Yale and the Apotheosis of Infantile Leftism

“Free speech is all well and good, apparently, when the speaker is a bigoted lunatic from a “marginalized” group; not so good when the person in question is a Yale professor advocating for her students’ freedom to choose a Halloween costume.”

Source: Where Are The Adults at Yale? – Tablet Magazine

Read James Kirchick’s article. It is not perfect – he tries to make too many points at once – but he manages to make many that are worth positing.

First, that there are better ways to handle hateful speech, much less moderate arguments from a “well-meaning child developmental psychologist,” than plead for safe-rooms and the elimination of opposing voices on campus. He did so when he was a student, engaging in open debate without calling for institutional retribution against the individual (or the campus groups that sponsored him) who attacked both his identity and him personally.

Second, that any parallels between what is happening at Yale and the campus uprisings of the 1960s is superficial at best. Five decades ago the demand was for student empowerment and the freedom of speech on campus; now students are demanding protection from emotional pain and the end to free and open debate.

Third, that the current issue at Yale is the natural evolution of an identity politics that has devolved to ” ‘grievance mongering,’ which holds that the relative virtue of an argument is directly proportional to the professed ‘marginalization’ of its proponent,” and that whatever the virtues of such thinking may be, it is inimical to the goals of a liberal education.

Fourth, that the condemnation of such behavior comes not just from conservative old white men, but from acknowledged liberals like President Barack Obama.

And finally, that a university is not and should not be a democracy. It is, rather, an environment run by leading educators with the advice and input of students and primarily for the benefit of those students. Thanks to the efforts of the student movement of the 1960s, those being educated have a vote in the way a university is run. But they do not be pandered to and allowed to run rampant over the operation of the university, if for no other reason than their short-term desires are often at odds with the long-term interests of the university and the wider community it serves.

 

Greg Lukianoff: The New Yorker is wrong about Free Speech

“It’s because The New Yorker has a history of publishing great articles like Packer’s that I was so disappointed to read Kelefa Sanneh’s article, “The Hell You Say,” in the August 10 edition of the magazine. In the article, Sanneh likens free speech advocates (like me, I assume) to “gun nuts,” claims that campus speech codes have mostly been repealed (which is completely false), then bizarrely questions if people can believe in a diversity of belief. Those of us who are big fans of the concept of pluralism found the latter particularly mystifying.”

Source: A Dozen Things ‘The New Yorker’ Gets Wrong about Free Speech (And Why It Matters) | Greg Lukianoff

Read both Sanneh’s article and Lukianoff’s rebuttal. At the very least, Sanneh makes good points badly.

American Incompatibility

“Alasdair Macintyre is right,” he said. “It’s like a nuclear bomb went off, but in slow motion.” What he meant by this is that our culture has lost the ability to reason together, because too many of us want and believe radically incompatible things.

via After Obergefell, Revisiting Prof. Kingsfield | The American Conservative.

I don’t consider myself to be on the far right of the American political spectrum. If anything, I’m one or two campsites to the right of the American center line.

But I spend my life worrying about exactly what MacIntyre and Rod Dreher are talking about. America is increasingly two countries, and we aren’t spending enough time weaving the connective fabric to hold the two together and draw them closer.

Compromise is a singularly American virtue. It is time we all rediscovered it before it is too late.

Failure on the Waterfront

Meanwhile, frustrated exporters and importers will find other routes. In a recent survey by the Journal of Commerce, 60% of shippers said they had begun redirecting cargoes away from America’s West Coast ports. Once that business leaves, it may never return. Western ports have already lost market share to the East Coast since 2002, when failed labour talks led to an 11-day lockout and a total shutdown.

via Labour relations: Watching fruit rot | The Economist.

When the docks of Tacoma, Oakland, Port Hueneme, and Long Beach go quiet; when two million jobs and billions of tax dollars disappear from the West Coast; and when these massive ports become run-down waterside slums, remember that the decline began when a union put its own existence ahead of the well-being of its members, its communities, its cities, and the region.

I have nothing agains the dockworkers having a union. I have nothing against collective bargaining. And I recognize that in any labor dispute, both sides share culpability. But in this case, the union needs to recognize that its tactics are self-defeating and that it needs to take an approach that doesn’t threaten millions of other workers in the process.

Quote of the Month

That being said, it may be the greatest misconception of the modern ideological divide that conservatism and liberalism must be mutually exclusive. Conservative traditionalism emphasizes the necessity of building upon the past, while liberal idealism focuses upon the responsibility to shape the future. Conservatism without forward thinking becomes calcified and reactionary. Liberalism without respect for tradition mutates into caricature and absurdity.

Rabbi Yonason Goldson
The real reason why Jews are Liberals.

The GOP, Climate, and the Tar Brush

72 Percent of Republican Senators Are Climate Deniers
Jeremy Schulman

Mother Jones
10 January 2015

I respect Mother Jones even when I don’t agree with it, but this article and its headline lurch away from intelligent debate and dangerously close to being little more than radical linkbait.

If the American Left is sincere about seeking to govern wisely – and we at the Bull Moose work from the assumption that it is – its pundits need to be very more careful about slathering the entire GOP senatorial caucus with the same tar brush. A careful, thoughtful read of the MoJo article and those to which it links makes clear that there are important gradients in the way in which different Republican senators approach the climate issue.

Those approaches range from hard-core deniers (“there is no climate change”) on one end, to the nearly 1/3 of Republican senators who do believe that it is happening and that it is caused by human activity. There are many fine gradations in the middle. For example, some of us believe that regardless of whether the science is clear or not, it makes sense for us to address the effects of climate change, and work on the assumption that it is caused at least in part by human activity by doing what we can to attenuate that change.

No doubt there are more than a few GOP senators who for whatever reason unable to accept the any suggestion that either climate change is happening, or that it is caused by humans. At the same time, painting the entire GOP senatorial caucus as hard-core deniers bought and paid for by Big Carbon obscures significant opportunities to build a majority (and perhaps a supermajority) in the Senate around climate policy. It is juvenile, it is inaccurate, and it shuts down debate, negotiation, and discussion before they are allowed to begin.

What we need is a more intelligent, less polarized discussion about these issues. Climate does not have to become as black-and-white as, say, the issue of abortion. But the longer we make the debate about ideology or partisanship rather than the policy issue, we polarize it and foreclose on even incremental progress.

On George Will and Scripps College

Late last summer, George Will was invited to speak at a respected public policy forum at the Scripps College in Pomona, California. He was then abruptly disinvited. The reason given for the withdrawal of his invitation was his recent Washington Post column on rape on college campuses. According to a statement by Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga, “after Mr. Will authored a column questioning the validity of a specific sexual assault case that reflects similar experiences reported by Scripps students, we decided not to finalize the speaker agreement.”

The column was awful, but the actions of Scripps College were a travesty.

Good Column Gone Bad

Let’s start with the column. In it, Mr. Will makes an important point that calls for deeper examination: when you celebrate or reward victimhood, victims tend to proliferate. He could have launched into a discussion of perverse incentives that can turn social programs into perpetual entitlements. Instead, he undermines his point by attempting to illustrate it with the worst possible example he could have chosen: the issue of sexual assault on campus.

Progressivism and its baggage have invaded our college campuses, politicizing instruction, fattening administration, and de-legitimizing an entire range of political views. Yet events make clear that those same  campuses do not yet have in place the right kinds of mechanisms to define, prevent, address, adjudicate, and punish sexual assaults. We can argue whether the tonic will cure the disease, but there is truth to the diagnosis. Mr. Will’s column was muddle-headed and embarrassing.

Good Intentions Gone Bad

I applaud the administration and students of Scripps College in their desire to show support to the victims of rape on campus. That said, no matter how you try to spin this, Mr. Will was disinvited because the views he expressed in one editorial out of some four thousand that he has written for the Post in the past 40 years was found objectionable.

To exclude him for that reason is to either demonstrate naked partisanship or to surrender to political correctness. Either is conduct unbecoming an academic institution, the lifeblood of which should be open debate and discussion of all viewpoints, however nauseating or preposterous.

The right thing to do would have been to bring Mr. Will to campus and allow him to speak his piece. If the Scripps students disagreed with Mr. Will, they could demonstrate that they not only possessed the maturity to offer him a forum for his views, but also the intelligence and passion to artfully rip him to shreds in public debate. Sadly, they will be denied that opportunity. That Scripps did not take this course in the name of political orthodoxy reflects no credit on the institution, its faculty, its students, or its alumni.

Debate and the Nation’s Future

When I was an undergraduate at UCSD in 1983, Angela Davis came to speak on campus. My College Republican friends and I raised no furor about it. What is more, I went to hear her speak despite my fundamental objections to her political and economic views, and despite her alleged provision of firearms to an underaged criminal who then used them in a kidnapping. In a mostly Davis-friendly crowd, I challenged her viewpoints and was shouted down, and rightly so: in my passionate disagreement, I had neglected to prepare a question that could be delivered with more logic than raw emotion. Nonetheless, I will treasure that day: nothing is more invigorating, more empowering, than having the chance to face in open debate a public figure whose views you oppose.

I wish only one thing for the students of Scripps and every institution of higher education in our great country: that they have as many opportunities as possible to face up to their political opponents in open debate. For if we do not teach our children to do that, to address their differences in dialogue, even heated dialogue, the only course of action left to them is to disregard or ban those with whom they disagree. Down that path lies a divided nation at best, and at worst, tyranny.