University of London students demand that white philosophers be excised from curriculum

January 8, 2017 • 12:30 pm

A caveat first: this article comes from The Daily Mail, and I haven’t been able to verify it from other news sources. On the other hand, I have verified the students’ demands to which it refers (see below). Further, the Mail article gives quotes from the likes of Sir Roger Scruton, which would have to have been fabricated by the paper. Finally, you’re not going to see many pieces like this published on progressive websites or even in the “mainstream” press. So make of it what you will.

What was reported is that some students at the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London have demanded that the works of many famous philosophers be dropped from the curriculum—or looked at more critically—because they are white. That apparently means that those philosophers are exponents of colonialism. From the Mail:

. . . .students at a University of London college are demanding that such seminal figures as Plato, Descartes, Immanuel Kant and Bertrand Russell should be largely dropped from the curriculum simply because they are white.

These may be the names that underpin civilisation, yet the student union at the world-renowned School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is insisting that when studying philosophy ‘the majority of philosophers on our courses’ should be from Africa and Asia.

The students say it is in order to ‘decolonise’ the ‘white institution’ that is their college.

Entitled ‘Decolonising SOAS: Confronting The White Institution’, the union’s statement of ‘educational priorities’ warns ‘white philosophers’ should be studied only ‘if required’, and even then their work should be taught solely from ‘a critical standpoint’: ‘For example, acknowledging the colonial context in which so-called “Enlightenment” philosophers wrote within.’

And yes, that statement does exist; it’s at the link below and this is a real excerpt (my emphasis in the text):

Decolonising SOAS: Confronting the White Institution:

Decolonising SOAS is a campaign that aims to address the structural and epistemological legacy of colonialism within our university. We believe that SOAS should take a lead on such questions given its unique history within British colonialism. In light of the centenary and SOAS’ aims of curating a vision for itself for the next 100 years, this conversation is pivotal for its future direction.

Our aims are a continuation of the campaign last year:

  1. To hold events that will engage in a wider discussion about expressions of racial and economic inequality at the university, focussing on SOAS.

  2. To address histories of erasure prevalent in the curriculum with a particular focus on SOAS’ colonial origins and present alternative ways of knowing.

  3. To interrogate SOAS’ self-image as progressive and diverse.

  4. To use the centenary year as a point of intervention to discuss how the university must move forward and demand that we, as students of colour, are involved in the curriculum review process.

  5. To review 10 first year courses, working with academics to discuss points of revamp, reform and in some cases overhaul.

  6. To make sure that the majority of the philosophers on our courses are from the Global South or it’s [sic] diaspora. SOAS’s focus is on Asia and Africa and therefore the foundations of its theories should be presented by Asian or African philosophers (or the diaspora).

  7. If white philosophers are required, then to teach their work from a critical standpoint. For example, acknowledging the colonial context in which so called “Enlightenment” philosophers wrote within.

Now they don’t give any names of white philosophers, and of course there is some justification (point 6) for including a big dollop of Asian and African philosophers (Confucius comes to mind) given that the school deals with Oriental and African studies. What’s not clear is the nature of the courses that are taught: are they general philosophy courses, for instance?

What I object to is that special criticism must be leveled at white philosophers instead of philosophers of color, as well as the assumption that what white philosophers say must always be colored by colonialism. After all, some philosophy must surely be pigmentation-free, not all philosophers were part of the Enlightenment (e.g., the ancient Greeks), and a big part of philosophy deals with questions bearing on all humans, including ethics.

Finally, these are demands, not school policy, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be adopted.

There’s been some pushback, as reported by the Mail (again, I haven’t found these quotes independently):

Last night philosopher Sir Roger Scruton lambasted the union’s demand, saying: ‘This suggests ignorance and a determination not to overcome that ignorance. You can’t rule out a whole area of intellectual endeavour without having investigated it and clearly they haven’t investigated what they mean by white philosophy. If they think there is a colonial context from which Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason arose, I would like to hear it.’

The vice-chancellor of Buckingham University Sir Anthony Seldon said: ‘There is a real danger political correctness is getting out of control. We need to understand the world as it was and not to rewrite history as some might like it to have been.’

What we see here is that whiteness itself is taken to be a flaw, rather than particular views of white people. Are Peter Singer and John Rawls, for instance, polluted by colonialism? What bothers me the most is point 7, where the scrutiny of one’s views must be severe in inverse proportion to the darkness of their skin.  In philosophy courses it is, of course, essential to have a critical attitude, but is it not possible to evaluate the value of philosophical views without considering the ethnicity of those who propose them? And are African and Asian philosophers not going to be taught “from a critical standpoint”?

h/t: Barry

Student vice-president at University of Houston punished and publicly shamed for posting “all lives matter”

August 1, 2016 • 10:00 am

Most people who post or cry “All Lives Matter” in response to the “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) slogan are, I think, either obtuse or bigoted. What “Black Live Matter” really means is “Black Lives Matter Too“—that African-Americans are marginalized in society. That is, despite the big gains in civil rights over the last fifty years, there is still residual racism in society, and sometimes it’s among the police.

I don’t know whether white police are any more bigoted than white Americans in general, but when a policeman is bigoted (I’ll use the masculine term since women are rarely involved in the inflammatory incidents), it can have far more serious consequences than if a regular citizen is bigoted. The police have power, and they’re armed.

In general, “All lives matter,” then, has the effect of dismissing the justifiable accusations of bigotry raised by the BLM movement.  While I often disagree with that movement’s tactics, and feel that they’ve unfairly tarred American police as a whole, I think in the main BLM has called needed attention to bigotry on the part of some police, and, in the case of my city, of the Chicago’s tendency to cover up what seem to be racially motivated murders by the police. Without outside pressure, there would be little examination, and any needed reform, of police departments.

Now there are some folks who say “All lives matter” or “Blue lives matter” (the latter to support police who are themselves targets) as a general sign of compassion, and aren’t dismissing the concerns of African-Americans. But I think such people are few compared to those who use those phrases to minimize the concerns of black people.

Which brings us to the case of Rohini Sethi, vice-president of the University of Houston’s (UH’s) Student Government Association (SGA). Sethi is a chemical engineering major and of Indian ancestry, which, I suppose, qualifies her as a “person of color.” But that didn’t help after Sethi put up a Facebook post following the shooting of five Dallas Police Officers (See reports on this story at various places, including here, here, here, here, and here; they’re mostly, but not all, from conservative websites). Here’s Rohini’s post, which was removed when the outcry began but archived by offended students:

Source: The Daily Cougar (UH student paper)

Although this may have been meant in a spirit of expansive empathy, it was surely unwise, especially for a student government officer. However, the ensuing fracas was, I think, disproportionate. Here’s a bit of the outcry (quotes below are taken from the five sources above):

Wesley Okereke, a psychology senior and the UH NAACP president, said he hopes that the University and SGA will “respond to the issue accordingly.”

“I am deeply disappointed in the comments made by our student body VP, Rohini Sethi,” Okereke said. “To say, ‘Forget #BlackLivesMatter,’ as if we were not a factor in her getting voted into office is a slap in the face to the entire student body. Also, with this school being the No. 2 most diverse university in the nation, comments such as these are unacceptable because it misrepresents the large minority student body here at UH.”

. . . For accounting senior Alexis Sanders, Sethi’s words weren’t just harsh, they were incendiary. She doesn’t feel like Sethi can fully represent her, and therefore, shouldn’t be in student government.

“Being a black woman, her comment was an insensitive, disgusting, thoughtless, and blatantly disrespectful remark,” Sanders said. “Her comment proved she lacks sympathy for her constituents, and if she lacks sympathy for a portion of the students she represents, then she cannot represent the student body as whole. To say, ‘Forget #BlackLivesMatter,” is to say forget all the injustices we face and have faced for years as an African-American race. We are just supposed to simply forget systematic racism, unjust sentences, police brutality and the unlawful killings of the African-American race.”

Rohini apologized profusely and at length, both to a local television station and on Facebook, saying that “I’m very sorry to my community and for the emotions, anger, and pain that I caused.” (Go here to see her full contrition.)

I would have thought that the apology would be enough. But no, the hounds were already baying for blood. Nothing short of a strict and public punishment would do.

There followed a #RemoveRohini hashtag movement, but that would be difficult: removing an SGA officer requires not only a 3/4 vote of the SGA, but also a trial by the student Supreme Court. Therefore the SGA voted on a unprecedented special bill to allow its President, Shane Smith, to decide unilaterally on Rohini’s punishment. Smith’s letter outlines these five sanctions (summarized below by the Daily Caller):

  • A 50-day suspension from SGA starting August 1. This suspension will be unpaid (she currently receives a stipend of about $700 a month).
  • A requirement to attend a three-day diversity workshop in mid-August.
  • A requirement to attend three “UH cultural events” each month from September through March, excluding December.
  • An order to write a “letter of reflection” about how her harmful actions have impacted SGA and the UH student body
  • An order to put on a public presentation Sept. 28 detailing “the knowledge she has gained about cultural issues facing our society.”

I would have thought that, although Rohini’s posting was unwise for a student representative, her apology would suffice. It’s for sure that, given the outcry, she would never have said anything like that again!

But the punishment seems draconian—almost Orwellian—in its requirement that Rohini be “rehabilitated”. Remember, she not only has to go to 21 cultural events as well as attend a diversity workshop, but she is also suspended for nearly two months and, as well as having to write her “letter of reflection,” must make a public pronouncement of contrition. I find that unconscionable: it’s like putting her in the stocks for public shaming. Only the hurling of rotten vegetables is missing. And this is came from the Facebook post above.

I frown on those who say things like “All Lives Matter,” but perhaps Rohini was acting in the heat of her sorrow for the slain cops, and isn’t really a bigot. Motives do matter—except to the Offended Crowd for whom words are sufficient to put you beyond the pale. Say the wrong words, and you’re expelled, forever to be a figure of denigration and suspicion.

More bigotry at Britain’s National Union of Students

July 20, 2016 • 10:30 am

On the Right we have a bunch of regressive conservatives who demonize minorities and women and have no sympathy for the downtrodden, while on the Left we have regressive Leftists who try to censor people’s speech, take the side of extremist Islamists against women and gays, and shut down disagreement by other Leftists who aren’t pure enough. What is a person to do? The answer, of course, is to call out both sides for regressive behavior.

And so I’ve been criticizing Britain’s National Union of Students (NUS), which is about as regressive as a “progressive” organization can be. We all know, of course, of their “no platforming” policies that are, in effect, codified denial of free speech. One further odious example: the NUS’s LGBT+ campaign called for removing gay males from their annual conference because gay males weren’t sufficiently oppressed.  As RT reported:

The campaign also seeks to push LGBT+ societies into scrapping the position [gay male representatives] completely.

“The reps system exists to ensure that committees can always have a reserved place for groups which disproportionately face oppression within the LGBT+ community,” the motion said.

“Gay men do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community and do not need a reserved place on society committees.”

The motion also addresses the contentious “no-platforming” debate, whereby speakers are denied a platform to express their views if they are thought to be “bigoted.”

“Students’ Unions have a choice of who to host as speakers, and denying them that platform is a choice that SUs should feel free to make on ideological and welfare-based grounds. We reaffirm our commitment to a policy of no platform for fascists,” it reads.

This, of course, codifies what we all know to be true: the Regressive Left is establishing a Hierarchy of Victimhood, in which people are classified as worth more or less depending on how many oppressed groups they belong to, and how oppressed those groups are deemed to be.

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And the new president of the NUS, Malia Bouattia, isn’t going to help matters. Once the NUS Black Students Officer, she had a history of problematic statements about Jews, which in my view bordered on anti-Semitism (see my posts on Bouattia here and here). After election she promised to do better, and pay attention to the concerns of all students, including Jews, but I was doubtful. The student unions of Newcastle, Lincoln, and Hull then disaffiliated from the NUS, while Oxford voted narrowly to remain. Still, I decided to wait and see if she made good on her promise to be more inclusive.

I’m not waiting any more As I suspected, Bouattia has a covert agenda, and it’s just become more overt: she has taken away from Jewish students their traditional right to select a representative to the NUS’s Anti-Racism, Anti-Facist taskforce. As the Torygraph reports:

Previously the Union of Jewish students was consulted and talked to about the identity of the Jewish representative on the committee.

But from now on the Jewish member will be decided by the National Executive Council (NEC) and President Malia Bouattia, after the NUS passed a motion that brought the changes to effect.

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) have condemned the decision saying that it is just another example of “Jews being pushed out of university life.”

An UJS spokesman said: “It was no surprise that the NUS President, Malia Bouattia, who had the deciding vote once again showed that she has absolutely no interest in defending Jewish students’ interests by voting to remove the ability of Jewish students to shape for themselves the student movements’ fight against racism and fascism.

Malia is still yet to adequately answer the concerns of Jewish students regarding her past rhetoric and today provided further proof that Jewish students are right to feel unsafe in the national union that she leads.

“After today’s vote it is clear that NUS and specifically the NUS President has no desire to listen to Jewish students.”

It’s not clear to me what reason Bouattia or the NUS would have to deny the right of a group to select its own representatives, especially since that was okay in the past. The only rationale I see is a wish to control the composition of that committee.

This wouldn’t concern me so much but for two things: the rising tide of anti-Semitic views in Britain (and since a rising tide lifts all boats, that bigotry extends to Muslims as well), and the fact that NUS officers often transition to secular politics. Bouattia’s actions are in spirit if not letter anti-Semitic, and she has no business representing a diverse group of students. But, NUS students, you get whom you vote for. Good luck.

Malia Bouattia

Thank Ceiling Cat there’s no such thing as a National Union of Students in the U.S.!

The University of Chicago gets serious about student disruptions

June 3, 2016 • 11:30 am

Over the past few years at the University of Chicago we’ve had several talks disrupted and prematurely ended by student protests. On February 21 of this year, for instance, Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid was shouted down and threatened by the some of the audience because he opposed the BDS movement and said some good things about Israel (video posted by Eid here). That’s a no-no on a campus, and it was worse because he was Palestinian, and seen as a traitor (no matter that Eid has also criticized Israeli violations of Palestinian rights).  The University police intervened, removed the demonstrators, but also ended the talk prematurely.

This disruption of free speech, like others, violated the University of Chicago’s “free expression” policy, which I see as one of the nation’s best, and has been a model for policies at other schools. Apparently disturbed by the student disruptions, the University is now formulating a “disruption policy.” Yesterday, faculty received the email below from the University Provost:

From: Eric D. Isaacs
Re: Faculty Committee on University Discipline for Disruptive Conduct
Date: June 2, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, faculty committees generated a series of reports and actions that articulate the University’s deeply held values concerning freedom of expression and the principles underlying protest and dissent on campus. Revisions to Statute 21 of the University Statutes (2013), approved by the Council of the Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees, provided a basis for responses to issues involving free expression, including disciplinary action for disruptive conduct. The Report of the Committee on Dissent and Protest (chaired by David Strauss, 2014) affirmed that “dissent and protest are integral to the life of the University” and maintaining a community with dissent and protest “imposes obligations of mutual respect on everyone involved.” The Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression (chaired by Geoffrey Stone, 2015) reaffirmed the “freedom to debate and discuss” and the guarantee to all members of the University community of the right to “speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.” These steps have been well-received and influential, on our campus and nationwide.

To help put these values into practice, I have established a faculty committee to review and make recommendations about procedures for student disciplinary matters involving disruptive conduct, particularly interference with freedom of expression, inquiry and debate. I have asked the committee, as suggested in the Report of the Committee on Dissent and Protest, to reevaluate the All-University Disciplinary System.  This system, approved in 1970 by the Council of the University Senate, was intended to address disruptive conduct but has seen little use due in part to cumbersome procedures.

The committee’s charge includes: 1) Conduct a review and make recommendations to revise or replace the disciplinary procedures and standards set forth in the All-University Disciplinary System; 2) Address the range of disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, and make recommendations for responses in the midst of any event that is being disrupted; 3) Consider proper responses to disruptions involving individuals who are not members of the University community, and 4) Provide recommendations for educational programming on the importance of freedom of expression, fostering understanding among students that their right to free expression is the same right that they and we must accord to others.

I have appointed the following members to the Committee on University Discipline for Disruptive Conduct: [JAC: Names redacted]

Because it is important that an improved system be developed and approved as expeditiously as possible, I am asking the committee to submit its recommendations by December 15, 2016.

We have here a University administration and faculty absolutely committed to free speech (and I’m proud to be associated with this group) set against some students who see nothing wrong with disrupting and censoring invited speakers who make them feel “unsafe” or unsettled. The students will not win this one, and, though I’m a superannuated professor, my own recommendations would be these:

  1. During orientation, when incoming students are learning about sexual harassment, toleration, and other issues, they should also have a unit on free speech and what it means.
  2. Thus inculcated with the principles of free speech and the university policy, any student who tries to disrupt speech should be dealt with harshly. That would, I think, deter others from such childish and censorious behavior.

Most British students favor NUS’s “no platforming” policy

April 26, 2016 • 1:45 pm

Well, the no-platforming policy of British students continues apace. This time it involves rescinding a speaking invitation to the Donald Trump of England—London mayor Boris Johnson (they’re both clowns, but Johnson’s hair is marginally better). Johnson was set to take part in debates at King’s College London about whether Britain should dissociate itself from the EU. Writing in The Sun about how leaving the EU would solidify Britain’s ties to the U.S., he had said this about President Obama:

Something mysterious happened when Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in 2009.

Something vanished from that room, and no one could quite explain why.

It was a bust of Winston Churchill – the great British war time leader. It was a fine goggle-eyed object, done by the brilliant sculptor Jacob Epstein, and it had sat there for almost ten years.

But on day one of the Obama administration it was returned, without ceremony, to the British embassy in Washington.

No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision.

Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.

Well, that’s sort of rude, but I don’t consider it either racist or a terminal macroagression. And the rest of Johnson’s piece is a fairly tame call for leaving the EU, and calling out America for its hypocrisy, like our country’s not signing UN human rights accords.

Nevertheless, the Independent reports that “Think Tank,” the King’s College student group who had invited Johnson, rescinded his invitation on the basis of the last two lines above. Their email:

Dear Mr Johnson,

Given your inappropriate comments and inferences toward President Obama’s Kenyan heritage, of which he is rightly proud, and your general tone of disrespect over the past few days in relation to the President of the United States of America, we are now formally withdrawing your invitation to speak at Kings College London.

We are looking forward to providing a forum for both sides in the EU Referendum Debate to argue their point of view without fear or favour. The level of discourse over the past few days does not meet the bar we set for these events nor do we feel does it help the British people in making the most momentous decision of our lifetime. Furthermore we believe it does not reflect the true greatness of the United Kingdom, a land of tolerance, respect and fair play towards all.

Mike Molloy (Director of EU Referendum Events at Kings College London)

Margot MacDonnell (President of Kings College London Think Tank)

Erica Arcudi (Vice President of Kings College London Think Tank)

In other words, they rescinded his invitation because he was rude to the U.S. President! He was also “rude” to the U.S. as a whole, but so what? Clearly the reference to Obama’s Kenyan ancestry was somehow mistaken for racism.

Boris Johnson

But this is just one pustle from a more virulent disease sweeping Britain’s youth. For according to yesterday’s BBC News, a poll o0f 1001 British students showed that 63% of them agree with the National Union of Students’ (NUS’s) “no-platforming policy,” which asserts (but does not require) that some people or organizations should not be allowed to speak at universities, nor should any NUS officers share a stage with them.

Here are the six proscribed groups (from Wikipedia); three are right-wing British groups and three are Muslim groups that were considered either anti-Semitic or supportive of terrorism:

Also according to Wikipedia, some individuals have been no-platformed:

The NUS also has policy refusing platforms to people or organisations for other reasons: the NUS LGBT Campaign (and formerly, also the Women’s Campaign) refuses platforms to those they consider to be transphobic, including Julie Bindel; and the National Executive Committee has policy refusing a platform to those it considers to be rape deniers or rape apologists, following George Galloway‘s statements about rape when asked about the allegations of sexual assault facing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Universities and individuals themselves can decide to no-platform others as well, as when the NUS’s LGBT representative said she wouldn’t share a stage with Peter Tatchell, a courageous advocate of gay rights. The BBC adds this:

In recent years, individuals believed to be sexist, transphobic or rape apologists have also been banned from speaking at universities.

It is argued these speakers would threaten a “safe space”, which is described as an accessible environment in which every student feels comfortable, safe and can get involved free from intimidation or judgment.

At Canterbury Christ Church University, an NUS rep refused to share a platform with gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, whom she regarded as having been racist and “transphobic”.

. . . Feminist writer Julie Bindel was banned from speaking at Manchester University’s student union last October as students said her views on transgender people could “incite hatred towards and exclusion of our trans students”.

And from another piece in the Independent:

Chief Executive for HOPE not Hate, Nick Lowles, was reportedly “no-platformed” by the NUS in February on the grounds that he was seen to be “Islamaphobic”. The anti-racism and fascism campaigner responded on social media that the NUS had “officially become a joke” after “ultra-left lunacy” stopped him from speaking at the anti-racism conference.

Ironically, HOPE not Hate is a left-wing, antifascist and antiracist group.

Even more ironically, Malia Bouattia, the problematic new president of the NUS, accepted with smiles the endorsement of MPAC spokesperson Raza Nadim—the representative of a group that her own organization has no-platformed on the grounds of racism and anti-Semitism. Nadim has also said that “Israel is 100% worse than ISIS.

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The BBC survey, taken by ComRes, also showed that 54% of the surveyed students supported enforcing the policy “against people who could be found intimidating.”

As you might guess, I don’t support any official policy of no-platforming. It is of course up to universities and individuals if they wish to invite representatives of various groups, and some groups are so clearly beyond the pale that it’s not likely many people will want to invite them. But to have a list—to claim that nobody belonging to these organizations should ever be given air time, or share a platform with an NUS officer—is clearly an attempt to stifle discussion. People like Peter Tatchell and Julie Bindel have things to say, and if you don’t like their views on, say, the way we should regard transgender people (Tatchell didn’t do anything but sign a letter opposing censorship), they should be opposed with counterspeech, not banned from speaking.

These lists also demonize people, irrevocably tarring them with the label of “racist” or “transphobe”, or other names that, fairly applied or not, can follow them around for the rest of their lives.

Let us call the NUS what it is: a fascist organization, even if it does oppose right-wing fascism. It’s simply a Fascism of the Left. And in an Orwellian demonstration of doublespeak, the NUS claims it really is on the side of free speech (my emphasis):

. . . The NUS said it was proud of the policy and the fact that the majority of students surveyed agreed showed demonstrated that the policy was necessary in standing up to racism and fascism.

A spokeswoman said: “In the past, students have been physically harmed and tragically even killed as a result of such organisations coming on to campuses and inciting hatred. That is why ‘no platform’ was introduced in the first place, to keep students safe in a very real sense.”

Our policy does not limit free speech, but acts to defend it by calling out violence, hate speech, bullying and harassment, which allows debate to take place without intimidation. Students’ unions are champions of debate on campus, in fact a recent survey showed zero out of 50 students’ unions had banned a speaker in the past year.”

I’m not sure which students have been harmed or killed by the incitement of hatred, but if they were it constitutes a violation of the law, and the speakers should be prosecuted.

The part I’ve put in bold is simply laughable, for who gets to determine what constitutes “hate speech, bullying, and harassment”? The NUS, of course! But Julie Bindel and Peter Tatchell don’t fall into those proscribed categories. They just espouse views that liberals, and the NUS, don’t like. By arrogating unto itself which speakers are deemed “safe,” the NUS is becoming students’ Big Brother—just the kind of paternalism they’re supposed to escape when they go to University.

The new president of Britain’s National Union of Students is problematic

April 22, 2016 • 12:30 pm

Is there any “progressive” organization more misguided, more Authoritarian Leftist, and yes, more bigoted, than Britain’s National Union of Students? Their pervasive policy of “no-platforming,” their authoritarian attempts to censor views they don’t like, their coddling of Muslim groups that are anti-feminist and anti-gay—all bely their claim that they’re “progressive.” In reality, the organization is fascistic, but pretending to be Leftist.

If you had any doubt about that, get a load of the bigot they’ve just elected as NUS President, Malia Bouattia. You can read about her either in the Guardian or The Jewish Chronicle (see also here; people will discount the second source so I include the first)

Here are some comments that Bouattia made in 2014—speaking in her official capacity as NUS Black Students Officer—at a Tricontinental Anti-imperialist Platform and Invent the Future conference in September 2014. The video was subsequently removed (why is that?), but was leaked and is now back online:

Here is some of what she said:

“The notion of resistance has been perhaps washed out of our understanding of how colonised people will obtain their physical emancipation…With mainstream, Zionist-led media outlets …resistance is presented as an act of terrorism.

“But instead of us remembering that this has always been the case throughout struggles against white supremacy, it’s become an accepted discourse among too many…

“Internalised Islamophobia has also enabled our obsession with convincing non-Muslims of our non-violent and peaceful nature, so we’re taking things a step further and dangerously condemning the resistance, branding groups and individuals as terrorists to disassociate from them, but at the same time supporting their liberation which is a very strange contradiction.

“There’s a need to change how we think about these things. After all, the alternative to resistance is what we’ve been observing over the last 20 years or so, which is ‘peace talks’… essentially the strengthening of the colonial project.

“To consider that Palestine will be free only by means of fundraising, non-violent protest and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is problematic… My issue is that whilst at time it’s tactically used, or presented as the non-violent option, it can be misunderstood as the alternative to resistance by the Palestinian people…

“We also need to remember the Palestinians on the ground… who are actively sustaining the fight and the resistance against occupation and perhaps there’s a need to …take orders if we are to really show some form of solidarity”.

Note the reference to the “Mainstream, Zionist-led media outlets.” Haven’t you heard that before? It’s coded anti-Semitism, just as “states rights” was American code for “segregation” in the Sixties. Bouattia is raising the trope of “Jews controlling the world,” as in the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The phrase “the resistance” is also a euphemism, often used by pro-Palestinians, to mean “the violent assault and killing of Israeli civilians.” I believe she is justifying that here, and that’s supported by her claim that non-violent resistance is ineffectual, and that we should stop branding those who kill innocents as “terrorists.”

Bouattia has a long history of not only pro-Palestinian views, but also “anti-Zionist” views, which are views that Israel has no right to exist as a state or as a homeland for displaced Jews. But arguing that Israel has no right to exist at all, as many BDS supporters do, is a non-starter: it will not facilitate a two-state solution, or help remove settlers from the occupied areas. Nor will approving the killing of civilians—the “the resistance”. Those who kill unarmed Israeli civilians, including women and children, are celebrated as heroes in Gaza. That’s reprehensible. Yet when an Israeli soldier recently killed a wounded Palestianian, he was charged with manslaughter. Why is this difference ignored? It’s the bigotry of low expectations.

Besides no-platforming, the NUS has a history of coddling Muslim organizations, even those who are homophobic and misogynistic. This is also bigotry. The NUS—or at least freedom of speech—is in for a hard time under Boutattia’s tenure,

The Chronicle also reports this (my emphasis):

The warning signs have been there for years for all to see. It was Malia Bouattia who led the charge at the NUS to block a motion that sought to condemn ISIS and show solidarity to the Kurds fighting them, because it was deemed “Islamophobic.”

At this same meeting the NUS did pass a motion to boycott UKIP, and agreed to email every student in the country on polling day telling them to do likewise. Thus, in a sign of the terrible times in which we live, Britain’s student leadership found it easier to condemn UKIP than ISIS.

. . In 2011 Ms Bouattia co-authored a blog which lists a “large Jewish society” – by which she now insists she meant “Zionists” – as being one of the challenges at Birmingham University. But she even considers the UK government’s beleaguered Prevent strategy against extremism to be a result of the ‘Zionist lobby’.

Her bid for president was endorsed by the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), a group that has been banned by the NUS since 2004 after publishing material on its website originally published on neo-Nazi and Holocaust Denial websites, as well as their own post entitled “Take your holocaust, roll it nice and tight and shove it up your (be creative)!” MPACUK’s endorsement of her candidacy would be less concerning if she hadn’t appeared to welcome it, by replying “Thank you :-))”.

The new NUS president insists her concerns revolve around Zionism, not Judaism, and that her arguments are political, not faith based. But in an atmosphere in which the far-left and far-right are competing for people’s increased anger, is it any surprise that the same conference that saw her elected president applauded a speaker who argued that the NUS should not commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, because “it’s not inclusive.”

I’ve put that video below. The message is “we should just have a day in which we condemn every genocide.”

Fine. Then if we condemn Israeli misdeeds, we should condemn Palestinian misdeeds as well. And, if we’re going to decry the oppression of Muslims, we must also decry the oppression of gays and women by Muslims—and Muslim student societies.

There’s a fat chance that the NUS will do that! I find it amusing, in the following video, that the NUS applauds a call to commemorate every genocide, but won’t extend that philosophy to condemning every form of oppression and bigotry. And really, there’s no need to condemn everything at once: you just call out all malfeasances, case by case, as they come up. The NUS, of course, doesn’t do that: they’re “selective.” They are an organization marinated in identity politics and virtue signaling: the most obstructive and useless traits of the Authoritarian Left.

As Hannah Weisfeld notes in the Guardian:

Perhaps Bouattia does not know that significant numbers of Jews in this country have friends and close family in Israel and therefore she doesn’t realise why saying that “boycott can be misunderstood as the alternative to resistance by the Palestinian people” makes many Jewish students recoil. When she says “non-violent” resistance is not enough, she is endorsing violent resistance against their friends and family. Will Jewish students want to participate in broader student politics knowing the president of their union thinks the potential killing of their friends and family is a legitimate “act of resistance”?

Bouattia is well within her rights to criticise the policies of the Israeli government. Indeed, many British Jews do. She is perfectly entitled to say she is not a Zionist. But it seems she is unable to understand why invoking antisemitic tropes and supporting armed resistance against Israelis causes deep offence. And when she says, “For me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish”, she shows a deep lack of understanding of Jewish identity.

What we can expect—and what I predict—is that under Bouattia the NUS will become the poster child for the Authoritarian Left. Our proper response to its shenanigans is not only to criticize it, but to mock it and satirize it.

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Malia Bouattia. Photo: NUS/PA

UPDATE: I’ll add a comment from a Spiked piece criticizing the NUS; reader Jay gave the link in the comments below. Two excerpts from the piece:

No Platform, Safe Spaces, microaggressions, trigger warnings – whatever form it comes in, campus censorship is borne of a barely veiled contempt for students. The NUS’s byzantine regime of speech codes, blacklists and disciplinary policies is fuelled by a view of students as either easily upset babies or goose-steppers in-waiting. Worse still, censorship makes you dumb. Spend half an hour in the NUS echo chamber and you’ll see what I mean. To hone your ideas, you need to be free to argue and test them. To find out about new ones, you need to be free to listen.

. . . NUS politicos like to pose as radicals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Aside from passing the odd motion condemning Israel (I’m sure that made Netanyahu blink), the NUS’s stock-in-trade is micromanaging campus life. It believes students are too delicate to deal with the world, let alone try to change it. Student politics has never been perfect. But in the past it at least provided an outlet for students’ radical ambitions. Insisting on being treated like adults is the first step toward making history. A union that harnesses that spirit, is the union that students need.


Ohio State University stands up to student protestors

April 11, 2016 • 1:30 pm

According to a report on April 6 by the NBC channel in Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State University students staged a sit-in the University’s Bricker Hall about issues of “diversity, sexual assault, and the university’s budget.” Here are some of the student statements and “demands” linked by the station:

PDF: #ReclaimOSU Press Statement

PDF: An Open Letter to President Drake From Concerned Faculty

PDF: #ReclaimOSU-Demands

The administration decided that the sit-in was a violation of the student code of conduct, as it disrupted people who worked in the building. The students who remained after a deadline would thus be subject to arrest and likely expulsion. In the video below, OSU Senior Vice President Jay Kasey explained to the demonstrators about their impending arrest and expulsion should they fail to leave the building:

This is a rare instance of a university standing up to students protests. (Most have let the students continue illegal sit-ins.) Of course, the students complain during the video that they shouldn’t be arrested, but that’s the nature of civil disobedience: you disobey the law, and you take the consequences—something that was part and parcel of the Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties. Now, however, students want the right to break the law, or violate university regulations, without consequences.  After all, they’re Special Snowflakes.

Later that evening, and before the deadline, the students dispersed. I guess they didn’t adhere to their claim that they wouldn’t leave the building until their demands were met. Here’s the list of those demands:

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You can read more on the NBC site.

Britain’s National Union of Students excludes gay men from LGBT groups because those gays aren’t sufficiently oppressed

April 11, 2016 • 9:00 am

This story, from, is a few weeks old, having languished in the queue of stuff I have to post. But it’s still timely, for it demonstrates clearly how the Left is beginning to eat itself as various groups vie for the title of Most Oppressed.

On March 22 the site reported that the “LGBT+ Campaign” of Britain’s National Union of Students—that most ridiculous of Authoritarian Leftist groups—has decided that gay males aren’t as oppressed as the rest of the LGBT contingent, and passed a resolution that gay men should no longer be represented on their committees. (See also the report on PinkNews.)

The motion, which you can find here (it’s #408) says this:

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That is, the committees are there to ensure not that bigotry based on sexual behavior or identity is eliminated from society, but from the groups themselves, and apparently gay men on the committees perpetuate bigotry. Therefore, they have to go.

Here’s the resolution (see #4):

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As Pink News noted, this resolution is in fact at odds with assertions in the rest of the NUS document:

Pink News noted the irony of the motion—other approved motions stressed that gay men were at increased risk of HIV infection, and even violence, relative to other marginalized groups.

Other motions were just as absurd. One asserted that the ‘A’ often found in the LGBT+ acronym should and must always stand for “ace” (as in, asexual), rather than “ally.”

It’s easy to laugh at these developments, though they speak to a real sickness on the left: hysterical obsession with group identity. In the eyes of the NUS LGBT Campaign, no one is an individual—everyone must be labelled according to their sexual preference, skin color, and gender expression, and then assigned a grievance based on the collective wisdom of their similarly marginalized peers.

In Resolution 210, the NUS instructs local LGBT+ groups on the proper use of acronyms:

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There’s really nothing to add to this; all we can do is sit on the sidelines and watch people who are basically on the same side ingest each other.

The regressive left continues eating its own at Brown University

March 27, 2016 • 12:00 pm

Is it any surprise that this latest bit of identity theater is based at Brown University, one of the most student-authoritarian schools in the U.S.? As reported by both the Daily Beast and The Blaze,  Janet Mock, a trans woman, LGBTQ activist and a well known author (she wrote the bestseller Redefining Realness)was scheduled to speak at Brown. But there was a Big Problem: she was scheduled to speak by the group Moral Values, which happens to be a Jewish organization, and she was also to speak at Hillel House, a facility run by a different Jewish organization.

Well, what do you think happened? The Blaze reports on the inevitable conflict:

“Hillel as a corporation has consistently defended and even advocated for the Israeli state’s policies of occupation and racial apartheid,” Brown University students wrote in a petition to Mock urging her to reject the Jewish group’s invitation. “Israel’s violent policies center on colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide of native Palestinians.”

“We do not condone the use of queer people of color as props to hide occupation,” the petition added.

Mock cancelled the event after the students’ protest.

Mock’s representatives told Moral Voices, “We feel the focus of Janet’s work was lost leading up to the proposed event, and her visit was received with controversy and resistance rather than open dialogue and discussion about the issues closest to Janet’s work in movements for trans liberation, racial justice and intersectional feminism.”

The sad thing is that Moral Voices has no group position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Mock’s visit was co-sponsored by other groups, including the Brown Center for Students of Color, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, LGBTQ Center, Sexual Assault Peer Educators, Office of the Chaplains, and the Rhode Island School of Design’s Office of Intercultural Student Engagement. But the talk’s highly indirect association with Hillel House, a building, and a more direct association with (horror!) Jewish students, was enough to make the Brown students protest vehemently. Better to not hear a pro-LGBTQ activist at all than hear one partly sponsored by Jewish students—ones that have no official position on Palestine.

Finally, let us remember that Israel, whatever its faults, is the only state in the Middle East where being gay is not a crime, often a crime punishable by death. And yet even saying that is equated by the double-standard crowd as “pinkwashing”: trying to promote Israel’s image by noting its gay-friendliness. But gay equality was not promulgated in Israel to deceive the world; it was passed as a human right. It’s the height of LGBTQ hypocrisy to call for the no-platforming of Mock in solidarity with groups that would kill these very activists should they be openly gay in Palestine.

This is pathetic. The students don’t get to hear a respected trans activist because of a tenuous association of her talk with Jews, and by implication—an unsupported one—with Israeli’s policy toward Palestine. As Moral Voices posted on its Facebook page:

“This cancellation is the result of gross mischaracterizations of Brown RISD Hillel and the intentions of the student activists on the Moral Voices Committee who worked since last spring to bring Ms. Mock to Brown. Both the Moral Voices Committee and Brown RISD Hillel community are comprised of people whose intersectional identities make Ms. Mock’s message personal,” the group added. “We were eager to hear from and raise up the voice of Ms. Mock in partnership with other campus groups and centers. Today is a very sad day for the entire Brown community and for LGBTQ+ activism — there are no victors.”

Indeed. Who won this round? The group of 159 mushbrained students who signed the petition that drove Mock away.

I’ll give the last word to The Daily Beast:

Way to go, student activists at Brown! You succeeded in creating a hostile environment that led to a trans woman of color being discouraged from sharing her voice and opinions. This all helped the Palestinian people how, exactly?

Brown President Christina Paxson expressed disappointment. “I respect her decision to avoid having her talk be overshadowed by an issue unrelated to her work. However, I am disappointed that a valuable learning opportunity was lost,” she said in a Sunday email to the student body.

At least the University President didn’t pander to the Offended.

Authoritarian and regressive leftists are welcome to try to “debunk” this report, which I’ve checked in several places.  I think that the regressive group is finally starting to see the dilemma it’s got itself into, but instead of some thoughtful introspection, they simply respond with more rage.

Fortunately, some Brown students have apologized for the behavior of their peers.

Janet Mock

h/t: Grania

Emory students deeply traumatized by “support Trump” slogans chalked on campus

March 24, 2016 • 11:00 am

The Snowflake Students have now metastasized to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where a group of students has been deeply traumatized by seeing pro-Donald Trump slogans written in chalk in various places on campus. The multiple microaggressions occurred on Monday.

Here’s a screenshot of one taken from the New York Post:

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And another from The Washington Post:

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Photo courtesy of Amelia Sims

Well, all hell broke loose. As the Emory Wheel (the student newspaper reports):

Roughly 40 students gathered shortly after 4:30 p.m. in the outdoors space between the Administration Building and Goodrich C. White Hall; many students carried signs featuring slogans such as “Stop Trump” or “Stop Hate” and an antiphonal chant addressed to University administration, led by College sophomore Jonathan Peraza, resounded “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” throughout the Quad. Peraza opened the door to the Administration Building and students moved forward towards the door, shouting “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

They’re in pain! In pain! OMG, somebody soothe them!

It goes on, of course:

After approximately ten minutes outside from the start of the demonstration, the gathered students were ushered into the Quad-facing entrance to the Administration Building and quickly filled a staircase to continue their demonstration. Pausing in the staircase, a few students shared their initial, personal reactions to the chalkings.

“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” one student said. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school,” she added.

Let’s put it this way: if they’re going to feel afraid at seeing a simple political slogan—or even a name—no matter how heinous the candidate, scrawled on a sidewalk, then they don’t deserve to be in a decent college. And who ever told students that college is supposed to make you feel “comfortable and safe”? (“Unsafe,” of course, is the latest college euphemism for “hearing something I don’t like”).

The President of the University noted that the chalking was against university regulations (though similar chalkings for more liberal causes have not been punished), and that the perpetrators would be tracked down and fined. He also caved in to the students a bit:

Jim Wagner, the president of the university in Atlanta, met with the protesters and later sent an email to the campus community, explaining, in part, “During our conversation, they voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation.

“After meeting with our students, I cannot dismiss their expression of feelings and concern as motivated only by political preference or over-sensitivity. Instead, the students with whom I spoke heard a message, not about political process or candidate choice, but instead about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own.”

This is a president who is a master of euphemisms but not of the truth. Of course the students are expressing political preference and oversensitivity! And by claiming that Trump’s values clash with those of Emory, he’s feeding directly into the students’ feelings of entitlement. He should have just shut up and said that if students defaced school property illegally, they’d be punished, as would students who wrote “Bernie Sanders 2016” on the same spots.

Of course the President Wagner’s make-nice message wasn’t good enough. The students need (and will probably soon demand) institutional change to prevent this kind of freedom of speech:

Other students asked for improving diversity in the “higher positions” of the University, including the Board of Trustees and the faculty in general who should not be simply “diversity sprinkles” to improve statistics, as one student described it.

Grievances were not restricted to shortcomings of the administration. “[Faculty] are supporting this rhetoric by not ending it,” said one student, who went on to say that “people of color are struggling academically because they are so focused on trying to have a safe community and focus on these issues [related to having safe spaces on campus].”

“Faculty are supporting this rhetoric by not ending it.” Think about that. If you don’t censor speech, you are tacitly supporting it.

I used to think these students are going to have a hard time when they collide with the real world after graduation. But now I’m starting to think that they’ll eventually constitute the real world, at least in the US and UK. And if they do, then it truly will be an unsafe space.

h/t: Kenneth