Friday Ephemera
There’s Something On Your Back

Elsewhere (67)

John Ellis and Charles Geshekter on academia’s growing political lockstep:

The slant is even now rapidly increasing. At Berkeley the 2004-5 imbalance in political affiliation for the most senior faculty (full professors) was 8.3-1, but for the next rank (associate professors) it was an overwhelming 30-1. And for the most junior level (assistant professors) the figure was almost exclusionary at 64-1. Assistant professors are the most recent hires, and associate professors the ones immediately preceding. These strongly suggest that the university of tomorrow will virtually exclude political or social perspectives that are not left of centre. Attempts to stop this trend, or even to draw attention to it, are dismissed as partisan. Campus liberals are too comfortable with the status quo to worry about a problem that seems to trouble only people unlike themselves. What will happen when the world of academia has finally taken an ideological shape completely unlike that of the world beyond the campus gates?

Readers who wish to see that lockstep in action – and how the lock-steppers respond to criticism - should revisit this nugget from the archives. And remember, these are caring, enlightened people building “friendly, progressive communities.” Just don’t dare to disagree with them.

Howie Carr on when racial exoticism misfires:  

But [Elizabeth] Warren’s real downfall was the total unravelling of her alleged Native American heritage. No one still believes she’s even 1/32 Cherokee, and her refusal to release her Ivy League employment records only seems to confirm that the blue-eyed, blonde-haired white woman “checked the box” to jump-start her sputtering academic career in the mid-1980s. In the spring, when Warren was still clinging to her flimsy stories of “family lore,” she said she identified herself as Indian only because she “wanted to meet people like myself.” She also cited her Aunt Bee as pointing out that her father, Warren’s grandfather, had high cheekbones, “like all the Indians do.”

A couple of weeks ago, several Cherokee who had been most critical of Warren’s scam arrived in Massachusetts to confront her. A perfect opportunity for Liz to meet people like her. But she snubbed the real Indians, claiming they were part of a vast right-wing Cherokee conspiracy. The Native Americans couldn’t even arrange a powwow with one of Warren’s whitebread campaign staffers. Finally they returned home, and Twila Barnes, an indefatigable Cherokee genealogist, went back to her digging - and came up with the 1999 death certificate of Aunt Bee Veneck, who imparted the “family lore” to young Lizzy about her proud high-cheekbone heritage. The form offered as choices for race: Native American, white and black - and the family member who supplied that information listed Aunt Bee as white. That family member was Elizabeth Warren.

Oh, and this is the kind of comment that the Guardian deletes as objectionable. Because, you know, “facts are sacred.”


And speaking of the Guardian, yesterday the paper saw fit to romanticise tube train vandals. Apparently the culprits are being artistic and individual, and freeing us from fear. With sledgehammers, spray cans and a repair bill of £10m. The author of the piece, Tom Oswald, tells us, 

I was 12, indestructible and wondering who I was when I first awoke to the adventure of graffiti train writing. It represented a chance to define myself. 

Because, obviously, that’s what trains and tube stations are for. Letting adolescents define themselves by making the place ugly, degraded and vaguely threatening. Even when those adolescents are well into their thirties and looking rather sad. But hey, don’t be so square. It’s a subculture, man. Though, as noted previously, I can’t help wondering how the Kings Place Massive would feel if similar graffiti were applied to the offices of the Guardian or the homes of its writers.

Feel free to add your own.