The Elect at Princeton University decide that ballet is racist, sexist, white supremacist, and thoroughly problematic

January 27, 2022 • 11:30 am

People might beef because the article below not only appeared in The American Conservative, but was written by arch-conservative Rod Dreher. For those who ignore reports from such sources, you might skip this and see the post from the Guardian above, but I pity such folks for refusing to engage with Right-wing sources, for those sources are almost the sole documentors of the woke shenanigans that may bring Republicans back to power.

To satisfy those who can’t stand to read Rod Dreher, I’ve quoted only his sources, with the rest of the post being the words of the censorious and ultra-Woke Elect Princeton University. It turns out that Princeton is going after ballet, having decided that that genre of dance is racist, white supremacist, and “ableist”. It also needs land acknowledgments before every performance!

Before I start, let me say that I’m not much of a ballet fan, but I do see the beauty in some virtuoso performances. And although it’s traditionally white, like much dance, that barrier is being broken down by people like Misty Copeland and the advent of black ballet companies. What concerns me more, knowing that ballet will inevitably become more diverse, is the credible claim that ballerinas are pressured to maintain a slender image, which may cause them to develop eating disorders. I’m not sure how common this is, but it’s a concern. But it’s impossible to do “traditional” ballet if you can’t jump around onstage, which requires at least an absence of obesity.

Click on the screenshot to read:

Here’s Dreher’s introduction. I’ve omitted his fulminations, which you can read at the site:

A source at Princeton University passed to me two documents sent out by the president of Princeton University Ballet (the student-run recreational ballet club), regarding the club’s diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives. I quote them both below, in full. The first was written by the club leaders, who in it affirm that “we are all entering this space with a mindset that what we see as perfect is a white standard” and “we aim to decolonize our practice of ballet, even as ballet remains an imperialist, colonialist, and white supremacist art form.” (Gosh, better not tell these woke dingbats about Alicia Alonso, the Cuban prima ballerina, founder of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and ardent Castroite.)

The second document is about “Action Plan Guidelines”. I am told that it was not written by the students, but by Princeton alumni who led the “EDI Circuit.” The document was given to all the clubs that participated. The source says, “I don’t think it was mandatory for all the performing arts groups. Still, it was organized by the University’s offices, namely the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Lewis Center for the Arts.”

I’ll quote only bits from the first document, and assume that it’s genuine.  I was going to bold parts to emphasize them, but really, the whole screed needs bolding. This is only part of that first document:

Ballet is rooted in white supremacy and perfectionism. We are all entering this space with a mindset that what we see as perfect is a white standard. Unlearning that will be difficult but rewarding. Before we begin detailing our action plan, we want to acknowledge that our leadership and those who composed this plan are all white.

Firstly we would like to add land acknowledgement to our shows, in addition to historical context in our programs. We rarely shed light on the problematic history of our art form, and want to bring it to the forefront of our performances.

We aim to decolonize our practice of ballet, even as ballet remains an imperialist, colonialist, and white supremacist art form. We realize our distinct freedoms as a college run dance group, which is that we do not report back to any sort of board or funding programs that would restrict our choices. In selecting new members and cultivating our style, we want to centralize artistry instead of technique, in the hopes of maintaining our core purpose as a ballet company but doing away with some of the stringent and exclusive standards that pervade the art form. As this is particularly important during auditions, we will be prefacing audition discussions with a frank recognition and repudiation of our own biases. . .

. . . We hope to take steps to ensure that PUB membership, not just leadership, requires a commitment to EDI work. As such, we have decided that participation in service and outreach to local communities will become a requirement of every company member. We partner with an organization that members can sign up to volunteer with, but there are numerous other opportunities for dance service on campus. Even though we cannot change some of the biases and prejudices that exist in ballet off campus, we can dedicate ourselves to combating that exclusivity in our local communities and for the next generation.

. . . We would also like to open a conversation about body image and take steps to heal and deconstruct the harmful and racialized ideas about body image that many of PUB’s members enter the company with just by virtue of being a ballet dancer. Historically, PUB has been neutral on this issue, and while body neutrality is something some may strive for individually, it is not realistic or helpful for a group of ballet dancers who have internalized damaging ideas about how they should eat and what they should look like. We are hoping to bring someone in from outside the company to train the officers or the company as a whole on how to talk about body image and how to create an environment where we feel comfortable talking about our struggles with body image while also helping to deconstruct our assumptions about it.

The last paragraph does have a point, but the aesthetics of an athletic, healthy body is essential for ballet, as it is for sports. But the pressure to develop a thin and graceful body type does not seem to be “racialized” to me. All ballerinas, black or white (and there are now many of the former, including entire companies) will have to deal with the need to be athletic in a way that makes the performance aesthetically appealing.

The road to perdition for the Demonized

January 12, 2022 • 10:15 am

This is something I not only see happening all the time, but also worry about it happening to myself. The phenomenon is this: someone of a liberal bent gets called out, demonized, or canceled on social media by the Woke, and is more or less blindsided because of it.  Then a series of semi-predictable steps occurs, with many stopping before the last step, which corresponds to the lowest circle of Hell.

I won’t give a lot of names, but I’ve given names of people who seem to have stopped at various levels.

1.) Person strikes back either once or not at all at those who have gone after him/her. Remains a liberal. (Example: Nick Cohen)

2.) Person continues to strike back, writing several accounts or emitting several tweets about their cancellation. Person, however, remains liberal. (Examples: J. K. Rowling, Abigail Shrier.)

3.) Person goes into more general critiques of Wokeism, more or less making their living attacking the Woke. Politics begin to move rightward (Example: Bari Weiss.)

4.) Person moves much further towards the right, becoming more or less a conservative (Example: James Lindsay, who voted for Trump, apparently as a reaction to wokeness.) This is akin to having abandoned your ideological principles in the service of revenge, but it never works because the Woke never forgive.

Now of course not everyone goes down this route, but it is a natural pathway, and to me an understandable one: it’s a way of repeatedly striking back at those who, you think, have wronged you. And there are exceptions. Although Andrew Sullivan was center-right, the follies of the Right have moved his politics toward the center. And Sullivan, who’s remarkably open-minded, seems impervious to criticism, and is willing to admit when he missteps.

As for me, I constantly worry about the excesses of the Left moving me towards the Right. (You know the old saying, “A young person who is a conservative has no heart; an old person who is a liberal has no brain.”) And I console myself by saying that I haven’t moved towards the Right; rather, I’ve stayed put while the Democrats have moved leftward. In general I think that’s true, but I always wonder whether, were I to meet my 25-year-old self and exchange political views, the younger Jerry Coyne would be upset at the views of the older one. A tweet by Colin Wright expressing my concerns is mentioned by reader Michael Hart in comment #4 below:

I’ve been a diehard Democrat my whole life, and even voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary. My liberal history when I was younger is known to readers here, but whatever political “activism” remains comes out in this website. (Granted, I spend a lot of time bashing the “Progressive Left,” but that’s because I want to save the classical liberal Left.

I may be missing steps, and am loath to give examples lest I insult people. But feel free to weigh in. Just don’t call me “alt-right” or I’ll ban your tuchas.

A piece on the Left I wish I’d written (well, at least part of it)

December 21, 2021 • 12:00 pm

This piece by Fredie deBoer on his eponymous Substack column is free, but do subscribe if you read him often. It’s an analysis of the failure of the Left to unify themselves in a way that can appeal to middle American and defeat the Republicans—things I’m on about all the time. It also answers a question I get all the time: “Why are you always bashing the Left and leaving the Right alone when the Right is clearly more dangerous to America?” Well, I don’t really neglect the Right, and I do agree about the relative dangers. But I do concentrate on the Left, and deBoer explains why better than I can.  And he pulls no punches.

Click to read:

The part I don’t wish I’d written, because I think it detracts from deBoer’s message, is that he writes a LOT about Chris Hayes—a political commentator on MSNBC—using Hayes as an exemplar of what’s gone wrong with the Left. In particular, after Trump was elected, says deBoer, Hayes got woke. This is just a short bit reflecting deBoer’s disappointment with Hayes (even though he says he admires him):

When I think of this refusal to practice introspection, I think of MSNBC host Chris Hayes. I see two great impediments to the American liberal project, and Hayes embodies both: a fixation on Trump that nears the pathological, trapping liberalism perpetually in yesterday’s war, and a studious refusal to speak plainly and critically about the way that the Democratic party has become captured by donors and staffers whose politics are not just wildly out of step with the median American but with the median Democrat. Whether for ratings or to satisfy the contemporary lie that Trump is the worst president ever – you can read Hayes’s own writing from the Bush era to understand why it’s a lie – Hayes cannot quit Donald Trump, and thus like his party cannot settle on a remotely coherent political vision. He’s trapped.

And that’s all I’ll say about Hayes, though deBoer has a lot more to say about him. I don’t think it’s wise to use Hayes as a whipping boy for Woke Democrats, simply because it detracts from deBoer’s message. Plus I don’t know squat about Chris Hayes!

I’m just going to give two long quotes by deBoer because he expresses some of my own sentiments more strongly and with more sarcasm than I could. The bold questions are mine that I think deBoer answers (indented bits):

First, why does he (and your host) concentrate on the perfidies of the Extreme Left rather than the Dangerous Right? deBoer:

Sometimes I get people asking me why I don’t write more criticism of Republicans and conservatives. I’ve made the basic point many times before: those with influence within the conservative movement are too craven or crazy for meaningful written engagement to be worth anything, and those who are interesting and honest have no influence within the conservative movement. You can engage with Ross Douthat, who’s sharp and fair but who the average conservative would call a RINO [JAC: “Republican in name only”], or you can engage with a roster of interchangeable lunatics who lie and dissemble in defense of a cruel revanchist movement. I tend to train my fire on the broad left of center because, as much as I would sometimes like to wash my hands of the whole damn lot of them, they are the half of American politics that could actually reform, that could improve. I see no positive outcome from going through Breitbart posts and pointing out the lies. But Hayes, and other liberal Democrats who grumble and groan about left on liberal criticism, seem to think that if we just keep talking about how awful Josh Hawley and the Proud Boys are, somehow these problems will all sort themselves out.

They won’t. If you’re obsessed with defeating Trumpism, you should realize that you can only do that through securing a broad multicultural coalition, and you can’t do that when you’re alienating Hispanic voters or failing to challenge people in your political orbit when they insist that white children should be taught that they’re inherently and irreversibly racist. 70% of this country is white, Hispanic voters are not remotely as left-leaning as people assumed, immigrants are far from uniformly progressive, women were never actually a liberal stronghold, and you can’t win national elections by appealing only to the kinds of people who say “Black bodies” instead of “Black people.” This is the simple point David Shor has made for over a year, and for his trouble he gets a columnist in the Nation flat-out lying about him. Imagine a political tendency where popularism – literally, the idea that you should do things that appeal to voters – is immensely controversial. Liberalism is not healthy.

And your host will add: yu don’t need me to bash Republicans because there are already a gazillion people who do it, and you can read them instead of me.  Also, I feel more compelled to address problems in my own family (Democrats) than in that bad family across the street. It’s easier to settle family squabbles than reconcile the Hatfields with the McCoys.  Finally, it distresses me that my family is riven by a thousand differences, as well as imbued with apparent ignorance of what Americans want in their democracy—both of which will help spawn Republican victories down the road. At any rate, deBoer is right: we need a multicultural coalition, and the “elites” aren’t helping with that.

Now deBoer is not in my position on the political spectrum. In his Substack bio, he describes himself this way:

I write about everything but have a few jams that I engage with consistently. I am a Marxist of an old-school variety, which means I frequently complain about liberals, social democrats, and whatever “democratic socialism” is.

Second, and finally, what does the Left need?  deBoer, though perhaps “a Marxist of an old-school variety”, says this, first quoting Democratic ex-Senator Harry Reid, who, when asked what message he wanted to leave with America, answered “I want everybody in America to understand that if Harry Reid can make it, anybody can.”

And then deBoer riffs on that:

Does that sound anything like the message American liberalism wants to deliver now? Absolutely not. Today, American liberalism wants to tell you not that America can be a place of justice and equality where we all work together for the good of all, even as we acknowledge how badly we’ve failed that ideal. In 2021 liberalism wants to tell you that the whole damn American project is toxic and ugly, that every element of the country is an excuse to perpetuate racism, that those groups of people Hayes lists at the bottom are not in any sense in it together but that instead some fall higher on an hierarchy of suffering, with those who are perceived to have it too good in that hierarchy deserving no help from liberalism or government or the Democratic party – and, oh by the way, you can be dirt poor and powerless and still be privileged, so we don’t want you, especially if you’re part of the single largest chunk of the American electorate. Anyone who tows the line [sic] Harry Reid takes here is either a bigot or a sap, and politics is a zero-sum game where marginalized groups can only get ahead if others suffer, and Democrats fight to control a filthy, ugly, fallen country that will forever be defined by its sins. That’s the liberalism of 2021, a movement of unrelenting pessimism, obscure vocabulary, elitist tastes, and cultural and social extremism totally divorced from a vision of shared prosperity and a working class movement that comes together across difference for the good of all. In fact, I think I learned in my sociology class at Dartmouth that a working class movement would inherently center white pain! Better to remain divided into perpetually warring fiefdoms of grievance that can accomplish nothing. Purer that way. Now here’s Chris with part 479 of his January 6th series, to show us the country’s biggest problems.

Conservatives run roughshod over the country, and liberals are powerless to stop them, because liberalism has been colonized by a bizarre set of fringe cultural ideas about race and gender which they express in abstruse and alienating vocabulary at every turn. If anyone complains, liberals call them racist or sexist or transphobic, even when those complaining are saying that we can fight racism and sexism and transphobia more effectively by stressing shared humanity and the common good. Republicans tell the American people batshit conspiracy theories about communists teaching Yakub theory in kindergarten; Democrats fight back by making PowerPoint slides about why resegregating public schools is intersectional. We have reactionary insanity that expresses itself in plain, brute language and an opposition that insists that most voters don’t actually have any real problems, using a vocabulary that should never have escaped the conference rooms of whatever nonprofit hell it crawled out of. I cannot imagine a more obvious mismatch, the gleeful conspiracist bloodletting of the right against the sneering disdain and incomprehensible jargon of the left. I wonder who’ll win politically, an army of racist car dealership owners who have already taken over vast swaths of America’s state and local governments, keening for blood and soil? Or the guy in your anthropology seminar who insisted they were the voice of social justice while simultaneously making every conversation all about them?

This is all humorous and snarky, but also rings true. (I suppose deBoer’s Marxism is reflected in his concentration of class instead of race.) Be that as it may, the next time someone asks me why I bash the Left more often than the Right, I’ll just send them this post.

________

Note to deBoer: it’s “toes the line,” not “tows the line.” And it’s a “vise grip” not a “vice grip.”

 

h/t: Steve

Palestine is a right-wing country with right-wing policies

August 4, 2021 • 12:00 pm

We constantly hear from the opponents of Israel and Jews–they often call themselves “anti-Zionists”—that the Israeli government is “right wing”. And yes, there were right-wing policies under Netanyahu, but I surely wouldn’t characterize Israel in general as a right-wing country. It’s also called an “apartheid state”, but if you want to claim that there’s more apartheid in Israel than in the Palestinian Territories, I’d look upon that statement with contempt.

But to each their own taste. If you Google “Israeli far right,” though, you’ll find a lot of articles like this one, about the far right-government, even the new coalition. And not just “right wing” but far right wing.

I just did the same thing with Hamas (the militant organization that runs Gaza) and Fatah (the largest faction of the PLO, which includes President for Life Abbas). If you Google, say, “Right wing Hamas”, you will find. . . . exactly nothing. But if you look at policies of both Hamas and Fatah, you would have trouble finding anything which is not far-right, for the policies of both Gaza and the rest of Palestine include these:  no rights for LGBT people, no equality for women, no abortion, religious fanaticism, no religious freedom, hatred of apostates and atheists, loads of antisemitism, and so on. Are’t those stances of the right wing?

I asked Malgorzata if there was anything she would add, and this is how she responded:

Well, I would add  admiration for Hitler (Mein Kampf is a bestseller in Palestine; you see the Nazi salute given by both Hezbollah and Hamas, also by members of the in Palestinian Authority), and you can’t get more right wing than Hitler! There’s also the desire to build a theocracy (with the law based on shariah law taken from the God-given Qur’an), the deep conviction that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is authentic; and, of course, antisemitism—but that could be seen as a feature not exclusive to the right wing.

But I bet you haven’t seen anybody writing about “the far-right leader of Hamas” (or “of Fatah”).

Now why would that be?

 

Counterweight: A new liberal but anti-Woke site

January 25, 2021 • 10:15 am

Helen Pluckrose and her associates have just started a new site that will appeal to many here, especially those who may get in trouble for criticizing the Woke.  It’s called “Counterweight“, and its motto is “Weighing in for liberalism.” I suppose its name comes from the fact that it counters the narrative of Wokeness and Critical Theory (remember, Pluckrose was one of the two authors of Cynical Theories, a must-read book), and because it remains a liberal site, dedicated to civility and humane values—but not to the tenets of Critical Theory! Their methods of combat appear to include Politeness but Firmness.

Click on screenshot to go to the site:

Counterweight exists for two reasons. First, to help those who are in trouble with the Offense Culture, who are getting canceled, and who need advice, assistance, lawyers and other professionals, and so on. In addition, they’re putting out material to counteract “Authoritarian Critical Social Justice” (the theory that I refer to as “Wokeness”).  They have pretty impressive resources already.

Here’s their mission statement:

The leadership team is here, the academic affiliates are here (I’m one of them, and honored to join the impressive crew, which includes Steve Pinker, Sam Harris, Sarah Haider (btw, Haider just started a subscription Substack site, some of whose content is free), Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Alan Sokal, and others), and there are nine partner organizations, including Letters, Areo Magazine, the Free Speech Union, and Critical Discourses.

Further, there’s a YouTube channel, which already has six videos, including this introductory one:

Finally, you can follow Counterweight on Twitter and Facebook.

Helen is extremely dedicated—an anti-Woke force of nature—and I have high hope for the organization. At least start following them on social media, and be aware that the organization exists.

Taibbi’s woke news from 2020

January 5, 2021 • 9:15 am

Matt Taibbi, a former writer for Rolling Stone, where he published on a variety of stuff (including sports), has now moved his writing to Substack, along with many journalists who can’t find a comfortable home in the woke mainstream media. His penultimate piece at his TK News site is a funny but scary guide to, well, see the headline below. You can read the piece for free by clicking on the screenshot below:

These ludicrous woke attacks on nearly everything are funny—or would be if they didn’t bespeak a fundamental change in our culture. Granted, that change may be engineered by a minority of chowderheads, but they’re loud and they’re powerful. Taibbi presents what he sees as the 16 wokest stories of last year. I’ve written about a few, and will put asterisks next to those. Many I missed, so I’ve given Taibbi’s links to them along with my own brief summary of what the stories claimed.

First, though, a few words from Matt:

The year 2020 will be remembered in the real world for a terrifying pandemic, mass unemployment, a nationwide protest movement, and a historically uninspiring presidential race. The year in media, meanwhile, was marked by grotesque factual scandals, journalist-cheered censorship, and an accelerating newsroom mania for political groupthink that was equal parts frightening and ridiculous.

The tiniest violations of perceived orthodoxies cost jobs. Reporters and editors were whacked en masse in uprisings at the New York Timesthe Philadelphia Inquirerthe Wall Street JournalVox, the Miami Heraldand countless other places.

Some of the purges were themselves amazing news stories. A contractor named Sue Schafer was fired after the Washington Post published a 3,000-word expose about a two-year-old incident in which she attended a Halloween party dressed as Megyn Kelly, who herself had been fired from NBC for defending blackface costumes. Schafer, in other words, was fired for dressing in blackface as a satire of blackface costumes, in an incident no one heard of until the Post decided to make an issue of it. This was one example of what the New Yorker recently exulted as the “expensive and laborious” process of investigative journalism, as practiced in 2020.

Raymond Chandler once said that when he ran out of ideas, he just had a character burst into a room with a gun. 2020 op-ed writers in the same predicament could insert random nouns into a MadLibs template: “Is _____ Racist?” Everything from knitting to Jesus to women to botanical gardens to dieting to mermaids to  Scrabble and perhaps a hundred other things made the cut, to the point where it became a bottomless running gag for inevitable cancel targets like the satirical Twitter personality, “Titania McGrath.”

And the stories are below. Taibbi gives them in reverse order from #16 to #1, but I’ve given them in the opposite direction. The summaries are mine unless they’re in quotes or indented.

*1.) The Guardian, July 6: “Upward-thrusting buildings ejaculating into the sky’ – do cities have to be so sexist?”   Besides those phallic skyscrapers thrusting up as if to penetrate the heavens, the author sees the cities as places of inequity and violence, particularly against women. (My take is here).

2.) (Story uncovered) Here Taibbi faults the media for hypocrisy, covering stories with a Woke ideology but not covering similar stories that are unwoke. One example: decrying anti-lockdown protests as dangerous sources of infection, but not mentioning that the same thing was likely with anti-racist protests.

*3.) Huffington Post, April 23:  “I teach at Oxford, but I don’t want it to win the coronavirus vaccine race.” A student and teacher of women’s studies at Oxford doesn’t want her school to create the vaccine first because, after all, Britain is white and colonialist, and an Oxford vaccine would just be a “white savior” story. Curiously, though, the head of the Oxford vaccine-development team was a woman. (My take is here.)

4.) NPR, June 6th: “Your Bookshelf May Be Part Of The Problem.” If your bookshelf contains almost no books by nonwhite authors, then you’re buying into white supremacy. Or, if you have books by people of color, you better be ready to accept them whole hog. As the author says, “Anti-racist books will only do a person good if they silence themselves first and enter into the reading — provided they care enough to do so.”  Oy! SHUT UP AND READ—no thinking for yourself!

5.) Globe and Mail, September 5: “Is it time to decolonize your lawn?(You’ll have to create free account.) Lawns symbolize not only control over nature, but the dispossession of indigenous people. They’re also an ecologically unfriendly monoculture and take too much resources to manage (I agree with this bit).

6.) ABC.com, July 1: “America’s national parks face existential crisis over race.” The workforce and visitors of parks are too white, creating an “existential race crisis.” The demeanor of rangers makes others feel “unsafe,” and there aren’t enough signs in Spanish. But as the author notes later in the piece, the implied racism may be something not invoving racism in the Park Service:

Lack of transportation to national parks and the cost of visiting were cited as the top reasons people — especially Black and Hispanic Americans — don’t visit them more often, according to the study. Twice as many black and Hispanic Americans said they don’t know what to do in national parks than whites. When asked if they share the same interests as people who visit national parks, 34% of Black respondents and 27% of Hispanics said no, compared with only 11% of whites.

7.) Yahoo! News, December 26: Pixar’s ‘Soul’ is getting rave reviews, but it left me cringing up until the very last minute.” The “soul” of a Pixar character played by Jamie Foxx (black) is voiced by Tina Fey (white). That’s about it.

8.) The Conversation, August 16: “How Hollywood’s ‘Alien’ and ‘Predator’ movies reinforce anti-Black racism.” I’ll quote Taibbi here:

The essay connected George Bush’s conquest of Mike Dukakis in 1988 to the hypersexualized representation of a dreadlocked jungle alien in the famed Schwarzenegger flick, while connecting slavery, Dick Nixon’s Southern Strategy, the myth of the Welfare Queen, and the scourge of no-knock warrants to “Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise, with its vicious and endlessly breeding carbon black alien mother.” That film, the piece noted, “came at the height of neoliberal experiment and in the U.S. especially, an all-out assault on Black people.” (The British Scott made Alien in 1979).

9.) New York Times, June 29: “A White Gatekeeper of Southern Food Faces Calls to Resign.” A man in charge of a food organization that promoted southern food was white, despite his constant promotion of African-American food and help to African-American chefs and restaurants. His pigmentation seems to be the main problem.

*10.) Vice, August 13: “Dear White Vegans: Stop Appropriating Food.”  First of all, cultural appropriation: “They often touted recipes—”African peanut stew” or “Asian stir fry”—that rely on racial stereotypes. . “.  There are also misconceptions that don’t seem to involve racism:

Black vegan influencer Tabitha Brown previously told VICE that before she cut out meat and dairy she thought vegans were “white ladies who do yoga.” White people and their blogs dominate the results when key terms like “vegans,” “vegetarians,” or “vegan recipes” are plugged into Google. Nital Jethalal, a board member for Toronto Vegetarians Association, told VICE News he has been putting together a conference for vegans and it has been a lot easier to find prominent panellists online who are white. “The problem is few people think to go to the second page of Google results,” Jethalal said.

My take is here. VICE is heinous.

11.) Time, December 15: “Co-Founding the ACLU, Fighting for Labor Rights and Other Helen Keller Accomplishments Students Don’t Learn in School.” Helen Keller was just “another privileged white person.”

12.) Refinery29, January 21, “The Dangerous Rise Of Men Who Won’t Date ‘Woke’ Women.” This all comes from one comment by Laurence Fox, which triggers author Vicky Spratt into a long tirade. But he’s only one guy! And of course there are lots of Republicans who won’t be happy with “woke” women, but they’re dangerous for other reasons. A quote:

So it is fitting that white man of the moment, Laurence Fox – who appeared on the BBC’s Question Time programme and told a BAME audience member that Meghan Markle has not been on the receiving end of racism before subsequently appearing on the cover of The Sunday Times to tell the world that he does not “date woke women” and then displaying an appalling understanding of history by calling the inclusion of a Sikh soldier in Sam Mendes’ film 1917 “incongruous” – has “irrespective” tattooed on his arm.
Did you hear that at the back, ladies? Laurence Fox – who you perhaps only knew as Billie Piper’s ex-husband because you’ve never seen Lewis (what?) – does not date “woke” women who he believes are being taught that they are “victims”, irrespective of whether they are right or not. He thinks that it’s “institutionally racist” to tell the story of the First World War in a racially diverse way, irrespective of the fact that Sikh soldiers absolutely fought for Britain. And he also doesn’t believe in white privilege, irrespective of the fact that he works in a painfully undiverse industry, was privately educated and comes from a wealthy acting family which is nothing short of a dynasty.
There’s nothing funny about the things Fox – or Wokey McWokeface as he now wants to be known – is saying. It’s also not particularly sad. It’s dangerous. He is just one very privileged man, and as a result of said privilege, has been given a platform. And he has used that platform to legitimise a bigger backlash against diversity and progress which is unfolding every single day in less public corners of the internet.

*13.) Vox, September 16: “How Beethoven’s 5th Symphony put the classism in classical music.” We’ve discussed it and its sequelae before (see here and here). No need to reprise the discussion about whether the “pale, male, and stale” Ludwig is elbowing out more diverse composers from the pantheon.

14.) San Francisco Chronicle, September 8: “Wine’s diversity starts with the way we talk about the taste of wine.” This is paywalled, so I can’t see it, but Ann Althouse summarizes the thesis with a quote:

“. . . .it’s becoming clearer than ever that the conventional language used to describe wine isn’t merely intimidating and opaque. It’s also inextricable from racism and sexism, excluding dimensions of flavor that are unfamiliar to the white, Western cultures that dominate the world of fine wine and reinforcing retrograde notions of gender.”

Yes, but they are familiar to people who drink wine, although one of the biggest consumers of fine with are the Chinese, who don’t seem to be excluded from this “white Western culture.”

15.) Deadspin, June 22: “We’ve Lived with ‘The Masters’ Name Long Enough.” The golf tournament needs to be renamed because “at dictionary.com, one of the definitions you get for ‘master’ is ‘owner of a slave.’  But the first definition (I looked it up) is “a person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something: a master of six languages; to be master of one’s fate.”

16.) Fast Company, June 15: “5 thoughtful ways to approach discussing racism at work.”  Some of the tips are okay, but the entire article assumes that black people are uber-fragile and must be catered to in meetings at every turn, not treated as equals. It’s a prime example of “soft bigotry.” And here’s one invidious tip that Taibbi singles out:

DO BE MINDFUL OF OPENING UP MEETINGS AND INTERACTIONS WITH QUESTIONS LIKE “HOW ARE YOU?” OR “HOW WAS YOUR WEEKEND?”

Recognize that by doing so, you can potentially be re-triggering what your Black colleagues are experiencing or dismissing their experience by pretending all is normal. It’s not and hasn’t been for a long time.

This I don’t get. Is the assumption here that one’s black colleagues have very different kinds of weekends than we do? And this “re-triggering” trope is arrant nonsense.

So that’s it, and I should have kept a list like Taibbi’s. These are all articles that espouse a woke point of view, but there are many more articles about the dangers of Wokeitude than these, including the many I’ve written about “progressive”, authoritarian Leftism in colleges and the media.

 

Social-justice turbulence at Haverford, self-abasing administrators, and some lessons

December 5, 2020 • 1:00 pm

I see that Quillette is now being demonized by many Leftists as some sort of “alt-right” or conservative website. And although some of their articles are indeed too Right-wing for me, most of the articles seem to be doing what I do—calling out the excesses of the Left, the same excesses that, I suspect, held back the predicted Blue Wave in November’s election. Further, it’s not a good idea to denigrate an entire website as a way of avoiding—or urging others to avoid—reading anything published there. Regardless of what you see as Quillette‘s overall ideology, you will benefit from reading some of its pieces, if for no other reason than some of the follies of the Left, which threaten a liberal government, simply can’t be found in mainstream media.

Here is one piece that will repay reading, although it’s long (my printout, in 9-point type, occupies 14 pages). This should keep you occupied on a cold December Saturday:

In some ways it’s nothing really new: the piece describes a meltdown at Haverford College, a posh and expensive school near Philadelphia. What’s unusual about this is that the students went on strike for several weeks, refusing to go to classes or, indeed, do anything college-related. What’s not new is that they issued a set of demands to the administration: the usual mix of the ridiculous to the tame. And the administration, to placate the outraged students, accepted nearly every one of those demands.

To me it’s a scary harbinger of my own school which, despite holding the line on some aspects of free speech, is showing worrying signs of encroaching wokeness. I’m worried that the University of Chicago will go the way of Yale, Middlebury College, Harvard, and now Haverford. But more on that in weeks to come.

The author of the piece, Jonathan Kay, is the Canadian editor of Quillette, and has cobbled together a thorough and engrossing summary of Haverford’s meltdown.  I’ll try to be brief, as I want to discuss his views on the future of fulminating college wokeness.

Earlier this year, before the death of George Floyd on May 25, Haverford was pretty much a school of comity. While there was discussion about various issues, there was not much about race, and a college committee in 2019 noted that there was, as Kay says, “little indication of mass discontent or ideological conflict.” This contrasts markedly with the many statements in the next few months, including some by administrators admitting that Haverford had long been a bastion of systemic racism.

All that changed with the death of Floyd and then the police shooting in Philadelphia on October 26 of another black man, Walter Wallace, Jr., who was bipolar and carrying a knife.  Because it wasn’t clear that the cops had a good reason to fire on Wallace, this predictably led to rioting in Philadelphia. Earlier, the racial unrest of the summer had led the College’s President, Wendy Raymond, to issue a statement of support for the black protestors, and the students began protesting the alleged racism of Haverford and issuing lists of demands.

After Wallace’s death, President Raymond and Interim Dean Joyce Bylander (the latter a black woman) issued a joint letter of anti-racism, but made the mistake of saying that students shouldn’t go to Philadelphia to protest because they could get infected with Covid-19 or “play into the hands of those who might seek to sow division and conflict especially in vulnerable communities.” (It’s not clear whom they meant.)

This statement (like others, reproduced in the article), urging students not to put themselves in “harm’s way”, enraged those students, who saw in it a line drawn between the poor black residents of Philadelphia and the entitled bubble of Haverford students.  A Zoom call ensued on November 5 in which the President, the black Interim Dean, and the black Provost, Linda Strong-Lee, talked to many of Haverford’s 1350 students. The students proceeded to revile the administrators in the call, as usual, but did so anonymously.

And the administrators proceeded to abase themselves:

The President:

Raymond presented herself as solemnly apologetic for a litany of offenses. She also effusively praised and thanked the striking students for educating her about their pain, while “recognizing that I will never understand what it means to be a person of color or be black or indigenous in the United States. I am a white woman with considerable unearned privilege.”

Not only did Raymond announce that she would be acceding to many of the students’ previously listed demands, she also reacted positively to the new requests that students put forward during the call. “All of the recommendations you’ve made here sound spot on and are excellent,” she said. “We can do those—and go beyond them.”

The Provost:

“I’ll just share that I hear your pain, and I know that this is something that rings hollow for you, but I am a black woman who has lived in a black body for 56 years,” responded Strong-Leek, in carefully measured tones that, among all the responses from administrators, seemed closest to escalating into something approaching candor. “My husband is black. My children are black. Every day, I worry about them and myself. Every day, I confront racism. [I’m] Looking forward to working with you and looking forward to making Haverford a better place.” She seemed to be fighting back her own emotions, but ultimately kept her composure.

The Interim Dean:

“I continue to listen and learn, and try to understand the ways in which the college has failed you and how I have failed you,” Dean Bylander calmly responds, ticking off seemingly well-rehearsed talking points. “[I] continue to be committed to trying to work to change and improve the experience of BIPOC students at Haverford.” Her face is a mask of deadpan professionalism. Or maybe she’d simply gone numb.

Eventually, the College acceded to virtually all the students’ demands. But by then the students had gone on strike, refusing to attend classes or extracurricular activities, with the intent being to disrupt the college, make them see how valuable people of color were in running the College, and to spend their time doing teach-ins and reading anti-racist literature. The strike lasted three weeks.

It wasn’t enough that there was a strike, for the striking students tried to punish those “scab” professors who insisted on holding classes during the strike as well as those students who opposed the strike, the latter keeping quiet lest they be forever demonized. Alumni banded together threatening to withhold donations to Haverford unless the students’ demands were met (this is a particularly effective way to effect college change: smack them in the pocketbook).

Social-media statements like this circulated (“Peanuts” is President Raymond’s dog, for crying out loud, and the poor mutt was threatened multiple times with death):

They threatened the President’s dog, for chrissake!

All of a sudden, where comity had reigned, the students, administration, and alumni discovered that all along the school had been a bastion of racism and bigotry:

The students appeared on Zoom under pseudonyms plucked from a list of past Haverford presidents and benefactors. The idea, a strike organizer self-identifying as “Henry Drinker” is heard to say at the 12:20 mark, was to co-opt the names “of the old white men who have made Haverford the racist institution that it is today.”

. . . These details help contextualize the mass email that Dean Bylander and President Raymond sent to the school community on October 28th, a six-paragraph message that student strikers would cite in the days that followed as proof of the “long tradition of anti-Blackness and the erasure of marginalized voices that have come to characterize the experiences of students of color at Haverford.”

From an article in the college newspaper by a student named Soha Saghir:

This campus has failed its Black students (especially Black women and Black nonbinary people), its students of color, and its FGLI [first-generation low-income] students—the very people whose labor is the backbone of this campus. These emails [from the administration] were just one more way in which you and this institution neither feel nor understand how tired, angry, and ready for change we are… In this pandemic, that labor has intensified in unimaginable ways… We are no longer asking for inclusion or diversity since that gives more power to the institution. Instead, we will disrupt that order. We will be going on a strike from our classes, our jobs (which we need), and any extracurricular activities. This campus can’t run without BIPOC. This is not just a reminder that we are valuable to you on campus, but that our lives, minds, and bodies matter.

There’s more, but what’s clear is that all of a sudden students discovered that the school, once peaceful and inclusive, was really a hotbed of racism. Did the school change in such a short period of time, or did outraged students confect a “structural racism” that didn’t exist.

I opt for the latter, having long lived on a liberal campus where such recent accusations fly in the face of the facts.

What bothers me about Kay’s piece is what looks like a correct diagnosis of why the administration caved completely to the students, abasing themselves, losing their dignity, and admitting to an institutional bigotry which didn’t exist. It’s because the administration has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by standing up to the students. If true, that doesn’t give me much hope:

When campus meltdowns of this type occur, you often see conservative culture warriors demand that administrators take a hard line, demonstrate backbone, “grow a spine,” and so forth. But what is their incentive for doing so? It was once the case that a university president was able to balance different constituencies against one another as a means to achieve some kind of policy equilibrium—liberal students versus more conservative professors, administrators against alumni, this department versus that. But that doesn’t happen anymore: Thanks to the homogenizing effects of social media, all of these constituencies tend to be drinking the same bathwater from the same troughs, and so get caught up in the same social panics at the same time.

And Kay’s solution seems lame: “eventually the trend will reverse itself, and that will be prompted by the students themselves.”  Dream on, Mr. Kay: I don’t see this happening:

The process of sifting through these events at Haverford has convinced me that the ideological crisis on American campuses can’t be solved by administrators—not because they are beholden to critical race theory, intersectionality, gender ideology, postmodernism, or any of the other bugbears of conservative culture critics, but because they simply have no practical inducements for doing so. Ultimately, this is a crisis that is going to have to be addressed, if at all, by students themselves. And in this regard, I do see some green shoots of hope. Nick Lasinsky, a white undergraduate student at Haverford, wrote a beautiful and thoughtful piece called Why I’ve Chosen Not to Strike. And a black student named Khalil Walker wrote an amazing series of comments in which he demolishes the idea that Haverford is a hive of systematic racism. Our culture moves in cycles, and I predict that you will see more of these brave voices in months to come.

I predict otherwise. These woke and outraged students will, since they come from elite colleges, get positions of leadership in the media as well as in other colleges, for many of them will go on to become academics and administrators. And that will make colleges even more woke, and so on. There’s nothing on the horizon to break that cycle.

As I worry about this fate for my own university (our hard-line President, Bob Zimmer, will resign at the end of this academic year), I spend too much time—especially for an emeritus professor—fretting about the University of Chicago. For decades, we were the beacon of freedom of speech and academic freedom among American colleges. This uniqueness was in fact a selling point of the University, who advertised it to potential students and their parents. But it’s crumbling.

Now we stand on an equipoise that could easily turn us into Haverford, especially because many of our students are just as woke as theirs. While I still fight for freedom of speech here, it’s getting harder and harder, and the opposition gets louder and louder. What’s freedom of speech compared to the “harm” you cause by speaking your mind?

Before too long, we may see the time when the University of Chicago is no longer the model for colleges that want to encourage all sorts of discussion and discourage none. And I find that prospect discouraging.

Bret Stephens scolds the Left

November 20, 2020 • 10:30 am

You may not be eager to listen to advice from a conservative about how the Left is tearing itself apart, but all Stephens is saying in his latest NYT column (click on screenshot) is what I’ve been saying for a while: it’s not going to help the Left further its agenda if it keeps engaging in internecine struggles between the “progressives” and the centrists. Since Americans have just proven themselves more willing to support the centrist program, you can’t argue that the centrists should step aside for people like Bernie Sanders or “the squad”. (I hasten to add that some of their ideas are good ones, like universal healthcare and parts of the Green New Deal, but their program as a whole won’t help the center hold. Nor will demonizing everyone who voted for Trump.)

Ergo, I suggest that the best tactic is not only to adopt a less-extreme Democratic agenda, but also (and this may be futile) try compromising more with right-centrists (compromise with most Republicans, though, is hopeless). I’ll let you read Stephens’s op-ed yourself, and then I’ll give a few quote, and let you hash it out while I’m getting drilled:

What, today, is leftism, at least when it comes to intellectual life? Not what it used to be. Once it was predominantly liberal, albeit with radical fringes. Now it is predominantly progressive, or woke, with centrist liberals in dissent. Once it was irreverent. Now it is pious. Once it believed that truth was best discovered by engaging opposing points of view. Now it believes that truth can be established by eliminating them. Once it cared about process. Now it is obsessed with outcomes. Once it understood, with Walt Whitman, that we contain multitudes. Now it is into dualities: We are privileged or powerless, white or of color, racist or anti-racist, oppressor or oppressed.

The list goes on. But the central difference is this: The old liberal left paid attention to complexity, ambiguity, the gray areas. A sense of complexity induced a measure of doubt, including self-doubt. The new left typically seeks to reduce things to elements such as race, class and gender, in ways that erase ambiguity and doubt. The new left is a factory of certitudes.

And what? A conservative shows some humor?:

For the new left — and the publications that champion it — the loss is much greater. It makes them predictable, smug and dull. It alienates readers. A current article on the New York magazine website is titled, “I Think About Björk’s Creativity Animal a Lot.” For gems such as this they got rid of Sullivan?

But I think Stephens has a point, not just about Björk, but about the Left in general. The polarization that’s occurred, largely at the instigation of the take-no-prisoners “progressives”, has made liberal political progress harder. If you’re white but not a racist (yes, they exist, contra Robin DiAngelo), being called a racist or someone filled with unconscious bias makes you take a harder stand on “anti-racism”. Similarly, damning all who voted for Trump as “racists” and “deplorables” is a losing strategy, particularly given the large numbers of women, blacks, and Hispanics who voted for Trump this time around. This is why Biden keeps harping on his desire for compromise and comity, and emphasizing that, Republicans or Democrats, we’re all Americans.

Perhaps this is pie in the sky. But it’s worth a try. Stephens:

The apparent inability of many on the left to entertain the thought that decent human beings might have voted for Trump for sensible reasons — to take one example, the unemployment rate reached record lows before the pandemic hit — amounts to an epic failure to see their fellow Americans with understanding, much less with empathy. It repels the 73 million Trump voters who cannot see anything of themselves in media caricatures of them as fragile, bigoted, greedy and somewhat stupid white people.

It also motivates them. The surest way to fuel the politics of resentment — the politics that gave us the Tea Party, Brexit and Trump, and will continue to furnish more of the same — is to give people something to resent. Jeering moral condescension from entitled elites is among the things most people tend to resent.

Which brings me back to the flight of the contrarians. As the left (and the institutions that represent it) increasingly becomes an intellectual monoculture, it will do more than just drive away talent, as well as significant parts of its audience. It will become more self-certain, more obnoxious to those who don’t share its assumptions, more blinkered and more frequently wrong.

To the enemies of the left, the self-harm that left-leaning institutions do with their increasingly frequent excommunications is, ultimately, good news. The mystery is why liberals would do it to themselves.

Of course the Right is far from immune to this kind of intranecine fighting (remember the “Lincoln Project’?), and they engage in their own form of demonizing their opponents. But we can be better than our opponents.

Nick Cohen on the dangers of right-wing vs. left-wing extremism

September 7, 2020 • 12:00 pm

One of the comments I get a lot—both on this site and in private emails—is that I spend too much time bashing the Left rather than going after Trump and his minions. I’ve tried to respond repeatedly, but somehow my message doesn’t get through.

So let me say this again. I am a liberal, a Democrat, and I despise Trump and what the Republican party has become—and has been for a long time. Trump is a serious danger to the American republic, and getting rid of him in November should be the highest priority of anyone who cares about America.  He is a bully, a narcissist, and deeply unhinged; in fact, I suspect he’s got some neurodegenerative condition, though it may only be fulminating and acute narcissism.

Okay, got that?

Now I could spend a lot of time, as many Left-wing writers do on their websites, excoriating Trump and calling out his follies (in fact, I do that a fair amount). But then there would be nothing to set me apart from the gazillions of Leftists who write nearly identical can-you-believe-this-man articles about the horrors of Trump and Trumpism. I don’t want to just say “me too” in post after post about Trump. It’s terribly boring for me.

Instead, I have found a comfortable niche calling out the excesses of the Left. I do this for several reasons: to try keeping my side of the spectrum fairly pure, sane, and non-hypocritical, because I fear that these excesses may help Trump gain a second term, and because I don’t think people see these excesses reported in the mainstream media (“MSM”, as it’s now called). Sure, you can see them reported by the gloating right-wing media: Fox News, Breitbart, and college sites like Campus Reform. But most readers here don’t read those sites, and a lot of what they write about is exaggerated, and certainly biased toward the Right. Readers here are definitely left of center, and so perhaps I can inform them a bit. It’s not that I set out to cater to the political tastes of a known group of readers (that’s what the New York Times does), but that readers have gravitated here because, I guess, they want to read what I have to say, and to chime in with other people who are largely (but not completely) like minded.

So I write about what interests me, and what interests me more than just getting rid of Trump, about which I can do little save vote (and call him out from time to time), is staving off the fulminating wokeness of the Left. Andrew Sullivan does that, too, though he’s more to the right than I, and there are others in the Left-wing niche, like Jesse Singal.  That niche is comfortably spacious, and I enjoy occupying it more than I would adding one more Trump-bashing post to those that fill the Internet.

But it behooves us from time to time to remember that our main goal has to be the expulsion of Trump from the White House. And rather than say it myself, let me quote another Leftie, the estimable Nick Cohen. In his latest piece in the Guardian, Cohen, who’s done his share of Left-bashing, reminds us that the Right is worse than the Left (though perhaps not a lot worse than the most extreme members of the Left). But the Right has power, and the radical Left doesn’t.

Click on the screenshot to read it:

Here are a few quotes from Cohen’s piece:

. . . in this terrible year, it is worth saying that moral equivalence is not the same as practical equivalence. As the world stands, the fight against the radical right is a fight for the preservation of liberal democracy. The fight against the far left is a fight for justice for the individual denied the freedom to express his or, and more frequently today, her opinions without post-Stalinist inquisitors demanding she confesses her ideological crimes or lose her job.

Both fights are essential but the difference in scale is so enormous it barely makes sense to put them in the same category. The best way I can explain why is to imagine an American announcing they were voting for Donald Trump because they were repelled by how the New York Times and US universities had removed journalists and academics who would not bow their heads and bite their tongues. You would, I think, tell them that their sense of proportion was so out of balance it was a wonder they did not topple over. Trump has the power to threaten the American constitution. He has stuffed his administration with cronies and relatives, and damned thousands of Americans to needless deaths from Covid-19. He is hoping to retain power by encouraging far-right terrorism and ballot rigging. Given the anarchic glee that Trump and the Republicans display when they block defensive measures against global warming, his defeat is a necessity not just for the United States but for humanity.

I don’t deny that leftish cultural influence is a form of power. If you are forced out of your job in a university or publisher, or told what you can and cannot teach, think and write, it is a power that can crush you. But political power with the ability to crush tens of millions of people is in the hands of the radical right. And not just in the United States. Britain, Hungary, Poland, Russia, India, Turkey, Brazil and the Philippines are democracies that have been taken over by governments that to varying degrees despise independent checks and are determined to humble any institution that might curb them.

. . . However vicious it may be, the far left has not overrun the western centre-left as the radical right has overrun mainstream conservatism. Labour MPs were willing to give up their careers to fight against antisemitism and the toleration of totalitarian ideas and regimes. Compare that with the US, where only Mitt Romney and a handful of Republican politicians have risked losing office by fighting to stop their party becoming Trump’s personality cult. British Conservatives who were prepared to oppose the national catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit were either purged by Johnson, in an example of the Stalinism on the right, or walked away from the party in despair at the last election. They showed a courage their successors lack. With only months to go before we could crash out of the single market and customs union, no prominent Conservative politician is prepared to speak for the national interest or even debate it.

finally,

Conservatives have written with accuracy about how cancel culture and political correctness have moved disgusted voters rightwards. They always forget to mention that the converse also applies. Trump has destroyed America as an example for the world to follow and authorised every reaction against it. Extremism begets extremism. When you have an unapologetic racist as American president, all opposition is legitimate and the most zealous opposition can feel the most legitimate of all. As I say, you should not have to choose. But if you must, fight the power that presents the greatest threat, because once the far right is defeated, it will be easier to fight the far left.

I agree with all of this, so let this stand as the way I feel about the Right versus the Left— in America, the UK, and the other countries Cohen mentions above.

And while I’m at it, you won’t often see criticisms of Islam, or the theocratic perfidies of Islamic countries, in the Left-wing media. But you’ll find those critiques here.

h/t: Jez

USC Professor punished for using Chinese phrase in class that sounds like a racial slur

September 4, 2020 • 1:00 pm

This is just one more item in my continuing documentation of universities acting insanely when they don’t want to anger the Woke. This one is unbelievable, involving punishing a professor who, by any rational standard, didn’t do anything wrong. But this happens more and more these days.

So, from yahoo! News, which took it from the National Review, we have an article about Greg Patton, a professor at the University of Southern California who was admonished and then placed on leave when he used a Chinese phrase that sounds like the n-word. Click on the screenshot to read the piece:

An excerpt:

Greg Patton, a professor at the university’s Marshall School of Business, was giving a lecture about the use of “filler words” in speech during a recent online class when he used the word in question, saying, “If you have a lot of ‘ums and errs,’ this is culturally specific, so based on your native language. Like in China, the common word is ‘that, that, that.’ So in China it might be ‘nèi ge, nèi ge, nèi ge.’”

Here’s the phrase at the Chinese Grammar Wiki:

In conversation, you may find yourself at a loss for words, unable to find the correct phrase you are looking for, or simply needing time to gather your thoughts. When you experience this feeling, in English, you may say “umm” or “uhhh” or another filler word. In Chinese, the word for this is 那个 (nèige). (The word 那个 can be pronounced both “nàge” and “nèige,” but for this usage, “nèige” is normally used.)

Here’s the video of the offending statement; it’s pretty clear that he is not making a racial slur! Nevertheless, somebody must have complained.

USC issued a statement to the right-wing website Campus Reform about Patton’s punishment:

In a statement to Campus ReformUSC said Patton “agreed to take a short term pause while we are reviewing to better understand the situation and to take any appropriate next steps.” Another instructor has stepped in to teach the class in the meantime.

“Recently, a USC faculty member during class used a Chinese word that sounds similar to a racial slur in English. We acknowledge the historical, cultural and harmful impact of racist language,” the university said in a statement.

USC is now “offering supportive measures to any student, faculty, or staff member who requests assistance,” the statement added, saying the school is “committed to building a culture of respect and dignity where all members of our community can feel safe, supported, and can thrive.”

This is unbelievable. The man utters a pretty well-known Chinese filler phrase, and is demonized and placed on leave because the phrase sounds like a racial slur in English.  But he neither uttered a racial slur nor had any intention to do so. Nevertheless, he’s punished, the University debases itself and then offers support to people who were offended. How can something like Patton’s grammar lesson make people feel “unsafe”. If they say that, well, I don’t have to believe that so-called lived experience. It is an offense culture where you must pretend to be offended, even if you aren’t.

This is madness, but madness is, as they say, “the new normal.” It’s as if someone referred to a “chink in one’s armor” and got reported for using a slur against the Chinese.