This is a useful companion piece to my earlier post about the antisemitic images making the round on Facebook, comparing Jacob Rothschild to the incredibly evil Mr. Burns on The Simpsons. Guest-posting at The Independent Sentinel, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin looks at the rising anti-Semitism on America’s college campuses, and she does so in a very clever way. Rather than just pointing to the acts of anti-Semitism, she compares the college and media responses to anti-Semitism, versus the same institutions’ responses to anti-Black, anti-gay, anti-Hispanic acts.
I was so naive when I went to Cal. I didn’t realize that, in my history and English classes, the material we read was either created in the first instance by Marxists or, if it predated Marxists, was first run through a Marxist analytical filter either before or immediately after we read it. All I knew was that I thought the material was nonsensical and, because of their adulatory prosing about it, that my professors were idiots.
It says a lot about the quality of education at Cal that, simply by parroting the teachers’ stupidity back to them, I managed to graduate from Cal Magna Cum Laude. I even still have my little Phi Beta Kappa key hanging from a nail on the wall in my office. I offer these snippets of academic accomplishment not to boast, but to denigrate both the material used and the quality of teaching at Cal. My academic accomplishments are an embarrassing symbol of Cal’s deficiencies as an educational institution. To the extent I consider myself an educated person, I attribute that to my being an autodidact, hungry for knowledge, not to being a high level graduate of one of the world’s top universities.
Law school, at least, had the virtue of being nothing more than a fancy trade school. I had decent professors, wonderful peers, and enjoyed myself there. I managed for the most part to avoid indoctrination. Interestingly, in a setting in which I actually had to learn stuff and think, as opposed to just parroting back cant, I was a good, solid graduate, rather than a top one. My sub-stellar performance also resulted from the fact that I was quite ill during part of my time there, which proved to be a drag on my GPA. (And yes, my ego demands that caveat.)
When I left law school, I vowed never to go back to a formal education system, a promise I’ve kept to this day. I find it exhausting merely to attend Open Houses at my kids very fine public schools. I have to fight against the urge to run out screaming when I hear the nice teachers lecture the nice parents about the topics and methodology they use when lecturing our nice kids during the school day. As the old hippie would say, “That’s not my scene, man.”
Although I vowed never to return to school, I have been in a variety of book clubs over the years, purely for social reasons. All of them have been run by nice young or middle-aged women who trust in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and high-end fashion magazines to tell them what they ought to read. That’s how I ended up having to read two authors I’d successfully avoided during my formal education: Gabriel García Márquez and Nadine Gordimer.
To say that I loathed the Márquez and Gordimer books is to speak in delicate understatement. I hated their writing style; I hated their topics; I hated their values — I hated everything from cover to cover. As my well-intentioned friends struggled to find meaning in the books, I kept saying that the books were poorly written, boring, and unreasonable, and that their principles and conclusions were wrong.
I did not say back then that Márquez and Gordimer were Marxist because, back in the 1980s, I did not know that they were. In any event, as a nicely indoctrinated party-line Democrat, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to criticize anything on that particular ground.
I just knew that I hated reading these much-lauded books in exactly the same way I hated reading Supreme Court opinions (this was back in the late 1980s) by the liberal wing of the Supreme Court. I knew that I ought to admire Marshall and Stevens and Brennan, and that I should hate Rehnquist and Burger, but the fact was that the former group wrote complex, unintelligible, illogical opinions, whereas the latter (as well as all other conservative justices but for the flopsy, wobbly Sandra Day O’Connor) wrote tight, well-reasoned, easy to follow opinions. I eventually concluded that, because Marxism doesn’t work in the real world, any writing advancing Marxist principles must be muddled, vague, and unreasonable to hide that fact.
Now Márquez is dead and, while an individual’s death must always be a tragedy for his family and close friends, I feel no sense of loss. Instead, I agree entirely with the DiploMad, who has no problem speaking ill of the Marxist dead:
One of the great phonies and bootlickers of leftist dictators has passed from the scene. Those who love freedom can only be grateful.
I will speak ill of the dead. It is hard to exaggerate the damage that GGM has done to the image of Latin America and Latin Americans, portraying the region and the people as some sort of quasi-magical place, a place filled with ethereal, mystical beings without logic, common sense, and ordinary human emotions and foibles. For all his “magical realist” vision, he could not or would not see, for example, the horrors brought to Cuba and Cubans by the Castro brothers. On the contrary, he had an enormous house in Havana provided by the regime, with servants and cars at his beck-and-call, and a ready chummy access to the bloodstained brothers and their rule of terror. He convinced generations of gringo academic Latin American “specialists” that the region could not be understood in conventional terms; that supply-and-demand economics did not work there; and that ordinary people did not want individual liberty and political democracy. He helped perpetrate and perpetuate a horrid stereotype of Latin America, one in which the atrocities of leftist regimes could be ignored because the region operated on another level of consciousness, one beyond our poor powers to comprehend. Good riddance to this poseur and his unreadable sentences! An enemy of freedom is gone.
Hear! Hear! Yes! Absolutely. The DiploMad is correct in every respect. I knew then that I couldn’t stand Márquez’s loopy, unhinged prose, nor his loopy, unhinged ideas. Thirty years later, I not only understand the problem (Marxism), I have the pleasure of reading someone who gets it and states it better than I ever could.
I’ve commented before about the way in which America’s teachers paint themselves as the hardest working, most pathetically abused people in America. In 2011, I noted that today’s teachers work fewer hours and are paid more than my dad’s generation of teachers, but the latter didn’t whine all the time. Last year, I posited a reason for the unusual deference teachers get, and it’s not because they’re the overworked saints of their own heated imaginations:
At National Review, Jason Richwine points out that this martyrdom shtick benefits them in intangible ways, and is the flip side of the disdain with which doctors are increasingly treated in our society. This got me thinking about the fact that, in every society that socialized its medicine, doctor’s status instantly degraded. This is true whether you’re looking at the Soviet Union, Cuba, England, Canada, France, or anywhere else. This is true even though doctors have the longest education and apprenticeship of any job in America and, once they’re working, they truly hold our lives in their hands. Likewise, in every socialized society, teachers’ status improves. This is true despite the fact that their training places a moderate demand on their time and they don’t hold our lives in their hands.
Thinking about it, of course, this socialist inversion makes perfect sense. Teachers produce the next generation of socialists; doctors cost money by saving the lives of old socialists who no longer contribute to the commune. The relative values assigned these jobs in a socialist society has nothing to do with their contributions to the individual and everything to do with their contributions to the state.
Richwine and I aren’t the only ones paying attention to this teacher worship phenomenon. Writing at The Federalist, Daniel Payne, a homeschooling parent, also asks “Why Do Teachers Complain So Much?” His theory is that teachers lack backbone. Products themselves of America’s public school system, they have no ability to face adversity.
Reading his post, it also occurred to me that today’s teachers, unlike teachers of yore and homeschooling parents today, have an infinitely harder time teaching, not because students are inherently worse behaved than they were 50 years ago, but because their pedagogical tools are so poor. Whole language is sneaking its way back into the classroom, despite a thirty year run of failures that saw the pendulum swing, way too briefly, back to phonics teaching. Since we have a phonetic alphabet, the latter is the only teaching methodology that makes sense. And those countries, such as China, that do not have phonetic alphabets, spend way more than 45 minutes per day, 5 days a week, making sure their students master “whole word” recognition.
Math too is becoming increasingly impossible because Common Core has also abandoned common sense. In addition, where teachers once taught English classes that focused on language and composition and history classes that spoke admiringly of our own country, their English classes are now Left value propaganda and their history classes are deeply depressing diatribes about how evil we are. Kids don’t want to learn this stuff, and no wonder.
My conclusion would be that today’s teachers whine partly because they’re not as tough as past generations were, and partly because they teach in a socialized system that simultaneously elevates their status even as it makes teaching an impossible, demoralizing, and depressing job. The cognitive dissonance this forces on the teachers is an uncomfortable mental realm to inhabit.
I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose two stories about drunkenness and rape. The first is hearsay: I heard it from a former judge’s clerk who was telling me about the funniest case she ever worked on, back in the 1980s. I don’t have details, but I do remember the core facts she told me. The second is ripped from today’s academic headlines.
The first case, which happened in the mid-1980s, was a rape trial. The alleged rape took place at a beach party that involved lots and lots of booze. The claim was that the victim was reclining in a beach chair when the defendant raped her.
The victim testified in sobbing detail about her terrible ordeal. The judge passed a note to his clerk saying, “She’s dumb as a post.” How right the judge was came out under cross-examination. It quickly became apparently that the sex was entirely consensual because the “victim” had been so drunk she thought the defendant was her boyfriend — and she thought this even though her boyfriend was wearing a heavy cast on his leg that night, while the defendant was not. The defendant was swiftly acquitted.
I guess it was that story, which I heard almost 30 years ago, that has made me leery to this day about accepting at face value rape claims from women who were admittedly drunk almost to the point of unconsciousness.
And now for the other rape story, this one coming from Dartmouth, an Ivy League institution that prides itself on — ahem — the quality education it gives its students. There, a young man named Parker Gilbert was arrested and tried for rape. He was fully acquitted because all of the available evidence indicated that both he and the young women were drunk as skunks and that the sex was consensual. (The girl’s roommate said that the sounds of “consensual sex” were present, which makes it sound as if a Dartmouth dorm is pretty much the equivalent of a brothel, with sex taking place openly in semi-public rooms. Everyone at college is apparently an exhibitionist or, whether unwittingly or unwillingly, a voyeur.) I pass the narrative baton to Robert Stacy McCain:
The accuser was drunk, the accused was drunk, and the witnesses were drunk — evidently everybody on campus at Dartmouth was completely hammered that night, and the only thing anyone can remember for sure is that “vaginal penetration” occurred.
Permit me to digress: Can someone get a trial transcript and provide me with verbatim quotes of Nancy Wu’s testimony? Because I’m curious to know what she says she heard, which the newspaper euphemistically describes as “sounds consistent with consensual sex.” Was the alleged victim moaning passionately, as if in a state of orgasmic ecstasy? “Oh, Parker! You sexy beast! Do me, baby!” But I digress . . .
You can see why I was so strongly reminded of that long-ago reminiscence about crazy days in the District Court. But here’s an add-on that would, I think, have still been unthinkable back in the halcyon days of the 1980s: In modern-day Dartmouth, even though Gilbert was completely exonerated, Dartmouth still considered him guilty:
How did the activists at Dartmouth respond? With a lengthy statement (still labeling the accuser as a “victim”) denouncing the jury, demanding a “cultural shift” in what could be considered a crime. . . .
If Gilbert had been convicted, the message would have been a need to address “rape culture” at Dartmouth. With Gilbert acquitted, the message was a need to address “rape culture” at Dartmouth (and in New Hampshire!). Facts, it appears, don’t matter.
As McCain notes, it’s not a matter of ignoring facts, it’s a matter of not knowing facts — but in the absence of knowledge, the man is guilty. In other words, America’s finest educational institutions have come up with a mirror image of the sharia standard: when it comes to sex, it’s always the man’s fault. While Islam holds that women always ask for it, meaning a man cannot be guilty of rape, America’s universities hold that men are always forcing it and must, even in the absence of knowledge or the presence of consent, be deemed guilty of rape.
My daughter is taking high school physics. This morning, she told me about the class results following the midterm. “Four people got A’s; four people got B’s; and six people got C’s.” Then she giggled and added, “All the people who got C’s were girls!”
Deadpan, I said, “Your teacher must be a sexist.” (I was thinking, of course, although she couldn’t know this, about the way the Ivy League feminists tried to destroy Larry Summer’s career for daring to suggest that there might be a connection between gender and women’s low representation in STEM degrees.)
“No, that’s not true” my daughter replied, quite shocked that I would suggest such a thing. “He teaches everyone the same way.”
“I was just joking,” I told her.
“Well,” she answered, “A lot of people aren’t joking when they say that.”
Leftism sucks both humor and reality out of just about everything.
My friend Stella Paul got a huge, deserved shout-out at Power Line for her expose of the antisemitic rot at America’s campuses, something that started with a bang right in San Francisco, in 2002. I mentioned yesterday that this wasn’t anything new to me, since my father experienced it in the early 1970s when he got his Masters there. My sister reminded me that she too experienced it in the mid-1970s, when she attended SFSU for a few years.
I also remembered that I too wrote something about SFSU’s toxic environment. I wrote it more than seven years ago, but it’s as pertinent today as ever. Here are the key parts of that old post:
San Francisco has been in the press a lot lately (and inspired some pretty funny Jay Leno riffs) because of Gavin Newsom’s sexual misconduct with his ex-campaign manager’s wife. It’s sordid, it’s sexy, and, at bottom, it’s not troubling. That is, as with all good sex scandals, we can purse up our lips disapprovingly, look for the scintillating, salacious details, and know that, in the grand scheme of things, this story will have absolutely no effect on our lives.
The problem with this sex scandal is that it’s been useful to depress two other, much uglier and more significant stories out of that same city. [You can read more about the first story, involving Holocaust deniers and Eli Wiesel, here.]
The second story goes beyond Western dhimmitude and into the realms of psychotic identification with murderous thugs. A little background first. San Francisco State University (“SFSU”) is an old and once respected San Francisco institution. Its roots go back to the last days of the 19th century. It boasts some famous and some infamous graduates, including politician Willie Brown; comedian Dana Carvey; actress Annette Bening; novelist Anne Rice; sorry-excuse-for-a-comedian Margaret Cho; singer Johnny Mathis; Kennedy buddy and naive conspiracy theorist Pierre Salinger; and conservative writer and radio host Michael Medved,* among others. My father, a nice Jewish guy, was also an SFSU graduate (in the same Masters program as Michael Medved, although their paths did not cross).
Many of our family friends, all of them nice Jewish guys, were professors at SF State too. They were good professors, but they were also all old-time Jewish liberals who felt it was the right thing to do to invite Black Pantherette and Communist Angela Davis to become a professor there. Sadly, my dear old Jewish liberal friends seem to be reaping what they so inadvertently, and with the best intentions, sowed.
San Francisco State University has become increasingly radical, even by San Francisco standards, in the past few years. Palestinian groups, which have been an increasingly dominant campus presence, almost succeeded in having expelled a Russian immigrant who verbally challenged their violent anti-Semitic rhetoric. Eventually, even the University administration, which supported the Palestinian efforts against her, was forced to concede that Tatiana Menaker had done nothing wrong — she was just being persecuted for exposing the dominant anti-Jewish politics at SFSU.
Jews aren’t the only ones in the radicals’ crosshairs at SFSU. Republicans are also a target. In 2004, SFSU’s administration did absolutely nothing when Palestinian student groups violently attacked College Republicans who were distributing Bush/Cheney materials. That 2004 event educated the administration to the fact that, when verbally threatened, Palestinian groups get violent; and assured the same Palestinian groups that, when they got violent, the administration woudl leave them in peace to attack another day.
The campus College Republicans, showing exceptional bravery for a small and persecuted minority (which is what they are at SFSU), have been at it again, trying to exercise their First Amendment rights. This time, they held an anti-terrorism protest on the campus’s “Malcolm X Plaza” (clearly Martin Luther King is too tame for SFSU). Debra Saunders explains the insanity that subsequently ensued:
This story starts with an “anti-terrorism rally” held last October on campus by the College Republicans. To emphasize their point, students stomped on Hezbollah and Hamas flags. According to the college paper, the Golden Gate (X)Press, members of Students Against War and the International Socialist Organization showed up to call the Republicans “racists,” while the president of the General Union of Palestinian Students accused the Repubs of spreading false information about Muslims.
In November, the Associated Students board passed a unanimous resolution, which the (X)Press reported, denounced the California Republicans for “hateful religious intolerance” and criticized those who “pre-meditated the stomping of the flags knowing it would offend some people and possibly incite violence.”
Now you know that there are students who are opposed to desecrating flags on campus — that is, if the flags represent terrorist organizations.
But wait — there’s more. A student filed a complaint with the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development. OSPLD Director Joey Greenwell wrote to the College Republicans informing them that his office had completed an investigation of the complaint and forwarded the report to the Student Organization Hearing Panel, which will adjudicate the charge. At issue is the charge that College Republicans had walked on “a banner with the world ‘Allah’ written in Arabic script” — it turns out Allah’s name is incorporated into Hamas and Hezbollah flags — and “allegations of attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment,” as well as “actions of incivility.”
At an unnamed date, the student panel could decide to issue a warning to, suspend or expel the GOP club from campus.
When FIRE took up the cudgels on the Republicans’ behalf, SFSU went even further down the dhimmitude path, and into the realm of Stockholm Syndrome. As Saunders reports:
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that stands up for free speech on campus, has taken up the College Republicans’ cause. FIRE sent a letter to SFSU President Robert Corrigan that urged him to “spare SFSU the embarrassment of fighting against the Bill of Rights.” The letter noted, “Burning an American flag as part of a political protest is expression protected by the First Amendment.” And: “Speech does not constitute incitement if a speaker’s words result in violence because people despise what the speaker said and wish to silence him or her.
“By punishing students on the basis of how harshly, violently or unreasonably others might react to their words,” the letter argued, “SFSU would create an incentive for those who disagree to react violently, conferring a ‘heckler’s veto’ on speech to the least tolerant members of the community.”
The university’s response? Spokesperson Ellen Griffin told me, “The university stands behind this process.”
And: “I don’t believe the complaint is about the desecration of the flag. I believe that the complaint is the desecration of Allah.”
To which FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley responded, “It really doesn’t make any difference whether it’s the flag or a religious figure.”
If the College Republicans had denigrated Allah, I would defend their right to do so, while noting I have no use for the gratuitous Islam-bashing endemic in certain circles.
But it is not the students’ fault that Allah is on the Hamas and Hezbollah flags — in a language they don’t read.
Besides, every freshman should know that students have a right to say what they will about any religion, while believers enjoy the right to talk back.
Charles Johnson summed it up the whole thing at Little Green Footballs when he titled his post on the subject “insulting Allah now a crime at SFSU.”
This is truly the world turned upside down. In the sane world, it’s puerile but allowable under the First Amendment to step on someone’s flag to make a statement. (Indeed, in the insane world of the Middle East, it’s de rigeur to burn the American flag on a regular basis for precisely this reason.) However, in the topsy turvey world that is radicalized SFSU, even though Hamas and Hezbollah are murderous terrorist organizations, the fact that they’ve incorporated the word Allah (in Arabic script) on their flags means that those who protest these organizations’ violent acts by using symbolic speech in turn find themselves accused of committing hate crimes and inciting violence.
As I noted above, what happened at SFSU goes beyond the usual dhimmitude. That is, to the extent SFSU mentioned that the flag stopping could “possibly incite violence,” it’s clear that the school, in good dhimmi fashion, learned its lesson in 2004 when the Palestinians actually engaged in violence against speech that offended them. SFSU isn’t going to get in the middle of that fight any more, that’s for sure (“that fight” being any fight in which Muslims/Palestinians are one of the combatant groups).
More significantly, though, the administration’s claim that it is acting to protect the desecration of Allah indicates that this far Left, presumably secular institution, has completely embraced the ethos of a group that is holding it psychology hostile through the ongoing threat of violence. James Lewis, writing at American Thinker, explains what he sees happening to so many institutions and governments worldwide:
Psychiatry is familiar with an odd syndrome called “identification with the aggressor.” It’s sometimes called the Stockholm Syndrome, after the behavior of air passengers taken hostage by PLO terrorists at the Stockholm Airport in 1973, who, when they were rescued, came out singing the praises of their murderous captors.
The most infamous examples come from World War II Nazi concentration camps, where some prisoners were placed in charge of others. According to witnesses like psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, these “Kapos” would wear discarded pieces of Nazi uniforms and often abuse their fellow victims. Unconsciously they were identifying with the aggressors, to ward off the awful awareness of their own vulnerability. People do things like that in extremis.
Now look at the behavior of the Left since 9/11, both in this country, Europe, and even Israel. Rather than feel righteously angered by the terrorist mass murder of 3,000 innocent people, large parts of the Left have adopted the aggressors’ point of view. They keep telling us that the Islamic fascists were right to blow up innocent people who had done them no harm; some of them have taken on conspiracy theories, claiming that Bush or Israel really committed the atrocities. At the same time they are in deep denial about the danger of future terrorist attacks on American soil, and blindly refuse to see the rising threat of nuclear proliferation by stateless terror groups. Instead, they “displace” their fear and anger on George W. Bush. To the Left, once Bush is gone, the terror problem will simply and magically go away.
The Left claims to value “peace” above all things; but that means that self-defense ranks nowhere. It’s not an option — at least not when Republicans are in office. If we leave out self-defense against Iranian nukes or El Qaida truck bombs, there is no option except submission. That is what “identification with the aggressor” comes down to. It is a Stockholm Syndrome for millions of people — most of the readers of the New York Times and the UK Guardian, just for starters.
To make things worse, the Left itself is ruthlessly aggressive against conservatives, democratic individuals who happen to disagree with them. There is a true persecutorial viciousness in the Left’s attacks on Republican presidents, from Herbert Hoover to Dwight D. Eisenhower and George W. Bush. Emotionally, these people want to destroy those who defy their demands. Almost all the assassins and would-be assassins of American Presidents since JFK have been Leftists, starting with Lee Harvey Oswald. So their rage is not exactly harmless.
The way I see it, SFSU has gone from fearing its excitable Muslim students, to actually embracing an ideology that ought, in theory, to be completely at odds with the radical secularism that characterizes the Left. It’s reasonable to believe that this counterintuitive outcome results from the fact that the campus Left deeply fears these new radicals, people whose ideology is much more frightening than the chic Communism that Angela Davis embodied, and they have come to associate with the Islamofascist values as a way of distancing themselves from their fear.
And that’s why, while it’s fun to giggle over a titillating and sordid little sex scandal in San Francisco’s City Hall, the real stories in San Francisco, the ones with repercussions that ripple far beyond the San Francisco Bay, are the ones that took place in a downtown hotel and on a uninspiring little university campus.
*Funnily, the website that lists famous grads doesn’t mention Michael Medved. I only know he went there because he said so on his radio show.
Dan Meyer gave a TED talk about the fact that America’s public schools teach math in the same way that sitcoms present comedy: As a neat, meaningless package that leaves the brain unengaged throughout the process and empty at the end of it. It’s a good talk and I recommend it on its own merits. But I especially recommend Meyer’s intro (emphasis mine):
Can I ask you to please recall a time when you really loved something — a movie, an album, a song or a book — and you recommended it wholeheartedly to someone you also really liked, and you anticipated that reaction, you waited for it, and it came back, and the person hated it? So, by way of introduction, that is the exact same state in which I spent every working day of the last six years. (Laughter) I teach high school math. I sell a product to a market that doesn’t want it, but is forced by law to buy it. I mean, it’s just a losing proposition.
The audience laughed at that last line. I didn’t laugh, but I did wonder if Meyer and/or his audience understood that this laugh line applies perfectly to Obamacare.
National Review’s Alex Torres has unearthed a really disgusting example of academic-think over at UCSB. That’s where Mireille Miller-Young, who gets paid to teach students about porn and sex work, with a little bit of “black culture” on the side, not only aggressively stole a sign from a pro-Life display in a Free Speech area, but also physically attacked a teenage girl who tried to recover the sign. Michael Young, UCSB’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, finally waded into the fray and . . . attacked the pro-Life people who had properly set themselves up in the university’s oh-so-limited “Free Speech space.”
To do Young justice, he did say that the Founders, despite being slaveholders, had the right idea with Free Speech. It’s just that he really doesn’t think that people who disagree with his world view should exercise it. It’s so . . . rude of them!
After reading the claptrap and tripe emanating from Mr. Young’s computer, I sat down and, in a fine frenzy, wrote him the type of letter that he’d never read and that I, after read it, realized that I would never send. It’s a very brutal letter, and I’ve learned the hard way that the brutal letter is the first draft that never actually goes out. I still want to say what I have to say, though, and that’s why we have blogs. So — here is the letter that I would have sent Mr. Young if I were a less polite person than I am in real life:
I don’t usually pay attention to what goes on in America’s campuses, having been fortunate enough to have walked off the last one almost 30 years ago. However, your recent email to UCSB students regarding Mireille Miller-Young’s decision to physically attack a teenage girl with whom she disagreed is so extraordinary that I believe you deserve to hear from one of the people who pays your salary (i.e., a California resident).
I couldn’t help but notice that you’re black. Did you happen to know that New York City and Mississippi abort black babies in numbers far in excess of blacks’ representation in those respective populations? The number of black babies aborted in New York in 2012 (that would be 31,328) was greater than the number of black babies born in New York in 2012 (a mere 24,758). Moreover, although blacks are only 25% of the New York population, 42% of all New York abortions were black babies.
Meanwhile, down in Mississippi, between 1994 and 2010, black women aborted 39,000 fetuses. Over the same period, white women aborted 14,500 fetuses. Put another way, over a 16 year period, black women had abortions at a rate more than twice that of white women. While blacks make up 37% of Mississippi’s population, they accounted for 72% of its abortions.
Did you know that Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s founder, was a eugenicist who promoted abortion primarily as a way of ridding America of blacks and other “undesirables”?
Knowing all this, are you sure you want to attack as divisive those people who are shocked that the most dangerous place in America for a black child is the womb?
One of the things that consistently amazes me about black Americans is that they embrace policies that have been manifestly disastrous for them. Welfare, by making black men unnecessary, destroyed the black family structure. Being a university type, you probably know that study after study shows that the surest way out of poverty is a traditional family. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it turns out that you would rather be run over by a truck than turn your back on the welfare state, despite the appalling damage it has wrought.
I’m willing to bet you were horrified when Paul Ryan said that people of good will need to work on the disastrous pathology of inner city neighborhoods in which young men — almost invariably young black men — prey on each other and on all the men, women, and children unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire. I’m equally willing to bet that you were not horrified when President Obama said that the federal government needs to work on the disastrous pathology of inner city neighborhoods. Considering that these deadly pathologies escalated dramatically with LBJ’s great society, I’d be much more scared of Obama’s threatened federal help than I would be of Paul Ryan’s suggestion that a societal change would be a good thing.
Frederick Douglas accurately predicted what the Great Society would do to black society:
“What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!
And so it goes. You’re not the only group in America that has sold its soul to a political ideology that is profoundly damaging to its best interests. As a Jew, I’m equally appalled by the way in which American Jews consistently embrace political parties and politicians that are hostile to Jews — and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per family at campuses rife with blatant antisemitism. The Democrat party is kind of like the mafia: once you’re in, you don’t leave, even when it becomes deadly to you and yours.
All of which gets me to your utterly appalling attack on pro-Life people. First of all, you should be agreeing with those pro-Life people, since the Democrats who so rabidly support abortion are the same Democrats presiding over the slow extinction of the black race in America. Second of all, as a high level functionary in a university, you should be embracing people who challenge the stifling orthodoxy of American academia. It’s this groupthink that has rendered you and Miller-Young incapable of using anything other than violence and invective to challenge ideas with which you disagree. My strong suspicion is that you’re deeply afraid that, if you had to confront these disagreeable ideas on their merits, you might have to rethink your own values.
To coddle students because they feel “outrage, pain, embarrassment,” etc., is a gross failing on your part. The world is a cruel place. (Indeed, I’m being intellectually cruel to you now by calling you on your ignorance, prejudice, and fear.) To take tens of thousands of dollars per student from parents and taxpayers in order to produce scared little bunny rabbits who are afraid to think, confront, challenge, and analyze is a form of fraud. You promise to educate and develop the young mind, even as you’re actively complicit in turning those same youngsters into bland piles of Leftist mush, swinging wildly between anger and hurt, with no pause in between for rigorous thought.
The most narrow-minded, stultifying place in America today is a university (or perhaps they would be better called monoversities, since the orthodoxy of group think permeates every department). Both you and the students under your care deserve more than the pabulum all of you are currently imbibing at UCSB.
I grew up entirely surrounded by Asians. I think I had one friend who was Jewish. The rest were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Filipino. They all came from homes that had exactly the same values: marriage, education, hard work, and self-reliance were the family watch words. Those are still watch words amongst conservatives who believe (and have the data to support them) that those people most likely to leave poverty behind are the ones who do well in school, get married before they have children, and then work extremely hard. Nevertheless, if I am to judge by Facebook, all of my Asian high school friends are hard-core Progressive Democrats.
But back to my youthful friendships. Why did I have so many Asian friends? It wasn’t just that I grew up in San Francisco, which is to Asia what Ellis Island was to European, Central European and Russian immigration. It was that I went to Lowell. Lowell was unique among public schools in that you didn’t get into it because of your neighborhood. Instead, you had to grade into it, so it drew the top students from all over San Francisco — something it had done so since its founding in 1868.
Back in my day, Lowell wasn’t yet being called a “Chinese girls school,” but a quick glance through my late 1970s’ yearbooks shows that the student population was around 40% Asian. The “Chinese girls school” phrase came into being, I believe, in the 1980s. Back in my day, there was also still a big enough bolus of Jewish kids that we made the joke that, if Chinese New Year and Yom Kippur fell on the same day, they’d have to close the school.
The year I graduated, Lowell was ranked as the 9th best high school in the country. Its list of august graduates (as well as embarrassing grads) was a sight to behold. The abbreviate list below is culled from a fuller list here, but even that list is incomplete, since I know it’s missing a few Nobel Prize winners (in the sciences) and authors (e.g., Lemony Snicket):
ALBERT MICHELSON, Class of 1868.
First American Nobel Prize in Physics, 1907. Michelson Hall of Science on the Naval Academy campus honors his name.
JOSIAH ROYCE, Class of 1871.
Philosopher, author, Harvard professor. Royce Hall on UCLA campus honors him.
FRANK ANGELLOTTI, Class of 1879.
Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.
STEPHEN MATHER, Class of 1883.
“Father of the National Park System”. First Director. Mather Air Force Base honors him.
EUGENE DE SABLA, Class of 1883.
Visionary builder of first hydroelectric plant in Northern California Called “Father of the PG&E”.
JOSEPH ERLANGER, Class of 1892.
Physician; Professor, Washington University in St. Louis. Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1945.
LIEUTENANT THOMAS SELFRIDGE ’99, West Point 1903.
U. S. Army aviation pioneer. First man to die in an airplane accident – in the Wright Flyer, 1908. Selfridge AFB in Michigan honors him.
REUBEN (RUBE) GOLDBERG, Class of 1900.
Dean of American cartoonists.
MATHEW TOBRINER, Class of 1920.
Judge of the California Supreme Court.
IRVING STONE, Class of 1920.
Biographical novelist: “Agony and the Ecstasy”, “Lust for Life”, “Passion of the Mind”.
EDMUND G. (PAT) BROWN, Class of 1923.
District Attorney of San Francisco; State Attorney-General; Governor of California, 1959-1967.
MAJGEN. ROBERT FREDERICK, Class of 1924.
Winston Churchill called him “One of the Allies finest fighting generals”. Commander of the 45th (Thunderbird) Division in World War II.
JOHN A. BLUME, Class of 1928.
Seismic Engineer; “Father of Structural Engineering “. Blume Earthquake Center at Stanford honors his name.
WILLIAM R. HEWLETT, Class of 1930.
Inventor, businessman, philanthropist. Co-founder, Hewlett-Packard Company; Flora & William Hewlett Foundation; Hewlett Computer Lab at Lowell honors him.
DR. MAKIO MURAYAMA, Class of 1933.
Biochemist, NIH, Bethesda, Md.. First recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Medical Award for sickle- cell anemia research.
CAROL CHANNING, Class of 1938.
International star of stage and screen. Lowell’s Carol Channing Theater honors her achievements.
RICHARD DIEBENKORN, Class of 1939.
One of America’s foremost abstract painters. Received UCLA Medal in 1987.
PIERRE SALINGER, Class of 1941.
Press Secretary to President John F. Kennedy. Chief, ABC European Bureau.
GENERAL KENNETH MCLENNAN, Class of 1943.
Assistant Commandant, Retired, U.S. Marine Corps; only Lowellite to attain the rank of a four-star General. Board Chairman, Retired Officers’ Association.
JEAN KAYE TINSLEY, Class of 1944.
One of the world’s foremost helicopter pilots. Chief Judge from the U. S. at the World Helicopter Championships held near Paris in 1989.
VICE ADMIRAL ALBERT BACIOCCO, USN, Retired, Class of 1948.
The three stars of a Vice-Admiral is the highest Naval rank to have been achieved by a Lowellite.
DIAN FOSSEY, Class of 1949.
Sacrificed her life protecting the mountain gorillas of Ruanda. Book and film, “Gorillas in the Mist” describe her life with the great apes.
BILL BIXBY, Class of 1952.
Movie and TV star: “The Incredible Hulk”, “My Favorite Martian”. Director.
STEPHEN BREYER, Class of 1955.
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by President Clinton in 1994.
RICHARD LEVIN, Class of 1964.
President of Yale University (1993).
NAOMI WOLF, Class of 1980.
Yale; first Lowell alumna to win a Rhodes Scholarship. Author of “The Beauty Myth – How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women”.
TOA’ALE S. MULITAUAPELE, Class of 1984.
The first American-Samoan ever to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and is now a fighter pilot for the US Navy. Was president of CSF while at Lowell, also member of Shield and Scroll all four years.
The point of the above list is to say that going to Lowell once meant something. I was proud of my alma mater. Indeed, up until the 1970s or so, San Franciscans were generally proud of Lowell. It was a testament to “the City that knows how.”
As San Francisco became increasingly Leftist, however, City government became hostile to Lowell, which was seen as an unfair, elitist institution. The view was that it just wasn’t fair that all those Asians got in. The mere fact that they worked harder than everyone else (at least 12 hours more of homework per week than any other student group) didn’t justify their admission to such a good school. The school district felt strongly that there were way too many Asians and whites (including Jews) at the school and far too few blacks and Hispanics.
Following a lawsuit, which San Francisco did not vigorously fight, the school district instituted a quota system.
Suddenly, Lowell ceased to be a Chinese girls school and started achieving the correct skin color that only a Leftist multiculturalist can love. It also stopped being Lowell, a place of high academic accomplishment. Instead, it became just another high school with a slightly better GPA than all the other high schools in the City. It dropped like a stone in nationwide rankings.
San Francisco’s Asian community, however, wasn’t going to give up without a fight. The Asians knew that, if they could once again get into Lowell based upon the content of their academic record and not the color of their skin, Lowell could return to its preeminent status — one that gave Asian grads a serious leg up as they applied to colleges and universities around the world. The Asian community therefore sued and sued and sued . . . and finally won, sort of. A 1999 consent decree resulted in a court ordered quota system that worked in Asians’ favor, so much so that the school (a) became primarily Asian again and (b) rose in nationwide rankings again.
The racial hate mongers were not pleased that the school was ascending again thanks to the Asians and wanted to rejigger the quota system. That did not happen. Right now, the school operates without quotas, and continues to be fairly highly ranked nationwide, although it’s never regained the stratospheric academic heights it had before the Leftists messed with it.
Why this long history about Lowell? Because the racial hate-mongers in California are trying to do to the UC system what the Left did to Lowell, which is to boot out the Asians:
California has a long and ugly history of discriminating against Asian Americans. From the Anti-Jap Laundry League, the Anti-Chinese League, the Asiatic Exclusion League, the alien land laws, the Anti-Coolie Act . . . the list is long. Much of that discrimination had its origins on the left, with the Ant-Jap Laundry Act, the Asiatic Exclusion Act, and the Anti-Coolie Law being in the main projects of organized labor, which did not like the idea of being made to compete against Asians for work.
And now another group of left-leaning Californians is chafing at the idea of being made to compete with Asian Americans.
The California state legislature was on the verge of approving a referendum to restore the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions to state universities. The referendum originally had the support of three state senators who have since had a change of heart: Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ted Lieu of Torrance, and Carol Liu of La Cañada, Democrats all. They changed their minds when they were overwhelmed with telephone calls and e-mails — thousands of them — from angry constituents who know exactly what such affirmative-action programs mean in the context of elite universities: Asian quotas. A petition to cancel the referendum has already been endorsed by 100,000 signatories. Subsequently, the senators sent a letter to the speaker, John Pérez (do I need to note that he’s a Democrat?) seeking to have the measure tabled. The letter reads in part: “As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.”
Will this manifestly racist effort to deprive Asians of academic opportunities succeed in driving the Asians out of the Democrat party and the politics of racial grievance? Sorry, but no.
Just like my fellow Jews, for a smart people the Asians sure can be dumb when it comes to political allegiance. These are two ethnic/cultural groups that assiduously avoid looking at the actual issues dividing the two parties (effectiveness of big government versus individual freedom, obsession with race versus obsession with individual ability, etc.) and think, instead, in simplistic terms: Democrats are good; Republicans are evil. It will take more than a second sustained, aggressive Democrat-powered racist attack against Asians to change this allegiance.
A small cadre of Dartmouth students threatened violence if the school didn’t invest a great deal more money in “diversity” (skin color and gender diversity, of course, rather than intellectual diversity). Dartmouth caved, diverting funds from actual academics to appease the radicals. The theory on the right is that Dartmouth’s administrators backed down in the face of physical violence.
After all, we know that intellectuals can happily contemplate violence in the abstract but they don’t like it when it shows up on their own doorsteps. We’ve seen that reality play out frequently when the West’s self-styled intelligentsia run afoul of Muslim demands. There’s something about staring in the face of a man who thinks beheading you is a really good idea that makes a lot of people second-guess their values.
You and I know, though, that the violence threatened at Dartmouth wouldn’t include beheading. It would be bomb threats, acts of vandalism, low-grade physical assaults, graffiti, office takeovers, etc. (The diversity cadre, thankfully, hasn’t yet gone full sharia.)
Knowing that we’re not talking the full-sharia press here, is it really possible that the Dartmouth powers-that-be can be pushed around simply because they’re worried that their cars will be keyed? I don’t think so. I think there’s something different going on here. In this context, Shelby Steele’s White Guilt makes for illuminating reading.
Steele was part of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, and was there, on the ground, in an Iowa University president’s office when he saw white guilt kick in, rendering the guilty party completely helpless, anxious only for the faint hope of redemption that acceding to extremist demands could provide:
I know two things about Dr. McCabe that help explain his transformation before our eyes into a modern college president: he was a man of considerable integrity, and he did not deny or minimize the injustice of racism. He had personally contributed money to Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference when this was not typical of college presidents. Thus, on some level—and in a way that may have caught him by surprise—he would have known that behind our outrageous behavior was a far greater American outrage.
And in this intransigent piece of knowledge was the very essence of what I have called white guilt. Dr. McCabe simply came to a place where his own knowledge of American racism—knowledge his personal integrity prevented him from denying—opened a vacuum of moral authority within him. He was not suddenly stricken with pangs of guilt over American racism. He simply found himself without the moral authority to reprimand us for our disruptive behavior. He knew that we had a point, that our behavior was in some way connected to centuries of indisputable injustice. So he was trumped by his knowledge of this, not by his remorse over it, though he may have felt such remorse. Our outrage at racism simply had far greater moral authority than his outrage over our breach of decorum. And had he actually risen to challenge us, I was prepared to say that we would worry about our behavior when he and the college started worrying about the racism we encountered everywhere, including on his campus.
And this is when I first really saw white guilt in action. Now I know it to be something very specific: the vacuum of moral authority that comes from simply knowing that one’s race is associated with racism. Whites (and American institutions) must acknowledge historical racism to show themselves redeemed of it, but once they acknowledge it, they lose moral authority over everything having to do with race, equality, social justice, poverty, and so on. They step into a void of vulnerability. The authority they lose transfers to the “victims” of historical racism and becomes their great power in society. This is why white guilt is quite literally the same thing as black power. (Steele, Shelby, White Guilt [Kindle Locations 370-374]. HarperCollins; emphasis mine.)
It wasn’t physical cowardice that drove the Dartmouth decision — it was moral emptiness. The school’s administrators have been steeped for decades in white guilt. That is the new original sin in America. Moreover, there is no Christ the Redeemer to save the individuals burdened by the knowledge that their melanin-free DNA means that they are marked from conception by this original sin. Each of them is responsible for a never-ending cycle of guilt, remorse, and self-abnegation, with no possibility of redemption in sight.
So no, they’re not that chicken at Dartmouth; they’re that morally empty, unable to stand for anything as it relates to who and what they are — or all the great good their fore-bearers — have done for the world. All that they can do is crouch down in a perpetual mea culpa, acceding to even the most outrageous demands in an effort to excuse their very existence.
Here’s a story that’s familiar to many of my older readers, but one that may be surprising to my younger ones. Once upon a time, you’d sign up for the SAT a few weeks before you were to take it. Then, the night before the SAT, you’d go to bed a little earlier than usual. And that was it. That was SAT test prep — an early bedtime.
Nowadays, SAT test prep is a huge business. Here in affluent Marin, every teen I know has taken, is taking, or will take an SAT (or ACT) prep test. The good classes do two things: they tutor kids in the fundamentals of math and English that one needs for the test and they teach test taking techniques. These last are probably the most useful, since they show the kids the tricks of the test, and give them a way to translate test language into the academic language they already know, both in math and English. Most prep programs promise that, if the student gets with the program, he can expect to raise his test score by 200-400 points.
Today’s Most Emailed New York Times article announced that the SAT is about to undertake a big change:
Saying its college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced on Wednesday a fundamental rethinking of the SAT, ending the longstanding penalty for guessing wrong, cutting obscure vocabulary words and making the essay optional.
Some might call it a “dumbing down” change. Others, however, could say that the SAT is changing simply to align itself with the realities of modern youth: thanks to bad teaching and the decline in reading anything but text messages (“r u thr? BRB. K. TTYL”), modern youth cannot write and has no vocabulary. That being the case, the realist would say, we may as well stop pretending when it comes to the standardized test. (Me? I think anything that encourages a good vocabulary should be preserved. As Orwell knew, the fewer words you have, the fewer thoughts you have.)
Those are academic arguments. What we’re really seeing here is another step in the road to a purely egalitarian approach to higher education. In the old days, fewer students went to college. The rising numbers don’t come about just because the US population has grown every decade since forever. They also reflect the fact that, back in the day, a smaller percentage of the population went to college. The nation agreed that an educated citizenry was a good thing, but the societal agreement before the GI Bill was that a high school education was good enough for everyone except the “educated classes,” which meant the wealthy and upper middle classes.
The GI Bill changed that classist approach to education. I’m not quibbling with the GI Bill’s effects. The change was a wonderful thing, because it opened higher education to people who had the ability but, in the past, couldn’t meet the class and cost requirements. College was still for the “educated class,” but we’d expanded the economic definition of an “educated class.” With more young men able to go to college and get into higher payer jobs, the economy and the middle class boomed.
Of late, though, the Left has made it clear that it considers college today to be the high school of yesteryear: everyone should go, whether they have aptitude, interest, or money. It’s that last that’s especially important. Public schools may be lousy, but they’re an integral part of America’s economic infrastructure. They run on budgets set by state or local communities, and society as a whole has long agreed to pay for them (whether individual taxpayers have children or not), because they’re viewed as necessary institutions in a republican democracy.
Colleges, though, are expensive and getting more so. Much of this expense has nothing to do with education and everything to do with political correctness. Taxpayers have no say at all in how most colleges are run. They’re footing the bill in terms of taxpayer funding to public institutions, and grants and student loans to all institutions, but they’re shut out of management and oversight. Additionally, contrary to the promise under the GI Bill and for many decades afterwards, college is no longer a gateway to well-paying jobs. This can be traced to lots of things: a lousy economy; more college grads depressing the market for said grads; the dramatic instability brought about by a changing internet economy (new jobs, new educators, new skills, etc.); and the lousy education too many college grads get, making them good at arguing Leftist PC polemics, but of little use otherwise.
Despite the expense, the lack of oversight, and the declining return on time and money invested, the Left insists more stridently than ever that, just as high school was once a necessity for all citizens, now college is — and it’s even better if we fund it for illegal residents too.
Where the Left runs into a problems is with the fact that, unlike public schools, which have to accept all students (legal or illegal) within the school district, colleges don’t. Despite the massive amount of public funding that comes their way, colleges get to pick and choose who will enter. How un-egalitarian . . . and how galling it is when the main comers are white and Asian middle class kids, rather than the huddled masses yearning to break free of America’s Democrat run ghettos.
Which loops me back to my starting point, which is prep classes for standardized tests. Those prep classes give the same white and Asian middle class kids yet another edge over the poor kids stuck in failing, union-run public schools in heavily Democrat districts. David Coleman, who is president of the College Board, which creates an administers the SAT, is done with that kind of inequality. He’s going to make the test easier. (Call it the Harrison Bergeron approach to test revisions.) His explicitly stated goal is to put those elitist test prep services out of business:
“It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country,” Mr. Coleman said Wednesday. “It may not be our fault, but it is our problem.”
David Coleman is an idiot. (Come on, Bookworm! Tell us what you really think.) First, I strongly disagree with his Leftist drive to put small business out of business. Second, does Coleman actually think that the test prep businesses will just go away and that middle class parents will say, “Thank God our children don’t have to strive anymore”? Only an academic could be so dumb. What will actually happen is that the businesses will change their model and teach to the revised test. Indeed, some spokespeople in the industry have already announced that they intended to do precisely that:
While test-preparation companies said the SAT was moving in the right direction, with more openness and more free online test preparation, the changes were unlikely to diminish the demand for their services. “People will always want an edge,” said Seppy Basili, a vice president of Kaplan Test Prep. “And test changes always spur demand.”
None of the above means that it isn’t time to change the standardized tests. No one argues that they’re not as helpful in determining student performance as grades are. But here’s the dirty little secret: they never will be as good as grades — or, at least, grades from a good school. High performing students from high performing schools will do well in college. Sadly, high performing students from union and Democrat-run inner city schools do not do well. They are not ready for college. Or, to be more accurate, they’re not ready for the Ivy Leagues that hurl affirmative action admissions at their heads. Two years at a decent junior college or four years at a decent four-year college would suit them better. They might not get the corner office on Wall Street, but they’ll get out of the ghetto, which means that their children might get to Wall Street. Too bad that incrementalism — meaning a generational ascendance in America’s class structure — is anathema to the Left.
The bottom line is that, no matter how the test is re-jiggered, it will remain what it always was — an inaccurate tool to admissions offices smooth out slightly differences between the thousands of high schools scattered throughout America.
But back to the SAT. (By the way, this serpentine post is as close as you’ll ever get to having a conversation with me. I tend to stay near topic, but to wander around it a lot, bringing in varying threads and ideas that seem to me to be relevant and helpful.)
The fundamental problem isn’t the SAT and it isn’t test preps. Instead, it’s that our governing class has decided to make college as mandatory as high school. It’s doing it without a consensus or a plan, it’s paying for it on the back of the middle class, and it’s gaming the system to try to create an egalitarian outcome for decidedly inegalitarian institutions.
Yesterday I briefly wrote about Emmett Rensin, a University of Chicago grad who is deeply, abjectly in love with socialism. Yesterday was also the day that Bruce Bawer looked closely at Sandra Y. L. Korn, a Harvard student who makes Rensin look like a stodgy banker:
Who is Sandra Y.L. Korn? The contributor’s note identifies her as a member of the class of 2014, a Crimson editorial writer and columnist, and “a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator in Eliot House.” “Concentrator” is apparently Harvardese for “major.” Ms. Korn’s college education consists, then, of courses in Women’s Studies and in “History of Science,” which, according to Harvard’s website, “offers students the possibility of studying the history and social relations of science” but “does not require students to take science courses.” (Which, of course, is ridiculous: how can you begin to understand what science is without actually studying a science?) Ms. Korn, I also discovered, is working on a thesis about “how biologists have tried over and over again to explain gender difference by invoking ‘science.’” In other words, she’s learned about science – without really learning any science – in order to discredit “science,” a word she puts in scare quotes. (Her project is, note well, entirely consistent with Women’s Studies dogma, which teaches that science is “masculinist.”)
Ms. Korn, I further discovered, is not only a prolific columnist – writing regularly for both the Crimson and the Harvard Political Review – but an active member of Occupy Harvard, the Progressive Jewish Allliance, the Student Labor Action Movement, and BAGELS, “Harvard’s group for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgendered Jews.” In her columns, she’s paid tribute to the Black Panthers, celebrated the Occupy movement, and chided those who cheered Kim Jong-Il’s death. She’s opposed allowing ROTC back onto the Harvard campus, one reason being that “[i]nternational students…from countries not allied with the United States” might object to their presence. She’s criticized Harvard’s plans to distribute lecture courses on the Internet as the latest development in “a long history of imperialism in which U.S. elites have told an increasingly globalized world that what they thought was best.” She’s written that “[w]hile violent resistance through Hamas is not right,” it’s “not incomprehensible,” given that “non-violent resistance cannot make the international community pay attention to the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza.” And she’s dismissed as “Islamophobia” any statement of the objective fact that anti-Semitism is a core element of contemporary Palestinian identity.
Read the whole thing here. It’s a superb insight into why I’m grateful neither of my children will probably have the grades to get into Harvard, and why a small part of me wishes that they wouldn’t have the grades to get into anything.
For a completely different view of college issues, check out Caitlin Flanagan’s in-depth article about college fraternities. It’s long, but I found every word riveting, and because it stirred up college memories, not of being in a sorority (I wasn’t), but of seeing Greeks in action. I arrived at Cal shortly after Animal House had revitalized the Greek system. Often, because I commuted, I found myself walking past fraternity row to get to and from my car. It was an edifying look at binge drinking and chronic alcoholism. Too many fraternities still seem to suffer from those plagues, and all that flows from them: rank stupidity, dangerous and deadly falls, and rape. Anyway, how could you help but love an article that starts this way:
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds was less impressed by the fraternity story than I was. Maybe I looked at it differently because I remember being a non-Greek on campuses with heavy Greek presences and because I have children who are nearing college.