Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Students instructed to write essay on 9/11 from terrorists’ perspective

original article: Students instructed to write essay on 9/11 from terrorists’ perspective
March 27, 2017 by NATHAN RUBBELKE

A recent assignment in an international studies course at Iowa State University asked students to write a historical account of the 9/11 terrorist attacks from the perspective of Al-Qaeda.

“Write a paper that gives a historical account of 911 from the perspective of the terrorist network. In other words, how might Al-Qaeda or a non-Western historian describe what happened,” stated the assignment, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.

“Don’t worry about the fact you don’t agree with the terrorists, the point of the exercise is to consider completely different perspectives,” the assignment adds.

A university spokesman told The Fix the assignment doesn’t diminish the “tragic events” of 9/11 and equates the essay prompt to work undertaken by America’s diplomatic and intelligence agencies.


The assignment is part of an International Studies course taught by lecturer James Strohman, who’s taught multiple political science and public administration courses at Iowa State over the years.

The assignment aimed to view history from “different contexts.”

“Let’s focus on the 911 terrorist attack and how it might be interpreted differently by different people around the world,” the instructions read. “For this exercise, you have to ‘get out of the box’ of our thinking about what happened on 911 and view it from a completely different perspective.”

The assignment tells students this may be difficult to do, but that it’s an exercise examining the differences of people, cultures and historical perspectives.

Students were encouraged to use their imagination and make their papers as interesting as they’d like in the 500-word minimum assignment, and that there’s no correct answer, “just your ability to look at what we consider a heinous action from other perspectives.”

Strohman, a Democrat, former member of the Story County Board of Supervisors, and current member of the Iowa Employment Appeal Board, did not respond to The College Fix’s requests to discuss the pedagogical reasoning behind the assignment.

A university spokesman provided a statement on his behalf.

“As you can see, the assignment was in no way an attempt to diminish the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Nor was it designed to support the goals of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations,” said Rob Schweers, ISU’s director of communications, in an email to The College Fix.

Schweers added the assignment is simply an exercise in expanding critical thinking skills and analyzing international events through a “different lens.”

“This is similar to the vital work being performed in our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence operations, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, or the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research,” he said.

According to the course’s syllabus, the goals of the class include teaching students about globalization and “to develop a basic understanding of broad contemporary themes of the world. Among these are issues involving the environment, economies, technology, communication, socio-cultural change and conflict.”

MORE: College students taught America created ISIS, war on terror worse than 9/11

MORE: UNC’s ‘Literature of 9/11’ course sympathizes with terrorists, paints U.S. as imperialistic

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Liberal Fascism Is What Happens Once People Think God Is Dead

original article: Liberal Fascism Is What Happens Once People Think God Is Dead
March 27, 2017 by Sethu A. Iyer

Before the recent presidential election, I did not think of myself as a conservative. But after seeing the Left’s unhinged reaction, I realized I was definitely anti-progressive. My own studies and reflections had left me well-equipped to spot a religious cult when I saw one, and I had no doubt that progressives are just such a thing.

The content of every religious mind may be different, but the structure of religious thinking is always the same. Here are a few ways progressives have filled traditional categories for themselves:

God: History—they think they’re on the “right” side of it.
Dogmas: identity politics; there are more than two genders, et cetera.
Apocalyptic prophecy: climate change.
Inquisition: political correctness.
Antichrist: Donald Trump, who is taken to be evil by definition.
Excommunication: disagree, and you will be cut off forever.

Clearly, there is nothing secular about progressivism. Look under the veneer of pseudo-scientific language, and you’re left staring at a fanatically religious mindset. How did we get here?

The So-Called Death of God

The last couple centuries of the Western world have witnessed the decline of old-fashioned religion. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, in his work “The Gay Science” (gay as in happy, not homosexual), saw this and infamously proclaimed “God is dead.” It is often forgotten that he also added, “For we have killed him.” The main point was that the traditional idea of God had ceased to play a central role in both people’s minds and the structures of modern society.

Of course, Nietzsche’s proclamation is primarily figurative. If there is a God, then he did not just drop down dead sometime in the 1800s. Likewise, even for a believer today, God is still alive and well. The accurate fact contained in Nietzsche’s statement, though, is that Western culture as a whole was going through a sea change.

But the human soul may not be as malleable as a lot of people these days are given to think. If God lived within the soul until the day before yesterday, then it stands to reason that he left an empty space when he went away. This has consequences. To paraphrase the late and great David Foster Wallace: everyone worships; it is not a question of whether, but rather a question of what. If a person doesn’t know what he worships—if he believes that God is dead, and that’s the end of the story—then he will just become very susceptible to getting driven from behind his back by impulses he can never understand.

In a way, people can’t live without their gods. If they abandon one god, they merely move on to another, even if surreptitiously. This helps explain the religious drive at the bottom of progressivism. Moreover, I would suggest that after giving up on a god of truth, the progressives, with a kind of tragic inevitability, moved toward a god of power, whose altar at which they now worship.

The Grand Inquisitor

It may well be appropriate to grant Fyodor Dostoevsky the title of prophet. In the chapter of his masterwork, “The Brothers Karamazov,” known as “The Grand Inquisitor,” he explains exactly what’s going on here. In this story, the Inquisitor and his church have established a society that has reduced the vast majority of folk to a state of sheep-like serfdom. The Inquisitor believes this has been done for the people’s own good: he thinks they cannot handle liberty, and are so much happier being treated like children, never having to make one real decision.

Then in walks a figure who seems to be Christ returned. The Inquisitor has him arrested, then proceeds to interrogate him in private. During the entire encounter, Christ doesn’t say a single word. He merely looks on with compassion, as the Inquisitor raves about why abolishing freedom was the right thing to do. This is perhaps the most memorable passage that departs from the Inquisitor’s lips:

“You did not want to enslave man by a miracle and thirsted for faith that is free, not miraculous. You thirsted for love that is free, and not for the servile raptures of a slave    before a power that has left him permanently terrified. . . . Respecting him less, you          would have demanded less of him, and that would be closer to love, for his burden would be lighter. He is weak and mean.”

With these words, the Inquisitor reveals what his church’s dark game is really about. He says they’re moved by love for the common man, whereas they are in reality moved by contempt for the common man. He says they are acting in the name of truth, when they are in fact acting only in the name of power. In short, the Inquisitor and his church had accepted the third temptation of Christ in the desert: when the Devil said Christ could rule all the kingdoms of the world, if only he would fall down and worship the Devil.

Fascism and Romance

The god of truth is not the same as the gods of power. When the god of truth takes his leave, man will almost necessarily try to fill this hole in his soul with a god of power. Just about every decent person knows there’s something wrong with this world. But there are two fundamentally different ideas of how to actually make change happen. The first can be called fascism, and the second can be called romance.

As Jonah Goldberg ofNational Review has made clear, progressives have spiritually and historically always had a deep affinity with fascism. (This is fascism meant in a literal way: an actual ideological mindset, not just a vague slur against things we don’t like.) The original fascist fallacy consists of loving ideas more than people: real persons, in all their messiness, folly, sin, and freedom. Fascism is always about using power—of the state, or coercion more generally—to control people, change what they are, make them new. The one concept that never enters this picture is the primordial freedom of the individual.

It’s the exact opposite with romance. By romance, I mean a focus on the actual, living person, in all his or her sadness and confusion and beauty and glory. Friendship and romantic love are the main avenues through which most folk learn to see things in this way: a way that is ultimately rooted, in my view, in the vision of the Lord himself as a specific, individual man. When you see the intrinsic value of every individual person, whole categories of action become no longer possible. That includes the entire fascist approach to the transformation of the world.

At the end of “The Grand Inquisitor,” Christ still says nothing. He merely gives the Inquisitor a Russian kiss, and the Inquisitor breaks down. He tells Christ to leave, leave, and never show his face there again. The Inquisitor knows he has been defeated by a power greater than himself. He knows that for all his pretty words, he actually doesn’t care about people at all. He actually hates real persons, just as Christ loved them. Christ wanted true freedom for all, because that’s the only revolution that will ever really matter.

So Here We Are

You don’t need to call the god of truth by any one name in order to understand that truth and power are at odds with each other. Inquisitor versus Christ is one poetically powerful way to see the matter; but call it what you will, the conflict still exists.

The original fascist fallacy consists of loving ideas more than people.

Progressives have clearly fallen for what Goldberg has identified as the totalitarian temptation—the desire to remake the world through the fiat of raw power, as opposed to doing what it takes to awaken real living freedom within human souls. They have gone for fascism over romance. Insofar as America is an essentially romantic nation, this also means they have bet against the American spirit.

They have done this because they have tried, badly, to fill the god-shaped hole within their souls. Every man worships, even if he doesn’t know what. The progressives have thrown their lots in with the gods of power. Instead of believing in Christ and his vision, they have aligned themselves with the Inquisitor. Human nature says this is exactly what will happen when people have convinced themselves that the Lord of Truth is dead.

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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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How Intellectuals Cover for Evil

original article: How Intellectuals Cover for Evil: Deconstruction
March 18, 2017 by Thomas McArdle

Alongside its unprecedented mass violence, the 20th century saw the rise and reign of the secular intellectual as false prophet and would-be führer. For such men, as historian Paul Johnson wrote:

The collective wisdom of the past, the legacy of tradition, the prescriptive codes of ancestral experience existed to be selectively followed or wholly rejected entirely as his own good sense might decide.

Enter the villain of Stream columnist Jonathan Leaf’s powerful new play, Deconstruction, running through March 25 at the Theatre at Grand Hall (St. Mary’s Parish), 440 Grand Street, New York, N.Y., produced by Storm Theatre.

The Antwerp-born Paul de Man came to America after the Second World War and Blitzkrieged the study of literature by pioneering the postmodern theory of deconstruction — which, among other things, put morally-relativistic modern man in the place of a murdered God.

Pretending to be a Hero of the Anti-Nazi Resistance

De Man ultimately reached the zenith of academic prestige at Yale, becoming the single most influential literary critic in America — whose theories still deeply influence English classes at colleges today. But at the outset of Deconstruction, it’s summer 1949. He holds a menial job at a Grand Central bookshop, and finds himself the pitied guest of Catholic-turned-Marxist novelist and critic Mary McCarthy in her Rhode Island beach cottage.

Leaf’s drama speculates about the two married academics’ rumored affair.  McCarthy would secure de Man his first academic post at New York’s Bard College, an hour’s drive north of Vassar, where she was teaching. De Man doesn’t quite seduce McCarthy; it’s mutual. As she later admits, “anyone who strokes my ego after a few drinks too often can stroke other places.” He compliments her literary talent. She praises his conversational cleverness, and his brave service in the Belgian Resistance – except that, as we discover, the latter was a lie. Quite the contrary.

Deconstruction 2

Jed Peterson as de Man is a fascinating near-reincarnation of Paul Henreid playing the sly, covert Nazi in Carol Reed’s 1940 thriller Night Train To Munich. De Man apes sincerity quite effectively, as he professes shame for seducing other women, then dwells on his tragic youth. At 17, he found his mother hanged on the anniversary of his brother being struck dead by a train. Yet soon after telling the tale, he does indeed lead McCarthy to bed.

In Leaf’s telling, McCarthy would eventually find herself expecting de Man’s child, leaving her third and current husband to think the child is his. After her miscarriage it would be her husband, not de Man, at her side. De Man would by this time be busy with a 21-year-old Bard student whom he had also impregnated.

No, de Man had not fought in the Resistance. In fact, he had served the Nazis.

Inventing New Forms of Relativism to Explain Away His Crimes

But this is the tip of the iceberg. No, de Man had not fought in the Resistance. In fact, he had served the Nazis. Some four years after de Man’s 1983 death, a Belgian scholar would discover more than 100 pro-Nazi articles de Man had published under his own byline in occupied Belgium during the war in the country’s leading newspaper, Le Soir. In one, he recommended a forced exodus of the Jews, remarking that Europe “would lose, in all, a few personalities of mediocre value” then continue in greatness.

Le_SoirDe Man’s legion of deconstruction disciples would proclaim the revelations overblown. Literary scholar James Atlas noted in the New York Times in 1988, while the truth about de Man was still hitting the fan, that de Man’s Yale colleague Geoffrey Hartman minimized de Man’s offenses because they “didn’t begin to compare with the ‘vulgar anti-Semitic writing’ in other newspapers of the day.”

De Man would quit the pro-Nazi paper, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Two months after de Man’s departure Le Soir’s other literary critic was assassinated by the Resistance for being a Nazi collaborator.

Interrogated by Hannah Arendt

The play twists the knife when Leaf’s last character arrives — McCarthy’s friend, political theorist Hannah Arendt. A German Jew who grew up in Koenigsberg, she’d escaped death in the Holocaust thanks to falsified papers from a U.S. diplomat. To an audience, Karoline Fischer’s stern, straight-talking Arendt may be the least enchanting of the three characters, but that suits her harsh message of truth.

“That I managed to get out of Germany, then out of a detention camp — it’s because I’m not cowed. By anyone.” So she informs de Man in an unwelcome visit to his Bard office. “I want to know: who are you?”

But this far-and-away more honest intellectual already knows, having “made some inquiries in Belgium.”

“Tell me, did you deliver bombs for the Resistance? Is that true or a lie?” Arendt demands of de Man.

“If we cannot prove God’s existence or the moral laws taken from antiquity, then what place is there for traditional morality?”

His blood-curdling response: “As a student of Heidegger, you of all people should know that the notion of objective truth is a philosophical concept. An abstraction. Neither more, nor less.”

“What Is Truth?”

De Man was taunting Arendt, aware that she’d once been both Heidegger’s student and his lover. (Heidegger’s blatant, public support for the Nazis even after the war has since dimmed his intellectual star a little.)

If there is no real truth, then why be good? Or, as de Man earlier asked McCarthy, “If we cannot prove God’s existence or the moral laws taken from antiquity, then what place is there for traditional morality? You do see the logic at least?”

The logic she sees – indeed keenly feels – is the soul-destroying vacuum of love and beauty that de Man leaves in his wake. As Mary McCarthy, Fleur Alys Dobbins, in the performance of the night, shifts jarringly from a feathery hedonism to ravaged victimhood.

“You know, Paul, I spent hours thinking of baby names, painting the child’s room different colors in my mind. Wondering: a girl or a boy, which would you like?” she cries in her pain. When de Man claims, “I’m ashamed,” Arendt counters, “You have no shame,” then reveals, “one of the inquiries I made told me something that didn’t entirely surprise me: you wrote for a Nazi newspaper.”

The real difference between de Man and McCarthy?  She admits, “I know I’m a fraud,” but “I want to be good.”

The year he died, de Man would write, “’I am not given to retrospective self-examination, and mercifully forget what I have written with the same alacrity I forget bad movies … although, as with bad movies, certain scenes or phrases return at times to embarrass and haunt me like a guilty conscience.” Atlas noted that, writing on Rousseau, de Man had even claimed we can never distinguish between “fictional discourse and empirical event,” which “makes it possible to excuse the bleakest of crimes.”

Leaf’s deconstruction of the de Man myth ends with McCarthy (“some Marxist, I am!”) repeating aloud a prayer to the Virgin Mary. In the words of Whittaker Chambers, the Communist spy who turned Christian, Deconstruction’s audience discovers that “man without mysticism is a monster.”

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A social justice without coersion

original article: Conservatives Do Believe in Social Justice. Here’s What Our Vision Looks Like
March 17, 2017 by Ryan T. Anderson

Last month, America lost a great defender of freedom, Michael Novak.

Novak was committed to rightly ordered liberty and cared deeply about the principles and practices that produce it. His enormous body of work emphasized the cultural prerequisites for political and economic freedom, as he stressed that economic conservativism and social conservatism are indivisible.

In the words of Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner, “Michael forced those of us trained in the dismal science of economics to explain that we should be more than ‘free to choose’—rather we should be free to make good free choices.”

Last year, I was the recipient of the Acton Institute’s Michael Novak Award for “outstanding scholarly research concerning the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society.” Upon receiving it, I delivered the annual Calihan Lecture in London, England, at a conference on “The Crisis of Liberty in the West.”

The first half of the lecture discussed challenges to freedom in terms of bad intellectual defenses of economic freedom, collapsing communities, and cronyism. The second half discussed a natural law account of economic freedom, a natural law account of social justice, and some concluding thoughts about anthropology and virtue.

>>>Read the full lecture.

Part of the argument that I advance in the lecture is that economic freedom is meant to give us the space to fulfill our economic duties, the duty to work to support our families, the duty to work hard and be a good employee so as not to waste our talents or our employer’s time and money, the duty to serve our customers, and the duty to serve our communities.

Economic freedom was to allow people the space to fulfill these duties. So rightly understood, social justice is about fulfilling our duties to the various societies of which we are a part, and it is about the state respecting the authority of the many societies that make up civil society.

Take, for example, the society known as the family.

The family is a natural society with its own nature and integrity. Because of the natural reality of the family, we have certain obligations.

If you are a husband or a wife, you have certain duties to your spouse. If you are a parent, you have certain duties to your children, regardless of whether or not you ever chose them. And children, not Social Security administrators, have duties to their parents, especially as they age.

It is the natural reality of father and child, mother and child, that creates the relationship of authority and responsibility.

This places limits on what the government can do. The government is not free to recreate the family. The government is not free to usurp the authority of parents over the education of their children or adult children over the care of their elderly parents.

The same is true for religious organizations, especially if you believe that your church has a divine origin and a divine creation. This means government is not at liberty to recreate your church, to recreate its authority structure, or to recreate its teaching authority—that your church is something that is entrusted with a stewardship.

As a result, the nature of religious authority places limits on political authority and places duties upon members of the church.

The State and Social Justice

None of this, however, says that the state has no role to play in economic justice, just that it must respect the proper authority of society—a society of societies—as it does so. And this means that it must also respect the proper authority of economic societies—employees and employers, consumers and producers.

But while respecting their authority and the markets that allow them to interact and fulfill their duties, government can perform certain welfare activities, as Friedrich Hayek taught us, without distorting market signals and processes.

Insofar as government programs are intended to ameliorate the forces of globalization and new technologies distort markets, they are likely to simply make matters worse by prolonging the dying process of outdated industries and preventing the necessary transitions.

What a natural law account of social justice would suggest are policies that would empower more people to engage for themselves in the market and flourish.

I can illustrate this with some examples.

Consider education. Some “taxation is theft” libertarians say children should receive whatever education their parents, extended families, and charities can provide and that there is no role for government to play. Liberals say the education of children is a matter of public concern, and thus government should run schools and most children must attend them.

Conservatives have traditionally said, yes, education is a matter of public concern, but justice requires us to respect the authority of parents, and whatever assistance we provide must empower, not replace, them.

Hence conservative support for school choice: vouchers, education savings accounts, and charter schools—programs that help all students get the best education they can without giving the government an unhealthy monopoly on schools.

The same is true for health care.

Consider the standard false dichotomy: If taxation is theft, then we should just leave health care to the market and charities; if health care is a matter of public concern, then government should run it and finance it—the typical libertarian and liberal pitfalls.

The conservative alternative has been to create markets in health care while empowering patients to choose, whether through premium support, health care vouchers, tax credits, or what have you.

The details of the policy need not bog us down. The concept is what matters. We need to make markets work better and work for more people by empowering more people to be market actors—empower more people to take control of their own lives and flourish.

Formulating Policy

So now the question is what can be done for working-class families, especially for workers who find their skills less and less marketable in ever-changing markets because of the forces of globalization and new technology.

We need to think about the justice in the distribution of costs and benefits of the creative destruction of free trade and globalization and how best to smooth out the rough patches. We need to think through the appropriate roles of various institutions:

  • What does justice require of families and churches, of workers and business owners, of civil society and charitable organizations, of local and national governments?
  • What rights and duties do these various individuals and societies have?

In a certain sense, the economic challenges I discuss in my Calihan Lecture can be classified as partly the result of a deindustrialization making way for the knowledge economy.

If Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum,” which inaugurated modern Catholic social thought, was a response to the industrial revolution, what we now need is a response to the deindustrial revolution.

What to do is a question for policymakers. That we need to think about what to do is a demand of justice, and the principles of natural law should inform how we think about it.

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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.

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Harvard orders students to spy on each other

original article: Harvard orders students to spy on each other with broad new rules against single-sex clubs
March 7, 2017 by Greg Piper

Don’t worry, it’s not ‘intrusive’

No one expects the Harvard Inquisition!

That is, unless you saw snippets of an implementation committee’s report that called for Harvard to not only punish and exclude members of single-sex clubs from a broad range of fellowships and leadership positions, but to block those students from running for office or leading The Harvard Crimson.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana has finally released the full 46-page report by the committee in charge of deciding how best to undermine freedom of association, and he said he agrees with practically all of it, The Crimson reports:

Under the recommendations, students starting with the class of 2021 who seek leadership positions, captaincies, or fellowships will have to sign a written statement affirming their commitment to “nondiscrimination on the basis of characteristics of ‘intrinsic identity,’ including gender.” Students will also have to affirm they do not currently belong to an “unrecognized single-gender social organization,” did not belong to one in the past year, and will not belong to one in the year after their tenure in a leadership position or athletic captaincy ends.

Sound like the House Un-American Activities Committee? We’ll get to that later.

Harvard wants students to attest in writing that they are not in final clubs–but noninvasively! Hello, Upside-Down! http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/3/6/implementation-committee-recommendations/  pic.twitter.com/CAh9xymlr6

Harvard: We evaluated our peers’ practices targeting Greek orgs closely
World: Can we see your results
Harvard: Surehttp://osl.fas.harvard.edu/files/osl/files/implementationcommitteefinalreport.pdf pic.twitter.com/MxrAf4bRe0

View image on Twitter

The main change: Khurana “did not accept the committee’s recommendation that members of single-gender social groups be barred from leadership roles on The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council.”

But this wholesale attack on campus democracy and freedom of the press still might happen when fewer people are paying attention. Khurana said those ideas deserve “further deliberation.”

MORE: Harvard’s anti-male committee wants to overturn campus democracy, free press

The most stunning part of the report is how it plans to enforce compliance, and the disingenuous way it describes the method, which may explain why committee leaders refused to even give its members copies of the report while its future was in doubt:

The committee recommended that the Honor Council investigate students who violate the policy by “falsely affirming compliance,” though the report emphasized that students should “not perceive the policy as intrusive or punitive.”

Harvard wants students to attest in writing that they are not in final clubs–but noninvasively! Hello, Upside-Down! http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/3/6/implementation-committee-recommendations/ 

The Honor Council judges allegations of academic-integrity violations. It includes administrators, faculty and – yep – students who might want those coveted fellowships and leadership positions for themselves.

A spokesperson told The Crimson the Honor Council would stick to investigating those who apply for fellowships, while those who hold “organizational leadership positions” in prohibited groups will be evaluated under a “trust-based system,” whatever that means.

MORE: Harvard is ready to blacklist 1 in 4 students

Ryne Weiss at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) describes the council’s new mission as leading “inquisitorial efforts for those suspected of fibbing when asked whether they are, or have ever been, a member of the Communist Par— I mean, single-gender sorority, fraternity, or final club”:

So it looks like a modern-day version of the Secret Court is back, and this time, it’s enlisting students along with the faculty and staff traditionally tasked with ferreting out those with associations too unsavory for Harvard. Given that students compete with each other for the very positions that the students on the Honor Council will have the power to deny (athletic captaincies, scholarships, leadership of student groups, etc.) this is obviously and unmistakably ripe for abuse.

Keep in mind that two days after the committee delivered its report to Khurana, the dean created a faculty review committee that had (in theory) authority to scrap or revise the very single-sex sanctions in the report.

He was probably afraid that if faculty saw the report, they would quickly quash the sanctions with their own “nondiscrimination” motion, which was slated for a vote just days later. (The motion’s sponsor, former Dean Harry Lewis, withdrew it after Khurana’s concession, and recently announced he’s teaching only two more semesters before officially retiring.)

Now Khurana’s conveniently timed creation of the faculty committee looks like “a dishonest diversionary tactic to kill a motion by faculty members that which would have challenged the sanctions regime” in the still-hidden report, Weiss writes:

If Harvard administrators had any kind of accountability, the use of such a tactic might pose a real problem. But given that they can apparently read faculty emails without any real consequences, that might be too much to ask.

How dare you slow our ‘momentum towards greater inclusivity’

If there’s one piece of black comedy in this sorry display of Harvard’s most illiberal impulses, it’s the implementation committee’s annoyance at having to compete with a new lover (the faculty committee) for Khurana’s attention.

In a section that specifically credited “student members of the committee,” the report says this:

[T]he lack of clarity as well as the events of the past month, namely the formation of a new faculty committee to review this policy, have had a particularly negative effect on conversations with numerous existing stakeholders in the College’s social scene. These events have fostered skepticism about the intent and commitment to the policy, discouraged those students who are supportive of efforts to transform the nature of the clubs, and undermined the confidence and progress of those groups who have already made difficult decisions to move in a more inclusive direction [by capitulating to months of threats]. Momentum towards greater inclusivity was stalled by lack of clear leadership and legitimate concerns as to whether institutional support was unstable.

Such Newspeak is just the beginning, though. As The Crimson points out:

The report also details a plan for the “dissemination of a positive narrative around the new policy,” including a draft of a letter to incoming students, and “professional brochures.”

You can see more about the propaganda campaign under Section C, “Communications and Benchmarking,” page 21 of the report. Note the multiple references to “diversity” and “inclusion.”

Committee whose recs sought to expand Harvard’s anti-freedom/association policy urges college to push “positive narrative.” Remarkable.

The remaining single-sex clubs aren’t being bludgeoned into nonexistence just yet: The report creates a “provisional social organization” designation for clubs that pledge to forsake their right to free association (and apparently their ties to national organizations).

And once more, the women are getting preferential treatment:

The report also calls for … a five-year “bridge” program for traditionally female final clubs and sororities that would allow these groups “to operate with gender focused missions” for some time after the College’s policy takes effect next fall.

If you don’t want to see Harvard take a step backwards to the good ol’ days of communist witch hunts, sign FIRE’s petition to Khurana and President Drew Faust while it might still change this Orwellian policy.

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Harvard – look what happens when you give social justice warriors free rein

original article: Harvard’s anti-male committee wants to overturn campus democracy and a free press
February 28, 2017 by Greg Piper

When it became clear that faculty might vote to overturn Harvard’s punitive rules against members of single-sex organizations such as final clubs, the university created a faculty review committee rather than suffer an embarrassing defeat.

Some people thought it was purely “window dressing,” a way for Harvard to make professors feel like they had a say when they really didn’t.

The administration would still get what it wanted, the thinking went: the blacklisting of club members from elite fellowships (like the Rhodes) and leadership roles on athletic teams and student organizations.

But it looks like the faculty review committee might actually serve as a useful check on even worse recommendations coming from the implementation committee that made the original recommendations.

MORE: Harvard is ready to blacklist 1 in 4 students

The Harvard Crimson reports that the implementation committee now wants to ban fraternity, sorority and final-club members from “several more post-graduate fellowships,” not just those requiring the dean’s recommendation.

It’s also refusing to give out copies of the new recommendations, probably anticipating that they would go viral very quickly:

Implementation committee members did not receive copies of the report, developed over the course of last semester, according to several members of the body. Rather, committee co-chairs Douglas A. Melton and Kay K. Shelemay printed copies of the document and placed them in University Hall. Members traveled to the building at select times earlier this month to physically examine the report and offer feedback.

This is similar to the protocol by which members of Congress can review classified material, so you get a sense of how important this committee thinks it is.

MORE: Dean chickens out of blacklist on eve of risky faculty vote

But it’s not just post-graduate fellowships the committee wants to put off-limits:

In another section of the group’s final report, the implementation committee recommended that The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council be subject to the College’s policy, according to the three committee members. Such a step would aim to bar members of final clubs and Greek organizations from holding leadership positions on either The Crimson or the UC.

In other words: This big-headed committee is so determined to snuff out men and women spending time with their own kind, which is allegedly sexist and elitist, that it will destroy democracy and a free press on campus.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sounds the alarm on this “super-blacklist,” which validates Harvard’s earlier inclusion in the group’s “10 Worst Schools for Free Speech” list.

MORE: Harvard punishes men’s team for crude comments of prior team

In earlier eras Harvard tried to out gay men and communists, and now it’s using the same tactics against people who like the platonic company of their own sex, writes FIRE’s Ryne Weiss:

[W]e really wish we could stop covering this car wreck. Unfortunately, Harvard keeps driving towards the wall.

He also notes the classified hush-hush procedure, and muses how the committee would even enforce these proposed rules against final clubs:

Maybe by calling the programs and warning them that the student applying had committed the unforgivable crime of throwing a “Headbands for Hope” charity fundraiser with Kappa Kappa Gamma? …

What is more democratic than a secret, authoritarian body telling you who you can’t vote for? There’s nothing troubling about that at all!

MORE: Harvard designates ‘open forum’ off the record to stifle criticism

The committee’s new recommendations are also a slap in the face to Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, a tinpot dictator who nevertheless had earlier promised The Crimson – which is totally separate from Harvard – that its leaders wouldn’t be ensnared by the rules:

To sum it up: Harvard administrators would purport to dictate who could lead an independent student newspaper, who students could vote for in their student government, and who could hire graduates of the university.

Harvard’s erratic behavior over the past month – creating the faculty review committee only two days after the implementation committee gave its (secret) final report to Khurana – makes more sense now, Weiss says:

Harvard was afraid that the new sanctions-on-steroids regime would leak to faculty, students, the public, and FIRE, and profoundly damage the regime’s public support. Harvard calculated that if it could keep the details secret until the last possible minute, it would give students and faculty too little time to do anything about it. And Harvard administrators really, really do not like embarrassing leaks. We’re talking a “we’ll-inspect-faculty-members’-emails-without-their-knowledge” level of hating leaks. …

MORE: Harvard promises special treatment to women-only club

It seems extremely unlikely that Dean Khurana just coincidentally announced the new panel two days after he was handed these recommendations. He probably saw these recommendations, was aghast, realized the faculty vote was nigh and that they would never go for this, and got a new group.

With this huge embarrassment stemming from her own illiberal impulses, maybe Harvard President Drew Faust will finally decide to zip her lips on how freedom of association is just another way of saying Jim Crow.

MORE: Hanging out with other males is like stopping blacks from voting

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