The post-election freak-out on elite campuses is total, and is made all the worse because students on these campuses never meet anyone who disagrees with them.
To equip students with the resources they need to refute Trumpism, colleges have to stop shielding them from ideas that offend their liberal sensibilities. They have to stop pretending that shutting down a discussion is the same thing as winning an argument. Silence is not persuasion.
“There were actual cats and a puppy there. The event as a whole seemed to be an escape from the reality of the election results.”
— UPenn student, Daniel Tancredi
Elsewhere, at campuses across the country, students begged professors to cancel classes and postpone exams, citing fear, exhaustion, and emotional trauma. Such accommodations were frequently granted: Academics at Columbia University, Yale University, the University of Connecticut, and other institutions told students to take some time to come to terms with what had happened, as if the election of Donald Trump was akin to a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
That wasn’t all. Law students at the University of Michigan were provided with a post-election “self-care with food and play” event, complete with “stress busting” activities like play dough, coloring books, legos,
and bubbles. Columbia University’s Barnard College offered hot chocolate and coloring. The University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution, created a healing space: more coloring books, and also puppies.
One wonders whether some campuses have routinely provided too much of an escape from reality, if the election has reduced their students to tears, play dough, and a whole lot of coloring books.
“There is a limit to ‘bait-and-switch’ techniques that promise academic freedom and legal equality but deliver authoritarianism and selective censorship.”
On public college and universities, the First Amendment applies, thus giving students, faculty members, and everyone else protection against official censorship or punishment for saying things that some people don’t want said. A splendid example of that was brought to a conclusion earlier this year at Valdosta State University, where the school’s president went on a vendetta against a student who criticized his plans for a new parking structure – and was clobbered in court. (I discussed that case here.)
But the First Amendment does not apply to private colleges and universities because they don’t involve governmental action. Oddly, while all colleges that accept federal student aid money must abide by a vast host of regulations, the Supreme Court ruled in Rendell-Baker v. Kohn that acceptance of such money does not bring them under the umbrella of the First Amendment.
At private colleges, the protection for freedom of speech has to be found (at least in most states) in the implicit contract the school enters into with each incoming student. Ordinarily, the school holds itself out as guaranteeing certain things about itself and life on campus in its handbook and other materials. If school officials act in ways that depart significantly from the reasonable expectations it created, then the college can be held liable. Read the rest of this entry »
Political satirist Ami Horowitz tests the waters at Yale University to see if today’s Ivy League students would actually sign a petition to repeal the first amendment.
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 »
Kerry Picket reports: A new Pew Research Center poll shows that 40 percent of American Millennials (ages 18-34) are likely to support government prevention of public statements offensive to minorities.
It should be noted that vastly different numbers resulted for older generations in the Pew poll on the issue of offensive speech and the government’s role.
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) November 21, 2015
Around 27 percent of Generation X’ers (ages 35-50) support such an idea, while 24 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) agree that censoring offensive speech about minorities should be a government issue. Only 12 percent of the Silent Generation (ages 70-87) thinks that government should prevent offensive speech toward minorities.
The poll comes at a time when college activists, such as the group “Black Lives Matter,” are making demands in the name of racial and ethnic equality at over 20 universities across the nation.
Some of the demands include restrictions on offensive Halloween costumes at Yale University to the deletion of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s image and name at Princeton University to “anti-oppression training” for employees at Brown University.
“Woodrow Wilson obviously … had a very ill-informed and ignorant view of race,” 1968 Princeton graduate Eric Chase told Reuters. “But he is a big piece of Princeton history and he should stay a big piece,” noting that it’s a push to “erase history and whitewash it and put something else in its place.” Read the rest of this entry »
Most Americans think that the federal government is incompetent and wasteful. What causes all the failures? A new study from Cato scholar Chris Edwards examines views on government failure, and outlines five key sources of federal failure. Edwards concludes that the only way to substantially reduce failure is to downsize the federal government: “Political and bureaucratic incentives and the huge size of the federal government are causing endemic failure. The causes of federal failure are deeply structural, and they will not be solved by appointing more competent officials or putting a different party in charge.”
Bin Laden’s Right-Wing Reading List Goes Viral
The list includes an archive of radical right wing books, history books, humor texts, and conservative philosophy belonging to the former al-Qaeda chief, some of which are still being withheld by the U.S. government, but leaked online this afternoon.
Among the volumes of books on law and military strategy that were publicly released this week, are a not-yet-declassified list of books by popular conservative authors such as Ann Coulter, Jonah Goldberg, and Andrew Breitbart, as well as scholarly texts by Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich von Hayek. The collection includes:
The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome by Kevin D. Williamson
Ideas Have Consequences by Richard M. Weaver
Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama by Ann Coulter
The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek
Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of ‘Academic Freedom‘ by William F. Buckley, Jr.
Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! by Andrew Breitbart
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
Human Action, The Scholar’s Edition by Ludwig von Mises
The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 by George Nash
Witness by Whittaker Chambers
The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot by Russell Kirk
Ethnic America: A History by Thomas Sowell
Natural Right and History by Leo Strauss
The leak comes shortly after the fourth anniversary of Bin Laden’s death at the hands of US special forces…
‘More Objective Than They Get Credit For’: State Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law School Students, New Study SaysPosted: April 10, 2015
The judges, lawyers and law students were instructed to assess legal problems designed to gauge their political bias
Jacob Gershman reports: You often hear from liberals and conservatives that judges are too political, that, instead of calling balls and strikes, they allow their own ideological, political or religious views to steer legal opinions.
A new study says judges, at least ones sitting on state benches, are more objective than they get credit for. The report, forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, says judges by and large are able to exercise professional judgement and reach consensus on disputes that polarize the general public.
“The experimental results furnished evidence strongly at odds with the conclusion that judges are influenced by political predispositions when they engage in legal reasoning.”
The study, which took more than two years to conduct, included about 1,500 subjects: 253 judges, 225 lawyers, 250 law students (from five schools including Harvard and Yale), and 800 adults members of the general public.
“Judges of diverse cultural outlooks—ones polarized on their views of the risks of marijuana legalization, climate change, and other contested issues—converged on results in cases that strongly divided comparably diverse members of the public.”
The judges, lawyers and law students were instructed to assess legal problems designed to gauge their political bias.
One sample scenario involved a police officer accused of violating a disclosure law that makes it a crime for a government official to intentionally leak confidential investigatory information about a private citizen.
There were two versions of that scenario — “prochoice” and “prolife” — and subjects were randomly presented one of them.
In the first, the officer supplied information to a ‘family planning’ abortion facility about a job applicant who secretly belonged to an anti-abortion group. In the “prolife” version, the officer leaked information to an anti-abortion family planning center about a job applicant who secretly belonged to a prochoice group. Read the rest of this entry »
From NR, The Editors: When, this spring, Brandeis University reneged on its commencement invitation to human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it revealed the cravenness that characterizes many of America’s leading institutions of higher education. The decision of Yale’s William F. Buckley Jr. Program to invite Hirsi Ali to New Haven as part of its speaker series has exposed the same quality in many of that school’s students.
“Even the most enthusiastic Ivy League shill should know that spending $55K a year to have one’s presuppositions obsequiously endorsed is a waste.”
In an open letter sent to Buckley Program student leaders, members of 35 campus groups say they feel “highly disrespected” by the September 15 lecture “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West.” The letter, drafted by the Muslim Students Association, lays out their complaints.
“But in our age of studious political correctness, where the inmates write the asylum’s curriculum, these students are happy to insulate themselves against any opinions from beyond the Old Campus Quad.”
They are concerned that “Ms. Hirsi Ali is being invited to speak as an authority on Islam despite the fact that she does not hold the credentials to do so.” They accuse Hirsi Ali of “hate speech” and express outrage that she should “have such a platform in our home.” “We cannot overlook,” they write, “how marginalizing her presence will be to the Muslim community and how uncomfortable it will be for the community’s allies.”
Their remedy, of course, is censorship. Read the rest of this entry »
The president struck a populist note in his speech, but it’s hard to tell he believes it when you look at his administration
James Oliphant writes: President Obama drew applause from the House chamber for striking what seemed to be a populist blow against elitism in his State of the Union.
“I believe that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams,” Obama said early in his remarks.
Looking at his administration, however, you would never know he believes that. Yes, as the president pointed out, both he and House Speaker John Boehner come from modest backgrounds. But as a graduate of Harvard Law School, Obama has shown himself more of that stripe, stuffing his administration with like-minded denizens of the Ivy League.
The cultural critic on why ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization itself
Bari Weiss writes: ‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.
When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of “Sexual Personae,” she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled “Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, ” and it’s easy to see why. “If civilization had been left in female hands,” she wrote, “we would still be living in grass huts.”
The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, “Glittering Images,” is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia’s sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.
Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and “abrasive, strident and obnoxious.” Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she’s praising pop star Rihanna (“a true artist”), then blasting ObamaCare (“a monstrosity,” though she voted for the president), global warming (“a religious dogma”), and the idea that all gay people are born gay (“the biggest canard,” yet she herself is a lesbian).
But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.
Maybe the next elected president will think before he enacts big change
Glenn Reynolds writes: Back when President Obama was first elected, the folks at Amazon offered a presidential reading list. My own recommendation for him was James Scott’s Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes To Improve The Human Condition Have Failed. Obama should have taken it.
Scott, a Yale professor and no right-winger, produced a lengthy catalog of centrally planned disasters: Everything from compulsory villagization in Tanzania, to the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union, to the “Authoritarian High Modernism” that led to immense, unlivable housing projects and the destruction of urban life in cities around the world. The book stands as a warning to hubristic technocrats: You may think you understand how things work, and how people will respond to your carefully (or, often, not-so-carefully) laid plans, but you are likely to be wrong, and the result is likely to be somewhere between tragedy and farce. The world is more complicated than planners are capable of grasping — and so, for that matter, are the people who inhabit it.