Jodi Shaw, the gadfly of Smith College: Put on paid leave, nevertheless, she persists

January 8, 2021 • 12:45 pm

I’ve put up two posts (part 1 and part 2 ) about Jodi Shaw, an employee of Smith College who worked as a student support coordinator specializing in “Residence Life”. Shaw had a beef with the College for forcing her to undergo mandatory training in what seems like Critical Race Theory, and in which she was humiliated by the facilitator for her “white fragility”. Read the two links at the beginning for the full story.

Kathleen McCartney, the President of Smith, then responded to Shaw’s first video with a cold-hearted letter to the entire College saying, in effect, something like, “Well, we can’t fire Shaw because of the law, but we’ll ensure that all students of color are protected from harm.”

Shaw, amazingly, continues to post videos, and she’s now up to six (her YouTube channel is here). From the outset it was clear that, at a place like Smith, Shaw would be completely demonized for bucking the established order, even though Smith College couldn’t fire her. Now she gets a profile in the conservative Spectator, which reprises her story—a story that many of you know—but also adds a bit more information. Click on the screenshot:

After her treatment by Smith, Shaw filed a 100-page complaint about her mistreatment in the anti-racism seminar, but, according to the article above, Smith College never responded.  Here’s the new information, which includes the report that she’s been put on paid leave, which is what they do to police who kill somebody. I’ve listened to several of her videos, and I’ll put one of the latest ones below. They’re calm and reasonable, and I’m stymied about why she was taken off her job.

You can get the old stuff by reading either my past posts or the first part of the article above. The following includes her liberal bona fides, her sad plans for a fallback career, and the fact that she’s been put on leave:

She filed a 100-page complaint with the college, alleging multiple individual acts of ‘race-based hostility and discrimination’, as well as examples of ‘a climate of fear, hostility, exclusion and intimidation for  its employees’. The complaint went nowhere.

Shaw is soft-spoken, thoughtful and modest. She’s the opposite of the emotional screamers who post videos of themselves having meltdowns about Trump, or the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She also has serious hipster-woke credentials, having gone to Smith herself in the early Nineties, and lived in Portland and in Brooklyn, both hotbeds of self-loathing white people trying to atone for their race. She laughs at the irony of a person like herself becoming a poster child for speaking out about racism against white people. As a young woman, she was an actual card-carrying member of the Socialist Worker’s Party. At Smith, she called out people who used the word lame. ‘That kind of language policing, I participated in it,’ she told me.

She’s all grown up now, though, and, like most people, has matured beyond the censorious fervor so common among the young. And she has put her job and her credibility on the line, as she was just put on paid leave while the college investigates her actions. Unlike others from academia who have spoken out against critical race theory, Shaw did not have a secure, tenured, prestige job and/or a large platform. Her Plan B, should she lose her position at Smith, is to work for a maintenance company clearing snow and raking leaves. She’s a single mother. When I asked her why she put her neck on the chopping block over this, she replied: ‘because it’s just wrong.’

The staff are on the frontline of this ideological race war. But it’s wrong for everyone involved. The students, who pay exorbitant fees to study at Smith, are being dealt with — at least by the staff who manage the student living quarters, food halls and security — according to their race.

Why is it the very best colleges, places like Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Smith, and Bryn Mawr, that are especially subject to self-flagellation and accusations of system racism? I don’t believe it’s because those places are more racist that other colleges; in fact, I don’t believe they were “systemally racist” (i.e., had in place a structure that perpetuated bigotry against racial minorities) at all.

Her latest video about her own situation has this description:

A population of individuals cut off from their respective moral centers is a population capable of committing great atrocities. In this video I explore some of the psychic damage resulting from my involvement in Smith’s efforts to combat “systemic racism.” Specifically, how a belief in the notion of “white fragility,” combined with the fear of being branded a racist, necessitates betrayal of ones moral compass.

I think Shaw is pretty much alone: I suspect she has almost no allies at Smith. These videos are her way of expressing her feelings to people who will listen. In effect, she’s using the camera as a therapist.

I do not believe she is a racist, but she’s been treated like one because she refused to flagellate herself with the whip of Critical Race Theory. In fact, she seems to have been the victim of racism herself.   But she’s also right about the way anti-racism of a particular stripe is forced down the throats of students, faculty, and staff at many American universities.

17 thoughts on “Jodi Shaw, the gadfly of Smith College: Put on paid leave, nevertheless, she persists

    1. My guess is that they’ll fabricate something and get some of their undergraduate keeners to ‘corroborate’ the story. That kind of behavior would fall well within the error bars for current academic ethics at places like Smith.

  1. “Her Plan B, should she lose her position at Smith, is to work for a maintenance company clearing snow and raking leaves…”

    Wait a second…she is a highly educated woman. She can’t find a position that doesn’t involve menial labor? A non-English speaking illegal immigrant could do her plan B.

    I support the concept of liberal education, but in her case, her liberal education appears to have prepared her for nothing outside the narrow bubble of college admin work.

  2. The inherent contradictions of so many aspects of “Critical Theory” always bother me, especially my inner (or not-so-inner) pedant. If complaining about some concern is evidence of some kind of “fragility” then anyone trying to right any wrong is thus displaying fragility, not any sense of desire for justice, and the argument bites itself on the tail…or sucks itself up like a cartoon vacuum cleaner. But I suppose critical theorists would say that logic itself is inherently racist, but I don’t know how they could arrive at such a conclusion without using at least some form of logic, so again, it’s self-contradictory. And if not proposed or supported by evidence and argument, then it can be dismissed without evidence or argument.

    1. I see CT as being something that would only benefit those in power. Meaning, if facts and logic are to be used so selectively, as they are in CT as you point out, then only the powerful get to determine what facts are appropriate and when it is ok to use reason to support a position.

      So to me that is the ultimate inconsistency of CT. It’s supporters claim to be fighting oppression, but CT takes away the only tools that the oppressed would have to improve their lot.

  3. I have a theory, which is my own, but is inspired by the ideas in “Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets” by Nassim Taleb.

    There are a lot of people who, if they have any self awareness, realise that their comfortable position in life depends on a great deal of randomness in a meaningless world. Rather than face up to the idea of nihilism they choose to identify this randomness as ‘privilege’. Therefore they hate themselves and others for being lucky or privileged. Plus they get extra social status points for such displays of (purely accidental) moral virtue, anxious that if someone calls them out their social order will collapse.

    1. I would take your interpretation a notch or two further, with a psychotherapy twist. Could it be that individuals whose qualifications and status are all based on Grievance Studies and post-modernist twaddle suffer from a nagging suspicion that their credentials are quite phony—a suspicion which is then transferred, Freudian-fashion, into an obsessive concern with “privilege”?

    2. Yes, so much of life is chance. I sometimes think “gee, if I didn’t decide to take that community college class on a whim 18 years ago, I wouldn’t have stumbled onto the path that eventually led to me meeting my wife and having my kids and I’d be living a totally different life now…” ‘Though most of the chance diversions I recall seem to have been negative… “If I didn’t accept my ex-boss’s offer to go live in Eastern Europe I wouldn’t have had most of my life’s savings stolen and had to start all over in my late 30s…” “If I didn’t play that game with those kids on Christmas, on another whim, I wouldn’t have broken my knee and become permanently crippled…” But such is life.

      1. ‘Such is life’ indeed. Perhaps showing how much randomness there is in the world for evolutionary processes to work against.

        I often wondered if the savannah environment provided enough ‘tests’ to drive natural selection… but perhaps it is a human blindness not to see how much randomness there is. Some of our ancestors found water, some didn’t. Some of our ancestors avoided parasites by chance, and some didn’t. And so on…

  4. I applaud Smith’s efforts. I suspect she knew going into this that there was no way this would end well for her, but she has spoken her conscience and stood her ground.

  5. “Specifically, how a belief in the notion of ‘white fragility,’ combined with the fear of being branded a racist, necessitates betrayal of ones moral compass.”

    The climate on many campuses and even in many big corporations (like, say, Google) has shades of Havel’s greengrocer for many of the people who study or work at these places.

    Vaclav Havel is one of my personal heroes. I started reading his work late in my college days, and it had a profound impact on me and the way I think about politics, government, and people with whom I disagree on issues.

    1. It should be remembered that Mr. Havel suffered from Czech Fragility—a lack of appreciation for the fraternal, Progressive guidance that the USSR helpfully provided to his nation. A similar Fragility was also displayed by Hungarians, Poles, and those benighted people in the Baltics.

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