Two more university deans (at Princeton and NYU) condemn the Rittenhouse verdict

November 25, 2021 • 11:30 am

Well, you’re going to have to rely on two conservative sites for this news.  The first site is The College Fix, a right-wing venue that reports about campus follies, usually of the woke genre. The other is another conservative site, Newsmax.  Together, they report the third and fourth instances I know about of a college administration going beyond the bounds by officially condemning the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse. (The previous two colleges were the University of California at Irvine, whose Vice-Chancellor first kvetched about the verdict before apologizing for opening his yap, and The University of Caifornia at Santa Cruz, whose two administrators—the Chancellor and the director of DEI—haven’t retracted their condemnation.) The Fix appears to have gotten its information about Princeton from Newsmax.

UCI and UCSC are very good schools, and both are public. Administrators are not supposed to make public statements about jury verdicts—especially when the verdict might have been correct—lest they chill the speech of the many people who likely took issue with the administrators’ opinion.

Be that as it may, this is all part of universities’ attempts to flaunt their virtue by appearing to take sides with the black protestors in Kenosha who, they think, were allies to the three white people whom Rittenhouse shot.  There is no explanation I can see other than that these universities want to be seen as being “on the right side of history”, in solidarity with the students.

At any rate, both The College Fix and Newsmax report that a dean at a tony private school—none other than Princeton University—sent out an email to students and faculty condemning the verdict and implying that it reeks of racism and white supremacy. The administrator was Amaney Jamal, recently appointed as dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.  Newsmax doesn’t give the full text of her email, but The College Fix does. Here’s the email Jamal reportedly sent out:

Dear SPIA [School of Public and International Affairs] community,

Last August, Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two protestors and wounded a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During his trial, he emotionally broke down on the stand, saying he was acting in self-defense. Today, he was acquitted of all six charges against him, including three of which were homicide related.

My heart feels heavy as I write this. As dean of a School of Public and International Affairs, I believe people have a right to assembly. I also believe that, during events like the protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake, it is the job of formal law enforcement bodies — not individual citizens —to ensure public safety. I fail to comprehend the idea of a minor vigilante carrying a semi-automatic rifle across state lines, killing two people, and being declared innocent by the U.S. justice system. Yesterday’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent.

Rittenhouse is not a racial minority, and some would say this is another example of biases and leniencies embedded within the justice system. That may be true. What we do know without a doubt is there are racial inequities in nearly every strand of the American fabric. Today’s verdict employs me to ask you — our current and future public servants — to investigate our policies and practices within the justice system and beyond. How can we use evidence-based research in pursuit of the public good? What role do we play, and what obligation do we have to serve?

It feels like an immeasurable, daunting task. I’m sure there are days in which you feel like giving up. In those moments, remember: Democracy is not a guarantee. We must always act with our feet, evoke change with action. We must always remain part of the policy solution. People. Policy. Progress. This is the basic order of our work. In between is passion, grit, tenacity. It is our moral duty to support and advance public policy that makes the world better.

Resources are available for our students. Sue Kim, our TigerWell outreach counselor, is available for virtual drop-in visits. Dr. David Campbell from Counseling and Psychological Services will host a virtual space for SPIA students to process the Rittenhouse Trial on Monday, November 22 at 5:00pm ET. …

With regards,
Amaney

Note the familiar use of Jamal’s first name, noted previously as a likely tactic for expressing “allyship” with the students.  More important, note how she racializes the event, claiming that Rittenhouse (or the judge or jury) may well have been racially biased (there was a “juror of color” on the Rittenhouse trial). She then moves on to the structural racism of America as a whole, and tells the students what they need to do to fix, which is not only something she should be doing, but also infantilizes the students—as if they don’t know that it would be good if they improved the world. But what if some of them want to become hedge fund managers? It is this call to action that violates Princeton’s policy of free speech, as students should be free from such incitements.  Princeton is not supposed to instill morality and ideology in its students; it’s supposed to teach them things and teach them to think.  Then can then make their own decisions.

Note the offer of counseling and a “virtual space to process the Rittenhouse Trial”.   The students are once again being treated like small children.

Finally, “Amaney” should not be questioning a verdict that she blatantly calls a “dangerous precedent”. Precedent for what? Apparently for letting white supremacists off the hook. She wasn’t in the courtroom, she wasn’t on the jury, and she apparently doesn’t understand that the law was applied as it was written.  She also doesn’t know that Rittenhouse did not carry a semi-automatic rifle across state lines. Perhaps owning one (which was legal) shouldn’t be permitted (which is what I believe), but then she should go after the gun laws.

The two reports are at the screenshots below, and I’ll add any useful information they provide:

Newsmax:

du Quenoy has a few questions for Dean Jamal.

Does she believe that Rittenhouse was “declared innocent by the U.S. justice system,” or did she “fail to comprehend” what really happened – that he was found “not guilty” in a trial by a jury of his peers?

As dean of a public affairs school, has she read the U.S. Constitution, including its Second Amendment?

Is she aware that U.S. citizens do, in fact, have the right to keep and bear arms, and to defend themselves and others with deadly force in a plethora of circumstances, particularly when they are violently attacked?

Does she know that our “right of assembly” does not grant anyone a right to destroy property, threaten bodily harm, hit people with skateboards, or hold pistols to their heads – all of which happened to Rittenhouse in the minutes before he pulled the trigger of his AR-15?

Does she realize that calling Rittenhouse a “vigilante,” especially after he was found not guilty on all counts, and falsely claiming that he carried his gun across state lines, exposes her and her university to potential defamation claims?

Do we know “without a doubt” that “racial inequities” figure “in nearly every strand of the American fabric?”

Many disagree, even if, as Jamal is undoubtedly aware, disagreeing on Princeton’s campus can result in baleful consequences, against which the traditional hallmarks of academic freedom are no shield.

Which “policies and practices” does she want her students to “investigate?” Open jury trials? Constitutional liberties? Rights of self-defense? Due process? Presumption of innocence?

and so on.

The College Fix:

The College Fix reports on other college follies around the Rittenhouse affair; I didn’t know of these:

The scholar is not the only one within academia to be voicing alarm over the verdict.

As The College Fix reported today, controversial Rutgers University professor Brittney Cooper had said the Rittenhouse verdict was a sign of “which version of whiteness” America wants. When discussing the fact that the men Rittenhouse shot were white, she said there “have always been white victims of white supremacy.”

At Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, administrators scheduled “virtual and in-person physical” spaces for students who needed to process the Rittenhouse verdict. The spaces are segregated by the students’ color, with white and students of color being asked to attend separate “processing spaces.”

At New York University, Dean Neil Guterman issued a statement saying the school’s social work scholars, teachers, and learners “stand in solidarity with those protesting against racial injustice, and share the pain at the outcome of the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.”

Brittney Cooper, whoever she is, does have the right to express her viewpoint so long as it’s stated as her personal opinion and not as an institutional statement. (I haven’t seen it). But Fitchburg State and now New York University have broadcast official opinions, which isn’t kosher.  Further, I easily found the statement of Dean Guterman on the internet. It is is official and also unwarranted. To wit (bolding is mine):

NYU Silver Dean Neil B. Guterman sent the following message to students, faculty, staff, and alumni on November 22, 2021.

To Members of the Silver Community:

As a community of social work scholars, teachers, and learners, we stand in solidarity with those protesting against racial injustice, and share the pain at the outcome of the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who, at 17 years old with an AR-15-style semi-automatic gun, shot and killed Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz during protests of the shooting of Black Kenosha, WI resident Jacob Blake. The acquittal verdict is reminiscent of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin, and once again lays bare the unequal and pernicious way our justice system permits and indeed enables deadly shootings. We also stand in solidarity with the Arbery family as we near a verdict in the trial of Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan, who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man in Georgia. Our profession stands for the promotion of all forms of social justice, protection of life, equal treatment, and we must continue to advocate against all forms of state sanctioned violence.

[JAC note: There was no state sanctioned violence in either the Rittenhouse case or the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.]

Such visible instances in the media can understandably be distressing — particularly for our BIPOC colleagues and other members of our community from marginalized groups. Given this and the many other challenges of the day, I encourage our community to find ways to come together to give and receive support from one another at this time, and in the coming days. NYU offers a number of resources to help community members care for themselves in difficult times like this.

  • Students may access the NYU Wellness Exchange to talk with a counselor 24/7 via phone (212) 443-9999, chat through the Wellness Exchange app, or by stopping by during their virtual drop-in hours.
  • Faculty and staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program (Optum) 24/7 at (888) 980-8740 and via chat in their app. Dr. Bob Talbot, NYU’s onsite EAP consultant, is also available as a resource.
  • Students, faculty, and staff seeking spiritual support may connect with a Spiritual Life Advisor through NYU Global Spiritual Life during their virtual office hours.

I am thinking of you all as we process this latest injustice and redouble our commitment to advance social justice and racial equity.

Neil B. Guterman
Dean and Paulette Goddard Professor

Lord, I don’t know what happened to American colleges, but they’re apparently full of adnministrator-cowards who are afraid of being mobbed by Social Justice.

 

h/t: Bill

15 thoughts on “Two more university deans (at Princeton and NYU) condemn the Rittenhouse verdict

  1. I may have made this comment before….but the lense to see so many of these woke epiphenomena is religious.

    Because Kenosha “killed” a mythically unarmed Black man, Kenosha must atone through ritual purification of fire. And the people that Rittenhouse shot, and 2 of them killed, were the agents and angels of that purification.

    Rittenhouse blasphemed by besmirching the ritual cleansing. And so the iconography of his infamy sprung up: the dreaded crossing of state lines; his insertion into a community to which he was an alien; the hunting down of peaceful protesters against the background of a righteous protest.

    Of course, Jacob Blake was not killed and was not unarmed; was known that Rittenhouse had a job and much family in Kenosha; that the men he shot were aggressors and so on. And there was video showing who aggressed whom clearly. Almost all of this was known last year.

    Even after the handing down the verdict, I distinctly hear a guest from the Washington Post on the Newshour in front of Judy Woodruff misinform and right out lie about critical facts from the case.

    We are dealing with a new flavor of religious fanaticism.

    (Joyous Thanksgiving to all…….)

  2. “Lord, I don’t know what happened to American colleges, but they’re apparently full of adnministrator-cowards who are afraid of being mobbed by Social Justice.”

    There is a more chilling interpretation of the sight of administrators cowering in the face of the twitter mob – perhaps they are not cowering at all. Perhaps they bought into postmodernism and critical theory when they were students and are now putting it all into practice.

  3. We are going to need a virtual space to process the flood of academic pronunciamentos denouncing the Rittenhouse verdict. They will all include or imply the now standard mythology, according to which
    young Rittenhouse brought his assault rifle from some far-distant place across the dread State lines, with the specific intent of shooting down a few Kenosha protesters and their allies, like the sainted Rosenbaum and Huber. At one point there were rumors, even further from fact, that Rittenhouse’s mother had driven him and his rifle to Kenosha, in line with the maxim that a boy’s best friend is his mother. [I am a little disappointed that the various Deans and professors have not repeated this part of the mythology.]

    The potency of mythologies was demonstrated in the great radio news account of a Martian invasion by Kenosha’s most distinguished native, Orson Welles. It is fitting that Mr. Welles also later made a mockumentary about fraud entitled “F for Fake”.

    1. Rather off-topic, but:

      All this parroting of falsehoods and mythologizing — about events where we have video and the actual truth is clear and widely reported — makes one realize how implausible it is that the stories about a certain Jesus of Nazareth — written 50 years after supposed events by anonymous authors, in an era before video or newspapers — can be regarded as even remotely reliable.

    2. Well, I guess we will need a separate virtual space for those troubled by all the pronouncements denouncing the verdict because I imagine the services which have been made available are not anticipating helping those people.

  4. It’s amazing to me that these college administrators make such poorly argued public statements. Were they not educated sufficiently to write a good essay? They contain factual errors and seem to be trying to make their argument without needing to justify it. My guess is that they are not making good arguments because they don’t have them and know it. Instead, these statements are poems of a sort: odes to social justice. Kyle Rittenhouse blah blah woof woof social justice.

    1. I think you’re missing the point of statements like these. They’re not intended to make arguments or be factually correct. They’re simply public virtue signals. This person is declaring that they’re good by telling everyone that they believe things that good people should believe. Factual accuracy is not required and is often willfully ignored because one’s level of goodness is often proportional to the inanity of the things believed.

      1. Perhaps you are missing my point. Even if their goal is to declare virtue (or power, as I stated in another comment), they are educated people who, I assume, know how to argue and write. Yet they choose not to. They ought to be embarrassed.

  5. They are working particularly hard to shoe-horn this into their narrative. Meanwhile, MSM is describing the Waukesha attack as a “crash” or “accident”, implying that Brooks’ actions were not intentional, to the extent they are discussing it at all. And you’d never know that the same day as the Rittenhouse verdict, a black man named Andrew Coffee IV was found not guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of three police officers. That certainly doesn’t feed the narrative. Even the conservative sites have forgotten that Timothy George Simpkins, a black teen, was let out on $75k bond after allegedly shooting three people at Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas last month.

    1. I am glad you mentioned the Coffee case. Even though he was a felon, and the gun was thus illegal, he was found to be reasonably defending himself.

      I hope I am not alone here in holding to the idea that truth really matters. I like to think that when my beliefs are found to conflict with the objective facts, I will modify my beliefs rather than delude myself into denying the facts. But again, I am not a religious person. There is unlikely to be a crisis of faith.

      The best I can figure it, this is about strongly held religious beliefs. I would not think a dean of a legitimate university would normally keep repeating points that have been disproved unless there was some strong impulse to continue believing the false version. As if they believe it not because it is shown to be true, but because it has to be believed, or their fundamental belief systems could collapse. People like that scare me, because they always seem to eventually decide that some group of people is obstructing that vision, and must be crushed.

      To me, that seems more sinister than someone claiming to strongly feel a certain way in order to avoid conflict. I read an article recently about one large US company, and the way their advertising changed over the years, often displaying values conflicting with their previous messages. But it was pretty clear that their goal was to spread whatever message they felt would sell more product. The woke thing seems to sometimes disrupt that, as they actually care more about the message than they do about selling sprockets.

  6. I keep wondering where all the sane and responsible adults have gone who should be in such positions (that includes media and politics). This is wantonly increasing the polarization and alienating moderates.

    1. One explanation of the crazy statements coming out of the mouths of senior academics and university administrators is that these people have lived their whole adult lives in a university environment, first as students, then as faculty and administrators. So they were radicalised by the postmodernists and became social justice warriors and morphed seamlessly into present day CRT activists. I suspect that many are not weak willed spineless bureaucrats cowering before the Woke, they are the Woke and they are leading the fight. As to what happened to the sane and responsible adults, well, I suspect that they are still there, but keeping their heads down for self-preservation, or left and joined the real world.

    2. > I keep wondering where all the sane and responsible adults have gone who should be in such positions (that includes media and politics).

      The sane people have long since realized that there is no reason to pay attention to media in the first place. I used to read the Economist, the Atlantic and Financial Times. Now, I limit my ‘news´ consumption to science and technology. The rest of it simply isn’t worth the disappointment or other emotional energies. The only remaining question is what the most productive way is of disengaging from toxic systems that thrive on sensationalism and divisiveness.

  7. It’s just become clear that in some circles it is “cool” to live in a complete bubble where fact don’t matter. Despite 1)no historic record of any racist behavior on the part of Rittenhouse 2) the fact that those he killed were white 3)those whites who attacked him struck first and were guilty of assault (and a few of them had prior arrests for some pretty questionable behavior) this case has suddenly become about BLACK VICTIMHOOD AND WHITE SUPREMACY. Whoa… do I live in some sort of alternative reality? In what universe do these people live, and do they actually watch news from primary sources instead of third party opinion? Do they watch or read the news AT ALL???

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