Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Educating people about religion by keeping them dumb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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Is The Humanist Christophobic?

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

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

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

Now for the real story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Media personality accidentally admits the purpose of news is to control what people think

original article: Mika Brzezinski — The Media’s Job Is To ‘Actually Control Exactly What People Think’
February 22, 2017 by Christian Datoc

Mika Brzezinski criticized President Trump for undermining the media’s role in controlling “what people think” on MSNBC Wednesday morning.

The “Morning Joe” host explained to the panel that Trump’s behavior is “dangerous.”

“He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts,” she continued. “He could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think.”

“That is our job.”

watch the video

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Student whistleblower: Diversity class presents multiple ‘isms’ as fact without allowing debate

Student whistleblower: Diversity class presents multiple ‘isms’ as fact without allowing debate
February 10, 2017 by NATHAN RUBBELKE

What does a fictional “Normal University” look like?

It’s a place full of racism, homophobia, toxic masculinity, white privilege and sexism, according to a diversity class currently taught at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

At UMass Amherst, students are required to take two “social justice” classes to earn diploma, and this course — Education 115: Embracing Diversity — fulfills one of those requirements.

In it, students must act out examples of racism to prove America is racist “from A to Z.” Students must also read about how society is dominated by “white privilege” and discuss ways to combat that. They’re charged with creating a mock sexual assault awareness campaign and taught U.S. society pushes male “domination” over women. Another assignment has them coming up with ways to make a university more welcoming to a low-income black lesbian majoring in engineering. New vocabulary words thrown at students include “internalized classism” and “cultural imperialism.” And a “Man Box” assignment teaches students that when men try to prove their masculinity it ends up “with frequently disastrous consequences.”

‘It was just these are the facts and that was it’

The class is led by Professor Benita Barnes, who has a definite liberal bias, a student who took the course told The College Fix.

“She really thinks that everyone [in the United States] is inherently racist or sexist, and I think she just thinks that the school is a subset of that,” said the student, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the course.

Barnes, both a professor and Director of Diversity Advancement, did not respond to a request for comment.

The student described the course as a “hostile” environment where the professor and some students would get agitated when comments were made pointing things out that might be false or when ideas were questioned.

“There were no real discussions. There [were] no debates or anything like that. It was just these are the facts and that was it,” said the student, who provided to The College Fix a stack of assignments from the course, which he took last fall.

According to the syllabus, “Embracing Diversity” is designed for first-year students and dedicated to how students can better see themselves and others “through an appreciation of attending college as a cultural experience, with its own unique set of rules, biases, and expectations.” The course, the syllabus adds, pushes to move “the discourse of diversity beyond mere tolerance, celebration, or appreciation.”

‘Embracing Diversity’

One reading assignment in the class, “Normal University and the Story of Sam,” tells the story of Sam, a low-income black lesbian who attends “Normal University,” an Ivy League-like university whose namesake had a role in the slave trade. Sam faces all sorts of oppression during her freshman year.

Her roommate’s friends make racist remarks, funds are diverted from the campus LGBTQ organization and a protest over the use of bathrooms remind her of stories shared “about the Jim Crow era.” To top it all off, she studies in a “male-centric” engineering department where a woman has never been promoted and tenured.

At the end of the reading, students in the course are tasked with choosing an option to make the university more welcoming for Sam.

This is one of many course assignments obtained by The College Fix that were included in the course and purport a society of racism, sexism and oppression.

The course, according to the syllabus, used a “team-based learning” strategy and included numerous in-class activities that pertained to the class’s five modules.

Here’s a few examples:

Module 2: ‘Men have domination over women thus they (women) become their property’

Covering “Inequality and Oppression,” module 2 included a reading about “Social Justice University.” The case study explained four “folk beliefs” regarding sexual assault and, at the end, tasked students with creating a mock sexual assault awareness campaign for the fake university.

Expanding on one of the four “folk beliefs,” the reading stated “our society has socialized both men and women to believe that men have domination over women thus they (women) become their property as well as are required to bend to their wants and wishes.”

The document goes on to say that when a man acts aggressive or possessive towards a significant other, “women internalize this (bad) behavior as acceptable and end up feeling ‘loved’ as opposed to harmed.”

Module 3: Racism ‘from A-Z’

Dubbed “Race, Racism, and (White) Privilege,” the course’s third module included readings titled “What is Racial Domination?,” “Understanding White Privilege” and “White Institutional Presence: The Impact of Whiteness on Racial Campus Climate.”

An in-class assignment told students “examples of racism can be found in our society from A-Z.” To prove it, students were given 15 letters and had to “identify an act, behavior, law, practice, etc., past or present, that exemplifies racism.”

Module 4: ‘Internalized classism,’ ‘privilege,’ ‘cultural imperialism’

Dealing with “Class and Classism,” a Module 4 class activity required students to define terms like “internalized classism, “privilege” and “cultural imperialism.”

At the end of the assignment, students were asked “what are the possibilities and restraints of what students can do to create a less classist environment on campus?”

The assignment also called for students to apply five of the defined words to the stories of Emily and Matthew, two Amherst College students profiled in the book “Speaking of Race and Class: The Student Experience at an Elite College.”

Emily came to campus unsure how to talk to black students and was once called “White Trash.” However, she forms a diverse set of friends but begins to see people back home as close-minded and judgmental.

“I would never want to bring my gay friend home or my black friend,” she said in her account.

Conversely, Matthew came from an affluent family but also broadened his social group in college.

“He embraced the exposure, the learning, and the people he met and liked, all the while while increasing the awareness of his relative privilege,” the book states.

Module 5: The ‘Man Box’

The course’s final module dealt with “Gender and Sexism” and students watched the film “Guyland: Where boys become men.”

According to a class assignment, the 36-minute film “maps the troubling social world where boys become men” and shows how men try to prove their masculinity “with frequently disastrous consequences for young women and other young men.”

Following the movie, students created a “Man Box,” which the assignment described as “a figurative box made up of acceptable qualities for men to possess and society’s expectations of how men must act.”

Terms inside the box included “objectifies women, emotionless, aggressive and dominant.” The assignment forced student to either pull six traits from the box or add six from a separate list of positive traits. Words on the latter included “honest,” “open minded” and “ambitious.”

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New Jersey School District Teaches Islam But Censors Christianity

original article: New Jersey School District Teaches Islam But Censors Christianity
February 21, 2017 by AARON BANDLER

A New Jersey middle school has no problem teaching Islam to its students, but has censored students for bringing up the Bible.

Two mothers spoke up about their children’s experiences in at a Chatham Board of Education meeting in February. One of them, Nancy Gayer, voiced displeasure that her son’s fourth grade PowerPoint presentation from years ago was shut down because it briefly cited a line from the Bible in advertising for his efforts to gather gloves and hats for poor children. Gayer said that the teacher told her son that it “belongs in Sunday school, not in the classroom” and proceeded to claim that the computer wouldn’t allow the presentation to be shown to the class.

Gayer then took the matter to the school district, but the superintendent told her that the teacher’s actions were correct due to the district’s policy of prohibiting “proselytizing” in the classroom.

The line from the Bible her son cited was, “Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.”

However, this same standard apparently does not apply to Islam, as Gayer pointed out that her son is being taught about the intricacies of the religion in a seventh grade class at Chatham Middle School, including being shown a video explaining the Five Pillars of Islam that featured lines like “Allah is the creator of everything, the one true God.”:

“In my opinion, I call this proselytizing, for by definition of this word it means convert or attempt to convert from one religion, belief or opinion to another,” Gayers said.

Another mother, Libby Hilsenrath, echoed Gayers’ sentiments, pointing out that the seventh grade class went into detail about the various aspects of Islam, but did not teach Judaism and Christianity. She also brought forth further course material that could be seen as proselytizing for Islam, which included a video providing an introduction to Islam that quoted excerpts from the Koran such as “And they say: Be Jews and Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say (unto them, O Muhammed) Nay, but (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolators” and “Lo, we have sent thee (O Muhammed) with the truth, a bringer of glad tidings and warner.”

However, the superintendent, Michael LaSusa, refused to eliminate the course because “it is part of the New Jersey curriculum core content standards to teach students about the various religions of the world.” He also refused to meet with Gayers and Hilsenrath.

Gayers and Hilsenrath have since been smeared as Islamophobic by various people in the area.

“We were labeled as bigots immediately following the Board of Ed meeting in an op-ed,” Hilsenrath told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “and then all over Facebook with people who knew us or didn’t know us. Xenophobic, Islamophobe, I mean it went as far as the KKK, which I don’t know what that has to do with this.”

“Unfortunately I was stared down at a grocery store too,” Gayers added, “and I believe I was in the express line with just 10 items but yet I was still stared down. It was pretty unnerving.”

The op-ed that Hilsenrath referenced was a letter to the editor on Tap Into Chatham by resident Susan O’Brien, who called Gayers and Hilsenrath’s concerns as  “at worst veiled bigotry and at best sad and ignorant.”

“I believe that ignorance breads fear and fear breeds hatred; the more we understand about other cultures and religions the better we are equipped to deal with the issues we face in today’s world,” O’Brien wrote.

O’Brien did not attend the Board of Education meeting and nowhere in her letter did she address the glaring inconsistency of the district’s religion in the classroom policy.

As the mothers have pointed out, there is nothing wrong with being taught about the intricacies of world religions, but it’s a problem when only one religion is being taught and not others, especially when a presentation featuring a brief line from the Bible was shut down. In today’s politically correct society, voicing such concerns has resulted in Gayer and Hilsenbrath being “verbally bullied” and as smeared as “bigots,” as Gayers said in a press release sent to the Daily Wire.

The mothers’ speeches at the Board of Education meeting and their appearance on Carlson’s show can be seen below:

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