so many English & MLA faculty displaying hostility to the academic freedom of their own faculty colleagues and students?”

These are the departments which are the most ingrained with corrosive postmodern and poststructuralist thought — à la Lyotard, Foucalt, Derrida, Lacan. And, as Jason Brennan, a philosopher who teaches in the business school at Georgetown University, points out in conjunction to Magness:

“These just happen to be the departments with the most activism and the lowest quality ‘research’; they’re full of poststructuralists, ideologues, and people who do sloppy work that would never cut it in economics or political science. The faculty least qualified to have an opinion on politics are the ones with the loudest opinions.”

Activist professors incapable of surviving in the more arduous disciplines (see: Autoethnography) are the most vociferous in limiting academic freedom of others. Given all of this, it is no surprise that Baer holds the views that he does. Neither is it surprising that we have professors of English publishing op-eds which ask for limiting speech, such as Aaron R. Hanlon a professor of English at Colby College in New Republic or John Patrick Leary a professor of English at Wayne State University in Inside Higher EducationThat Yale is also often the site of the most aggressive student behavior is also calculable. Baer himself gives away how infested the school has become with poststructuralist thought when he writes:

“It is perhaps telling that in the 1980s and ’90s, while I was also a doctoral student there, Yale ultimately became the hotbed of philosophical thinking that acknowledged the claims of people who had not been granted full participation in public discourse. Their accounts, previously dismissed as “unspeakable” or “unimaginable,” now gained legitimacy in redefining the rules of what counts as public speech.”

Keep what Baer says in mind and see this video of students privileging their “personal experiences” over Nicholas Christakis’ arguments. Notice, in particular, what this student says, “Your experiences will never connect to mine. Empathy is not necessary for you to understand that you’re wrong… Even if you don’t feel what I feel…”

I hope you are starting to connect the dots between the “past few decades of scholarship that has honed our understanding of the rights to expression” Baer references and the way students are behaving. Baer uses the same reasoning to censor speech. It is Lyotard’s idea of mini-narratives over meta-narratives taken to terrifying extremes. Personal experience overpowers empirical evidence. Who is anyone to deny my truth and what I feel? Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] The Greatest Enemy of Socialism is REALITY


President Trump Adopts the Language of America’s Anti-American Radical Left; Democrats Rejoice; Republicans Aghast

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Fake News: Postmodernism By Another Name 

Exhibition Clip; Revolution of the Eye Modern Art and the Birth of American Television The Jewish Museum May 1 – September 20, 2015; Organized by the Jewish Museum, New York, and the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Exhibition Curator: Maurice Berger

victor-davis-hVictor Davis Hanson writes: After the election, Democrats could not explain the inexplicable defeat of Hillary Clinton, who would be, they thought, the shoo-in winner in November. Over the next three months until Inauguration Day, progressives floated a variety of explanations for the Trump win—none of them, though, mentioned that the Clinton campaign had proven uninspired, tactically inept, and never voiced a message designed to appeal to the working classes.

When a particular exegesis of defeat failed to catch on, it was mostly dropped—and then replaced by a new narrative. We were told that the Electoral College wrongly nullified the popular vote—and that electors had a duty to renege on their obligations to vote for their respective state’s presidential winner.

“Fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public.”

Then followed the narrative of Trump’s racist dog-whistle appeals to the white working classes. When it was reported that Barack Obama had received a greater percentage of the white votes than did either John Kerry in 2004 or Hillary Clinton in 2016, the complaint of white chauvinism too faded.

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“The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.”

Then came the allegation that FBI Director James Comey had given the election to Trump by reopening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails just days before Election Day. That fable too evaporated when it was acknowledged that Comey had earlier intervened to declare Clinton without culpability and would so again before November 8.

[Read the more here, at Hoover Institution]

Then came the trope that Vladimir Putin’s hackers stole the election—on the theory that the Wikileaks revelations had turned off the electorate in a way the Clinton candidacy otherwise would not have. That storyline then evolved into the idea of Russian propagandists and Trump supporters variously peddling “fake news” to websites to promulgate myths and distortions—as a grand plan to Hillary Clinton and give Trump the election.

More specifically, it was alleged that Trump’s exaggerations and fabrications—from his allegations about Barack Obama’s birth certificate to rumor-mongering about Ted Cruz’s father—had so imperiled journalism that the media in general was forced to pronounce there was no longer a need to adhere to disinterested reporting in the traditional sense.

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“No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes.”

The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour confessed that they could not be fair in reporting the news in the era of Donald Trump. Apparently, being fair had become tantamount to being a co-conspirator in Trump falsity. The New York Times in a post-election op-ed explained why it had missed the Trump phenomenon, admitting, but not necessarily lamenting, that its own coverage of the election had not been fair and balanced.

“Ben Rhodes cynically bragged about how the Obama administration had sold the dubious Iran deal through misinformation picked up by an adolescent but sympathetic media (for which Rhodes had only contempt).

Yet all politicians fib and distort the truth—and they’ve been doing so since the freewheeling days of the Athenian ekklesia. Trump’s various bombastic allegations and claims fall into the same realm of truthfulness as Obama’s statement “if you like your health plan, you can keep it”—and were thus similarly cross-examined by the media.

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 “As Rhodes put it, ‘The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.’”

Yet fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public. The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.

[Read the full story here, at Hoover Institution]

Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen has never been to Prague to negotiate quid pro quo deals with the Russians. Trump did not watch Russian strippers perform pornographic acts in the bedroom that Barack Obama once stayed in during a visit to Moscow. Yet political operatives, journalists, and even intelligence officers, in their respective shared antipathy to Trump, managed to lodge these narratives into the public consciousness and thereby establish the “truth” that a degenerate Trump was also a Russian patsy.

No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes. Read the rest of this entry »


Donald Trump: At Home in Postmodern America

Donald Trump is not a conservative—he’s a reality TV star thoroughly in tune with the passions and dynamics of mass publicity and social media. No matter how much he denounces them, he’s still a product of victim-based identity politics.

 writes: A lot of people think Donald Trump is a throwback to an earlier time in American history. He’s seen as a nativist who wants to go back to the days of pre-multicultural America, to a time before identity politics and political correctness. But this interpretation misses something very important about the Trump phenomenon.

“Welcome to a whole new image of Donald Trump, the man perfectly at home in the postmodern culture of America.”

The Donald is very much a child of contemporary American culture, including its multicultural offshoot, identity politics. Although he rejects the leftist ideology of multiculturalism, especially the hypersensitivity of political correctness, he is operating well within its value system. He actually represents a new hybrid version of it—a mirror image, if you will, of the very culture he claims to despise.

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“Trump is guilty of this deceit in spades. He can make all sorts of erroneous statements knowing full well that his supporters will come to his defense no matter how inaccurate his assertions may be. Who cares, they insist, that he exaggerates the number of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on September 11, 2001? What matters is the underlying “truth” that all Muslims supposedly hate Americans. “

Trump is a champion of identity politics, which in case we should forget, was invented by the left. He advances without apology or qualification the interests and values of his supporters. As a group, they possess the identity of people put-upon by their opponents. It may not be correct to say they are all one ethnic group, although many are indeed white; but it is true that Trump’s “tribe,” regardless of its demography, identifies with him as one of their own because of his unique political style.

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“But lest we think this is only a right-wing phenomenon, remember this: the embrace of the narrative-is-truth paradigm by Trump is no different from the one used by ‘black lives matter’ activists who to this day, despite all the facts to the contrary, believe Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was guilty of murder. This metanarrative line of reasoning was invented and popularized by the postmodern left, not by conservatives.”

Like members of the politically correct left, Trump and his supporters see themselves as immune from criticism not because of the strength of their arguments, but because of the distinctive characteristics of “who they are.” They are defined by their grievances. Although their identity politics exists on the opposite end of the political spectrum from the left, they do make a claim to victimhood, the same as “black lives matter” activists do to assert their immunity from criticism.

[Read the full text here, at Public Discourse]

Opinion polls show that Trump’s supporters are by no means the most conservative; indeed, they even include some self-described moderates. What unites them is not ideology but feelings of marginalization, which pertain not only to 41J1zYXyI+L._SL250_their political views but to the fact that many of Trump’s backers are not faring well economically.

[Order Kim R. Holmes‘ book “Rebound: Getting America Back to Great” from Amazon.com]

Financially stressed and ostracized by the ruling liberal class, they are behaving more like an alienated class of Marxist imagination than as social agents of stability and tradition. They are indeed thinking like revolutionaries, only now their ire is aimed at their progressive masters and the institutions they control.

Authenticity or Narcissism? Facts or Narrative?

Trump also is a purveyor of the extreme narcissism of what used to be called the “me generation.” First arising in the 1970s, the mainstreaming of infantile self-centeredness has today morphed into the childish antics of political 51K0k4DTlGL._SL250_correctness on college campuses. There is precious little that cannot be justified in our culture today by referring to feelings.

[Also see  upcoming book “The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left at Amazon.com]

This attitude has been called the culture of authenticity, and there can be no doubt that Trump is a master of it. Why? People love him precisely because he’s “unfiltered” and doesn’t “lie,” which has become another word for using carefully constructed words and phrases. In this worldview, anything well-considered is thought to be false. The only “truth” is whatever emotion happens to erupt from the unconstrained Id, that source of instinctive impulses residing in the unconscious. Once the intellectual property of Sigmund Freud and other champions of sexual liberation, the “let it all hang out” authenticity of Trump is now as commonplace as an Oprah Winfrey show.

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“And then there is multiculturalism’s favorite shibboleth—the infamous ‘metanarrative.’ Invented by a host of obscure philosophers of postmodernism, most of whom saw themselves as leftists, this idea is most familiar as the ideological justification for made-up rape stories and accusing white cops of crimes they did not commit. Its calling card is that a larger idea—the narrative—is somehow truer than actual facts.”

And then there is multiculturalism’s favorite shibboleth—the infamous “metanarrative.” Invented by a host of obscure philosophers of postmodernism, most of whom saw themselves as leftists, this idea is most familiar as the ideological justification for made-up rape stories and accusing white cops of crimes they did not commit. Its calling card is that a larger idea—the narrative—is somehow truer than actual facts.

Trump is guilty of this deceit in spades. He can make all sorts of erroneous statements knowing full well that his supporters will come to his defense no matter how inaccurate his assertions may be. Who cares, they insist, that he exaggerates the number of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on September 11, 2001? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Defending Liberalism: Walt Disney HUAC Testimony Excerpt, 1947

“…The thing that I resent the most is that they are able to get into the unions, take ‘em over, and I feel that they really oughta be smoked out, shown up for what they are, so that all the good free causes in this country, the liberalisms that really are American, can go out without this taint of communism…”

Not all ‘friendly witnesses’ were the bad guys. Prophetic, no? Makes sense to me. Still true today. Marxists — by whatever fashion label they’ve adopted this season, Socialists, cultural Marxists, post-Modernists, post-Colonialists,  or whatever profession they’re in, Harvard professors, Washington D.C. Bureaucrats, Elected officials, Union officials, Consultants, Network news personalities — should be shown up for what they are.