Quotas are intrinsically divisive and discriminatory (in the worst possible sense) because the number of categories into which humanity can be divided is infinite: only some categories, therefore, can be favoured, leaving others resentful and liable to seek political redress as their supposed salvation. Quotas therefore not only politicise life but embitter political life itself. They formalise favouritism, thus reinforcing the very problem they are meant to solve. They necessarily inflate the role of government, for someone has to enforce them. Before long, the demand for equality (of a kind) undermines freedom because private associations are no longer able to make the rules they wish, a necessary condition for a truly liberal society in which government is not overweening or preponderant. The imposition of quotas is founded on the belief that everyone is a bigot unless forced by administrative fiat to be otherwise.
On a similar theme, Thomas Sowell on “fairness” and cultivated idiocy:
The front page of a local newspaper in northern California featured the headline The Promise Denied, lamenting the under-representation of women in computer engineering. The continuation of this long article on an inside page had the headline Who is to Blame for This? In other words, the fact that reality does not match the preconceptions of the intelligentsia shows that there is something wrong with reality, for which somebody must be blamed. Apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong.
One of my constituents once complained to the Beeb about a report on the repression of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, in which the government was labelled right-wing. The governing party, he pointed out, was a member of the Socialist International and, again, the give-away was in its name: Institutional Revolutionary Party. The BBC’s response was priceless. Yes, it accepted that the party was socialist, “but what our correspondent was trying to get across was that it is authoritarian.”
As a proud male feminist, I believe it’s important for men to rally around the feminist movement to provide support and to act as an example for other men to follow. So it confuses me that at university a shockingly large number of male students I speak to refuse to apply the term to themselves, instead being evasive and avoiding such an empowering title.
Yes, dear readers, it’s both shocking and confusing that in the twenty-first century, in one of the most cosseting and politically corrected environments in all of the developed world, some male students feel no need to describe themselves as feminists. And calling oneself a feminist, announcing it proudly to the world - or at least to other, likeminded, equally proud students - is apparently the duty of all righteous beings, especially those with testicles. It’s empowering, you see. And never a sign of narcissism, credulity and pretentious moral grandstanding.
The scandalised and bewildered author of this piece is Mr Lewis Merryweather, a first year student of comparative literature at the University of Warwick. “He is a proud feminist,” reads his Guardian profile, “and writes poetry.” And the sorrows of his life are there for all to see:
I often encounter negative reactions when declaring myself a male feminist at university.
Missionary work is hard. Bring handkerchiefs, quickly, a dozen at least. And possibly towels and a mop.
I find this attitude among male students worrying… Perhaps it stems from male panic, that, foolishly, male students worry they may lose power and opportunity in a world of feminism. Perhaps guy students are embarrassed to align themselves with a word that lexically alludes to female-centrism.
Yes, that must be it. Those lexical allusions are a real bugger.
Maybe they’re worried about feeling emasculated.
Says our fretful poet. A man agonised by the existence of peers who don’t think exactly as he does and won’t wear his badge. And to make matters worse, there’s the ever-present shadow of hegemonic oppression:
In the words of Colm Dempsy, a male feminist who spoke at the forum I attended: “I am a proud male feminist. I am willing to fight with you. If you let me.” This is a statement every man, inside university and outside, should be able to shout without fear of being silenced by society.
Instead of relying on the assertions of union officials about how underpaid government employees might be, citizens can see what these employees are actually making. In thousands of cases, the information is shocking. Consider Redwood City, where three fire captains and one firefighter made between $434,274 and $452,733 in total compensation in 2012. One police officer made $463,690 in total compensation. In all, nine employees made over $400,000 in total compensation with a total of 33, mostly police and fire department employees, making over $300,000 in total compensation in 2012. Those are staggering sums anywhere, but in a city with a population of just 79,009, they’re a recipe for fiscal disaster.
And Peter Wood on Sandra Korn and the inversion of meaning:
On Monday, February 17, Ms Korn, a Harvard senior, published an essay in the Harvard Crimson, titled The Doctrine of Academic Freedom, with the explosive sub-head, “Let’s give up on academic freedom in favour of justice.” Korn’s argument is simply summarised: The freedom of faculty members to pursue research and to teach has some value, but these activities always and everywhere reflect political considerations. A university community rightly has its own political values and when a faculty member violates them, he should be silenced. “Academic justice” is more important than academic freedom.[…]
Academic freedom, as the idea developed historically, recognised the need to insulate scholars from the politically-minded outsiders who saw scholarship as threatening. Today, members of the professoriate are often politically-minded and the doctrine of “academic freedom” is often inverted in an attempt to insulate them from genuine scholarly standards… To put it concisely: academic freedom once meant protection from politics; now it means protection for politics.
The kind of politics being protected scarcely needs pointing out. Ms Korn, the student who objects to academic freedom (for others, that is), lists her interests as “socialism, being angry about gender” and “occupying things.” She also tells us that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Though again, that’s her dissent, not yours. And so she asks the question, “Why should we put up with research that counters our goals?” You see, finding things out must be entirely subordinate to certain, rather fashionable political assumptions. Which is to say, her assumptions. It’s exactly the quality one hopes for in a modern intellectual.
Professor Lakoff uses the term ‘progressive’ freely. Now there is a framing metaphor if ever there was one. What person of goodwill could possibly be against progress, that is to say betterment of the human condition? So if you are a person in favour of progress – in short, a progressive – only the malevolent could disagree with you.
However, there is a rather large question begged here, namely ‘What is progress?’ There is rarely gain without loss, and loss can easily exceed gain. Human action has unintended and unforeseen consequences, sometimes beneficial, often not. Progress in society is not the same as progress in internet speeds… It is possible for reasonable people to disagree… Yet Professor Lakoff seems to use the term ‘progressive’ as if those he calls progressives brought about progress ex officio, as it were, merely by virtue of their self-designation. This is a form of magical thinking.
I’m reminded of the modesty of Mr George Monbiot, a man who also deploys the word ‘progressive’ as if it were a talisman, and who dismisses his political opponents as dullards struggling with “low intelligence” and racial phobias.
These posters and drawing hardly seem to be the stuff of Voltairian pamphlets. They do not renew the liberal flames in me. What should inspire one, though, is the response to them. It is alarming that our national media feels that it cannot publish a drawing of a cartoon man for fear of violent reprisals. If people are scared to show innocuous cartoons, how might they react to a novel that may provoke controversy, or to academic research that might inspire outrage? …If, indeed, Rory Bremner is scared to joke, or Grayson Perry to make art, how many commentators, novelists and scholars have allowed their thoughts to be repressed?
In its opening video for the Olympic Games, NBC’s producers drained the thesaurus of flattering terms devoid of moral content: “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures.” To parse this infomercial treacle is to miss the point, for the whole idea is to luge by the truth on the frictionless skids of euphemism.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.
It seems that at Columbia University a rat pack of nursery feminists have got their skivvies in a knot because the library, Butler, is named for an, ugh!, man. Yes. It cannot be denied. In protest, these girls, apparently having nothing more important to do, have filmed “feminist pornography” in the library.
Indeed they have. It’s a “guerrilla action” response to “gender tension” and “male-centricity.” And “of course, it is a feminist statement.”
Anyway, one of these drab libertines, a Sara Grace Powell, says, “Butler is an extremely charged space - the names emblazoned on the stone facade are, for me, a stimulant for resistance.” A stimulant to grow up might be more to the point. She means “stimulus,” of course, but why would a child at an Ivy university be expected to know English? To an extent I have to sympathise with Sara. I grant that seeing a horrible male name “emblazoned” would send me into a decline also. Wouldn’t it you? Never mind that if the man thus emblazoned had not made the money to donate the library, Sara wouldn’t have one in which to make pornography, presumably the purpose of libraries.
As some readers may be intrigued by the notion of all-female feminist pornography, here’s a brief description:
It begins with a group of girls sitting around a library table taking their shirts off. As the film progresses, the girls engage in activities including kissing, rubbing eggs on their bodies and twerking around a chicken carcass.
The finished political opus, starring the aforementioned Ms Powell and titled Initiation, also features the somewhat lacklustre use of a riding crop, extended scenes of floor-wiping and what feels like an eternity of general aimlessness. It can be savoured at length here. Those hoping for red-blooded boi-oing fuel may, however, be disappointed. One of the film’s makers, Coco Young, has stressed the intent to transgress rather than titillate:
She was happy to see one commenter note that it was “hard to masturbate to this.” After all, the girls aimed to “create a repulsion”; there were naked women onscreen, but “they’re not there to make you sexually aroused.”
Despite dashed hopes and the sheer radicalness of it all, I trust readers will somehow get over it and get on with their lives.
Feminism is not an idea or a collection of ideas but a collection of appetites wriggling queasily together like a bag of snakes… A useful definition is this: “Feminism is the words ‘I Want!’ in the mouths of three or more women, provided they’re the right kind of women.” Feminism must therefore accommodate wildly incompatible propositions - e.g., (1) Women unquestionably belong alongside men in Marine units fighting pitched battles in Tora Bora, but (2) really should not be expected to be able to perform three chin-ups. Or: (1) Women at Columbia are empowered by pornography, but (2) women at Wellesley are victimised by a statue of a man sleepwalking in his Shenanigans. And then there is Fluke’s Law: (1) Women are responsible moral agents with full sexual and economic autonomy who (2) must be given an allowance, like children, when it comes to contraceptives.
Enrol in a college you can’t afford. Take really easy, fun courses [e.g., Politicizing Beyoncé, or The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Theodicy of Jay-Z]. Don’t worry about marketable skills. Blame society for the consequences (unemployment) of your attitude problem. Then demand the government (or your parents) bail you out. We guarantee you all the misery you could ever want.
The extreme egoism of communist leaders is a trait displayed throughout the history of the movement since Marx’s ridiculous insistence that only his socialism was “scientific.” Yet such is Jesse Myerson’s egoism that he imagines himself superior even to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. At least they had the integrity to admit that the abolition of private property — the expropriation of the bourgeoisie — could only be accomplished by violent revolution, and that the victors of such a revolution would have to employ the methods of violent terror to establish their dictatorship.
Ponder the graph above. Sixty-nine per cent of Labour supporters would want a top rate tax of 50 per cent even if it brought in no money… This is a blog about the mind-set of people who see taxation, not as an unpleasant necessity, but as a way to punish others.
The results are in [according to a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology]: Fat people overeat because our fat-fearing society “fat-shames” them, which then causes them to overeat. This doesn’t explain how they got fat in the first place, but let’s not get picky… The “fat acceptance” movement - AKA “fat power,” “body acceptance,” “size acceptance” and “weight diversity” - provides a waistband-busting cornucopia of unintentional humour. It is identity politics for the adipose, that odd, contradictory demand that society shouldn’t define them by their designated victim category even though that’s apparently the only way that these self-designated victims are able to define themselves. The movement goes all the way back to the 1960s, when “fat activists” staged a Central Park “fat-in” and the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance was founded.
Words seem to carry far more weight than facts among those liberals who argue as if rent control laws actually control rents and gun control laws actually control guns. It does no good to point out to them that the two American cities where rent control laws have existed longest and strongest - New York and San Francisco - are also the two cities with the highest average rents. Nor does it make a dent on them when you point out evidence, from both sides of the Atlantic, that tightening gun control laws does not reduce gun crimes, including murder. It is not uncommon for gun crimes to rise when gun control laws are tightened. Apparently armed criminals prefer unarmed victims.
The Education Department wrote that a school could be liable for punishing students for an offense like tardiness if more students of one race than another were tardy… Creating de facto racial quotas in school discipline will also increase violence and disorder in the schools. At a widely-read education blog, a teacher describes the violence and disorder that occurred when her school adopted racial quotas in discipline: “I was in a school that tried to implement just this criteria for discipline. One kid (scrawny 7th grader) had the crap beaten out of him by a 6-foot, fully-muscled 7th grader - two different races. The little kid was suspended before his copious blood had been cleaned up off the floor. The big kid never did have ANY punishment - that particular ethnic group had been disciplined too many times. Need I mention that it was a tough month, as word quickly spread that violence against the ‘under-disciplined’ ethnic group was treated as a freebie?”
Ah, but nothing says fairness like dishing out excuses according to how brown a student is rather than their behaviour. And attempting to reduce disruption and violence by punishing it less when racial quotas have been reached is clearly a recipe for everyone’s educational success. What could possibly go wrong? More on the same from Heather Mac Donald here and here.
Following this piece on the self-destruction of the humanities, Heather Mac Donald responds to accusations of “neoconservative pearl-clutching” by Slate’s education columnist Rebecca Schuman:
Is Schuman content with a situation in which a Columbia student rails against having been asked merely to listen to Mozart because Mozart is a dead white male? Where might that student have picked up that attitude if not from the academy and its offshoots? Whiteness studies, black studies, feminist studies, and queer studies are not a fever dream of the “neocons.” For decades now, students have been taught to search for an echo of their own “voices” in the books they read and to reject those works that they believe “exclude” them, a remarkably narrow approach to the arts. I don’t want to hear my own “voice” in what I read; it bores me.
As noted previously, you do have to marvel at a humanities student whose decisive criteria for music appreciation – criteria affirmed by her lecturers - are the composer’s pigmentation and the configuration of his genitals. As with many articles by Ms Mac Donald, there are several quotable passages, of which the following is a taste:
Schuman concludes by revealing the unbridgeable abyss between the academic hothouse and the outside world. Purporting to turn the tables on academia’s critics, she maintains that it is they who are playing the victim card: “Their gesture [of criticism] is itself a triumphant co-opting of the very manufactured, hyperbolic narratives of oppression they oppose.” Huh? Is Schuman admitting that academic “oppression narratives” are “manufactured” and “hyperbolic”? Who knows? Moreover, her purported gotcha is without any logical grounding: To criticise a trend is not, in itself, a claim of victimisation. Schuman then suggests the real motive for concern about the humanistic tradition: “It’s the [conservative] Manhattan Institute against a rising tide of literate poors who dare question the politics of privilege.” Schuman thus confirms the adolescent political pretensions that she claims conservatives are simply making up.
Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton — the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements. It replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing. In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalogue, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”
The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. Sitting atop an entire civilisation of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his or her own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.[…] [Consider] the resentment of a Columbia University undergraduate, who had been required by the school’s core curriculum to study Mozart. She happens to be black, but her views are widely shared, to borrow a phrase, “across gender, sexuality, race and class.” “Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart?” she groused… “My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It’s a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? There are no women, no people of colour.” These are not the idiosyncratic thoughts of one disgruntled student; they represent the dominant ideology in the humanities today.
Yes, what could the music of Mozart possibly have to offer a black woman, any black woman? After all, he was a composer of pallor, and male, and therefore, apparently, in the service of evil. Mozart ain’t for dark folk. Nothing to learn or enjoy there.*
One might have thought that buskers got their money from passers-by, depending on whether or not they were any good. Apparently, it is much more sensible to take money from taxpayers and simply hand it over.
Despite his extensive commentary on the subject, Mr Smith still hasn’t specified any actual remark that offended him sufficiently to vandalise the free speech wall then boast about it online. Regardless of its content, the free speech wall is, we’re told, “an act of violence.” A “microaggression.” And so Mr Smith feels obliged and entitled to retaliate, in order to pre-empt any hate (as defined by him) that might potentially occur at some point in the future. A line of moral reasoning that’s rather bold and which gives our saviour enormous scope for “forceful resistance” against almost anything he doesn’t like, even if it hasn’t happened yet.
March was of course the month of The Incident, a “level 3” violation of school behaviour, following which a classroom of seven-year-olds were urged to “share their feelings” about a partly-chewed pastry. Other highlights included students at the University of Tennessee being enlightened by a lesbian bondage expert, a reminder of the wickedness that is racist hair, and further evidence of the Arts Council’s discernment and competence. Qualities best illustrated by the £60 million West Bromwich arts centre, which promised to “make the arts more accessible” and two years after opening had failed to attract a single paying customer.