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September 2013

Wolf, They Cried

Lifted from the comments following this, here’s an item that may have been missed. Roger Kimball takes a look at the “thriving cottage industry” of staged “hate crimes” and pantomime victimhood: 

Last month the Daily Caller reported on an incident at the ostentatiously “progressive” Oberlin College in Ohio. This time the anti-black messages circulating around campus were joined by anti-Jewish and anti-homosexual messages. It turns out that one of the two principle culprits was a vociferous supporter of Obama who belonged to such groups as “White Allies Against Structural Racism” and who describes himself on Twitter as an “atheist/pacifist/environmentalist/libertarian socialist/consequentialist.” As William A. Jacobson reports on his website Legal Insurrection, “School officials and local police knew the identity of the culprits, who were responsible for most if not all of such incidents on campus, yet remained silent as the campus reacted as if the incidents were real. National media attention focused on campus racism at Oberlin for weeks without knowing it was a hoax.”

Jacobson’s timeline of the Oberlin saga makes for interesting reading, not least for the credulity and rush to judgement in the supposedly progressive media and the obfuscation – one might say complicity - of Oberlin’s President. Other fabricated “hate crimes” are mentioned in Kimball’s piece, including a sixteen-year-old student sending himself racist and threatening text messages warning him to drop out of running for presidency of the Student Council, and leading to the involvement of parents, school officials and the police. 

As regular readers will know, feigning racial abuse, whether to justify more “diversity” measures or simply to indulge in some personal psychodrama, has, for some, become a fashionable strategy. As when a 19-year-old freshman ransacked her own room and scrawled racial slurs across its walls before curling into a foetal ball, supposedly “traumatised and mute.” When the invented nature of the incident eventually came to light, Otis Smith of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People showed a remarkable indifference to what had actually happened: “It doesn’t matter to me whether she did it or not because of all the pressure these black students are under at these predominantly white schools. If this will highlight it, if it will bring it to the attention of the public, I have no problem with that.” Despite Mr Smith’s nonchalance, it isn’t clear to me how activist theatrics of this kind – ranging from email sock-puppetry to hanging nooses in campus libraries - will help any students feel welcome and at ease.

Update, via the comments:

Mr Smith’s willingness to excuse malicious disinformation is shared by other activists. Among them, black law student Johnathan Perkins, who in 2011 told the University of Virginia’s student newspaper that while walking home he’d been taunted and intimidated by two white police officers. Perkins’ letter to the paper claimed that “most Americans are raised in racially sterilised environments,” and that “black people are accused of… playing the victim.” The student’s stated hope was that, “sharing this experience will provide this community with some much needed awareness of the lives that many of their black classmates are forced to lead.” A subsequent investigation involving dispatch records, police tapes and surveillance video from nearby businesses revealed the student’s story to be entirely untrue. In a written statement Perkins later admitted, “I wrote the article to bring attention to the topic of police misconduct... The events in the article did not occur.”

Archives of similar hoaxes can be found here, here and here. The latter includes a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College who slashed her own tyres and defaced her own car with abusive and racist messages. The professor, Kerri Dunn, protested her victimhood to faculty and police despite being seen vandalising the vehicle, thereby setting an example for youngsters everywhere. Meanwhile classes were cancelled in support of Professor Dunn and students held rallies for “tolerance and diversity.” But spare a thought for the professor, our self-imagined heroine. After all, if you’re going to tell students there’s a “crisis of hate” on your campus, as Professor Dunn did, and if the campus you’re talking about doesn’t match that rhetoric at all, then certain measures will have to be taken. And by measures I mean liberties. Like slashing your own tyres then blaming someone in your class. Or walking over to the people who’ve just watched you do this and asking if they’d seen who was responsible. 

Three Paperclips and a Sandwich Wrapper

Another ‘green’ breakthrough reported by Minnesota’s Star Tribune

Talk turned to trash at the Hennepin County Government Centre this week when surprised employees discovered their standard-size garbage cans replaced by new ones… The county’s environmental and property services departments delivered the cans to the offices of 3,000 mostly unwitting workers in the Hennepin County Government Centre last weekend. An official rally heralding their arrival and making a pitch for their proper use came Thursday. Employees are told to empty the cans at a centrally located receptacle on their floor. “This short walk will help the county save money, stay healthy and protect the environment,” said an informational flier given to workers. Judy Hollander, director of property services, led the plan for the new cans. “As we create more recycling, the amount of trash goes down,” she said. But she recognises that “it’s a hard change for folks,” she said. “When we mentioned it at the department heads meeting, there was a large gasp.”

I suspect you too will be impressed when you click here

Via Ricochet.  

Friday Ephemera

Hitler was a black woman. // Bobtail squid. // Useful beard. // Inter-species head-butting instruction. And yes, there’s a gif. // Apartment or castle? // Printing on meat. // Putting time in perspective. // Penetrating rays. // Medical treatment of yore. // The scourge of illegal, underground dining. // When craving crustacean in China. // Anatomical chocolates. // For those dark winter evenings. // So, is Ed Miliband depraved or just stupid? // I suspect a transporter malfunction. // “The man’s intestinal tract was acting like a brewery.” // At last, a bill-splitting app. // Some actual science. // And finally, a “sexy jelly pudding” from Japan

Diversity and Inclusion

To be cultivated, obviously, with racial segregation

In order to create a safe space, this programme is open to people of colour only. A similar conversation for white students, faculty and staff is planned for the spring semester. 

You see, it’s a “conversation,” one that’s all about “healing and mutual respect” and “engaging with diverse views.”

I’m actually rather tickled by the notion of students needing a “safe space” at Hamilton College, an elite New York liberal arts college with an endowment of around three-quarters of a billion dollars and where tuition is a mere $46,ooo, excluding room and board. This, after all, is one of the most cossetting and exquisitely PC environments on the face of the Earth. One that boasts an extensive, indeed prodigious, “diversity” apparatus, spanning Kwanzaa, Diwali, Multicultural Week, GLBT History Month, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and a “diversity and social justice project.” Not to mention numerous identity-affirming groups, among them, a Feminists of Colour Collective whose activities include workshops, naturally, and, also naturally, “periodic flash mobs.” Oh, and a Womyn’s Centre – yes, spelled womyn’s - whose “Womyn’s Energy Week” reveals the “creativity, progressiveness and deep thinking” of its participants.


Following unexpected public attention, the segregated “diversity” class has now been cancelled. Says Hamilton’s Director of Diversity Amit Taneja, “My intent was to be inclusive but my phrasing suggested otherwise.” The mistake, you see, was merely one of phrasing and how things may have appeared, i.e., to the uninitiated. Racial segregation being a cornerstone of inclusion, apparently. Despite being obliged to ditch his achingly sensitive ‘no white folk’ policy, Dr Taneja is of course undeterred in his mission:

I think it is a good idea now to pause and reflect on how we structure conversations about race. As a result, I invite all interested members of the community to come to a re-envisioned dialogue this Thursday at 4:15 p.m. to address two central questions: What does a meaningful dialogue about race look like? How can we best structure such a dialogue?

Because if there’s one thing students of the liberal arts really, really need - and need to be billed for - it’s another “dialogue” about race. Or rather, a dialogue about how a dialogue about race might be structured and what that dialogue might look like, should it actually happen.

Update 2:

More background on Dr Taneja and his acolytes can be found here. It starts off sounding clownish, as such people generally do, but a note of authoritarian creepiness may soon become apparent.

Via Kate

Elsewhere (99)

John Nolte spies a revolving door:

Whether the number is 15 or 19, the fact that this many so-called journalists from outlets as influential as CBS, ABC, CNN, Time, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times want to work at the very same administration they are supposed to hold accountable, is not only troubling, it also explains a lot. Why would anyone enamoured enough with an Obama administration they want to go work for, do anything that might make a potential employer uncomfortable — you know, like actually report on ObamaCare and the economy honestly, or dig into Benghazi and the IRS? 

Thomas Sowell on the problems of a minimum wage. Parts 1 and 2

Advocates of minimum wage laws often give themselves credit for being more “compassionate” towards “the poor.” But they seldom bother to check what are the actual consequences of such laws. One of the simplest and most fundamental economic principles is that people tend to buy more when the price is lower and less when the price is higher. Yet advocates of minimum wage laws seem to think that the government can raise the price of labour without reducing the amount of labour that will be hired... As for being “compassionate” toward “the poor,” this assumes that there is some enduring class of Americans who are poor in some meaningful sense, and that there is something compassionate about reducing their chances of getting a job… Most working people in the bottom 20 percent in income at a given time do not stay there over time. More of them end up in the top 20 percent than remain behind in the bottom 20 percent. There is nothing mysterious about the fact that most people start off in entry level jobs that pay much less than they will earn after they get some work experience. But, when minimum wage levels are set without regard to their initial productivity, young people are disproportionately unemployed -- priced out of jobs.

Related to the above, ESR on fast food and “social justice”:  

If you are one of the concerned, caring, and vastly indignant activists behind this strike, I’m here to tell you that your social-justice problem has a simple solution. Take out a loan (or put together the money from your like-minded activist friends), buy a franchise from one of the chains, and hire workers at $15 an hour. There, that was simple, wasn’t it? You’ll make money hand over fist and demonstrate to all those eeevil corporations that they can too pay a “just wage”; they just don’t want to because they’re greedy. Or…maybe not.

Heather Mac Donald on when ‘affirmative action’ fails: 

Racial preferences are not just ill advised, they are positively sadistic. Only the preening self-regard of University of California administrators and faculty is served by such an admissions travesty. Preference practitioners are willing to set their “beneficiaries” up to fail and to subject them to possible emotional distress, simply so that the preference dispensers can look out upon their “diverse” realm and know that they are morally superior to the rest of society.

And BenSix considers the artistry of Mr Robin Thicke: 

It is customary in pieces such as this for their author to insist that he or she is no prude. I will respect this tradition and offer credentials: I have wallowed in low culture to an unhealthy degree, from cage fighting to B movies to French literature. 

As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.

Friday Ephemera

Spreadable beer, £7.99. // Playing with smoke and fire. // “Ginger ale, hot.” // I think this may be an advert for a cigarette lighter. // The world’s largest lunchbox museum. // Bees, birds and insects. // Low-budget Batman. // Manhattan, then and now. // A year in Hong Kong. (h/t, Coudal) // Rio de Janeiro. // Two cats and a piglet. You want one and you know it. // Gendered eggs. // Impress your peers with a silver Vincent Price ring. // The evolution of the bicycle. // The listening cloud. // “The evil influence of the yo-yo.” (h/t, Tim Blair) // This guy is faintly disturbing. // And finally, for dicentra - Doctor Who: Origins. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4

Clinging to the Teats

Writing in the Guardian, the Australian feminist and academic Hila Shachar rails against the little people, and how tight and stupid they are:

We seem to pride ourselves on our anti-intellectualism in Australia. This is why it came as no surprise to those in the business of thinking and researching when the Coalition insulted the work done through Australian Research Council (ARC) funding, calling the grants funded by the ARC “ridiculous” and a “waste” – a “waste” which it plans to “re-prioritise.” 

Yes, Australia’s new and insufficiently leftwing government has dared to suggest that, while there will be no reduction in overall annual research funding of around $900M, and indeed some increase, those same public funds might more usefully be directed somewhere other than the fringes of the humanities. Say, into “researching dementia and diabetes.” As a product of the humanities and therefore in “the business of thinking,” Dr Shachar is not at all impressed by this and is keen to let readers know just how noble and heroic her fellow grant-seekers are:

It’s one of the most rigorous, stringent and competitive processes… Academics don’t apply for grants for the fun of it, and many continue to wade through endless applications because they believe in the basic worth of the research and its overall contribution to society.

Dr Shachar is, however, careful not to explain the “contribution to society” made by her own work, or by the humanities research projects that were highlighted as examples of non-essential spending, including a $164,000 grant for studying “how urban media art can best respond to global climate change.” Or by the boldly titled research project Queering Disasters in the Antipodes, which hopes to probe the “experiences of LGBTI people in natural disasters” and ultimately provide “improved disaster response” to gay people, whose needs in such circumstances are apparently quite different from those of everyone else. The princely sum of $325,183 has been spent on this endeavour. “No such work has been done in this field before,” says the project outline. Instead, we learn that “people who have received an ARC grant… are the last people in Australia you could accuse of frivolity and waste,” and that taxpayer subsidy of such things should be left to “people who are actually qualified to decide the importance of specific projects.”

Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to decide what is “relevant” in research any more than they have the right to tell business owners whether they like or dislike their products… If modern democratic countries such as Australia pride themselves in things such as free speech and an independent media, we should also fight for our free thinkers. There is nothing “ridiculous” about research, but there is something ridiculous about a country that is proud of its contempt for its thinkers.

You see, Dr Shachar is all in favour of democracy. She mentions it four times. She just doesn’t think the public should have any say in how its money is spent - say, by voting for a government with particular spending policies. Whichever party you vote for, nothing should ever change, at least in the humanities.

The tone is just a little telling: “How dare you, the lowly taxpayer, question our funding and the value of our work? Only we get to do that, and we agree with us. Why, you don’t even have an amulet!” It almost sounds like a caste thing. And note how our righteous academic conflates efforts to reduce the coercive public funding of, say, questionable art projects with contempt for thinkers. A manoeuvre that’s repeated throughout her article: “This attitude is no surprise… Australia has an underlying contempt for intellectuals, the arts, and specifically its thinkers… in Australia, thinking is for losers.” In Dr Shachar’s mind, these budgetary changes are an “attack” on Australia’s higher brain functions, of which the arts and humanities are its highest measure and most glittering jewel. And if you disagree with Dr Shachar on how your taxes should be spent and vote accordingly, why, it stands to reason you’re some kind of mouth-breathing heathen with a fear of big words.

Unlike you, Dr Shachar holds a PhD in English and Cultural Studies. Her contribution to intellectual life and the “business of thinking” is to occasionally teach classes in Popular Culture and of course Gender Studies, two subjects long admired for their profundity and intellectual rigour. A cure for motor neurone disease is expected from her in no time, along with breakthroughs in cold fusion and a mastery of time travel. 

The Pan Handle

Just a note to say thanks to all who made PayPal donations recently, thereby helping this rickety barge stay afloat a while longer. Given my reluctance to host adverts for online casinos, overnight weight loss and mature singles dating services, it’s much appreciated. It’s heartening to know there’s apparently some value to this blog, with its distillations of wisdom from our betters at the Guardian and updates from the terribly daring world of taxpayer-funded art. To say nothing of its collection of tweets by agonised lefties, and reports from the worlds of radical engineering, radical academia and equally radical nudism. For a flavour of what goes on here, newcomers are invited to browse the reheated series, which is as good an introduction as any. So, again. Thank you. 

I’ll leave this button here, mind, just in case anyone else would like to monetise their love.