Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Muslim professor challenges Christianity, student responds and gets suspended

original article: Christian student suspended after challenging Muslim prof’s claim that Jesus wasn’t crucified
March 27, 2017 by WILLIAM NARDI

A student says he was suspended from Rollins College for challenging his Muslim professor’s anti-Christian assertions, including her claim that Jesus’ crucifixion never took place.

Twenty-year-old Marshall Polston, a sophomore at the private, Florida-based four-year college, said that the professor of his Middle Eastern Humanities class also told students that Jesus’ disciples did not believe he was God.

Polston, an avid traveler and self-described Christian, has toured the Middle East and is familiar with the Muslim culture.

“Honestly, it reminded me of some of the more radical groups I researched when abroad,” Polston told the Central Florida Post about his professor’s comments on Jesus.

“Whether religious or not, I believe even those with limited knowledge of Christianity can agree that according to the text, Jesus was crucified and his followers did believe he was divine… that he was ‘God,’” he continued. “Regardless, to assert the contrary as academic fact is not supported by the evidence.”

Polston, in a message to The College Fix on Saturday, said he stands behind his assertions in the Post article. He said he is upset he was suspended and has hired an attorney.

“Our university should be a place where free-speech flashes and ideas can be spoken of without punishment or fear of retribution,” Polston told The College Fix. “In my case it was the total opposite. … I came forward with the story because I know so many other students like me suffer under today’s liberal academic elite.”

The professor, Areej Zufari, as well as a campus spokesperson, could not be reached by The College Fix late Sunday. However, the Central Florida Post reports that it tried numerous times to obtain comment from Rollins College and Professor Zufari to no avail.

Polston claims the situation began after he challenged Zufari’s assertions about Jesus and his disciples. Polston said this challenge led Zufari to file a complaint with a campus dean, claiming he made her feel “unsafe.”

Next, Polston received a 52 percent on a major essay.

“I was upset, understandably. I’ve never gotten anything less than straight A’s, so I was really interested in figuring out how to possibly improve or at least understand the grade,” Polston told the Post.

On another day during the course, Zufari led a discussion about the application of Sharia Law. Polston claims that during this discussion, a male Muslim student said gays and adulterers should be beheaded under Sharia Law.

“I spoke out to the professor about the grade and subsequently the decapitation comments made by the student,” Polston told The Fix. “The statement by the conservative Muslim student met such fear by some that one of the students reported it to the FBI. Later, I was reported by the professor to the dean of campus safety. The situation was surreal. We’ve already had one too many attacks in Orlando and as an avid traveler I realized this was the perfect example of ‘see something, say something.’”

Zufari, for her part, posted on Facebook to the ACLU of Florida, complaining about an unnamed student that is “making my life hell this semester. This one is spewing hatred at me, de-railing class, and just sent me a hateful email threatening me…I want to know if there is a way to hold the individual responsible for his harassment and hate speech. Any ideas? Thank you!”

According to the March 24 suspension letter, Polston’s “actions have constituted a threat of disruption within the operations of the College and jeopardize the safety and well-being of members of the College community and yourself.”

Those alleged actions are not spelled out within the document. Nonetheless, Polston was given strict directions not to set foot on campus or have any contact with Zufari in the letter.

However, claims that Polston violated the terms of his suspension and came to harass the class this past Thursday were lodged. A campus safety report obtained by The College Fix states:

“Student ______ stated to me that she looked out the back glass door of the classroom and saw Mr. Polston staring into the room. He briefly stopped then proceeded on his way. Campus safety was immediately notified and responded at 19:36 hours. A search was conducted but Mr. Polston was not found. Ms. Zufari’s students were upset and did not feel comfortable being in the class. Ms. Zufari dismissed her class early at 20:07 hours.”

Polston has completely refuted these claims, however, offering video footage of his whereabouts — at a restaurant over a half-hour away from the school.

As for Rollins College, this isn’t the first time its officials have acted unfavorably toward Christian students.

In 2013, college officials kicked a Christian group off of campus for their conservative beliefs and threatened to pull funding from Christian student groups that would not allow non-Christian students to be in the club’s leadership. Later that year students were told that they could not hold private Bible studies in their dorm rooms, Fox News reported.

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College ‘diversity council’ posts FAKE racist flyers

original article: College ‘diversity council’ posts FAKE racist flyers
March 23, 2017 by Anthony Gockowski

  • The “Diversity Leadership Council” at Gustavus Adolphus College has admitted to posting racially offensive posters around campus after the school’s Bias Response Team received multiple reports on the matter.
  • The signs urge “all white Americans” to report “any and all illegal aliens” because “they are criminals,” saying “America is a white nation” and it is the “civic duty” of such Americans to turn in illegal immigrants.

The “Diversity Leadership Council” at Gustavus Adolphus College has admitted to posting racially offensive posters around campus after the school’s Bias Response Team received multiple reports on the matter.

The signs, which are now being labeled a social experiment, notified “all white Americans” to report “any and all illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement” because “they are criminals,” saying “America is a white nation” and it is the “civic duty” of such Americans to turn in illegal immigrants.

Many Gustavus students and alumni reacted angrily to the white nationalist signage, with some inquiring “what the fuck” in disbelief, others calling it “disgusting,” and one succinctly stating “Fuck. That.”

One alumna even posted on Facebook that her cousin had discovered the signs at Beck Academic Hall and reported it to the school’s Bias Response Team, remarking that “it isn’t much of a surprise something like this was posted” at that particular building.

She then goes on to urge alumni to express their disgust with professors they know who have class in Beck, and even asks faculty members to “take five minutes from tomorrow’s lesson plan to talk about how fucked up this is with their students.”

But the following day, March 21, that same alumna took to Facebook again to explain that a friend of hers, who had also filed a complaint with the school’s Bias Response Team, had received a response from Dean of Students Jones VanHecke explaining that the offensive flyers were actually “part of a series of educational ‘invisible theater’ events taking place this week that have been planned by I Am We Are theater troupe, the Diversity Leadership Team, and the Bystander Intervention Committee.”

“I cannot thank you enough for the action that you have taken by filing a report and making sure that the incident was brought to the attention of the college,” VanHecke continued, saying that taking action “as a bystander demonstrates that Gustavus students care about each other and their collegiate environment and are willing to take a stand against hate and bias.”

In response to the outrage over the flyers, the Diversity Leadership Council published a statement the night the posters surfaced admitting that members of the organization had “posted these signs” in “an effort to help educate [their] peers and campus community about issues of bias, and the importance of being an active bystander.

“We want to help put an end to bias-related incidents that happened on our campus, social media, and in our communities by forcing individuals to have dialogues about forms of hate and bias,” the statement continues. “We hope that members of the campus community will reflect on today’s events and join us in ensuring that no one student or group of students are ever a victim of this form of discrimination.”

[RELATED: College student lied about hate crimes by Trump supporters]

Many commenters, though, duly pointed out in response to the statement that the alleged social experiment likely caused more harm than good.

“Sometimes I walk around crowded theaters yelling ‘fire!’” one person commented sarcastically. “I do it because I want to create awareness; thus no punishment is warranted.”

“You hurt a lot of people, tarnished the college’s reputation, and will be losing alumni donations. I hope it was worth it,” one commenter remarked, while another noted that she found the tactic to be “wildly inappropriate,” saying that “as an alumni” she “won’t be donating…anytime soon.”

Campus Reform reached out to the Diversity Leadership Council’s faculty advisor, Kenneth Reid, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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Professor measures surprising bias in academia

original article: Professor makes shocking discovery while measuring anti-Christian and political bias in academia
March 22, 2017 by Billy Hallowell

Perhaps the greatest irony of our age is that colleges and universities — the very institutions that are intended to educate and intellectually challenge the masses — oft-times foster environments that are routinely accused of being patently one-sided and biased.

After all, college is intended to be an intensive time of self-exploration — one in which young people are theoretically opened up to the world around them, with diverse perspectives and experiences helping to shape their contextual understandings. Yet, in contrast, higher education today is often a breeding ground for exclusively progressive ideals and values that are masqueraded, paraded, and marketed to young minds as definitive, unadulterated truth, as I extensively document in my new book, “Fault Line: How a Seismic Shift in Culture Is Threatening Free Speech and Shaping the Next Generation.”

Unfortunately, young people are all too often fed this information from left-of-center professors who are injecting their worldview into the classroom with little regard for the need for divergent beliefs in the educational marketplace. Their ideals, presented as truth and many times so filtered that opposing views are either denigrated into silence or ignored entirely, are often pervasive and treated as gospel when in fact they’re nothing more than mere personal opinion.

Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with liberal professors being employed by colleges and universities; what is improper, however, is an environment in which young people are given an imbalanced perspective on key social, political, and international issues or one in which conservative professors are too afraid to share their views with colleagues for fear of reprisal.

Such imbalances create unaccommodating and uncomfortable environments for those who do not share left-of-center perspectives, though the more pervasive and concerning issue is the notion that young, impressionable minds are potentially robbed of the ability to make decisions for themselves, especially when they aren’t presented with a fair assessment of all the available and pertinent information.

Measuring bias

The problem with measuring bias in the classroom, of course, is the fact that so much of what is claimed to have happened is based on anecdotal examples, though such incidents certainly warrant attention and analysis. That said — in addition to statistics that prove that liberal professors far outpace conservative ones — there have been some successful methods used to measure academic bias.

In fact, University of North Texas professor George Yancey has been more than vocal about the overt bias that he sees inherent in university environments, diving deep into that paradigm in an interview for “Fault Line.”

On a broader level, Yancey rejected the claims of some in society who argue that, as a nominal majority, Christians can’t possibly be the victims of discrimination, saying that he has conducted research that proves that these individuals are flat wrong in advancing such contentions.

“I always preface this by saying, ‘I’m not saying that Christians are black. We’re not talking about Jim Crow,’” he told me. “There’s something to the fact that, at least in the past, Christians have been the majority — and maybe they still are in many ways today — but my research shows that if you are a conservative Protestant, you have a distinctive disadvantage going for a job in academia.”

Yancey’s research involved a survey based on a national sample in which he presented professors with 26 potential characteristics and asked how they would react if they found out that a job candidate possessed each descriptor or characteristic. His question essentially asked, “If you found this out about a person, would it make you more or less likely to hire them?”2

In the end, the professor said it became more than clear that the academics surveyed were “definitely less likely” to hire Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals — characteristics that garnered the most negative reactions, even outpacing conservative political persuasions.

“They were less willing to hire Republicans, for example, but that measure was at a much lower rate,” Yancey explained. “That’s why I say conservative Protestants are the ones that academics themselves will tell you, ‘Yes, I’m less likely to hire you if I find out that you’re a conservative Protestant.’” Half of them share this sentiment, as Yancey said. “About half. Obviously not all of them, but about half of them.”

Dire situation

It is those findings that lead Yancey to see roadblocks in academia for those who embrace conservatism and Protestantism, with the professor saying that other research conducted on the matter backs his theories. While some might scoff, Yancey offered up a powerful comparison to showcase the dire nature of the situation.

“If we had that sort of data on any other group—if we had that sort of data on Jews, that almost half of all academics are less likely to hire you if you’re Jewish, no one would argue that anti-Semitism is not costing Jews in the academic world,” he continued. “Really, there’s no real argument that anti-Christian bias is not costing at least conservative Protestants in the academia world.”

In the end, Yancey said that he was surprised by the results. He went into the survey assuming that he would uncover bias, though he initially predicted that it would be more prevalent on political indicators rather than religious. Clearly he was wrong.

With the aforementioned information in mind, it’s easy to see how Christianity, God, and conservative values have been marginalized — and hold the potential to continue to be marginalized — in today’s university system.

What kind of citizens do we want?

At the core of the discussion is an important question, though: If we truly want to raise freethinking citizens who are able to discern and make important life decisions, isn’t it essential that they have all of the available options before them so that they can make the most appropriate and reasonable choices?

This shouldn’t be a radical idea; in fact, it is one that many individuals — both liberal and conservative — have cited. Consider what progressive New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about this very issue in a May 2016 op-ed. To summarize, Kristof concluded that universities disregard “ideological and religious” diversity. Speaking of the ramifications for such a dynamic, he wrote, “The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians … but also the quality of education itself.”

Kristof pointed to a number of other important values, including the need for liberals to remain open and, thus, “true to their own values.” Additionally, he said a dearth in representation of conservatives and evangelicals negatively impacts the quality of education. With some perspectives not being present at the table, he warned classrooms can become echo chambers and that, in the end, everyone loses as a result.

The columnist went on to cite studies that he said showed clear disparities in professors’ ideological viewpoints, saying that some inquiries have found that just 6-11 percent of humanities professors self-identify as Republican, with just 7-9 percent saying the same in the social sciences. In that latter group, around 18 percent have called themselves Marxists — a fact that led Kristof to conclude that “it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.”

He also offered up a challenge to his fellow liberals: “Maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.”

The only question now is: Will they heed that advice?

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Educating people about religion by keeping them dumb

original article: CNN religion quiz needs to take Christianity seriously
March 19, 2017 by John Stonestreet

In what has become an annual tradition of television programming claiming to reveal the real Jesus of Nazareth, it seems that CNN is off to an early start. Every Easter season, cable networks fill their lineups with specials featuring biblical and historical experts who often represent only the skeptical side of the longstanding debate about the historical Jesus.

This year, CNN even preempted their special series, “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery,” with an even stronger than usual dose of their “we will tell you, especially you Christians, what Christianity really is…” attitude towards believers and matters of faith. At CNN.com, all are invited to take a ten-question online promotional quiz entitled, “Do you have faith in your knowledge of Christianity?”

Among the crucially important matters of faith revealed by this little test are what a commune in southwest France serves for the Easter meal, what household items believers in Norway hide from evil spirits, what objects are thrown to celebrate Fat Tuesday in the Belgian town of Binche, which African nation claims to have the Ark of the Covenant, and who the shortest reigning Pontiff was.

In a quiz claiming to test one’s knowledge of Christianity, there is sum total of one question about Jesus Christ (where did He walk on water?). Nothing is asked about Jesus’ birth, words, death or resurrection. There are no questions about the Christian understanding of truth, sin, or salvation. Nothing about Paul or Peter. Nothing about the afterlife. Nothing about the human condition.

In reality, the quiz reveals virtually nothing about one’s knowledge of Christianity. It does, however, reveal much about how CNN and so many secular elites view religion, and the blind spot that clouds their thinking:: that secularists are just as much people of faith as the faithful they hope to educate.

For secularists who tend to see religion as little more than a cultural artifact of a world fast slipping away, the sort of obscure questions asked in the CNN.com quiz makes sense. Religious truth claims, in this view, only reflect the irrational beliefs of people hanging onto traditions from a time before omniscient science and enlightened reason. Religion describes only what people believe and do. It does not, and cannot, describe the world as it is.

In a recent presentation to the employees at Google, Tim Keller of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church called this view of religion “simplistic and naive.” First, the world – when one looks outside of Europe and North America – is getting more, not less, religious. To suggest the opposite is a statement of cultural imperialism. Second, if secularists are right about God – that He doesn’t exist – then the universe and everything that exists, including our brains, resulted from natural, mindless processes. If this is really our story, than how can we substantiate our faith in human reason? Third, and this is critical, our faith in human reason is just that: faith. The statement that all things must be proven by reason to be true is an assumption we make that itself is not provable by reason. If embraced, it is taken by faith.

None of this is to say that secularism is false and Christianity is true. Both secularism and Christianity make claims about the world we live in, about human nature, and about God. Both secularists and Christians, as Keller went on to demonstrate, rely on reason and faith in investigating and offering explanations about the world we experience.

Too many brilliant people, after investigating Christian truth claims in light of their own existential struggles, have embraced faith for it to be cavalierly dismissed. Atheists like Anthony Flew, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and C.S. Lewis came to believe that the intricate design and stubborn persistence of moral norms we see in the universe were best explained by the existence of a Higher Power. Skeptics like Lee Strobel and Malcolm Muggeridge found that there was far more to this Jesus of Nazareth and the historical evidence of His resurrection than typically presented in the annual network specials.

Christianity, like all belief systems, certainly deserves to be investigated and scrutinized. No one settle for an unexamined faith. But, by all means, it deserves to be taken seriously.

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What does a progressive consider “righteous anger”?

Allison Stranger, the Middlebury College professor injured by protesters opposing Charles Murray’s appearance on campus, has something to say. The New York Times published her comments on the incident in an article titled Understanding the Angry Mob at Middlebury That Gave Me a Concussion.

Stranger has some straightforward and well justified criticism of the protesters, the extremely illiberal liberals supposedly fighting against hate (by using hate). And yet she also has an odd attitude about the whole thing. Stranger construes the hateful speech and hateful actions of the progressive protests as “righteous anger” and curiously proceeds to build a case showing the exact opposite.

Nearly half way into her article Stranger admits this “righteous anger” was in fact hate: “Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray…” She proceeds to describe what is unavoidably understood as intimidation and terrorism as she states “I feared for my life.”

The problems only continue to mount. Strange proceeds to describe how the well was poisoned long before Murray even showed up on campus.

Part of the problem was the furor that preceded the talk. This past month, as the campus uproar about Dr. Murray’s visit built, I was genuinely surprised and troubled to learn that some of my faculty colleagues had rendered judgment on Dr. Murray’s work and character without ever having read anything he has written.

Once the propaganda began, college progressives were simply uninterested in intellectual (or any other kind of) honesty.

Intelligent members of the Middlebury community — including some of my own students and advisees — concluded that Charles Murray was an anti-gay white nationalist from what they were hearing from one another, and what they read on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. Never mind that Dr. Murray supports same-sex marriage and is a member of the courageous “never Trump” wing of the Republican Party.

There is no excusing what happened at Middlebury, and those who prevented Charles Murray from speaking must be punished for violating college rules. But what the events at Middlebury made clear is that, regardless of political persuasion, Americans today are deeply susceptible to a renunciation of reason and celebration of ignorance. They know what they know without reading, discussing or engaging those who might disagree with them.

It’s true, as Stranger says, “People from both sides of the aisle reject calm logic, eager to embrace the alternative news that supports their prejudices” but we should note it is not the political right who is engaging in and celebrating violent protests: that is the hallmark of the modern political left.

Stranger honorably recommends “We must all be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger, or this pattern of miscommunication will continue on other college campuses.” But it would be good for her to take her own advice. Notice how she seems to have blindly embraced the anti-Trump narrative of the left.

Throughout an ugly campaign and into his presidency, President Trump has demonized Muslims as terrorists and dehumanized many groups of marginalized people. He declared the free press an enemy of the people…, and seems bent on dismantling the separation of powers and 230 years of progress this country has made toward a more perfect union. Much of the free speech he has inspired — or has refused to disavow — is ugly, and has already had ugly real-world consequences.

In an effort to “be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger” let’s take a closer look at Stranger’s allegations.

No one is claiming all Muslims are terrorists, while the vast majority of terrorist actions in the world today are in fact committed by Islamic extremists (or American progressives). To even acknowledge this plain fact garners the label “Islamophobic”. Why? Because over generalizing and making blanket accusations are fine if the target is Christianity or conservatism, but Islam is to be protected at all costs, even the cost of one’s own intellectual credibility.

Ignoring the influx of violent immigrants and imported gang violence (especially among states bordering Mexico) does no good for the American people despite the gains it provides to the political left vilifying those who acknowledge this. No one is claiming all immigrants are a danger. But pretending there is no danger is downright idiotic especially considering ISIS has bragged about infiltrating other countries with operatives posing as refugees (something that has actually happened).

The American “free press” has chosen sides in political conflict and it is absurd to deny this: it has been the case for decades. With very few exceptions they are an enemy of Trump and were nauseatingly fond (and protective) of Obama and Clinton (either of them). As a single piece of evidence: Stranger accuses Trump of being bent on dismantling the separation of powers and over two centuries of progress in the United States when that dishonor could easily be placed on Obama’s shoulders.

Also, it is common place for politicians to portray their agendas as the will of “the American people” so there no point in denying this when Trump brands the press as the enemy. It would be easier to reject his claims if the press weren’t so hell bent on pumping any and all criticisms and accusations Democrats throw at Trump when they worked so hard to refute or dismiss Obama’s critics.

And so what if a lot of the free speech of late has been ugly? Falsely accusing the political right of various forms of bigotry (something that has been done for decades) is also ugly, but that doesn’t stop the political left doing so. Stranger is doing that very thing even here in unquestioningly regurgitating the left’s narrative on Trump. Did you notice how Nazi comparisons were treated as distasteful when Obama was president but were perfectly fine when Bush was president, and are once again in vogue with president Trump?

Intentionally misconstruing the political right’s comments provides an excellent example for Stranger and the rest of the political left to “be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger”. With very few exceptions Stranger’s criticism of hate is an apt description of the common progressive, and even more apt of left wing activists. It looks like Jonathan Haidt is proven right once again.

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Middlebury showed us how colleges today punish blasphemy

original article: The Dangerous Safety of College
March 11, 2017 by Frank Bruni

The moral of the recent melee at Middlebury College, where students shouted down and chased away a controversial social scientist, isn’t just about free speech, though that’s the rubric under which the ugly incident has been tucked. It’s about emotional coddling. It’s about intellectual impoverishment.

Somewhere along the way, those young men and women — our future leaders, perhaps — got the idea that they should be able to purge their world of perspectives offensive to them. They came to believe that it’s morally dignified and politically constructive to scream rather than to reason, to hurl slurs in place of arguments.

They have been done a terrible disservice. All of us have, and we need to reacquaint ourselves with what education really means and what colleges do and don’t owe their charges.

Physical safety? Absolutely. A smooth, validating passage across the ocean of ideas? No. If anything, colleges owe students turbulence, because it’s from a contest of perspectives and an assault on presumptions that truth emerges — and, with it, true confidence.

What happened at Middlebury was this: A group of conservative students invited Charles Murray to speak, and administrators rightly consented to it. Although his latest writings about class divisions in America have been perceptive, even prescient, his 1994 book “The Bell Curve” trafficked in race-based theories of intelligence and was broadly (and, in my opinion, correctly) denounced. The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled him a white nationalist.

He arrived on campus wearing that tag, to encounter hundreds of protesters intent on registering their disgust. Many jammed the auditorium where he was supposed to be interviewed — by, mind you, a liberal professor — and stood with their backs to him. That much was fine, even commendable, but the protest didn’t stop there.

Chanting that Murray was “racist, sexist, anti-gay,” the students wouldn’t let him talk. And when he and the professor moved their planned interchange to a private room where it could be recorded on camera, protesters disrupted that, too, by pulling fire alarms and banging on windows. A subsequent confrontation between some of them and Murray grew physical enough that the professor with him sought medical treatment for a wrenched neck.

Middlebury isn’t every school, and only a small fraction of Middlebury students were involved. But we’d be foolish not to treat this as a wake-up call, because it’s of a piece with some of the extraordinary demands that students at other campuses have made, and it’s the fruit of a dangerous ideological conformity in too much of higher education.

It put me in mind of important remarks that the commentator Van Jones, a prominent Democrat, made just six days beforehand at the University of Chicago, where he upbraided students for insisting on being swaddled in Bubble Wrap.

“I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically,” he told them. “I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different. I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn how to deal with adversity.”

“You are creating a kind of liberalism that the minute it crosses the street into the real world is not just useless, but obnoxious and dangerous,” he added. “I want you to be offended every single day on this campus. I want you to be deeply aggrieved and offended and upset, and then to learn how to speak back. Because that is what we need from you.”

The liberalism that Jones was bemoaning is really illiberalism, inasmuch as it issues repressive rules about what people should be able to say and hear. It’s part of what some angry voters in 2016 were reacting to and rebelling against. And colleges promote it by failing to summon a rich spectrum of voices.

“Certain things are not to be discussed,” said John McWhorter, a Columbia University professor who teaches linguistics and philosophy, speaking of a rigid political correctness that transcends college campuses but that he is especially disturbed to see there. Campuses are supposed to be realms of bold inquiry and fearless debate.

Reflecting on Middlebury, he told me, “Anybody whose approach to ideas that they don’t like is just to scream bloody murder has been failed in their education.” It hasn’t taught them that history is messy, society complicated and truth elusive.

Protests aren’t the problem, not in and of themselves. They’re vital, and so is work to end racism, sexism, homophobia and other bigotry. But much of the policing of imperfect language, silencing of dissent and shaming of dissenters runs counter to that goal, alienating the very onlookers who need illumination.

It’s an approach less practical than passionate, less strategic than cathartic, and partly for that reason, both McWhorter and the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt have likened it to a religion.

“When something becomes a religion, we don’t choose the actions that are most likely to solve the problem,” said Haidt, the author of the 2012 best seller “The Righteous Mind” and a professor at New York University. “We do the things that are the most ritually satisfying.”

He added that what he saw in footage of the confrontation at Middlebury “was a modern-day auto-da-fé: the celebration of a religious rite by burning the blasphemer.”

The protesters didn’t use Murray’s presence as an occasion to hone the most eloquent, irrefutable retort to him. They swarmed and swore.

McWhorter recalled that back when “The Bell Curve” was published, there was disagreement about whether journalists should give it currency by paying it heed. But he said that it was because they engaged the material in detail, rather than just branding it sacrilegious, that he learned enough to conclude on his own that its assertions were wrong — and why.

Both he and Haidt belong to Heterodox Academy, a group of hundreds of professors who, in joining, have pledged to support a diversity of viewpoints at colleges and universities. It was founded in 2015. It’s distressing that there was — and is — even a need for it.

But according to an essay in Bloomberg View last week by Stephen Carter, a professor of law at Yale, the impulse to squelch upsetting words with “odious behavior” is so common “that it’s tempting to greet it with a shrug.”

“The downshouters will go on behaving deplorably,” Carter wrote, “and reminding the rest of us that the true harbinger of an authoritarian future lives not in the White House but in the groves of academe.”

I wouldn’t go that far. But I worry that in too many instances, the groves of academe are better at pumping their denizens full of an easy, intoxicating fervor than at preparing them for constructive engagement in a society that won’t echo their convictions the way their campuses do.

abuse, bias, bigotry, bullies, censorship, corruption, culture, Democrats, education, elitism, extremism, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, relativism, religion, scandal, tragedy

Filed under: abuse, bias, bigotry, bullies, censorship, corruption, culture, Democrats, education, elitism, extremism, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, relativism, religion, scandal, tragedy

University presidents more concerned with climate than free speech

original article: University presidents nationwide refuse to sign ‘Intellectual Freedom Commitment’
March 10, 2017 by NATHAN RUBBELKE

Zero presidents have signed it; all refuse

In November 2015, as racial protests engulfed the University of Missouri and students issued demands nationwide, Peter Wood thought the rocky campus landscape was ripe for higher education leaders to affirm their commitment to intellectual and academic freedom.

With that in mind, the prominent scholar penned a “College and University Presidents’ Intellectual Freedom Commitment.” However, campus leaders completely rejected it.

“Zero, absolutely zero” presidents have signed on, Wood said in an interview, but the president of the National Association of Scholars isn’t giving up on his mission.

Wood’s efforts initially began in the fall of 2015, as the Mizzou protests garnered national attention and ousted university leaders, spurring students nationwide to make demands at their respective campus.

At that time, Wood saw a number of conservative commentators responding with “very aggressive statements” about the need to preserve freedom of speech on campus. While he didn’t disagree with them, he thought “something a little bit more thought through about what kind of actions could and should be taken to preserve the intellectual freedom” might be needed.

MORE: It might be time to defund colleges that suppress free speech, scholar writes

Wood initially published in January 2016 a 30-page document entitled “The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom.” He shared it with several thousand university presidents and trustees, but received little feedback.

“It certainly did not hit home,” Wood said.

That led Wood to develop the “College and University Presidents’ Intellectual Freedom Commitment,” a single-page, 340-word document he describes as less historical and philosophical and more of a “definite pledge.”

The document states “that intellectual freedom is the foundation of higher education.” It calls in part for the protection in academia to raise questions, analyze claims, express doubts and to argue for and against conclusions.

The commitment acknowledges intellectual freedom often results in controversies and public scrutiny.

“With that in mind we believe it is important from time to time for the leaders of colleges and universities to affirm strongly the principle of intellectual freedom,” it reads.

College and University Presidents’ Academic Freedom Commitment by The College Fix on Scribd

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/341416284/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-LbyqKpDThhST7eAmM6jh&show_recommendations=true

The model for enlisting higher education leaders to sign on to such a cause comes from the progressive left, Wood said.

He pointed to the success of the “American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” which was brought forth by a dozen college leaders in 2006. The group worked with climate advocacy groups like Second Nature, ecoAmerica and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to push the pledge forward. By the end of 2007, the commitment had more than 300 signatures and eventually more than 650 institutions committed to it.

Wood hoped to have the same success. He reached out to university presidents one by one. Could he enlist campus leaders?

“The answer is a big flat no. I can’t,” he said.

Wood said it appears college and university presidents have moved so steadfastly to the left that they’re “much more interested in mounting the resistance to the rule of law and to President Trump than they are in protecting the rights of their own students and faculty members.”

However, that’s the negative way to look at the lack of signatories.

“The positive way is that the time has not yet come when they are really ready to commit themselves to this,” he said.

However, the fight for intellectual freedom on college campuses hasn’t stopped with Wood. It’s expanded outside academia. Wood pointed to model campus free speech legislationdeveloped by the Goldwater Institute and Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Additionally Wood and his organization, the National Association of Scholars, are working on proposed changes to the federal Higher Education Act.

MORE: Public colleges that threaten free expression would face steep penalties under model bill

However, Wood isn’t giving up on his intellectual freedom pledge. The potential legislation might spurn campus leaders to act on their own.

“As they begin to notice that their states and federal government are about to move into this territory, they may well begin to think that voluntary and self-regulation might not be a bad idea and could stave off these external authorities,” Wood said.

He also noted that recent riots at UC Berkeley over the appearance of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos “revived public interest in the topic and that opens up another chance.”

Wood isn’t discouraged by the original lack of response.

“I expect that everyone of these fights is going to be hard and I understand that higher education is now pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of the progressive left,” he said.

While there are conservative scholars and conservative institutions, Wood said it doesn’t particularly help him in getting them aboard given they’re a small demographic ignored by the mainstream.

It’s the larger demographic Wood wants to reach.

bias, censorship, culture, diversity, education, free speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, reform, scandal

“My hope is to make this a mainstream thing,” he said.

Filed under: bias, censorship, culture, diversity, education, free speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, reform, scandal

Was I raped?

original article: How colleges muddy the waters on sexual-assault accusations
March 6, 2017 by Naomi Schaefer Riley

“Was I raped?” This is the question Yale sophomore Ayla Besemer spends several thousand words exploring in a recent issue of her school’s newspaper.

The story: Besemer got very drunk one night during her freshman year. She brought home a guy she knew but doesn’t remember anything that happened next. She woke up with a bruise on her thigh and a used condom on her floor. Yale requires an “affirmative consent” for sexual activity to be considered truly consensual, but Besemer acknowledges she may well have said yes. She blacked out, meaning she might still have been “fully operational — talking, laughing, drinking more and, indeed, having sex as if [she were only] minimally drunk.”

There are clearly some women out there who are deeply confused about what it means to be raped, and they are, in many cases, being misled by the adults around them.

As Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson document in their new book, “The Campus Rape Frenzy,” the Title IX coordinators, whose jobs on campus often involve digging up rape allegations or helping to gather evidence to adjudicate them, encourage young, impressionable women to call every incident of regrettable drunken sex “rape.”

But it would be wrong to suggest that these women are all just confused about sex and sexual assault. Many of them know perfectly well what they have done and are using the system to make excuses for their behavior or even to manipulate the men around them.

Take Nikki Yovino, the 18-year-old Sacred Heart University student who has been charged with falsely claiming she was sexually assaulted by two football players because she didn’t want to lose the interest of another guy. Yovino is a reminder that even in our age of gender enlightenment, women know enough about human nature to get what they want from men.

That was certainly the conclusion from the elaborate hoax perpetrated by “Jackie” at the University of Virginia a couple of years ago. She not only made up a rape allegation, she made up the assailant in order to get another guy jealous.

Columbia graduate Emma Sulkowicz, a k a “Mattress Girl,” accused a fellow student of rape. But the school exonerated him and Sulkowicz declined to press charges. She managed to turn herself into a celebrity and even get course credit in performance art for carrying a mattress around campus. (All while the accusations were destroying the life of the guy who claims she was attacking him after he rebuffed her professed love for him.)

In a case at Appalachian State University, a woman accused two football players of rape even though witnesses saw her inviting them into her room. At Amherst, a woman actually texted a residential adviser about her “stupid” decision to have sex with her roommate’s boyfriend before she accused him of rape. The student was expelled, but is suing Amherst for violating his rights. Last month, a judge seemed sympathetic to his claim against the school.

And then there are the times that seem a bit more clear-cut. A University of Michigan student, for example, allegedly used a rape accusation to explain certain things to her mother, who was upset after reading diary entries about her daughter’s wild life on campus.

Women actually used to employ such tactics more regularly. A pregnancy was not so easily avoided, ended or hidden. And, well, folks used to be bigger sticklers for marital fidelity. So having sex with the wrong guy meant women had some explaining to do.

But these days, the reasons for falsely claiming rape have much more to do with the campus soap opera and the sexual politics of one’s peer group than any concern that families will disown you or church communities will banish you.

And the false claims — both on campus and off — are much more prevalent than the media would have you believe. A 2012 Urban Institute report found that of 227 men convicted of rape, 15 percent of them could be eliminated by DNA evidence alone. A study of 351 cases in a Southeastern police department found that 17 percent of the allegations were fabricated and another 66 percent were uncertain.

Though we may not always treat them as such, female college students are adults. It’s true that in many cases, bureaucrats have manipulated them into believing that they were raped when by any reasonable standard, they weren’t. Besemer’s counselor and Yale’s Title IX coordinator told her that her experience could definitely be considered assault.

But we also shouldn’t discount the notion that many of these women knew exactly what they were doing. When you decide to ruin a man’s life and reputation in order to cover up your own mistakes or get what you want from others, you’re not a victim — you’re a sociopath.

abuse, bias, bureaucracy, corruption, criminal, culture, education, elitism, ethics, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, scandal, sex, victimization

Filed under: abuse, bias, bureaucracy, corruption, criminal, culture, education, elitism, ethics, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, scandal, sex, victimization

White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority

original article: The Exhaustion of American Liberalism
March 5, 2017 by SHELBY STEELE

The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trump presidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos. Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy—hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism.

All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?

America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.

White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.

When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, good liberals both, pursued power by offering their candidacies as opportunities for Americans to document their innocence of the nation’s past. “I had to vote for Obama,” a rock-ribbed Republican said to me. “I couldn’t tell my grandson that I didn’t vote for the first black president.”

For this man liberalism was a moral vaccine that immunized him against stigmatization. For Mr. Obama it was raw political power in the real world, enough to lift him—unknown and untested—into the presidency. But for Mrs. Clinton, liberalism was not enough. The white guilt that lifted Mr. Obama did not carry her into office—even though her opponent was soundly stigmatized as an iconic racist and sexist.

Perhaps the Obama presidency was the culmination of the age of white guilt, so that this guiltiness has entered its denouement. There are so many public moments now in which liberalism’s old weapon of stigmatization shoots blanks—Elizabeth Warren in the Senate reading a 30-year-old letter by Coretta Scott King, hoping to stop Jeff Sessions’s appointment as attorney general. There it was with deadly predictability: a white liberal stealing moral authority from a black heroine in order to stigmatize a white male as racist. When Ms. Warren was finally told to sit, there was real mortification behind her glaring eyes.

This liberalism evolved within a society shamed by its past. But that shame has weakened now. Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all—liberal and conservative alike—know that he isn’t one. The jig is up. Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face. I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door. It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.

This is the reality that made Ms. Warren’s attack on Mr. Sessions so tiresome. And it is what caused so many Democrats at President Trump’s address to Congress to look a little mortified, defiantly proud but dark with doubt. The sight of them was a profound moment in American political history.

Today’s liberalism is an anachronism. It has no understanding, really, of what poverty is and how it has to be overcome. It has no grip whatever on what American exceptionalism is and what it means at home and especially abroad. Instead it remains defined by an America of 1965—an America newly opening itself to its sins, an America of genuine goodwill, yet lacking in self-knowledge.

This liberalism came into being not as an ideology but as an identity. It offered Americans moral esteem against the specter of American shame. This made for a liberalism devoted to the idea of American shamefulness. Without an ugly America to loathe, there is no automatic esteem to receive. Thus liberalism’s unrelenting current of anti-Americanism.

Let’s stipulate that, given our history, this liberalism is understandable. But American liberalism never acknowledged that it was about white esteem rather than minority accomplishment. Four thousand shootings in Chicago last year, and the mayor announces that his will be a sanctuary city. This is moral esteem over reality; the self-congratulation of idealism. Liberalism is exhausted because it has become a corruption.

american, bias, bigotry, corruption, culture, Democrats, discrimination, diversity, extremism, government, history, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, racism, relativism, unintended consequences

Filed under: american, bias, bigotry, corruption, culture, Democrats, discrimination, diversity, extremism, government, history, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, racism, relativism, unintended consequences

Is The Humanist Christophobic?

Let me begin with a hypothetical which I will tie into a real world scenario.

Imagine a Muslim publisher produces a graphic novel of the Holy Quran. And imagine a Christian organization reviews that graphic novel. They make the token compliments about art quality but criticize the content of that novel, arguing it is “rigged” against a Jewish or Christian reading. The main point of this hypothetical criticism is that the novel is written from an exclusively Muslim perspective.

At first glance you might wonder “why wouldn’t they?” Why wouldn’t the Muslim publisher present their own view of their own holy book? But common sense would get the better of you and you’d ask “why shouldn’t they?” After all, it’s their publication of their holy book, why shouldn’t they be able to cast it from their own perspective? Shouldn’t tolerance and plurality allow for a religious group to express their own views about their own sacred writings, especially when they are trying to share those views with outsiders?

Now for the real story.

Kingstone is a publishing company owned by an evangelical Christian pastor. The company’s website openly acknowledges its owner’s religious leanings. The Kingtone Bible, a 2000 page graphic novel of the Holy Bible, is the company’s flagship product. So let’s summarize the situation: a Christian publishing company produces a graphic novel of the Christian holy book, from a Christian perspective. An atheist organization, The Humanist, published a review of The Kingstone Bible written by Fred Edwords. Edwords makes token compliments about art quality but his main beef with the graphic novel is, well you can already guess. So let’s take a closer look.

Edwords’ first swipe at the work implies presenting the bible “seen through an evangelical Christian lens” is somehow a problem. In the next sentence he calls this “bias”.

It’s true that The Kingstone Bible isn’t strictly word for word. Edwords continues:

This isn’t strictly biblical; it’s a clarification of Christian doctrine. Thus, right out of the box the game is rigged against any Jewish, Muslim, or secular reading of what originated as Jewish scripture.

Keep in mind the graphic novel is about the Holy Bible, not the Tanakh, not the Quran. Now, if the novel purported to be about all three of these holy books I could understand criticizing it for adopting an exclusively Christian perspective. But it doesn’t purport to be religiously neutral. So I’m having trouble understanding the demand that The Kingstone Bible should have been told from a more religiously neutral perspective.

Besides, a typical secular idea is that all religions are basically the same and are equally valid. So if all religions are basically the same, what’s the problem in offering a religious product from only one religious tradition? Evidently, when an exclusively Christian perspective is offered suddenly our secular society remembers all religions are in fact not the same.

Another criticism Edwords offers which I may be inclined to agree with is the seeming whitewashing of “certain biblical horrors”. But keep in mind, in our current politically charged environment when anyone (not only Christians) speaks of certain Quranic horrors we are sure to hear accusations of Islamophobia. That’s a very common reaction I see when anyone even acknowledges modern violent horrors committed in the name of Islam. Whitewashing Islamic extremism is the status quo of our day so we really have no reason to objurgate any other religion for doing the same with their own history.

Some other criticisms Edwords has for the graphic novel are I think well made, such as some newly invented details about specific scenes not mentioned in the Bible. But other criticisms seem to me rather petty and even Christophobic. I really don’t understand why a Christian group should be knocked for “Christian evangelizing” especially considering Edwords’ review of The Kingstone Bible reads like an effort at atheist evangelizing.

Edwords’ closing paragraph I think demonstrates his own secular bias best. He ends with another swipe at the credibility of the bible and of Christianity in saying “if you have friends who believe in the Bible while never having really read it, this could be the perfect gift for waking them up to its true mythical nature.” Sadly that is a common thing, but it’s also very common to find atheists who take pleasure in criticizing religion in general (or Christianity in particular) who’ve never really read those religious texts either. Reading the bible only once isn’t much better, as the pretense of having infallible comprehension is also a common intellectually dishonest problem among skeptics. Add on top of that the innumerable critics of Christianity who have studied the bible, at least in part, yet have done so from an overtly hostile stand point pretending to be objective and we have the workings of a general disingenuous attitude among the skeptics could possibly benefit from an effort to challenge their views. After all, it’s remarkably difficult to find an atheist who has bothered to question their own doubt.

Considering the article altogether I could just as well criticize Edwords and The Humanist for producing a solidly secular review of The Kingstone Bible written from their decidedly atheistic perspective. But it’s an atheistic organization, so why wouldn’t they?

anti-religion, bias, culture, diversity, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, opinion, philosophy, relativism, religion

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