Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose: Evergreen State defends its regressiveness

January 24, 2018 • 1:45 pm

I’ll just drop this tweet from Bret Weinstein, late of The Evergreen State College, who is appalled by an upcoming lecture at the College. I, too, am disturbed by this lecture, which really does seem designed to turn the debate about the First Amendment back to a debate about racism. Bret says he went, and I’ve pasted his Twitter reports below the announcement. It sounds pretty much like what he expected

This is best read from the bottom up:

Evergreen is completely hopeless. If any parent asked me, I’d tell them not to send their kids there if they wanted them to improve in rationality over four years.

38 thoughts on “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose: Evergreen State defends its regressiveness

  1. “Shutting viewpoints down is the province of people who’ve faced a history of oppression”.

    And who gets to decide who has been oppressed?

    Don’t US Christians regard themselves as the most victimised section of society?

  2. This is very disappointing. I noticed also that Howard Dean recently misportrayed the events surrounding Nicholas Christakis at Yale.

  3. The Regressive Left continues to establish itself as a reflection of the Alt-Right: authoritarians and fascists, all.

    1. Yes and come the Summer they will probably be back to fighting in the streets again since all their ideas are stale repeats of those that nearly crippled civilisation in the 20th Century.
      Time to move on?

  4. Unbridled free expression IS the prerequisite to overcoming invidious racial discrimination. Always has been, and it certainly was during the US Civil Rights movement.

  5. “”Some ideas, he argued, don’t deserve protection. Those are the ones we get to bar.
    Who decides what perspectives may be silenced?
    Not I, because I am a white man. Shutting viewpoints down is the province of people who’ve faced a history of oppression.”

    Two aspects of this are noteworthy. (1) The decision as to bar an idea depends ONLY on who decides, and has nothing to do with the contents of the idea—postmodernism
    to perfection. (2) No white man can decide to shut down an idea, but this is the legitimate role of victims of oppression. Or, of course, their Progressive allies.

    Once upon a time, in large country across the sea, the ideas of Genetics were shut down by Progressive state organizations acting on behalf of those famous victims of oppression, the workers of the world.

  6. 15 years ago one of my best friends said the Left overuses the word “oppression” the same way that the Right overuses to word “treason”.

  7. But, but, but, regressive *skeptics* such as Thomas “SerioudPod” Smith and Peter “Humanisticus” Ferguson claim Evergreen was a “hoax”.

    These cranks have been proven wrong over and over.

    1. I suspect he wasn’t truly forced to ‘flee’ town, as was put forth. I imagine he’s still got friends among the faculty, as well. I think another group should invite him to campus as a speaker- it would provide an illuminating perspective.

      1. “I suspect he wasn’t truly forced to ‘flee’ town, as was put forth.”

        I mean no disrespect, but you’ve made this assertion many times in many different threads about the events at Evergreen, but have never presented any countervailing evidence regarding any demonstrated element of the narrative (e.g. the roving campus mobs, the campus police being told by the President to stand down, the campus police chief then calling Weinstein at his home and telling him not to come to campus because a group of students were searching cars likely for him, the death threats Weinstein received, etc.). If you have any such evidence, I wish you would pass it along at this point. You’ve indicated that you have a certain attachment to the school in the past and that it may color your desire to view things more favorably in its favor.

        1. I’ve spoken to students and faculty who where there this last spring, and their accounts differ greatly from what Weinstein has portrayed. As a Washingtonian, I’m quite fond of our capitol city, Olympia, and people’s willingness to believe that political minorities are run out of town is baffling to me. I’ve lived as a political minority in a community for the last 10+ years, where we actually had to speak in hushed tones about politics, if we did at all. On top of that, the distaste people are professing for TESC right now reminds me too much of ‘hippie-kicking’. It is an easy target, and there is nothing novel about making fun of greeners for being too liberal, etc. Their is an air of elitism as well, as TESC students are more likely to be low income and non-traditional than at other state colleges. I listened to more than a few hours of interviews with Weinstein as this was unfolding, and as you may have noticed, his rhetoric has changed somewhat. Early on, you’ll hear him talking a lot about his fears of losing his academic freedom – due to changes coming from the administration. This, as I understand it, is part of an effort to mainstream some of the academic programs at TESC. Meaning, they want to have the students come out of the programs with specific learning goals achieved. I wish more of the interviewers had pressed him on this, and what exactly that would have meant for him and his programs. Lastly, the danger at campus came from the death threats (towards the ‘commie’ students, post-Carlson interview) and shut down the campus. The student protesters did not shut down campus.

          That said, the bold assertion here is that he was made to flee the city of Olympia. I’ll wait for any evidence supporting this claim before I buy it.

          1. You’re claiming the events were different from what Weinstein himself reported, but it wasn’t just Weinstein who portrayed what was going on, as there were myriad articles interviewing multiple people and even providing pictures of the events over several weeks. There were multiple events reported on by multiple people. More importantly, videos of nearly every event reported were released, from the initial attack on Weinstein in his classroom, to a student being followed and physically confronted outside the cafeteria, to the protests, to the rowdy meetings, to the encounter with the President. Most of these events were even corroborated by the President himself, as well as the campus police chief. I’m confused as to how your conversations with a handful of students and faculty, who haven’t provided any evidence that all that the events have somehow been misrepresented by the videos and multiple accounts (from students, local and national reporters, the campus chief of police, the school’s President), and who have an interest in downplaying what happened, suffice in any way as reason to view things differently. On one side, we have reams of evidence, both direct and secondhand, and on the other, we have a few accounts from some people who talked to you.

            1. My original comment that you responded to said that I ‘suspected’ something. Not that you should suspect the thing, nor anyone else. You can certainly disregard my opinion on the matter, but I’m surprised at such vitriol towards any point of view on this issue that doesn’t fall in line with the narrative presented. I don’t doubt campus was an uncomfortable place for Weinstein. I doubt that he was forced to flee the city of Olympia for fear for his life. I have yet to see anything that would suggest that is what happened.

              1. I certainly haven’t directed any vitriol your way and made sure to write my post as respectfully as I know how (I know my writing is very cold and clinical, and that this is sometimes interpreted as anger, but I just don’t know how else to write. It’s the only style I have, which I guess you could say is largely a lack of style). I’m just surprised that you have continued to post your doubts about this issue despite all the direct and secondhand evidence, and without any countervailing evidence that would cast even slight doubt on the story, and I was hoping that (1) you did have such evidence, and (2) if so, you would share it. If you hold your suspicion despite these circumstances, then I guess there’s really no discussion to be had, which is fine, as you’re of course entitled to your opinion, and I respect that fact. And while I haven’t personally offered any vitriol, I can understand why others would, considering the mountains of evidence in favor of Weinstein and the lack of evidence providing grounds for suspicion. He hasn’t been shown to have lied about anything and has provided plenty to make his story the likeliest case.

              2. Understood re: your writing style. You clearly have an affinity for the man, and I’m not surprised. He is an incredible speaker and unique thinker (I would not have made it through those hours of interviews otherwise). I cannot reply to your comment below, so here it is. I think there are a couple of points where we are talking past each other. But first, you say at the bottom that BW has provided plenty to make his story the likeliest case. I agree that he has provided plenty! But I would ask, do you have any news sources that got their information from anyone other than him (and the now notorious videos)? Of those mountains of evidence, he is the primary source for most of it, no?
                I’m not planning on giving you names and quotes from the people involved that I’ve spoken to, for the sake of their privacy and my own. Suffice to say, it is a broad sampling of folks who care about this issue and have positions on both sides. My current points of contention in this story are as follows:
                His having to flee the city of Olympia (I have not seen any evidence to support this)
                The Day of Absence being some sort of administrative mandated event
                (It’s been going on for years, and has never been mandatory)
                That the entire student body and faculty are being run by mobs of rioting students
                (This is patently false)
                That there is an epidemic of anti-white discrimination at TESC.

                I agree that students behaved badly. I think the events in the spring were unfortunate for everyone involved. I’m always willing to talk about these issues (I find them fascinating!) and listen to multiple sides and viewpoints, it’s a pity that others aren’t inclined to do the same. If we can’t have these conversations, we can’t learn, grow and move forward.

  8. What are they going to do except bring in a shill for their oppression when they’re already trampling the Constitution?

    Evergreen’s new rules on campus protests could run afoul of the Constitution because they prevent groups that practice any form of discrimination from speaking, Cohn said. That language, he said, could bar white supremacists, as well as members of a religious group, from appearing on campus.*

    Seattle Times

    Like any establishment power intent on forcing its way, though, it can always make others pay for official excuses for why suppression of expression is a good thing.

    Glen Davidson

    *The next paragraph was chilling too: “Cohn also thinks it was a mistake when 12 Washington state legislators recently asked Washington State University to stop funding the school’s College Republicans, saying the club is sowing “a climate of fear and distrust.”” Not very impressive belief in our rights among a good portion of the legislators, either.

  9. This seems a little unfair to Evergreen. As I read the poster, Levine was not invited by Evergreen itself but by “Community Forward”, an entity that describes itself as “a group at Evergreen”. So why attribute Levine’s views to the school?

    Should Evergreen have banned Levine from speaking because his views on free speech are abhorrent? Isn’t that precisely what you’ve been arguing against — and quite eloquently too — for the last several years?

    1. That’s a fair point, but I note the Evergreen State College official logo on it. It is possible that “Community Forward” group used it without their permission. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

      I totally agree that they should not have banned Levine.

    2. I don’t think he should be banned from speaking either. I do agree that his pov is wrong-headed.

      If it was the university itself that invited him, it was a stupid idea. It’s more likely it was a group seeking to validate their previous actions. They’ve probably heard a lot of arguments about why they’re wrong and have been incapable of countering them, so were looking for someone to support them.

    3. I don’t think anyone was saying that Levine should be deplatformed, the issue is why was a “group” that apparently is closely associated with the school itself has to bring in someone who just thinks certain speech should be shut down.

      Now I’m not going to say that this is a definitive description of what Community Forward is, but it was the only thing I could find on the web with a fairly quick search, so at least I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was cherry-picking. This is what one who claims to be a student at Evergreen says about Community Forward:

      You should consider going to the ‘Community Forward’ meetings at Evergreen, I went and expressed my dissatisfaction with how the whole spring situation was handled and about the anti whiteness at evergreen. It’s a staff, student and alumni meeting where they discuss how to move forward from the events. One of the questions was ‘how do we make sure that both sides are heard.’ I told them that there really wasn’t a way, not with animosity of those protesters and definitely not by telling the police to step down. Luckily not many students show up, I would likely get protested myself. Heck, I’d take the racist label if it got me 500,000 bucks.

      Comment from this video

      So yeah, assuming this is right, it sounds like a “group” that’s mostly part of the Evergreen establishment. Faculty, alumni, a few students wandering in. Probably doing some good, but clearly bringing in Alan Levine as an excuse for the kind of suppression of speech that the faculty (in part) has already imposed. I do think Bret Weinstein would have done well to have told us why he didn’t really distinguish between this “group” and the Evergreen establishment, however it would seem that if this student is correct, it’s probably because it’s mostly part of that establishment.

      It would be good to have a more authoritative source on just what Community Forward is, but this is what I can surmise from what little is out on the web. There seems to be very little at the Evergreen website about it.

      Glen Davidson

      1. “… the issue is why was a ‘group’ that apparently is closely associated with the school itself has to bring in someone who just thinks certain speech should be shut down.”

        I agree with what you said in your last paragraph: they’re clearly trying to defend the position of the school and the professors who signed that appalling letter during the height of the controversy. Heck, compared to what that enormous number of professors had to say (a letter which, it should be noted again and again, only two professors had the gall to oppose), Levine’s speech was downright tame in its promotion of suppressing speech.

  10. Alan Levine may be a constitutional scholar, but that doesn’t mean his assertions have ever been tested in court.

  11. Notice what he didn’t do? He didn’t try to get the event shut down, he didn’t go there to shout it down.
    He attended, listened respectfully, and when given the opportunity, asked some pointed questions and challenged the speakers assertions.
    Nicely done, if I were him, I wouldn’t set foot on that campus again.

  12. Who was it that pointed out that there is no difference between the profane and sacred?

    Anyway the issue I have with the whole regressive bunch is that a lot of the stuff they don’t want people to talk about – is more or less symptomatic of social injustice.

    This was largely the point that Stephen Pinker was making recently when the regressives tried to paint him as endorsing the “alt right”.

    And so long as we can’t talk about that stuff, we can’t really fix any of it.

    It doesn’t help black Americans to ignore violence in their communities if there is indeed more of it. Violence is largely a stress reaction, and merits further investigation in order to ascertain what is causing the stress.

    And we can’t do that if we can’t even talk about whether there is more violence in those areas in the first place.

    Lower IQ in a community can be because of environmental racism – you don’t put your toxic waste dump in your rich, largely white neighbourhood.

    But here is the thing, if you can’t talk about a community suffering lower IQs, you can’t really do anything about what is causing the problem.

    And so it goes on. Racists will take advantage of course of data that appears to support their conclusions, but if you’re more concerned about what some racist says on Twitter than about the fact that kids are getting lead poisoning, you’re an even bigger asshole than those racists.

    Reality doesn’t stop being real because it is unpleasant, and ignorance is never an advantage. An honest enemy is better than a dishonest friend, you can at least learn something from that enemy.

    The dishonest friend is going to end up shafting you sooner rather than later.

  13. I never liked that saying, which is also expressed in Ecclesiastes 1:9 as

    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

    Historical evidence points to the more realistic view that “The more things change, the more they’ll never be the same.”

  14. A right-leaning account of Alan Levine’s speech. Not obviously slanted in the facts from what I can see.

    It was interesting how the flyers for the speech changed (the one shown in this post was the earlier version), yet the speech seems to have stuck to at least some of the earlier advertising.

    Community Forward is portrayed thusly:

    The college invited Levine under the umbrella of “Community Forward” (inset), an in-house initiative spearheaded by George Freeman, academic dean of evening and weekend studies.

    The initiative is intended to create reasoned dialogue, and it reflects Freeman’s own personal example of rational and open-minded discourse.

    Levine seems paradoxical in invoking free speech a great deal in the past, and for the right groups, still does today:

    The civil rights lawyer who once defended the associational rights of student protesters said that colleges maintain white supremacy through social clubs, unequal distribution of funds and lack of diversity training.

    He did not mention that colleges heavily fund student groups based on gender expression, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other identity-based or affinity groups.

    Criticizing colleges for coddling college students also reinforces white supremacy, and failure to support Palestinian activism on campus suppresses the free speech of progressives, Levine claimed.

    He approved of the heckler’s veto used by protesters against Milo Yiannopoulos’s scheduled appearance at the University of California-Berkeley a year ago and against Charles Murray at Middlebury College last spring. Both speakers practiced “harmful speech,” he said.

    What can I say? The mind-rot of SJWism recognizes the importance of free speech for Palestinian activism, while approving the silencing of Yiannopoulos. Free speech for us, not for you. While he recognizes that his utopian censorship can’t be imposed at a public university like Evergreen, it’s what he espouses and excuses.

    Will Evergreen possibly bring in someone who has a principled interest in free speech? It would do much to counter this travesty, but I can’t hope too much for it.

    Glen Davidson

    1. That’s what immediately came to my mind! One of my favorite albums from my very favorite band 🙂

      Did you see them on the last tour?

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