If your worldview is decisively formed within the insular climate of an elite university, the equation “liberal [i.e., leftist] = smart” is a formula you can never permit yourself to doubt, unless you are willing to admit that you have been hustled, scammed and bamboozled. A fellow with a diploma from Harvard or Stanford cannot confront the possibility that he has been swindled like an ignorant hick playing a carnival game at the country fair.
Mentioned in the comments yesterday, Professor Jere Surber unwittingly provides a textbook example. Note the parochial conceit that an educated worldview can only be a more or less leftist one. Note too the professor’s casual dismissal of those who challenge his self-flattering expectations. It’s rather like when George Monbiot waved aside those who disagree with him as mere dullards struggling with racial phobias. In George’s mind, a non-leftist outlook “thrives on low intelligence” and “appeals to stupidity.” It’s “the critical pathway from low intelligence to racism.” While self-imagined super-intellectual leftists – people like George, in fact - are apparently “self-deprecating” and “too liberal for their own good.”
Britain now has a range of unbelievably capricious “hate speech” and “public order” laws that effectively give anyone who feels offended the power to shut down his critics. Such measures are sold with mawkish appeals to the protection of the weak. But they are typically used by the strong and the rich and the well-connected.
Last October, Arizona State University’s athletics department banned face paint — “whether the theme is black, maroon, gold or white” — because ASU is an “inclusive and forward-thinking university” and they must make sure that “everyone feels safe and accepted.” They did not explain whether or not any students had actually reported feeling threatened by the paint, and if so, how those students were handling their lives currently.
Also declared emotionally hazardous to young intellectuals: the words “freshmen” and “bullet,” and, obviously, petting-zoo camels.
Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for. And tickling the tip jar makes me feel loved.
A student at Harvard University published an op-ed on Wednesday complaining that her school’s “safe spaces” are just not safe enough. According to Madison E. Johnson, her time spent in the “safe space” was really great at first — there were “massage circles,” “deep conversations,” and “times explicitly delineated for processing and journaling.”
Yes, journaling and massage circles. Readers who studied at less glamorous institutions will no doubt feel the ache of deprivation. Don’t you yearn to display undiluted your “more radical views,” free from laughter, contradiction and accusations of pretension? Which is to say, though not out loud, free from other people? All this in a “beautiful” space, one that’s “rife with consciousness.” Though preferably only yours. Is that too much to ask?
A white poet gets on stage and says the n-word a few times.
A student poet going rogue. And so,
I’m realising “safe space” might mean different things for different people.
It’s a learning curve, that whole reciprocity thing. What with the radicalism and all.
The poetry slam presents the real question. At this point in reality, can there even be a truly safe space?
You see, if it’s even remotely possible that “any facets of your experience or identity… could be mobilised against you,” thereby causing you “harm, panic, anxiety, disadvantage” – or fits of pretentious hysteria – then the space you’re in “is not safe.” “And you shouldn’t call it safe, because that is dangerous.” Despite such complications - complications that no mortal brain could possibly have anticipated - Ms Johnson is clear about what a safe space means to her:
For me, a safe space is one in which I feel that I can express all aspects of my identity without feeling that any one of those aspects will get me (including, but not limited to) judged, fired, marginalised, attacked, or killed.
Yes, killed, as in killed to bits. Possibly by radical poetry. In a safe space that is “dangerous.” On a campus where tuition and board costs $60,000 a year.
Or, “If you expose our student indoctrination policy we will punish you.”
According to numerous students, the course’s instructor demanded that they recognise “white English” as the “oppressors’ language.” Without explanation, the class spent its session before Election Day screening Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. When several students complained to the professor about the course’s politicised content, they were informed that their previous education had left them “brainwashed” on matters relating to race and social justice.
Sweat is a performance piece by Peter De Cupere, choreographed by fellow Belgian Jan Fabre, in which five dancers spend fourteen minutes rolling about and jumping up and down - naked, obviously - while attempting to fill their transparent plastic overalls with all manner of body odour. “The intention,” we’re told, “is to catch the sweat from the dancers and to distil it. The concrete of the sweat is sprayed on a wall of the dance lab and protected by a glass box. In the glass is a small hole where visitors can smell the sweat.” Yes, you can smell the sweat. If that’s not a good night out, I don’t know what is.
To show how virtuous they are, and therefore superior, Guardian columnists stick pins into their eyes.
One needn’t be a cartoon Tory to marvel at Decca Aitkenhead’s classic piece, Their Homophobia is Our Fault, in which she insisted that the “precarious, over-exaggerated masculinity” and murderous homophobia of some Jamaican reggae stars are products of the “sodomy of male slaves by their white owners.” And that the “vilification of Jamaican homophobia implies… a failure to accept post-colonial politics.” Thus, sympathetic readers could feel guilty not only for “vilifying” the homicidal sentiments of some Jamaican musicians, but also for the culpability of their own collective ancestors. One wonders how those gripped by this fiendish dilemma could even begin to resolve their twofold feelings of shame.
“Like slavery and apartheid,” Nelson Mandela told 20,000 people in Trafalgar Square ten years ago, “poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” They were inspiring words, and the crowd duly went wild. But the old man was talking utter, unadulterated bilge. Poverty is not “man-made”: it is the primordial condition of all living organisms, including humans. It is wealth that is “man-made.”
The National Association of Scholars released a 260-page report on how far the new [definition] of “sustainability” has spread, particularly on campuses. Credentials can be earned in 1,438 distinct college programmes and its message now extends to such unlikely subjects as English composition, mathematics, art history and psychology… Under the argument that true sustainability requires an end to social oppression, the report says, the movement embraces identity politics, calls for the overthrow of patriarchal systems and misogynist bias, the virtual elimination of extraction of energy from fossil fuels, an end to industrial development in the underdeveloped world and a return to subsistence or near subsistence standards of living. The need to overthrow capitalism, though not supported by all, is a common and much discussed theme in the movement.
Teen voters, the younger the better, are exactly what the left is looking for. They know no history; they base all of their decisions on emotion; they have no real world experience in terms of what works and what does not. They haven’t the slightest idea of discipline or delayed gratification. They live in a world of fantasy and wish fulfilment; they make demands that cannot be met but they’re willing to settle for an ice-cream cone. They are utterly dependent on others; they’re desperate to conform to the cultural norm, and in general they are the perfect, pliable, ignorant, utterly emotional, reason-free, easily-manipulated vote farm that the progressives need for their power grab.
Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.
And so we turn our attention to Santa Barbara City College, where creatively-inclined students have been “exploring issues and practices of… interactive and chance-derived work.” Specifically,
Students harnessed complicated architectural designs and intricate woodworking to create an artistic teepee, which they set up on one of the quad’s grassy knolls earlier this month. As the student newspaper reports, the four art students who built the teepee saw it as “a place of positive vibes and community engagement.”
Assembled from “upcycled and reclaimed material from an old farm house,” and “lined with pillows and rugs,” the students’ vibe-enhancing structure “provides a comfy, squishy environment” for music and conversation. Also included in the experience is “a shelf of blank books for people to express themselves in written word.” Engorged with positivity, the students posted an invitation for others to partake in their creation:
Join us to support the opening day of an amazing art event and large scale installation… The piece harks back to ways of the past in American history while juxtaposing current counter culture with futuristic elements that bring it to life.
We want to provide you with an experience out of the mundane - right here on campus! Celebrate our labour of love with live music, refreshments and a trading post! That’s right, bring something to trade and become part of the installation.
Oh, come on. Who could resist so much switched-on grooviness? Surely what followed was a day of vibrant self-expression and communal hugging?
“Oh but, it’s racist to ban someone on the basis of their skin colour, and sexist to ban them on their gender,” cry the assembly chorus of confused souls trying to turn the language of progress into a weapon to further entrench the establishment. It’s not. You’re at university, go and ask a humanities professor. Learn something.
The anonymous author, described only as a “British journalist,” imagines that “people don’t give a toss about their student unions” because they’re “too stunted by white men.” White men who should therefore be “banned” from student politics, forever, in favour of “powerful women and minority ethnic people.” Actually, I suspect the chief repellent is the fact that student union politics attracts so many people who are eerily like the author of the above article. But hey, don’t listen to me, ask a humanities professor.
Madsen Pirie on the power of our fluffy and benign state broadcaster:
The BBC is responsible for more than one in 10 criminal prosecutions. Culture Secretary Sajid Javid reports that 10% of magistrate court cases are for non-payment of the BBC licence fee. Non-payment is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to £1,000. Every week about 3,000 people are fined for non-payment, and about one person a week is jailed for non-payment of the fine. Women make up about 70% of those prosecuted and convicted, and half of those jailed for not paying the fine. When people fail to pay other utilities, such as energy companies, they are guilty of a civil offence, not a criminal one, and they cannot be prosecuted and fined for falling behind with their payments. Civil action can be taken for recovery, but without fines and jail terms.
The most common statistic thrown out these days by President Obama, Vice President Biden, on down is that one in five women will be the victims of sexual assault during their college careers. Detroit is America’s most violent city. Its violent crime rate for all four violent felonies — that’s rape, murder, aggravated assault, and robbery — is 2%. Its rape rate is 0.05%. A 20% crime rate for any crime, much less one as serious as rape, is virtually unheard of... And yet despite a rape rate that is allegedly 400 times that of Detroit’s, sophisticated, highly educated baby boomer mothers are beating down the doors of campuses to try to get their daughters in. […] If the rape epidemic was going on as claimed… there would be no more campuses. You would have had a massive exodus of girls from college campuses years ago, and a demand to create actually safe environments for student learning. Why hasn’t that happened? Because the campus rape epidemic does not exist.
And Steven Hayward quotes several academics who tire of feminist melodrama and the politics of the mob:
Personally, liberal [i.e., leftist] students scare the shit out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a Facebook page calling me a communist… the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican… The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip — not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery — and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a Twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.
But remember, you mustn’t say no to them. Because that one tiny word is now “violent language,” for which you will be “held accountable.”
Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.