The Bookworm Beat 5/25/16 — the “damn migraines” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265Thankfully, it’s not the kind of migraine that has me rushed off to the ER, or that sees me sunken into abject misery in a darkened room. I’m just lethargic, hence the fact that this Open Thread opened at almost 7 p.m. Pacific Time. Still, migraine or not, I’ve got good stuff to share, and if it’s too late for you to read tonight it will still be good tomorrow:

American colleges — un-educating our children. Or is it “dis-educating?” I really don’t know because we in America have never before had an educational system that strips kids of knowledge and analytical abilities. I have a few posts I want to share with you on that point. The first looks right into the dark heart of the new academic methodology, which claims to teach kids “critical thinking” but, instead, teaches them emotional reaction and group thinking as a substitute for actual analysis and thought.

The second is an article you may already have seen floating around the internet today. Written by Nathan Heller at The New Yorker, it takes a sympathetic look at activist students attending Oberlin. Sympathetic, though, should not be confused with appealing. These are extremely damaged young people and a sympathetic look doesn’t make them any more pleasant. His special focus is on those students who can claim some victim identity status, whether racial, gender mixed-up, handicapped, or anything else that isn’t a white, heteronormative cisgendered male.

Heller has an interesting observation about the bind the universities have created for these students thanks to their obsessive focus on diversity combined with their desired end-product of sameness:

It is sometimes said that the new activists are naïve about the demands of the real world. But as I talked with Eosphoros and Bautista and other students I began to wonder whether they were noticing an ideological incongruity some older people weren’t. A school like Oberlin, which prides itself on being the first to have regularly admitted women and black students, explicitly values diversity. But it’s also supposed to lift students out of their circumstances, diminishing difference. Under a previous ideal, one that drew on terms such as “affirmative action,” students like Eosphoros and Bautista would have been made to feel lucky just to be in school. Today, they are told that they belong there, but they also must take on an extracurricular responsibility: doing the work of diversity. They move their lives to rural Ohio and perform their identities, whatever that might mean. They bear out the school’s vision. In exchange, they’re groomed for old-school entry into the liberal upper middle class. An irony surrounds the whole endeavor, and a lot of students seemed to see it.

It was so much easier when universities simply promised to teach you advanced versions of reading, writing, arithmetic, along with a few marketable skills. Now, though, they promise to create idealized versions of human beings, a promise they are incapable of keeping.

David French, who has a real knack for zeroing in on key social issues, is not just saddened, by also very worried by the glimpse that Heller offers into the students who are both monsters and victims in academia:

In other words, the more mentally unstable the person and the more unrealistic his demands, the more moral authority he has. And the very act of attempting to rebut their assertions — especially if that rebuttal comes from a white male — is an act of oppression. To deny their demands is an act of oppression. To fail to grasp their subjective emotional need of the moment — even when those needs aren’t communicated — is an act of oppression.

This isn’t a philosophy, it’s a temper tantrum — but one that is connected with a raw will to power that renders the movement exceedingly dangerous. These “delicate” activists have proven that they can quickly convert their hurt feelings into civil unrest, and the attempt to impose law and order itself becomes yet another act of oppression.

When political activism is so intimately connected to subjective, moment-by-moment psychological well-being, conflict is eternal. There is literally nothing that anyone can do to permanently remove human pain, especially the pain of people who are already mentally troubled. So their only solution is to run the place, to take charge. But not even that will ease their psychic trauma. The ascension to power will inevitably be accompanied by the quest to root out dissent until everyone — everywhere — knows exactly what will keep Jasmine Adams from crying.

Daniella Greenbaum also points out that, even though the new idea of “intersectionality” that drives what’s happening on America’s campuses purports to stand for the individual, in fact, it forces every person into ideological lockstep:

Prejudice and exclusion, in other words, are only two of the negative byproducts of intersectionality. Consider the overwhelmingly liberal student who is ostracized by his/her peers for holding a single conservative view, for daring to think for themselves and believing (laudably) that they can independently adjudicate the merits of distinct social and political issues rather than meld anonymously and irresponsibly into an inescapable groupthink mob. In conflating unrelated causes, proponents of intersectionaly erode the foundations of the very causes they ostensibly seek to uphold. Believing in gay rights or seeking to institute policies that may help prevent sexual assault is no longer a sufficient qualification for getting involved in campus activism. There are now barriers to entry, barriers that require any activist to hold an entire set of pre-approved political positions. But as more and more students retreat behind a semi-permeable membrane, through which only one mega-belief is allowed to pass, our universities lose their luster.

Thinking about it, we’re raising a generation of trapped rats, and there are few things more feral and scary than that.

Gender, gender, who’s got the gender? Meanwhile, Jeannie Suk, a Harvard Law Professor points out something that’s obvious to people who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid: The Obama administration a few years ago put the onus on schools to protect their students from anything that even slightly hints at sexual badness (whether assault, pressure, rape, innuendo, etc.). Now the administration is telling the schools that restrooms and locker rooms have to be open to all comers, regardless of genital equipment (awkward phrase, but you know what I mean) or orientation.

These two instructions are going to crash into each other very hard one day. As occasional guest poster LuLu said to me the other day, women who have been raped are going to be deeply traumatized when that guy with all his original equipment walks into the bathroom and they can’t get him out.

It’s time for pro-Israel voters to support Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders may not be the Democrat Party candidate, but he has succeeded in a coup: he’s driven the party so far Left that the new, official Democrat Party platform is going to have a distinctly hostile feel when it comes to Israel. All of my really serious Jewish friends, the ones who are conservative or orthodox, and who are ferociously pro-Israel, assure me that Trump will be Israel’s friend. I trust them, and I know with certainty that any Democrat will be its enemy. Israel has managed to survive Obama, but thanks to Obama it now faces a nuclear Iran. It’s unclear whether it can stand another hostile administration.

I greatly admire the intelligence and passion of people like Ben Shapiro. I understand the intellectual underpinning for their #NeverTrump ideology, but I think Shapiro and the others who can’t stand Trump’s crudeness and lack of ideological purity are going to have to climb down from that tree.

Based on her own political instincts, and with a new platform pushing her ever farther left, Hillary will use her executive authority to make a hash of things here at home — things that may take decades to repair. Worse, she will use the President’s unique power over foreign affairs to put one of our most stalwart allies at existential risk. I can’t in good conscience do anything that would help a Democrat Party victory.

The Muslim problem is not going away. Daniel Greenfield eloquently states what should be obvious: There is no end to the Muslim refugee problem because the Muslim world produces nothing but poverty, ignorance, and warfare.

Trump flaunts the bad and downplays the good. Did you know that there’s a statue of William Tecumseh Sherman in New York? Well, there is, and if it had been up to NYC, it would probably have been pulled down on account of rot and filth. Trump saved it. Yeah, it may also have been smart business to have a pretty statue near his property, but he could just as easily have used his power to pull it down — but he didn’t. He saved it and then he downplayed his good deed. Strange man, that Mr. Trump.

Trump, the speech candidate. I believe that the main reasons voters love Trump is because he states loudly all of the things conservatives wish their representatives would say, and which those representatives never do say. He also confounds the establishment, which feels good to voters who have, for years, been ignored by an establishment that is Democrat lite, rather than conservative.

Wow! That’s a baby . . . or it was. We don’t know, of course, how many people watched a video of abortion procedures and were unmoved. However, it appears that many people, having watched such a video, are deeply moved:

As I’ve often said, it was having babies of my own that changed me. I could no longer pretend that the moment of conception or the gestation period were meaningless. It’s apparent to the meanest intellect that the zygote is the fetus is the baby is the toddler is the child is the teen is the person. People who will not accept that reality are engaged in a massive act of intellectual denial.

Tom Cotton on the “cancerous” Harry Reid. Yes, Arkansas did give us Bill and Hillary Clinton, but it’s also given us Tom Cotton, so it can’t be all bad. (Joke, joke, dear Arkansas readers.) Watching Sen. Cotton attack Harry Reid is a rare pleasure:

Nice Catholics. Growing up in the Anglosphere, or the Protestant-o-sphere, means that Catholics have gotten a bum rap historically. Historian Rodney Stark challenges many of the myths in his new book, Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History. You can read a summary of those challenges here.

Cool things. I just thought this was totally cool:

Silly things. Have you ever thought what would happen if meat eaters acted like vegans?