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.

The New York Times celebrates a cancellation

December 28, 2020 • 10:45 am

Let me get this straight at the outset: in my view, nobody should use the “n-word”, except perhaps in quoting its use in literature or for didactic reasons. Yes, black people use it as a term of fraternity or affection, but I learned from Grania that if the word is to disappear from use, everyone has to stop using it.  It’s almost as if Jews were allowed to call each other “kikes” and “Hebes” but other people weren’t. (We don’t do that.) But at the very least, white people have to stop using it in non-academic circumstances.

So I think that when 15 year old high-school student Mimi Groves of Leesburg, Virginia was filmed in a three-second video four years ago, saying “I can drive, n—–“, (she’d just gotten her learner’s permit), she should have kept her mouth shut. But she didn’t, and now is suffering the consequences. In my view, those consequences are completely disproportionate to this one statement, and yet the New York Times implicitly sees her as having got her just deserts, despite lacking any further evidence of racism in her behavior. In the piece below, it looks as if they’re celebrating her cancellation.

You can see what caused all the fuss at the beginning of this video, which shows what Groves said, with the offending word bleeped out:

As this article recounts (click on screenshot), one of Groves’s friends, a half black student named Jimmy Galligan—who was sick of racism in Leesburg—got hold of that video, held onto it, and waited until the time when making it public would do the most damage to Groves. Then he did the deed, and social media did the rest. The time was after Groves had been admitted to her dream college. Groves was first taken off the cheerleading squad at the University of Tennessee, and then the college asked her to withdraw. It was all because of those three seconds and that one word.

According to the article, both Leesburg and Galligan’s and Groves’s high school were permeated with racism attitudes, and, this being Virginia, I have no reason to doubt that. Galligan, frustrated with the racism and his futile attempts to alleviate it, decided to use the video of Groves as a form of punishment, even though the two were friendly:

The slur, [Galligan] said, was regularly hurled in classrooms and hallways throughout his years in the Loudoun County school district. He had brought the issue up to teachers and administrators but, much to his anger and frustration, his complaints had gone nowhere.

So he held on to the video, which was sent to him by a friend, and made a decision that would ricochet across Leesburg, Va., a town named for an ancestor of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee and whose school system had fought an order to desegregate for more than a decade after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.

“I wanted to get her where she would understand the severity of that word,” Mr. Galligan, 18, whose mother is Black and father is white, said of the classmate who uttered the slur, Mimi Groves. He tucked the video away, deciding to post it publicly when the time was right.

The time was when Groves had decided where she wanted to go to college: the University of Tennessee (UT).  Galligan then shared the Snapchat video to several social media platforms even though by that time Groves was making statements in favor of Black Lives Matter.  And by that time she’d been admitted to UT and had apparently also made its famous cheerleading team (a dream of hers), even though she hadn’t started going there yet. The story continues with the now-familiar social media mobbing.

The next month, as protests were sweeping the nation after the police killing of George Floyd, Ms. Groves, in a public Instagram post, urged people to “protest, donate, sign a petition, rally, do something” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. [JAC: Note that this is before she knew that the video was spreading.]

“You have the audacity to post this, after saying the N-word,” responded someone whom Ms. Groves said she did not know.

Her alarm at the stranger’s comment turned to panic as friends began calling, directing her to the source of a brewing social media furor. Mr. Galligan, who had waited until Ms. Groves had chosen a college, had publicly posted the video that afternoon. Within hours, it had been shared to Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter, where furious calls mounted for the University of Tennessee to revoke its admission offer.

And she was cancelled; or rather, kicked off the cheerleading team and then had her offer of admission to UT rescinded:

The consequences were swift. Over the next two days, Ms. Groves was removed from the university’s cheer team. She then withdrew from the school under pressure from admissions officials, who told her they had received hundreds of emails and phone calls from outraged alumni, students and the public.

“They’re angry, and they want to see some action,” an admissions official told Ms. Groves and her family, according to a recording of the emotional call reviewed by The New York Times.

Ms. Groves was among many incoming freshmen across the country whose admissions offers were revoked by at least a dozen universities after videos emerged on social media of them using racist language.

The rest of the article is devoted to describing the atmosphere of racism in the Leesburg schools, which does seems pretty dire and reprehensible. The n-word was used often, and black students were disciplined disproportionately.  The NYT describes this atmosphere in detail, and one can’t help but feel that the racism of Leesburg, not of Mimi Groves, is the real subject of the article. That’s fine, except that Groves’s rescinded offer, for using one word in a three-second video, is characterized as “retribution” for that racism. There’s no other record of Groves’s behaving or speaking in a racist way; she is serving as the scapegoat for the whole atmosphere of racism in Leesburg. And yet the NYT says things like this, which seem gratuitous:

Ms. Groves, who just turned 19, lives with her parents and two siblings in a predominantly white and affluent gated community built around a golf course.

Is Groves a racist? I wouldn’t call her one despite the use of that word four years ago. For she has no history of racism, and was taught to despite the attitude. Would a racist put up a post asking people to support Black Lives Matter?

Here’s some more from the article:

On a recent day, [Mimi] sat outside on the deck with her mother, Marsha Groves, who described how the entire family had struggled with the consequences of the very public shaming.

“It honestly disgusts me that those words would come out of my mouth,” Mimi Groves said of her video. “How can you convince somebody that has never met you and the only thing they’ve ever seen of you is that three-second clip?”

Ms. Groves said racial slurs and hate speech were not tolerated by her parents, who had warned their children to never post anything online that they would not say in person or want their parents and teachers to read.

But there’s no stopping the mob. I emphasize again that Mimi Groves used a racial slur, and should not have. But should she have suffered the loss of a college admission four years later? It was not as if her whole life had been an act of racism.

More:

Once the video went viral, the backlash was swift, and relentless. A photograph of Ms. Groves, captioned with a racial slur, also began circulating online, but she and her parents say someone else wrote it to further tarnish her reputation. On social media, people tagged the University of Tennessee and its cheer team, demanding her admission be rescinded. Some threatened her with physical violence if she came to the university campus. The next day, local media outlets in Virginia and Tennessee published articles about the uproar.

. . .The day after the video went viral, Ms. Groves tried to defend herself in tense calls with the university. But the athletics department swiftly removed Ms. Groves from the cheer team. And then came the call in which admissions officials began trying to persuade her to withdraw, saying they feared she would not feel comfortable on campus.

The university declined to comment about Ms. Groves beyond a statement it issued on Twitter in June, in which officials said they took seriously complaints about racist behavior.

Ms. Groves’s parents, who said their daughter was being targeted by a social media “mob” for a mistake she made as an adolescent, urged university officials to assess her character by speaking with her high school and cheer coaches. Instead, admissions officials gave her an ultimatum: withdraw or the university would rescind her offer of admission.

“We just needed it to stop, so we withdrew her,” said Mrs. Groves, adding that the entire experience had “vaporized” 12 years of her daughter’s hard work. “They rushed to judgment and unfortunately it’s going to affect her for the rest of her life.”

Now Groves goes to a community college online in California, and yes, her life has been severely affected. I suspect that’s exactly what Mr. Galligan wanted, and why he waited to release the video when it could do maximum damage to Groves.

My take: Groves spoke thoughtlessly, but showed no other evidence of racism, and even apologized before the video became public. Galligan could have discussed it with her personally, which is the way I would handle it if someone called me a “kike”.  And the University of Tennessee could have simply asked Groves to issue a public apology, mirroring the one described below, without kicking her out of the school. More from the article: 

One of Ms. Groves’s friends, who is Black, said Ms. Groves had personally apologized for the video long before it went viral. Once it did in June, the friend defended Ms. Groves online, prompting criticism from strangers and fellow students. “We’re supposed to educate people,” she wrote in a Snapchat post, “not ruin their lives all because you want to feel a sense of empowerment.”

For his role, Mr. Galligan said he had no regrets. “If I never posted that video, nothing would have ever happened,” he said. And because the internet never forgets, the clip will always be available to watch.

“I’m going to remind myself, you started something,” he said with satisfaction. “You taught someone a lesson.”

I’m sorry, but although Galligan certainly experienced offensive behavior because he’s half black, his behavior towards Groves was not admirable. He did what Cancel Culture dictates: rather than fix the situation by talking with his friend, he decided to ruin her life. As Mimi’s friend said, “We’re supposed to educate people, not ruin their lives. . ” Had Groves shown a pattern of racist behavior throughout high school, that would be another thing—but she didn’t. There is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation, and that time was before Galligan released his video. He is not a person I admire, though I sympathize with the racism he experienced.

I’m not the only one who feels that the NYT doesn’t see anything wrong with this incident. By going into the racism of the entire town, describing Grave’s home as “in a predominantly white community”, and detailing incidents in local schools that did not involves Groves, it make Groves implicitly complicit in the racism.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines “reckoning” this way (the only definition relevant to the use above):

6. The settlement of accounts or differences between parties; the settling of scores or grievances; an instance of this.

Were scores really “settled”? Did Groves receive her just deserts for using that word in 2016? Why choose a headline like that?

Well, you can judge for yourself.  As for me, I think that Galligan behaved very poorly in trying to ruin somebody’s life, and that the New York Times thinks that that’s just fine. Here are two people who agree with me (I wouldn’t call Galligan a “psychopath”; that word is too strong):

Scott Greenfield has a blog post about it, linked in his tweet below.

Two things that Cancel Culture needs—besides engaging with ideas rather than trying to destroy people—are some compassion and a sense of proportionality. And if you don’t think that Cancel Culture exists, you’re sorely mistaken, for that’s what took down Mimi Groves.

A ritzy private secondary school in NYC melts down—with the usual causes and usual demands

December 22, 2020 • 12:00 pm

It looks as if the ritzy private secondary schools are beginning to take their behavioral cues from the ritzy private universities like Swarthmore, Yale, Princeton, and Haverford. In this case the ritzy private venue is the Dalton School in Manhattan, a high-class college prep school on the upper East Side. At Dalton, tuition is about the same as at the Ivy-League colleges (Dalton students pay $54,180 per year for tuition, and live at home). It’s also progressive and, as Wikipedia says, “is known for the diversity of its staff and students.”

What’s going on at Dalton, though, is in some ways worse than what’s happening at places like the Ivies, because the students’ parents, who want some return for their money, are threatening to pull their students out of the school after the latest fracas, which started when the school decided to go all-virtual last semester. Other fancy private schools, which abound in New York City, are still holding live classes, and Dalton parents don’t want to pay $54K per year to have their kids sit in front of computers. (The school goes from kindergarten through grade 12, which is 13 years, for a total of at least $650,000 for a full ride.)

Further, since the school is now in the process of meeting the protestors’ demands, the quality of education will also drop, and parents send their kids to Dalton so they can get into a really good college. That won’t happen if Dalton’s reputation suffers (as is already happening), and if the school lowers the standards for achievement (which the protestors want).

But let’s back up. Why are there protests at Dalton? These are well summarized in several pieces. The best one is from the website The Naked Dollar, but there are shorter pieces at  Bloomberg News and The New York Post. Otherwise, you’ll have to go to right-wing sites. But all the pieces agree about what happened.

The backstory: Because of the pandemic, Dalton decided to shut down this year, with all classes going virtual. The parents got upset and sent a petition to the school asking for re-opening, especially because similar private secondary schools in NYC were open for live classes. Dalton did say they planned to re-open, but that made things really blow up. The faculty and staff argued that re-opening is racist because faculty and staff of color say they have a longer commute than do white teachers and staff, exposing them to greater risks of viral infection. The same is probably true of black and Hispanic students, though there are no data.

A big roster of Dalton’s faculty, staff, and administrators then issued a very long and detailed series of demands, which you can see here. The Naked Dollar link above summarizes the most important ones in the list below (I’ve made a few comments which are flush left):

  • The hiring of twelve (!) full time diversity officers

Actually, the petition demands that the school “expand the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to include up to 12 full-time positions”. Since there’s already an office with some staff, that doesn’t mean twelve new officers. Still, 12 full-time officers is a big staff for a school that has just 1300 students.

  • An additional full time employee whose “entire role is to support Black students who come forward with complaints.”
  • Hiring of multiple psychologists with “specialization on the psychological issues affecting ethnic minority populations.”
  • Pay off student debt of incoming black faculty
  • Re-route 50% of all donations to NYC public schools

This is a really sore point with donors and trustees, as well as with parents. It means that if you donate a lot of money to the school, half of it will immediately go into a fund for New York Public Schools. You have no choice about this, which means that if you want to support just Dalton itself, you have to give twice the amount of money you planned to give. This requirement only kicks in if, by 2025, Dalton’s study body is not “representative of New York City in terms of gender, race, socioeconomic background and immigration status”.

  • Elimination of AP courses if black students don’t score as high as white

These are called “leveled courses” at Dalton, and it’s true that if, by 2023, “membership and performance of Black students are not at parity with non-Black students, leveled courses should be abolished.” This makes no sense to me at all, for it gives sole responsibility to the faculty to achieve that equity, despite any disadvantages black students may come in with due to their backgrounds. In other words, it punishes everyone and achieves nothing useful.

  • Required courses on “Black liberation”
  • Reduced tuition for black students whose photographs appear in school promotional materials
  • Public “anti-racism” statements required from all employees

They also require that no faculty can be hired without submitting a “diversity statement”

  • Mandatory “Community and Diversity Days” to be held “throughout the year”
  • Required anti-bias training to be conducted every year for all staff and parent volunteers
  • Mandatory minority representation in (otherwise elected) student leadership roles
  • Mandatory diversity plot lines in school plays
  • Overhaul of entire curriculum to reflect diversity narratives

The list is even more comprehensive than lists tendered by college protestors at places like Haverford and Swarthmore, and is especially ironic because, as the author of the website above says (their emphasis),

. . .Dalton has long been one of the most progressive schools in the country. They have actively encouraged the sort of thinking that is now biting them in the ass. And the obvious irony is that if Dalton is “systemically racist,” a belief they themselves promote, it is progressives who bear the responsibility.

When progressive institutions embrace revolutionary ideologies, as Dalton has done, they fail to appreciate that the revolution comes for them first. The scaffolding is being built on East 89th street.

Well, I don’t know that much about Dalton, but there are lots of alternative private college-prep schools in the area, and some predict that as many as 30% of students may be pulled out of Dalton by disaffected parents. What’s worse is that, like Evergreen State, Dalton’s reputation may suffer permanent damage from both dilution of standards and the hegemony of the protestors, and, like Evergreen, Dalton’s input of money could be seriously reduced, leading to layoff of faculty and staff.

Here’s a photo of “Big Dalton,” the building housing facilities for grades 4-12 (photo from Wikipedia):

When, if ever, can you use the “n-word”?

December 15, 2020 • 12:15 pm

About three years ago I got a frantic call from a teacher in the upper Midwest asking for help. Her high school had banned her from teaching Huckleberry Finn to her upper-level English class because the book contained the “n-word”. She thought it was important to not only let the students read the book, but also to read that word, unexpurgated, in class (there were readings aloud). She was willing as well to have a discussion about the use of the word with the students, which I thought was good.  Sadly, I couldn’t help her, for there’s not much someone like me can do on the high school level about such matters.

This kind of censorship has occurred with other works of literature as well, including To Kill a Mockingbird and the stories of Flannery O’Connor. Even historical documents get censored. In the two articles below by libertarian law scholar Eugene Volokh, he reports that his own school UCLA condemned a lecturer, W. Ajax Peris, for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” aloud. The essay is a classic of anti-racism literature, and an iconic document in the struggle for civil rights.  It also contains the “n-word.”  Peris’s crime was that he read that word aloud, quoting the text directly. (I’m referring, of course to the full word.)

King’s letter contains two mentions of the word; here’s one:

But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

That’s eloquent, and the word serves a real purpose here—showing its hurtful use in oppressing and degrading black people. Frankly, I don’t see the use of glossing over it, or saying the “n word” in its place, for the “offense” of the word is no worse than the images it conjures up: beatings, lynchings, and cross-burnings. Nevertheless, Peris was reported to the University and condemned by his department. It’s not clear yet whether he’ll suffer further punishment. One thing is for sure, though: he’ll be ostracized.

This brings us to the crux of the matter: is it okay to use the n-word in full when you’re reading it in a historical or literary context? The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says “yes”, arguing that the entire unredacted word has a didactic purpose, and prohibiting its utterance is an infringement of academic freedom:

Peris’s academic freedom, as a faculty member at a public institution bound by the First Amendment, includes the right to decide whether and how to confront or discuss difficult or offensive material, including historical readings that document our nation’s centuries-long history of racism,” Patton said. “Doing so does not amount to unlawful discrimination or harassment, and the law is abundantly clear that UCLA could not investigate or punish a professor for exercising his expressive or academic freedom.”

UCLA is, of course, a public university, and so the First Amendment applies, which allows the use of such a word, especially when it’s not a “fighting word”.

I think the same argument holds true for any historical document or work of literature, so long as it’s presented in a didactic and not disparaging way. Yes, some people may be offended, while others may feign offense (after all, the word is regularly used by blacks themselves, and is pervasive in rap music; the crime is that the word is uttered didactically by a non-black person—but one who is not trying to insult someone). Still, there are a lot of things that are offensive, but none so taboo as the n-word. As a Jew who’s been subjected to similar slurs, those involving epithets like “yid”, “kike”, “Hebe”, and so on, I have to say that I do find them offensive, and would be angry and upset if they were directed at me or other Jews (secular or not). But when they occur in law documents or literature, as they do in, say, The Catcher in the Rye, I find no problem with reading them, silently or aloud.

Why, though, shouldn’t professors redact the word to the shortened “n-word” version when teaching it? Well, think of how that would sound when reading King’s letter. And should you redact the letter itself, changing the text to read “when your first name becomes ‘n-word’ and your middle name becomes ‘boy’. . . . .?”  It’s not the same, is it? King’s eloquent denunciation of black oppression is watered down.

In the piece below, Volokh describes how his dean at UCLA apologized (but Volokh did not) for Volokh’s quoting a law case when a man was prosecuted for “loud, abusive, or otherwise improper language” for saying “What, are you an idiot? What do I have to do, be a nigger to be served in this—in this place?”  That’s directly from the law transcript. As Volokh and Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy emphasize in their longer piece below, the word “nigger” has been spelled out in full in literally thousands of court decisions, including those authored by the likes of Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O’Conner, Clarence Thomas and so on. They didn’t abbreviate the word because they insist on accuracy; and abbreviation not only broaches that accuracy, but distorts the offense.

Lawyers obey what Volokh call the “use-mention” distinction, which draws a bright line between using such a word as an insult, and referencing them in a didactic context, like court cases or teaching literature.  As Volokh says in the article below:

Professors certainly shouldn’t use epithets, racial or otherwise, to themselves insult people. But when they are talking about what has been said, I think it’s important that they report it as it was said. This is often called the “use-mention distinction,” see, e.g., Randall Kennedy, How a Dispute Over the N-Word Became a Dispiriting Farce, Chron. Higher Ed., Feb. 8, 2019; John McWhorter, If President Obama Can Say It, You Can Too, Time, June 22, 2015 (distinguishing “using” from “referring to”).

Thus, when I have talked in my First Amendment Law class about Cohen v. California, I talked about Cohen’s “Fuck the Draft” jacket, not “F-word the Draft.” When I talked about Snyder v. Phelps, I talked about Phelps’ signs saying things like “God Hates Fags.” When I talked about Matal v. Tam, I talked about a trademark for a band called “The Slants,” which some view as a derogatory term for Asians. I suspect many, likely most, law professors do the same; they should certainly be allowed to. If I were to talk about the Redskins trademark case, I would say “Redskins,” rather than talk around the word, the way some news outlets apparently do.

What’s useful in Volokh’s piece above is his list of reasons why you shouldn’t abbreviate the n-word in a “mention” context. He gives five reasons. I won’t go into them all, but they include some of what I said above, as well as the “slippery slope” argument: once a word is made taboo, it makes it easier to make other words taboo, as each group demands that it gets the same consideration. This is not just a theoretical speculation: people have already been punished for using the term “Negro”, “wetback,” “bitch” and “fag.” And of course there are blasphemy considerations as well: many believers get deeply inflamed when someone in academic or intellectual discourse criticizes Islam or mocks the Prophet. Some of those people are even driven to murder! Nevertheless, I, at least, don’t favor a ban on such speech or images.

I recommend you go the article above and read Volokh’s arguments. They’re certainly worth considering.

After several experiences like this, and observing the censorship of those who use taboo words in the “mention” rather than “use” (derogatory) context, Volokh and his UCLA Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom created a statement prompted by Peris’s denunciation. It’s contained in the post below, or you can read it directly here. It allows instructors free rein to assign material that is potentially offensive, but also allows students the right to discuss that material, which is only fair.  As Volokh says, “it’s not a binding university rule [JAC: it should be, as similar principles apply in my school], but we hope it will be influential.”

Finally we get to the document at the bottom (click on screenshot below the book) that really does make a compelling case for the “use/mention distinction”: a 32-page, heavily documented piece written by Volokh and Randall Kennedy. If you read Kennedy’s biography above, you’ll know he’s not only a black, liberal, anti-racist Harvard Law Professor specializing in race law and relations, but has no problem using the n-word in full. In fact, he wrote a book about it in 2003 (click below to go to its Amazon page). You can also see Randall Kennedy discussing the word’s use on a PBS video here.

The Washington Post published an excerpt from Chapter 1, which you can see here

I read the entire 32-page document; it’s easier if you don’t delve deeply into the footnotes. Much of it is about the potentially detrimental effect of expurgating words on law students, but the overall argument is a general one for free speech and academic freedom.

In the end, I think I agree with Kennedy and Volokh: professors should be able to use any words in the “mention” context so long as they’re relevant, and students have the right to object or give counterarguments. And I have no problem with professors deciding to censor themselves: University of Chicago professor Geoff Stone stopped saying the whole n-word in his First Amendment law school class after the Association of Black Law Students objected. I wouldn’t fault him for that.

I won’t really have this dilemma, as I no longer teach, and, at any rate, none of my lectures come within miles of using potentially offensive words. But I believe that anybody who does so for good reason in the classroom (or in other didactic contexts) shouldn’t be censored, punished, or rebuked.

Glenn Loury and John McWhorter on Nikole Hannah-Jones

December 11, 2020 • 1:00 pm

Brown University professor Glenn Loury is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any more.  What’s he mad about? The protestors and their running dogs who are calling for defunding the police. And that, he argues—probably correctly—has reduced the amount of policing, which is “costing black lives.” Further, he’s angry at Nikole Hannah-Jones for being proud that someone called the riots after the George Floyd killing “the 1619 riots.”

Here’s part of his recent Patreon discussion with John McWhorter (the whole discussion is behind a paywall but will soon be up for free) about the 1619 Project and its leader, the often-unhinged Nikole Hannah-Jones. McWhorter isn’t a fan of Hannah-Jones, either, but shows a little more empathy for her because he thinks that she really believes she’s changing America for the better and isn’t just engaged in moral preening. McWhorter recalls an incident from his youth, when he knocked down a ten-year-old girl and “broke her,” as leading to his reluctance to “break” Hannah-Jones.

My own view is that you don’t need to “break” any of your opponents (after all, that’s what Woke people do): just break their arguments.  On another note, I can’t wait for McWhorter’s upcoming book on social-justice activism and DiAngelo-style anti-racism as forms of religion.

Here’s Loury, in another clip from the same show, really heated up about the death of black children in drive-by shootings, and how, he thinks, the media ignores that compared to the death of people like George Floyd.

Is Biden going woke?

November 19, 2020 • 1:45 pm

I’d worry less if this article came from, say, Breitbart, but it’s from Bloomberg News. The title tells the tale (I think); click on the screenshot:


There’s nothing wrong with having experts on racism, but this makes it seem like what we’re going to be faced with is Critical Race Theory, which  I don’t want permeating a Democratic administration. For one thing, I think it’s wrong (“systemic racism”, defined as racism formally embedded within institutions, isn’t immediately apparent in either universities or the American government), and for another, it’s going to cause more divisions in America and endanger the tenuous Democratic hold on government. (If you’re told you’re a racist, especially unconsciously, you’re going to push back.)

But maybe it won’t be as bad as I think. Here are the details from Bloomberg:

When it comes to economic policy, President-elect Joe Biden is putting racial disparities high on the agenda as he assembles his administration.

The incoming president tapped Mehrsa Baradaran, whose book “The Color of Money” is a key reference on the racial wealth gap, to prepare the Treasury Department for the transition. She’s joined by Lisa Cook, an economist at Michigan State University, on the “landing team” for the Federal Reserve and banking and securities regulators. They are among more than 500 experts who will focus on race as they shape Biden’s policies on issues like housing, health and small-business lending. Baradaran declined to comment, and Cook referred questions to the Biden team.

Observers say they’ve never seen expertise about race figure so prominently in economic roles.

But shouldn’t class also be figuring prominently in economic roles as well? The economic equities in the U.S. surely weigh heavily on blacks, but the entire country is becoming more unequal, and, with the pandemic, there will be a huge number of people in all groups who will be hurting badly. Not to mention all the small businesses that shut down.

Anyway, there’s more:

Disparities in economic opportunity and achievement have been a prominent topic in the U.S. this year, since the summer’s widespread demonstrations against racism and police brutality. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic, the first Black Fed president in the central bank’s 106-year history, has said systemic racism is both an economic and a moral issue.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are emphasizing diversity as they prepare to assume power next year. Women comprise more than 50% of the new administration’s landing teams, according to the transition team, and more than 40% of advisers are from groups that are historically underrepresented in the federal government, like racial minorities, people with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQ.

“Having these individuals who are representative of their community in the actual room where they can voice their perspective and have their perspective actually translate to policy — it matters more than you think,” Opoku-Agyeman said. Next, she said, she will watch to see whether progressive-leaning advisers can drive policy change.

I have no beef with diversity in the cabinet; in fact, vis-a-vis these interest groups, it’s necessary and useful to hear the voices of people who have experienced discrimination. The only danger is if the voice of a “minoritized” person is taken to stand for the view of all people in this group. But I am worried about “progressive-leaning advisers” driving policy change, for if the policies driven are not ones that Americans favor, like open borders, or haven’t yet come around to, like universal health care with the government as payer, then it could hurt the Democrats.

Here are a few more of Biden’s new appointees:

  • Don Graves, who leads the Treasury landing team. He’s a former Obama administration official and was head of corporate responsibility at KeyBank until he joined the campaign in September.
  • Bill Bynum, who will advise the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He’s chief executive of the Hope Credit Union.
  • Tene Dolphin, who will serve on the Commerce Department’s landing team. She’s the first executive director for the Greater Washington Black Chamber of Commerce.

I’m not shaking in my boots, worried about fulminating wokeness, but I didn’t expect a concentration on “systemic racism” as a key part of economic governance, either, as I didn’t peg Biden as a Wokester. What I expected what these views about comity and compromise, espoused by Biden’s former boss:

Am I wrong to be concerned?

Jodi Shaw, the Smith College employee shamed for whiteness, is interviewed at Quillette and issues a new video about discrimination

November 10, 2020 • 12:15 pm

I’ve put up two posts (part 1 and part 2 ) about Jodi Shaw, an employee of Smith College who works 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”. 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.”

When I commented that I highly doubt that there is “systemic racism” at Smith, one reader did some Googling and managed to find one incident in which a black Smith student, Oumou Kanote, complained about being racially profiled for eating lunch in the cafeteria and resting on a couch. Our reader even cited Kanoute’s own account, given at at the ACLU, as evidence that “students of color at Smith can and have been made to feel unwelcome.”

Sadly, that claim is not true, and does not constitute any evidence for racism at Smith.

I did some digging and found out that Kanote’s report of racial profiling did not stand up, even with Smith College’s own internal investigation and their production of a 100-page report. The person who called the cops didn’t even give her race, and the whole episode should have been written off as a misunderstanding—largely by Kanoute. You can click on the two articles below from the Boston Globe and Inside Higher Ed to see why this wasn’t a case of racism.

Nevertheless, as Shaw argues in the 45-minute Quillette podcast below, Kanoute won’t give up claiming that she was the victim of racial bias—even after Smith said, no, that didn’t happen—nor does Smith or its president want to let go of that incident either, still trying to pretend that there’s some invisible systemic racism floating around.

It’s almost as if Smith wants there to be systemic racism at the College, so they can flaunt their virtue by opposing it. I haven’t been able to find any other incidents besides Kanoute’s discredited claims, except for some swastikas painted on Smith buildings two years ago. That incident, however, didn’t receive near the attention that Kanoute’s claims did, was largely dismissed by Smith’s President, and, of course, Smith students aren’t told that their college has “systemic anti-Semitism”—nor do they receive anti-anti-Semitism training. After all, swastikas aren’t nearly as much of a threat as a bogus claim of racism.

In her podcast below, Shaw says that Smith’s failure to correct the record about Kanoute’s claims, even after an extensive investigation found them baseless, is “one of the biggest moral failings I’ve ever been privy to in my life.”

I’m putting up this series from time to time because it’s so rare that someone like Shaw not only reveals the kind of draconian brainwashing students are subject to, but pushes back against it. She is, of course, toast: she’ll be demonized at Smith and her life made miserable, all because she doesn’t want to be denigrated for being white. I pity her but also admire her bravery.

Up to 31 minutes into this podcast, you’ll hear about the Kanoute case and Smith’s failure to address its own investigation, and then, after that Shaw repeats her story about “professional development training,” which you might have heard before.

Click on the screenshot to hear her:

In the video below, which I haven’t posted, Shaw addresses and responds to President McCartney’s open letter about her first video. It’s a calm and reasonable response to the letter, but doesn’t beat around the bush, either.  The sad part is this: Shaw is under the impression that her video will inspire some kind of “dialogue” with President McCartney or the Smith administration about “equity and inclusion”—not just for students, but for staff, and for everyone, including dissenters like Shaw who are exercising freedom of speech. If Shaw really believes that she’s going to initiate a dialogue, she’s deluded: what Smith wants is for her to shut up and find another job—if she can. Smith is not going to rethink its policies no matter how many videos Shaw makes (here’s another new one about other incidents that, says Shaw, shows discrimination against her).

If Shaw is right—and she says that other people agree with her, but are afraid to speak up (a reasonable assertion)—Smith is going bonkers about race and yet there is no racism in evidence there.

I’ll continue to listen to her videos and report on any worth mentioning. The alternative hypothesis is that Shaw is aggrieved but unhinged, but so far I haven’t seen much evidence for that. My only issue is that her videos are twice as long as they need to be. I can excuse that, though.

 

Are “mononyms” in classical music racist and sexist?

October 25, 2020 • 1:00 pm

Although all liberal media sites are getting woke, sites like Salon and HuffPost have gone beyond the pale, while Slate always seemed to retain more sanity. After all, that was where Hitchens often wrote—though I’m not sure he’d be welcome there now were he still alive.  At any rate, there’s a new Slate piece that not only indicts classical music and its pedagogy as racist and sexist, but argues that this bigotry is instantiated in using “mononyms”—last names only—for famous classical white male composers (“Mozart,” “Beethoven,” etc.), but demeans female and nonwhite composers by using both first and last names.

The author, Chris White (an assistant professor of music theory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst), suggests that to rectify this disparity, we “fullname” all composers, putting them on a level playing field of respect. What I’m trying to figure out is how much of what he says carries some truth.

You can read the article below by clicking on the screenshot.

 

The indictment is given without question, and perhaps there’s some truth to it. I don’t know enough about classical music to judge—it’s one of my glaring areas of cultural ignorance.

The past several decades have seen the world of American classical music reckoning with its racist and sexist history; as it has with many other areas of culture, that process has greatly accelerated over the past year. In my own corner of academia, the previous several months have seen an explosive focus on the inherent white supremacy and male-centrism within academic music research. This explosion was sparked by a lecture and an ensuing article by Philip Ewell, published in September, in which he calls out mainstream American music theory for its institutional racism. This flashpoint was preceded by work in similar veins by scholars like Ellie Hisama and Robin Attas, and subsequently brought into mainstream musical conservations by YouTuber Adam Neely and New Yorker writer Alex Ross.

White goes on to cite various attempts to rectify the overlooking of composers with “marginalized identities”, but is mostly concerned with how this “erasure” proceeds via mononyms.

The habitual, two-tiered way we talk about classical composers is ubiquitous. For instance, coverage of an early October livestream by the Louisville Orchestra praised the ensemble’s performance of a “Beethoven” symphony, and the debut of a composition memorializing Breonna Taylor by “Davóne Tines” and “Igee Dieudonné.” But ubiquity doesn’t make something right. It’s time we paid attention to the inequity inherent in how we talk about composers, and it’s time for the divided naming convention to change.

. . . For a lot of intersecting reasons, music critics, academics, consumers, and performers in the mid-19th through early 20th centuries thought about music history as the story of a few great men producing great works of art. (Of course, this tactic is very common in how we tell our histories in many domains.) Tied up in the respect and ubiquity afforded to these men is the mononym, or a single word sufficing for a person’s whole name. These canonized demigods became so ensconced in elite musical society’s collective consciousness that only one word was needed to evoke their awesome specter. Mouthfuls of full names became truncated to terse sets of universally recognized syllables: Mozart. Beethoven. Bach.

On the one hand, then, initiatives toward diversity and inclusion are placing new names on concert programs, syllabi, and research papers, names that might not have been there 10 or 20 years ago—or even last year. But these names are appearing next to those that have been drilled deep into our brains by the forces of the inherited canon. This collision between increasing diversity and the mononyms of music history has created a hierarchical system that, whether or not you find it useful, can now only be seen as outdated and harmful.

. . .As we usher wider arrays of composers into our concerts and classrooms, this dual approach only exacerbates the exclusionary practices that suppressed nonwhite and nonmale composers in the first place. When we say, “Tonight, you’ll be hearing symphonies by Brahms and Edmond Dédé,” we’re linguistically treating the former as being on a different plane than the latter, a difference originally created by centuries of systematic prejudice, exclusion, sexism, and racism. (Dédé was a freeborn Creole composer whose music packed concert halls in Europe and America in the mid-19th century.)

Going forward, we need to “fullname” all composers when we write, talk, and teach about music. If mononyms linguistically place composers in a canonical pantheon, fullnaming never places them there to begin with. When we say, “Tonight, you’ll be hearing symphonies by Johannes Brahms and Edmond Dédé,” we’re linguistically treating both composers as being equally worthy of attention. And while fullnaming might seem like a small act in the face of centuries of harm and injustice, by adopting a stance of referential egalitarianism, fullnaming at least does no more harm.

The last sentence is a bit weird, as why change a practice if there’s no advantage to doing so? But what I’m concerned with is whether fullnaming is demeaning. Now I can’t speak to classical music, except that I know that “Mahler” is more famous than “Alma Mahler”, but perhaps using the single name for Gustav refers not to sexism, but to how often the music of the two is played—that is, familiarity. (Of course, the relative frequency of performance could itself reflect sexism rather than quality.)

So I thought about painting instead, trying to see if famous white male painters, like Picasso and Rembrandt, are referred to in mononyms more often than famous nonwhite painters or women painters. I failed in this endeavor because I couldn’t think of many famous female or nonwhite painters (their relative paucity, again, likely reflects historical oppression). The first woman I thought of was Mary Cassatt, whom I always call “Cassatt”, but then there’s also one of my favorites, Frida Kahlo, whom I call “Frida Kahlo.” So that didn’t settle it. Then there’s “Grandma Moses”, but I’m not sure if that counts as the sexist use of two names. And I can analyze only my own usage here, as I haven’t paid attention to how society uses names.

As for nonwhite painters, I was at a loss for blacks, but the first two Asian artists who came to mind—Hiroshige and Hokusai—came to me as mononyms.

What about authors? Here there might be some sexism, as I refer to “Hemingway”, “Fitzgerald” and “Joyce”, but also to “Flannery O’Conner,” “Carson McCullers,” “Emily Dickinson”, and “George Eliot” (not her real name, of course, but the double name avoids confusion with T. S. Eliot). It may well be the case that, in general, famous women writers are more often discussed using both names, and if that’s the case, then sexism is a possible cause. After all, “George Eliot” is at least as famous as “T. S. Eliot”.

What about my own field—genetics and evolutionary biology? Here, at least, I always use single names, like “Fisher, Wright, Kimura, Haldane, Mayr, and Dobzhansky” for the men, and “Ohta, Franklin, and McClintock” for the women. I also speak of “Hershey and Chase” (one male, one female), as well as the married couple “Lederberg and Lederberg” (to be sure, her nonmarried name was Zimmer). The Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology was given to Doudna and Charpentier, and might have gone to Franklin along with Watson, Crick, and Wilkins (they could have split the DNA-structure prize between Chemistry and Medicine and Physiology). I can’t speak of how others refer to scientists, as I haven’t paid attention to the issue. But now I will.

For all fields, though, an alternative hypothesis to racism and sexism is one of familiarity and fame.  It’s undeniable that women artists, writers, and composers were subject to discrimination— why else would George Eliot and George Sand be the pen names of women writers?—and that this surely explains at least some of the relative paucity of famous women artists. That is, there aren’t as many famous women composers because there weren’t as many women composers, period. And if you’re less famous, using two names is a better identifier.

I’m convinced that there may be some truth in White’s indictment, but the composers he mentions with two names are also less famous than Beethoven and Bach. To find out if discrimination is the reason for “duonyms” for women and nonwhite composers, we have to compare name usage for groups of people of equal fame but of different race or sex. Given the paucity of famous nonwhite or women composers and painters, that’s a hard experiment to do.

As I said, in science I don’t think I discriminate.

Well, those of you with musical knowledge can weigh in below, but really, this issue holds for almost every field of endeavor.

The President of Northwestern University is mad as hell at woke students, and he’s not going to take it anymore

October 20, 2020 • 9:30 am

I got hold of this email sent yesterday by the president of Northwestern University, a prestigious school just north of Chicago.  In the past few weeks, woke students have been disrupting the town and the campus, demanding the abolition of the University police force, and this is his response.

It starts off, like many of these things, paying tribute to the Black Lives Matter protests and making political statements that would never fly at the University of Chicago. Well, given what he says in toto, that’s fine.

But then, after this ritual obeisance to the movement, President Morton Shapiro, an economist, lets loose. While supporting peaceful protests, he then lights into protestors for disrupting the community and vandalizing property, “violating laws and University standards.”  He’s not talking about civil disobedience, either: the lawbreakers do not want or expect to be arrested for calling attention to moral injustice. (He does note, as a sop, that “some of the instigators appear not to be Northwestern students at all, but outside activists”.) But surely many of them are from his own school.

And, like the University of Chicago, where misguided students held a weeklong protest in front of our Provost’s house (without getting the University to budge on their “demands”), Northwestern students did the same thing in front of Morton’s house.  They even painted slurs in front of his house that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic, just as the protestors at the University of Chicago painted “Fuck your mother” in front of our Provost’s house in Chinese (she’s of Chinese ancestry), adding a “parking space for racists” painted in front of her house. In what world do protestors think that such tactics will be effective? Protests in front of private residences, by the way, are illegal in Illinois, and it’s a testimony to the patience of our Provost and of Shapiro that they didn’t have the cops clear the protestors away from their houses.

And, like Provost Lee at the University of Chicago, Morton absolutely refuses to consider disbanding the Northwestern University police department.

Note the very strong language that Morton uses—as well he should.

This is a model for letter that should be written to authoritarian, spoiled, entitled protesting students by a College President. He leaves the door open for discussion, but, as Howard Beale said in the movie Network, adds a distinct note of “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

I’ve put my favorite bits in bold.

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

Over the weekend I received many messages of concern about protests organized by some of our students, among others, who are demanding the abolition of the Northwestern University Police Department.

We, as a University, recognize the many injustices faced by Black and other marginalized groups. We also acknowledge that the policing and criminal justice system in our country is too often stacked against those same communities. Your concerns are valid and necessary, and we encourage and, in fact, rely on your active engagement with us to make your school and our society equitable and safe for everyone. That said, while the University has every intention to continue improving NUPD, we have absolutely no intention to abolish it. 

Northwestern firmly supports vigorous debate and the free expression of ideas — abiding principles that are fundamental for our University. We encourage members of our community to find meaningful ways to get involved and advocate for causes they believe in — and to do so safely and peacefully. The University protects the right to protest, but we do not condone breaking the law.

What started as peaceful protests have recently grown into expressions that have been anything but peaceful or productive. Crowds blocked the streets of downtown Evanston and nearby residential areas, disrupting businesses and local families, defacing property and violating laws and University standards. Some of the instigators appear not to be Northwestern students at all, but rather outside activists.

While the protesters claim that they are just trying to get our attention, that is simply not true. Several administrators — including our Provost, Deans, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Presidents for Research and Student Affairs — have held numerous discussions with concerned students, faculty and staff, and I am participating in a community dialogue tomorrow evening that was scheduled weeks ago.

Events in recent days seem to indicate an intent by organizers to escalate matters, and to provoke NUPD into retaliation. 

I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the overstepping of the protesters. They have no right to menace members of our academic and surrounding communities. When students and other participants are vandalizing property, lighting fires and spray-painting phrases such as “kill the pigs,” we have moved well past legitimate forms of free speech.  

I want to offer a personal illustration of the pain these protesters have caused. Many gathered outside my home this weekend into the early hours of the morning, chanting “f— you Morty” and “piggy Morty.” The latter comes dangerously close to a longstanding trope against observant Jews like myself. Whether it was done out of ignorance or out of anti-Semitism, it is completely unacceptable, and I ask them to consider how their parents and siblings would feel if a group came to their homes in the middle of the night to wake up their families with such vile and personal attacks. To those protesters and their supporters who justify such actions, I ask you to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that this isn’t actually “speaking truth to power” or furthering your cause. It is an abomination and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

An essential aspect of education is the discernment of actions and consequences. If you, as a member of the Northwestern community, violate rules and laws, I am making it abundantly clear that you will be held accountable. 

If you haven’t yet gotten my point, I am disgusted by those who chose to disgrace this University in such a fashion. I especially condemn the effect of their actions on our friends, neighbors and other members of our community who are trying to sustain viable businesses, raise families, study and do research, while facing a global pandemic and the injustices of the world without losing their sense of humanity.

I remain as open and willing as ever to speak to any member of the Northwestern family who has concerns about the safety of this campus and everyone who is part of it. But I refuse to engage with individuals who continue to use the tactics of intimidation and violence.

Morton Schapiro
President and Professor

With the two most prestigious universities in Chicago making similar statements, I’m hoping that they will serve as examples for other, more pusillanimous administrators, like those at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Williams.

Maybe this ludicrous behavior by students is due to the pandemic: peevish people with too much time on their hands. Protest is perfectly fine, so long as it’s peaceful, but the Northwestern protestors crossed the line. And if you practice civil disobedience, breaking the law to make a point, you must break the law peacefully, without arson, looting, violence, and defacing property. And never, never, use ethnic slurs against administrators—that makes you the racists.

You go, Morty!

Self flagellation in Canada

October 16, 2020 • 11:30 am

This link, from Canada’s National Post via the news agency The Canadian Press, was sent to me by reader Rich Harkness, who noted, “As they say about the influx of critical race theory/intersectionality:   We are all on campus now!”

Well, we’re both on campus and also in a procession of penitentes from the Church of Wokeness, in which people who have said perfectly respectable things get demonized by the Offense Brigade. Rather than be smeared as a racist, the offenders then repeatedly lash their backs in contrition. Or, acknowledging their “privilege”, they beat their backs from the outset. It’s an embarrassing sight, amply on display in a recent debate in British Columbia.

First, John Horgan, premier of British Columbia and leader of the B.C. New Democratic Party, made a big-time slipup during an election debate. His opponent, B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, avoided demonization by groveling from the outset. This article (click on screenshot) shows the self lashing proceeding fast and furious (click on screenshot):

Horgan’s slip, in quotes from the article:

Horgan shared his experience playing lacrosse as a youth, telling the debate moderator he doesn’t see colour.

Oops! BAD mistake! And now comes his fulsome apology:

On Wednesday, Horgan said he needs to be reminded daily that he does not face the challenges of systemic racism that many others do.

“As a personification of white privilege, I misspoke, words matter,” he said at a campaign stop at Richmond. “I deeply regret it, but I’m also committed to making sure that every day I’m reminded of the discomfort that I cause to people and I will work to correct that.”

Horgan said he did not intend to hurt people with his debate comments.

“I was jolted out of my comfort last night and I’m going to reflect on that,” he said. “I profoundly regret that I alienated and hurt people last night.”

In an earlier statement on Twitter, Horgan said he wished he had given a different answer during the debate when the three party leaders were asked how they have reckoned with white privilege.

“Saying ‘I don’t see colour’ causes pain and makes people feel unseen,” he wrote. “I’m sorry. I’ll never fully understand, as a white person, the lived reality of systemic racism. I’m listening, learning, and I’ll keep working every day to do better.”

Clearly people told him that “not seeing colour” was hurtful. But what an embarrassing display of craven pandering! “I don’t see color” doesn’t mean that black people get ignored; it means that people are treated the same regardless of race.

Wilkinson wasn’t quite as bad, but, as the article notes, he acknowledged several times his white male privilege. You have to do that these days, you know:

At the debate, Wilkinson discussed his time working in rural B.C. as a doctor in Indigenous communities, saying all people must be treated equally.

He expanded on his comments Wednesday at a campaign stop in Kitimat.

“In medical practice, I became very much aware of the particular struggles of Indigenous people in dealing with the health-care system and in dealing with society’s other structures,” Wilkinson said. “The idea that people in our society are somehow treated differently because of the colour of their skin or where they grew up or who their parents are is not acceptable.”

He said he grew up fortunate as a white male and it wasn’t until his teenage years that he realized he received different treatment than others.

“It’s wrong. It’s not fair,” said Wilkinson. “I’ve suggested in the (Liberal) platform there should be anti-racism training for everybody in the provincial government.”

Okay, there’s the obligatory anti-racism training, most likely along the lines of critical race theory. Wilkinson said that elected officials should also receive such training.

But wait! There’s more! The article goes on, and gets more and more cringe-worthy as others weigh in with their ideological bona fides:

The Green party’s Sonia Furstenau said at the debate she cannot comprehend that some mothers tell their children to be wary of the police. She pledged to work to end systemic racism, but admitted neither she nor the other two party leaders could ever grasp its nuances.

Prof. Annette Henry of the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice said she believes Furstenau gave the strongest answer in the debate, but Wilkinson and Horgan didn’t seem to understand what systemic racism is.

“I don’t really think they understand how they are implicated in everyday systemic racism and how the structures that we live in prevent people from access, prevent people from opportunities, prevent people from being educated, from getting adequate health care from getting adequate housing,” she said.

Lama Mugabo, a community engagement co-ordinator for the Hogan’s Alley Society, which advocates for Black people in Vancouver, said he wants a premier who sees colour.

“When you say you don’t see colour, what does that really mean?” he said. “I don’t want people not to see that I’m Black. I want them to appreciate that I’m Black and recognize my Blackness. I don’t want any special treatment, but I want to be acknowledged as such.”

Now of course Canadians are liable to be woker than Americans, if only because they are famously polite and don’t want to give offense to anyone. But even polite Canadians should refuse to put up with this brand of nonsense. And now, besides Land Acknowledgments, for which Canadians are also famous, we have Race Acknowledgments. “I’d like to begin by acknowledging that Ms. Mugabo is Black, and I deeply acknowledge her Blackness.”

This all demonstrates exactly what Bari Weiss said in her article in Tablet:

Racism is the gravest sin in American life. Who would ever want to be anything other than an anti-racist? And so under the guise of a righteous effort to achieve overdue justice and equality of opportunity for Black Americans, Kendi and his ideological allies are presenting Americans with a zero-sum choice: conform to their worldview or be indistinguishable from the likes of Richard Spencer.