Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Liberal mom finds enlightenment at Disneyland (with a man in the restroom)

original article: Liberal mom’s harrowing account of a man in the women’s restroom at Disneyland
March 17, 2017 by Laurie Higgins

Leftists smugly ask what they perceive to be THE “gotcha” question about trannies in restrooms: “So, are we going to have genital police?” To those smugsters, I ask, “How will you determine whether the burly, bearded, bulging-biceped person in the women’s restroom or locker room is a member of the “trans” cult or a predator pretending to be a member of the “trans” cult?”

Please read this short blog post from liberal California mom Kristen Quintrall whose eyes were (partially) opened by an experience in the women’s restroom at Disneyland:

I didn’t know if I was going to write this blog or not. A part of me was scared it’d be shared as some transgender hot piece about yet another homophobic mom lashing out at Disney and then I’d have to deal with the wrath of the internet telling me to kill myself. So let me be clear. This isn’t that story. This is a story about a biological man in the women’s restroom.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for over a decade and have seen my fair share of transgender/gender fluid people. They in no way offend me. I’d consider myself pretty progressive and tolerant of most things….But how transgender people feel, how they choose to dress or any surgeries they get, don’t infringe on any parts of my life, so I support their decision to live as they see fit. I’ve also seen my fair share of transgender women in the women’s restroom before. Not ALL the time. But over the past few years, I’d say 4-5 that I noticed. Men…who were in some stage of transition and making every attempt to be a woman from mascara to heels. Transgenders who certainly felt comfortable in the women’s room and probably frightened to go into the men’s. At these times, I smiled…I peed…and life went on. But 2 weeks ago something very different happened.

I was at Disneyland with my son, my friend and her son. We were over in California Adventure in the food court area. We’d just finished eating and decided to pee before we headed out to The Little Mermaid. I went to the bathroom while she watched our boys in their strollers, and then I did the same….

I was off to the side waiting with the two boys, when I noticed a man walk into the restroom. My first thought was “Oh sh*t, he’s walked in the wrong restroom by mistake. lol” He took a few more steps, at which point he would’ve definitely noticed all the women lined up and still kept walking. My next thought was, “Maybe he’s looking for his wife…or child and they’ve been in here a while.” But he didn’t call out any names or look around. He just stood off to the side and leaned up against the wall. At this point I’m like, “[ ] Ok there is definitely a very manly hispanic man in a Lakers jersey who just walked in here. Am I the only one seeing this?” I surveyed the room and saw roughly 12 women, children in tow…staring at him with the exact same look on their faces. Everyone was visibly uncomfortable. We were all trading looks and motioning our eyes over to him…like “what is he doing in here?” Yet every single one of us was silent. And this is the reason I wrote this blog.

If this had been 5 years ago, you bet you’re a*s every woman in there would’ve been like, “Ummm what are you doing in here?”, but in 2017? the mood has shifted. We had been culturally bullied into silenced. Women were mid-changing their baby’s diapers on the changing tables and I could see them shifting to block his view. But they remained silent. I stayed silent. We all did. Every woman who exited a stall and immediately zeroed right in on him…said nothing. And why? B/c I…and I’m sure all the others were scared of that “what if”. What if I say something and he says he “identifies as a woman” and then I come off as the intolerant a*shole….? So we all stood there, shifting in our uncomfortableness…trading looks. I saw two women leave the line with their children. Still nothing was said. An older lady said to me out loud, “What is he doing in here?” I’m ashamed to admit I silently shrugged and mouthed, “I don’t know.” She immediately walked out…from a bathroom she had every right to use without fear.

So there lingered this unspoken doubt everyone had….that .00001% chance this wasn’t a man. Let me be clear. This was totally a man. If this wasn’t a man, this was a woman who had fully transitioned via surgery and hormones into a man and had also gotten an adam’s apple implant, chest hair and size 9-10 shoes ….and at that point, what are you doing in the women’s restroom?

And let me be clear, my problem wasn’t JUST that there was a man in the restroom. Its that he wasn’t even peeing, washing his hands or doing anything else that you’d do in a restroom. He was just standing off to the side looking smug…untouchable… doing absolutely nothing. He had to of noticed that every woman in the long line was staring at him. He didn’t care. He then did a lap around the restroom walking by all the stalls. You know, the stalls that have 1 inch gaps by all the doors hinges so you can most definitely see everyone with their pants around their ankles…..

So here I am…writing this blog, because honestly I need answers. We can’t leave this situation ambiguous any more. The gender debate needs to be addressed….and quickly. There have to be guidelines. It can’t just be a feeling. I’m sorry. I wish it could, but it can’t. I’m fine going by “if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…it’s a duck.”…But this notion that we’re shamed into silence b/c we might offend someone, has gone too far.

There was a man in the bathroom. Not transgender. There was a man who felt entitled to be in the woman restroom, because he knew no one would say anything. There were 20-25 people by the time I left, who were scared and uncomfortable by his ominous presence. And the only thing stopping us, was our fear of political correctness and that the media has told us we don’t know what gender is anymore. I never want to be in the position again. Im not asking for permission to tell transgender people to get out my bathroom. I need to know it’s ok to tell a man, who looks like a man, to get [ ] out. Gender just can’t be a feeling. There has to be science to it. DNA, genitals, amount of Sephora make up on your face, pick your poison, but as a very progressive woman…I’m sorry it can’t just be a feeling when theres but a mere suggestion of a door with a peep hole separating your eyes from my vagina or my children’s genitals.

I commend Quintrall for her courage and partial insight, but she doesn’t see the intellectual and moral incoherence that yet animate her new position.

She says this man wasn’t transgender. He was a “biological male.” She says there “has to be science to it.” Well, science tells us that the sex of persons can never change. Men who identify as “trans” remain always biological males. So, the man who through castration and cross-sex hormone-doping looks like a woman and talks like a woman remains forever a man. And women should be no more comfortable with the frock-wearing, Sephora-painted man sashaying past women doing their business in stalls than they would be if a construction worker in Carhartts lumbered past the stall door.

Objective sex either matters in private spaces or doesn’t matter. And if it doesn’t matter—if biological sex has no intrinsic meaning—we should eradicate all single-sex contexts everywhere. That would include restrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms, showers, saunas, steam rooms, and semi-private hospital rooms.

Quintrall suggests that if this man-appearing person were actually a fully-“transitioned” “transman” (i.e., a woman), she should be using the men’s restroom. Wrong. Women cannot become men, and no women—not even women in disguise—belong in men’s restrooms.

And this brings us to the thorny problem of where these confused people should go to do their private business. Not to be unkind, but that’s a problem of their own creation. With regard to restrooms, most places of public accommodation have single-occupancy family restrooms that fully-disguised men and women can use. With regard to locker rooms, they’re out of luck. They should change and shower at home.

If people would bother to read more deeply on this critical cultural issue—that is, the meaning of sexual differentiation—they would learn that sexual anarchists seek to obliterate any and all public recognition of and respect for sexual differentiation.

The ignorant among us do not yet know that the “gender” eradication movement believes that “identifying” as the opposite sex requires nothing more than a verbal assertion. No diagnosis, no cross-dressing, no cross-sex hormone-doping, no surgery needed. Don’t misunderstand me. None of those can transmute men into women or vice versa. Unfortunately, I hear even from some purported conservatives that they’re fine with men who wish they were women using women’s restrooms as long as they’ve been castrated. But such a statement implies that the only issue with trannies in private spaces is the risk of physical predation in the form of peeping or assault. It’s not.

The central issue is the meaning of objective, immutable biological sex.

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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.

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Some trans people don’t fit the steriotype

original article: ‘I used to think I was trans. Now I don’t.’ How Carey was set free from transgenderism
March 10, 2017 by Laurie Higgins

Progressives promote the lie that “gender identity” is immutable in order to rationalize and normalize an incoherent ideology and destructive medical “treatments.” Leftists desperately hope that the mainstream press, always in thrall to sexual radicalism, will avert its gaze from the growing “de-transitioning” movement. Thankfully, social media is here to occasionally shine light on alternative reality, that is to say, objective reality.

In an illuminating YouTube videoCarey Callahan, a young liberal woman, describes her “de-transition” from identifying as a “transman” and exposes some inconvenient truths about the “trans” community on which the mainstream press never reports:

I used to believe I was…a trans guy, and I stopped believing that….When I was trans…I felt that my trans identity should not be pathologized, that it was a healthy beautiful thing…that I was making these decisions from a clear state of mind….Looking back, I do not think I was in a clear state of mind, and I absolutely think that I was operating under some delusional ideas about what it would take to pass as a dude. The feelings that I had interpreted as gender dysphoria were actually long-term trauma symptoms that I had never addressed.

Every step of the process, every step I took in affirming that trans identity, life got worse….People in my little trans bubble were some of the most anxious people I’ve ever met…and coping with it in a real weird way. Lots of everyday drug use, eating disorders, compulsive working out…lots of over-the-top sex stuff, cutting, alcoholism….It was obvious that people…were not doing well.

Another de-transitioner, this one a young man who had been pretending to be a woman, explains his epiphany regarding his “transition”:

I felt like I was just doing something [i.e., “transitioning”] I didn’t need to do. I don’t feel that it 100% came from me. I don’t feel that organically, by myself, I would have done that. It was just something that the circumstances I was in, and the surroundings I was in, the influences I had…made me make these moves….At some point, I realized…I really didn’t want to do it. People told me that I would have less doubts and I would feel super confident and sure of myself as a female when I took the hormones, but honestly as soon as I got on them, I started questioning myself more and more.

A de-transitioner who calls herself “Crash” shares her convictions regarding the tragic reasons many women adopt a male identity:

Sometimes women take on a trans identity and transition due to trauma that we live through….I don’t think many people know this….I know a lot of other women who feel like their dysphoria or trans identity or transition…were a reaction to trauma. For those of us who transition, we didn’t go into our transitions…thinking that we’re reacting to trauma….We had dysphoria that we were trying to alleviate by changing our bodies….

Some women end up identifying as trans…because we lived through trauma that is in some way connected with us being women, with having a female body….A lot of us survive sexual violence. We were raped or survived some other kind of assault. A lot of us are child sexual abuse survivors. Some of us were attacked for being lesbians…My mom’s suicide played a huge role.

The Left says that “gender identity” is immutable and, therefore, even young children should be able to access medical help to refashion their bodies in such a way as to make them match the sex that corresponds to the cultural conventions these children prefer. In other words, young boys who “identify” as girls do so based on their desire to wear girls’ clothing, have long hair, and play with girls’ toys. But the Left says these are merely arbitrary, socially constructed norms. So, why change their bodies? Rather than rejecting their bodies, why not reject the norms they believe have no objective reality or meaning?

Of the many tragic consequences of this science-denying sexuality dogma is the fact that “transitioning” is harming people. Society is marching blindfolded into a brave new dystopian world whose victims are increasingly children who will one day tell their stories of regret—stories like that of de-transitioner, Cari Stella, who “transitioned socially at 15,” started taking testosterone at 17, had a double mastectomy at 20, de-transitioned at 22, and recently said this:

[De-transitioners] are not just statistics….We’re real people….I’m a real live 22-year-old woman with a scarred chest, a broken voice, and a five o’clock shadow.

Are castration, mastectomies, and chemically-induced sterility for young adults really the signposts on the path to the right side of history?

If physical embodiment has no intrinsic and profound meaning, why are gender-dysphoric persons spending so much money and enduring so much pain to change their bodies? If restroom and locker room usage is so inconsequential that women and men should be willing to share these private spaces with opposite-sex persons, why can’t gender-dysphoric persons share them with persons of their same sex?

Perhaps the extreme measures “trans”-cultists take in their disordered quest to mask their objective, immutable sex as revealed in physical embodiment testifies to the profound meaning and importance of physical embodiment as male and female—embodiment that “progressives” and transgressives are telling the rest of us to ignore.

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Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women

original article: On This ‘Day Without a Woman,’ Don’t Leave Women Oppressed by Sharia Law Behind
March 8, 2017 by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Wednesday is International Women’s Day, and the organizers of the Women’s March are holding another protest. This one is called A Day Without a Woman, in solidarity with those women who have lower wages and experience greater inequalities.

The protest encourages women to take the day off work, avoid shopping other than in small women- and minority-owned stores, and wear red.

The problems being protested against Wednesday—inequality, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity—are all too real for many disadvantaged women, but the legal protections for them are in place here in the United States. Women who are unfairly treated at work or discriminated against can stand up, speak out, protest in the streets, and take legal action. Not so for many women in other parts of the world for whom the hashtag #daywithoutawoman is all too apt.

Around the world women are subjected to “honor violence” and lack legal protections and access to health and social services. According to Amnesty International’s recent annual report, throughout the Middle East and North Africa, women and girls are denied equal status with men in law and are subject to gender-based violence, including sexual violence and killings perpetrated in the name of “honor.”

The relationship between the sexes in Muslim majority countries is inspired and often governed by a mix of tribal, traditional practices and Islamic law. Algerian author Kamel Daoud recently referred to this system as entailing “sexual misery” for both men and women throughout the Islamic world.Daoud favors the full emancipation of Muslim women, yet many commentators criticized him as being guilty of “Islamophobia,” a term increasingly used to silence meaningful debate.

International Women’s Day should be a day to raise our voices on behalf of women with no recourse to protect their rights. Yet I doubt Wednesday’s protesters will wave placards condemning the religious and cultural framework for women’s oppression under Sharia law. As a moral and legal code, Sharia law is demeaning and degrading to women. It requires women to be placed under the care of male guardians; it views a woman’s testimony in court as worth half that of a man’s; and it permits a husband to beat his wife. It’s not only women’s legal and sexual freedoms that are curtailed under Sharia but their economic freedoms as well. Women generally inherit half of the amount that men inherit, and their male guardian must consent to their choosing education, work, or travel.

In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and parts of Nigeria, where Sharia law underpins the judicial system, women’s rights suffer greatly.

There is a growing trend among some feminists to make excuses for Sharia law and claim it is nothing more than a personal moral guide, and therefore consistent with American constitutional liberties. Yet the rules that such “Sharia-lite feminists” voluntarily choose to follow are also invoked to oppress women—to marry them off, to constrain their economic and human rights, and to limit their freedom of expression—who have not consented to them. The moral conflict between Sharia and universal human rights should not be dismissed as a misunderstanding, but openly discussed.

Many Western feminists struggle to embrace universal women’s rights. Decades ago, Germaine Greer argued that attempts to outlaw female genital mutilation amounted to “an attack on cultural identity.” That type of deference to traditional practices, in the name of cultural sensitivity, hurts vulnerable women. These days, relativism remains strong. Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women—female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage, marital rape, and honor violence, particularly in non-Western societies. Women’s rights are universal, and such practices cannot be accepted.

The revival of part of the women’s movement, catalyzed by the election of Donald Trump, has deeper roots than can be seen on the surface. Like Wednesday’s protest, a large portion of Western feminism has been captured by political ideologues and postmodern apologists. Rather than protecting women’s rights, many feminists are focused on signaling opposition to “right-wing” politics.

One of the organizers of the Women’s March movement recently tweeted: “If the right wing is defending or agreeing with you, you are probably on the wrong side. Re-evaluate your positions.”

I’m all for dissent, but that “us vs. them” mentality has caused political gridlock, even on humanitarian issues where the left and right should work together. Hostility and intolerance to others’ views have made rational discussion on important issues taboo. A robust defense of universal women’s rights should welcome support from both the left and the right, overcoming domestic partisan divisions in order to help women abroad attain their full rights.

This International Women’s Day, we should protest the oppression of women who have no access to legal protections. We should support those Muslim reformers, such as Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, and Irshad Manji, who seek to reform Islam in line with full legal equality between men and women. And we should strive to overcome domestic political divisions to defend the universality of women’s rights.

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Middlebury College enabled student riot

original article: How Middlebury College Enabled The Student Riot During Charles Murray’s Visit
March 7, 2017 by Peter W. Wood

School administrators must stop abasing themselves to student outrage. Colleges should foster intellectual community—not progressive appeasement.

The fracas at Middlebury College on March 2 has been widely reported. Both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal covered it, though perhaps no report improved on the local Addison County Independent: Middlebury College professor injured by protesters as she escorted controversial speaker.” Web coverage and commentary has also been ample. The American Interest was among the first to post.

This is an ongoing story with important details to come. The links above provide concise versions. What follows is a zoomed-in look at the events that preceded the apparent effort by a protester to inflict serious harm on a Middlebury professor, a professor who herself played an ambiguous part in the disturbance.

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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.

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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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Instructor files complaint against free speech on campus

original article: Instructor files ‘hostile work environment’ grievance because university let Milo on campus
March 2, 2017 by Grace Curtis

President prioritizes free speech over ‘safety and well-being’

A doctoral student is accusing the University of Washington of creating a hostile work environment by letting anti-feminist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos speak on campus in January.

Alan-Michael Weatherford, a diversity and queer studies instructor, filed a complaint through his labor union. He personally confronted UW President Ana Mari Cauce at a student government meeting last month, saying he was “very busy taking care of your mess.”

Cauce bucked heavy pressure from students and faculty to cancel the Yiannopoulos event, hosted by the UW College Republicans (UWCRs), even after someone was shot outside the building where he spoke. Doing so would embolden other protesters to try to shut down other events, Cauce later told the community.

A law professor told The College Fix that Weatherford’s union complaint “makes little sense” legally.

Respecting free speech ‘will only replicate systems of inequality’

Weatherford made himself a target by organizing a “day of resistance” composed of “peaceful teach-ins” at the library across from Yiannopoulos’s venue, the instructor wrote a lengthy op-ed in The Daily.

Hours before Yiannopoulos arrived, Weatherford and his crew started marching downtown to continue the protest. They covered their faces with masks because of UW’s failure “to protect its own population” from “neo-Nazis” who supported Yiannopoulos, an “internet hate-mongerer,” Weatherford wrote.

The instructor told Seattle Weekly that he tried to block a man who continually tried to film them as they marched.

By the next day videos and photos of his protests were circulating online, and Weatherford was “doxxed” when internet users found and published his email address, social media profiles and office location and hours.

He began receiving “homophobic and transphobic slurs” and threats of rape, while users “libeled” his page on RateMyProfessors, he wrote in the op-ed. (Those reviews have apparently been removed, while several new glowing reviews have since been added. His page is now limited to registered users.)

Weatherford has since shut down his social media pages and his university email is no longer listed on UW’s directory. He declined to teach class the Monday after he was identified.

“All of this is especially shocking, provided that I was just recently nominated for a Distinguished Teaching Award and have a great track record in teaching my own courses,” Weatherford wrote. He said teaching “diversity courses” made him “an exemplary target.”

MORE: UW president says we can’t shut down Milo any more than Black Lives Matter

The instructor urged students to consider the “enormous differences in power, privilege and safety” between people with the same constitutional rights.

“I am urging you to recognize that blithely promoting free speech in all contexts without consciously and intentionally prioritizing the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable will only replicate systems of inequality,” he wrote.

“I ask that in the future when the University considers upholding free speech at the expense of physical safety, that the administration thinks hard about those consequences,” Weatherford said.

He did not respond to interview requests from The Fix.

Falsely accused of ‘exchanging grades for sexual favors’

The instructor wasn’t the first person to get doxxed in response to the Yiannopoulos event: Two weeks earlier, UWCRs President Jessie Gamble was pictured on a flyer that included phone numbers for her and her father, calling her “the racist in your class.”

Weatherford’s department, Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media, released a statement against the “hateful internet bullying, sexual harassment and violent threats” against him, including claims of “exchanging grades for sexual favors.”

Echoing Weatherford’s op-ed, the department said the behavior toward him was not protected by the First Amendment. It cited a 1992 Supreme Court ruling “protecting individuals from … the possibility that the threatened violence will occur.”

MORE: College Republicans leader says UW employee threatened her over Milo

The instructor’s union complaint that allowing Yiannopoulos on campus created a hostile work environment was revealed in a lengthy feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education. After Weatherford filed a report with university police, a detective started investigating a threat against him and an officer now escorts him to class, it reported.

Grievance is just a formalized heckler’s veto

George Washington University Law Prof. John Banzhaf told The Fix that Weatherford’s hostile-workplace complaint is not legally actionable because it targets “things which are essential” to his workplace.

“Most would agree that an important purpose served by a university is to permit its students to be exposed to new and often unpopular viewpoints, often by inviting (or having student groups invite) them to speak on campus,” Banzhaf said in an email.

He called the filing of a grievance an update of the “heckler’s veto,” in which “the mere threat that there will be disruptive hecklers” leads a university to “stifle speech with which the hecklers disagree.”

The UW taking Weatherford’s union grievance seriously would be like “acting on complaints from doctors that they may be exposed to blood with the AIDS virus,” Banzhaf said.

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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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