Academic intolerance

Outside Agitators

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Hattip to Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy.  Remember Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of “feminist studies” at the University of California Santa Barbara, who is currently charged with assault, battery and vandalism in regard to taking a sign from a teenage pro-lifer?  Go here to read all about it.  Now you would think that an institution supposedly dedicated to the pursuit of learning would have something to say about a professor who is apparently unable to control herself when confronted with views that she despises.  Michael D. Young, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at UCSB did address it in this open letter to students.  He comes out in favor of free speech, but somehow does not name the professor, the incident, and, echoing segregationists of the past, seems to blame the problem of intolerance on campus on outsiders:

 

 

Dear Students:

Over the past several weeks, our campus has been visited by a number of outside groups and individuals coming here to promote an ideology, to promulgate particular beliefs (at times extreme beliefs), or simply to create discord that furthers a certain personal agenda. Some passionately believe in their causes, while others peddle hate and intolerance with less-than-noble aims. Whatever the motives and goals, the presence of such people and groups on campus can be disruptive and has the potential to draw us into the kind of conflict that puts at risk the quality of exchange of ideas that is fundamental to the mission of our university.

What is happening now is not new: evangelical types have been visiting UCSB and university campuses since time immemorial. What we see at UCSB today is simply the most recent generation of true believers, self-proclaimed prophets, and provocateurs. During the past few weeks, UCSB has been visited by various anti-abortion crusaders. Some have been considerate and thoughtful in promoting their message; others have openly displayed images that many in our community find distressing and offensive. We have also seen earnest and thoughtful religious missionaries, and we have seen proselytizers hawking intolerance in the name of religious belief. As a consequence of interactions with the more extreme of our visitors, students have expressed outrage, pain, embarrassment, fear, hurt, and feelings of harassment. Moreover, I have received requests that the campus prohibit the peddling of “fear,” “hate,” “intolerance,” and “discord” here at UCSB.

Those of you who know me are aware that I have strong views on the matter of intolerance. You also know that I hold equally strong views on the sanctity of free speech. If you have heard me speak at Convocation or at anti-hate events, or if you have seen me officiating at the Queer Wedding, you know that my message on both counts is clear. Recent events lead me to believe that this message bears repeating.

First, the principle of freedom of expression resides at the very foundation of our society and, most certainly, at the foundation of a world-class university such as UC Santa Barbara. Freedom and rights are not situational: we either have freedom of speech or we do not. We cannot pick and choose which views are allowed to be aired and who is allowed to speak. If that were the case, then only those in charge — those holding power — would determine who gets to speak and whose views are heard.

Second, freedom is not free. The price of freedom for all to speak is that, at times, everyone will be subjected to speech and expression that we, ourselves, find offensive, hateful, vile, hurtful, provocative, and perhaps even evil. So be it! Law and policy ban only an extremely narrow band of speech and expression — “yelling ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre,” for example, and child pornography. The price we pay to speak our own minds is allowing others to speak theirs, regardless of how oppositional their views are to our own. Our Founding Fathers — all white men of privilege, some even slave owners — got it right when designing the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Having firmly stated my support for freedom of expression, I hasten to follow with a lesson my mother taught me when I was a small child, a lesson that has remained with me the rest of my life and that I relay to our entering students every fall at Convocation. My mother taught me that just because you can say or do something doesn’t mean that you should. Civility plays an important role in how we choose to exercise our right to expression. We all have the right to say odious things, to display offensive slogans and placards, and to hurt and disrespect groups and individuals that disagree with us. The question is: should we? Should we engage in these behaviors just because we can or because they serve our political, religious, or personal agendas?

At UCSB, our students have proven that we are better than this. While it has not always been easy, time and again UCSB students have demonstrated that they can disagree about the critical issues of our time — fundamentally and passionately but within a framework of humanity and civility, respecting the dignity of those whose views they oppose. Time and time again, UCSB students have demonstrated that they understand their role in defining the character and quality of this campus community — revealing their unwillingness to lower themselves to the tactics of those whose agenda comes wrapped in intolerance and extremism.

And now we are tested once again, outsiders coming into our midst to provoke us, to taunt us and attempt to turn us against one another as they promote personal causes and agendas. If we take the bait, if we adopt negative tactics and engage in name calling, confrontation, provocation, and offensive behavior, then they win and our community loses. Continue reading

Galloping Historical Illiteracy

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Remember Laura Curry, the Adjunct Professor, who went berserk at a pro-life display at the University of Buffalo?  Go here to read all about it.  Six of her colleagues, two professors of history, one associate professor of history, one assistant professor of history, one American studies assistant prof, and one assistant professor of “global gender studies”, decided to write in to the student newspaper, The Spectrum, to demonstrate that they too could make public asses of themselves.  Herewith is the letter and my fisk:

Dear Spectrum:

We are writing to condemn the message of the anti-abortion protest that took place outside the Commons this week.

Yes, we certainly wouldn’t want to give anyone the impression that a modern university is a place where opposing viewpoints are welcomed and debated.

In particular, we are disturbed by the equation of those who support women’s reproductive rights with those who lynched thousands of African American men and women in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It is an unfair comparison.  Between 1882-1968 approximately 3,446 blacks, along with 1,297 whites, were lynched in this country.  That is less than a morning’s work in the abortion clinics of this country.

We do not condemn the protest itself; in fact, we believe that the right to peaceably assemble is one of the foundational rights of American citizenship.

I am sure there is a “but” coming.

However, as historians, we feel it is imperative to speak out against this crass, uninformed and dangerous misuse of history.

Yep, I am certain it is the purity of History, and not voices raised against your right to slay your offspring, that has your knickers in a twirl.

From the end of the Civil War through the mid-20th century, white lynch mobs throughout the United States, although mostly in the South, deliberately and with extraordinary malice, terrorized and murdered African Americans under the pretense of “protecting” white womanhood from the supposed threat of rape by black men.

Actually, lynch mobs had various motivations.  In regard to blacks, one of the chief motivations immediately after the Civil War was to ensure that black Republicans did not vote, lynch mobs often acting as the terrorist arm of the Democrat Party, the party of abortion today.  The Republicans in Congress and in the White House made attempt after attempt to pass federal legislation against lynching, some 200 bills being introduced between 1882 to 1968.  Each time the legislation was blocked by Southern Democrats in the Senate.

 

Of course, this mock chivalry was just a ruse. Lynchers could not imagine a world in which a white woman might choose to love a black man, and no doubt some of those lynched were guilty only of crossing the South’s prohibition against consensual interracial sex.

Lynchings involving accusations of rape were almost always based upon a white woman making the charge of rape.  Of course that is an inconvenient fact for the professors, so they don’t mention that.

Others were simply guilty of owning their own land or trying to make a way for their families. Regardless, all of them paid the price for the white South’s brutal effort to control not only black bodies but white female ones, as well.

Oh give me a break.  The idea that white females making accusations of rape were merely pawns in the hands of male lynch mobs is feminist clap trap and has virtually no basis in the historical record.

The inability to see women as capable of making decisions about their own sexuality. The use of violent, inaccurate, and misleading imagery. The pretense of protection. Anti-abortion protesters appear to have a lot in common with those who supported lynching.

Only if one views history as through a glass, darkly, combined with a bad case of feminist stigmatism.  Pro-lifers of course wish to stop the slaughter of black babies just as they wish to stop the slaughter of all babies.  No doubt the professors would view the main problem with Kermit Gosnell as being, not that he slaughtered hundreds, maybe thousands, of nearly full term black babies, but that his case threatens the sacred rite of abortion.

We applaud vigorous, thoughtful debate and protest.

Sure you do, so long as the debate and protest agrees with you.

 

It is the lifeblood of democracy. However, this kind of political action requires much deliberation, which unfortunately was missing from yesterday’s anti-abortion protest.

I would certainly hope that anyone undertaking political action engages in much more deliberation than you put into this letter.

If students wish to learn more about the history of racial and sexual violence, including lynching, we welcome them to take any of our classes.

Thanks for closing on a humorous note.

Sincerely,

Susan Cahn, Professor of History

Carole Emberton, Assistant Professor of History

Theresa Runstedtler, Assistant Professor of American Studies

Lakisha Simmons, Assistant Professor of Global Gender Studies

Victoria Wolcott, Professor of History

Jason Young, Associate Professor of History Continue reading

De Paul Knows Who the Real Enemy Is

De Paul

 

Founded by the Vincentians in 1898, De Paul University in Chicago likes to tout itself as the largest Catholic university in the nation.  It is a university and it is large, but after the debacle described below I suspect that “Catholic” might be open to question:

DePaul University has punished a student for publicizing the names of fellow students who admitted to vandalizing his organization’s pro-life display. The student, Kristopher Del Campo, has been placed on probation after being found responsible for multiple conduct violations, including one that absurdly brands the publication of the names as “disorderly, violent, intimidating or dangerous.” The Foundation for Individual Rights In Education (FIRE) has intervened in his case.

“Kristopher Del Campo’s group was the victim of a politically motivated crime—and yet DePaul University is punishing Del Campo for naming the people who committed the crime,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “Unfortunately, this utter disregard for student rights has become par for the course at DePaul and too many other college campuses.”

On January 22, 2013, the DePaul chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), having attained the required permits, erected a pro-life display consisting of roughly 500 pink and blue flags planted in the ground of the campus quad to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. That afternoon, numerous DePaul students vandalized the display by tearing the flags from the ground and throwing them in trash cans around campus. Del Campo, YAF’s chairman, reported the vandalism to DePaul’s Department of Public Safety, which investigated.

With the investigation completed, DePaul Assistant Dean of Students Domonic Rollins provided Del Campo with a report from the Department of Public Safety, containing the names of 13 DePaul students who had admitted to vandalizing YAF’s display. On February 5, the national YAF organization posted this document on its website. On February 8, DePaul notified Del Campo that he was suspected of violating DePaul’s Code Of Student Responsibility—including a charge of “Disorderly, Violent, Intimidating or Dangerous Behavior,” which encompasses “creat[ing] a substantial risk of physical harm,” “causing significant emotional harm,” and “bullying.”

“Punishing a student for naming those who committed a crime against him or her sets a very dangerous precedent,” said FIRE’s Shibley. “For example, would DePaul punish a female student for telling her friends to avoid a person who admitted to sexually assaulting her?” Continue reading

Why Most Academic Histories Today Are Rubbish

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As longtime readers of this blog know, I have a deep and abiding passion for history.  I lament the fact that most histories produced today by academic historians are usually politicized drek, often written in a jargon that makes them gibberish to the general reader.  Historian K C Johnson has a superb post lamenting this situation:

The study of U.S. history has transformed in the last two generations, with emphasis on staffing positions in race, class, or gender leading to dramatic declines in fields viewed as more “traditional,” such as U.S. political, constitutional, diplomatic, and military history. And even those latter areas have been “re-visioned,” in the word coined by an advocate of the transformation, Illinois history professor Mark Leff, to make their approach more accommodating to the dominant race/class/gender paradigm. In the new academy, political histories of state governments–of the type cited and used effectively by the Montana Supreme Court–were among the first to go. The Montana court had to turn to Fritz, an emeritus professor, because the University of Montana History Department no longer features a specialist in Montana history (nor, for that matter, does it have a professor whose research interests, like those of Fritz, deal with U.S. military history, a topic that has fallen out of fashion in the contemporary academy).

To take the nature of the U.S. history positions in one major department as an example of the new staffing patterns: the University of Michigan, once home to Dexter and then Bradford Perkins, was a pioneer in the study of U.S. diplomatic history. Now the department’s 29 professors whose research focuses on U.S. history after 1789 include only one whose scholarship has focused on U.S. foreign relations–Penny von Eschen, a perfect example of the “re-visioning” approach. (Her most recent book is Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War.) In contrast to this 1-in-29 ratio, Michigan has hired ten Americanists (including von Eschen) whose research, according to their department profiles, focuses on issues of race; and eight Americanists whose research focuses on issues of gender. The department has more specialists in the history of Native Americans than U.S. foreign relations. Continue reading

Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance

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Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  In modern society those who prate the most about tolerance often tend to be the most intolerant.   Case in point, what is happening to Jennifer Keeton, a grad student at Augusta State College, studying to be a school counselor.  She is a Christian and believes that homosexual conduct is wrong.  Her faculty has decreed that she must undergo “sensitivity” (read re-education a la the Red Chinese) training to alter her views on homosexuality.  It was suggested that she go to a local gay pride march among other activities.

The Alliance Defense Fund, the same group representing Dr. Ken Howell, who ran afoul of the thought police at the U of I, is representing Keeton.  Go here to read about the lawsuit they have filed on her behalf.

Shockingly, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a grad student, Julea Ward, at Eastern Michigan University who was faced with precisely the same situation facing Keenan.  Go here to read the details at the blogprof.  Go here to read the Alliance Defense Fund’s, which represented Ms. Ward, overview of the case and their intent to appeal the decision.

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