Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Okay -- I know I'm being lazy this week, but there's a holiday coming up. Forgive me while I drop a few random links in this space.

First, this was brought to my attention because it is my alma mater: 

Students at the College of William & Mary want Thomas Jefferson’s status removed from campus because they call him an "incestuous rapist" and a "racist."
The Jefferson statue there is now covered in yellow notes that say things including: "he knew it was wrong," "racist" "rapist," "black lives matter," and "stop worshiping racists."
Sigh. I know what you're probably thinking, but William & Mary is not like other schools that have made the news and is unlikely to be overrun by censorious, fascist thugs. Its speech policies are green-lit by FIRE, and as far as I can determine, any discussions of race relations that have taken place on campus have been entirely sane and peaceful.

Of course, that doesn't mean I approve of the ideas behind the defacement of the Jefferson statue. This sudden enthusiasm to erase history is deeply misguided -- and creepy besides. I'm well aware that our third president was, at best, a hypocrite when it came to slavery, but - as has often been observed - the past is a foreign country. In Jefferson's time, many intellects were darkened by the sin of racism. Are we going to expunge everyone who was wrong on this issue? Is there no room for understanding that people are fallen creatures and will often hold a mixture of both good and evil beliefs?

Thankfully, there are students at Princeton who are asking the same questions:

Academic discourse consists of reasoned arguments. We simply wish to present our own reasoned arguments and engage you and other senior administrators in dialogue. We will not occupy your office, and, though we respectfully request a minimum of an hour of your time, we will only stay for as long as you wish. We will conduct ourselves in the civil manner that it is our hope to maintain and reinforce as the norm at Princeton. 
This dialogue is necessary because many students have shared with us that they are afraid to state publicly their opinions on recent events for fear of being vilified, slandered, and subjected to hatred, either by fellow students or faculty...
We oppose efforts to purge (and literally paint over) recognitions of Woodrow Wilson’s achievements, including Wilson College, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and his mural in Wilcox Dining Hall. As you have noted, Wilson, like all other historical figures, has a mixed legacy. It is not for his contemptible racism, but for his contributions as president of both Princeton and the United States that we honor Wilson. Moreover, if we cease honoring flawed individuals, there will be no names adorning our buildings, no statues decorating our courtyards, and no biographies capable of inspiring future generations.
Good for them. I hope their administration hears them out.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Haidt - who is one of my favorite liberal academics right now - has written another article that is worth reading in full:

You might think that this is some sort of justice — white males have enjoyed positions of privilege for centuries, and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. But these are children. And remember that most students who are in a victim group for one topic are in the “oppressor” group for another. So everyone is on eggshells sometimes; all students at Centerville High learn to engage with books, ideas, and people using the twin habits of defensive self-censorship and vindictive protectiveness.
And then… they go off to college and learn new ways to gain status by expressing collective anger at those who disagree. They curse professors and spit on visiting speakers at Yale. They shut down newspapers at Wesleyan. They torment a dean who was trying to help them at Claremont McKenna. They threaten and torment fellow students at Dartmouth. And in all cases, they demand that adults in power DO SOMETHING to punish those whose words and views offend them. Their high schools have thoroughly socialized them into what sociologists call victimhood culture, which weakens students by turning them into “moral dependents” who cannot deal with problems on their own. They must get adult authorities to validate their victim status.
So they issue ultimatums to college presidents, and, as we saw at Yale, the college presidents meet their deadlines, give them much of what they demanded, commit their schools to an ever tighter embrace of victimhood culture, and say nothing to criticize the bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics that have created a culture of intense fear for anyone who might even consider questioning the prevailing moral matrix.
Indeed. By the way, the other posts at Heterodox Academy are also top notch. Consider adding that website to your regular reading list.

Now for something completely different:

More than a month ago, I made some jokes about Star Wars on Red Eye, a satirical political comedy show that airs at 3 a.m., and it has resulted in me being verbally abused and told to die by a mob of enraged fans for the past four days now.
Wow. Seriously? These internet trolls need to get a life. They do not represent me or my geek friends at all.

And finally, something beautiful:

I agree with my brother. I could watch this all day.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Regular posts will resume next week.

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