David Thompson


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November 22, 2013



students in the demonstration described grammar and spelling corrections he made on their dissertation proposals as a form of “micro-aggression.”

That's the attitude all employers look for.


That’s the attitude all employers look for.

Viewed rationally, the racial grievance racket seems designed to keep children with brown skin in poverty wherever possible. How else might we explain the taxpayer funded race hustler Dr Caprice Hollins? A woman who was paid $86,000 a year to tell Seattle educators that “students of colour” needn’t learn the grammar and fluency she herself enjoys - and which employers generally expect of job candidates. These basic skills, including punctuality, are apparently “white values,” and expectations thereof constitute “cultural racism.” Instead of encouraging “students of colour” to articulate their thoughts and plan ahead, we must, she says, see people as “racial beings” and “teach [children] to view the world through a racial lens.”

Not correcting children’s grammar, thereby ensuring they sound like idiots, is apparently a great way to ensure they get good jobs and escape poverty.


In other news, Harvard students can’t name the capital of Canada.


Some students said they thought Thursday’s protest was focused more on humiliating a single professor than starting dialogue.

Ya think? That's the whole plan,isn't it? “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it” as Saul Alinsky advised. And how do you pick a target? "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" will work in a pinch. It's like musical chairs for professors. You lose, professor Rust; now pick up that cat-o-nine tails and whack yourself till we tell you to stop.

Within living memory, people had to fight to vote and get admitted to college but we're leading the fight against micro-aggression. Our generation will do great things.


Not correcting children’s grammar, thereby ensuring they sound like idiots, is apparently a great way to ensure they get good jobs and escape poverty.

I think this is where theory hits reality and reality pulls out it's gat and starts shooting.


sigh: c /it's/its/
Medic! I just grammer lamed myself.


I just grammer lamed myself.

Don’t worry, this is a safe space. Your feelings matter to us, deeply. And I mean that sincerely. [ Tilts head, does caring face. ]

Tom Foster

In the comments to that Tim Groseclose piece, someone links to this:


…which I thought had to be satire. But apparently not:


Students are taught that sandwiches are racist, and they have 'Courageous Conversations' about 'white privilege'. But trouble is brewing over a lunchtime drum class…


Remember, academia is the left’s foremost proving ground. A model of utopia and corrected thought.


Hey, you don't know until you walk a mile in their shoes. Maybe they have had trouble with pandas...


Dr Cromarty

It's almost like these people never saw Chris Rock's 'Niggaz vs Black People' routine. "Keep in' it rrrrrreal!" "Yeah, real DUMB"


David, even Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches are racist these days

Nik White

… this story and its comedic possibilities

I cannot find this funny. This story is actually making me physically disgusted. How dare they use such an accusation of racist aggression to make up for their own shortcomings?

Do they have any idea how long it takes to mark student papers? Any idea at all how much more time it takes to review, in detail, the spelling and punctuation of 1,500-3000 word assignments and their references and bibliographies? Any idea how fortunate they must be to have an educator who has determined to take time away from his own research to spend it on correcting their spelling and grammar?

And please God do not tell me these students are actually in preparation to become teachers themselves at some point in the future.

While I cannot be absolutely certain without a full knowledge of the facts, I am nevertheless incredulous regarding the comment below from one of the protesting students, bearing in mind that this is all happening in a Graduate School of Education. I may have never been to UCLA, but I would be genuinely shocked to discover that its Education school is run along lines that are anything less than achingly inclusive and progressive.

Although I'm quite certain of Ms Flores's own conviction that what she says is true, I find it almost impossible to believe that the experience she is describing is anything other than a paranoid delusion.

Other students were emotional as they spoke about their experiences.

Alma Flores, a graduate student in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, became tearful as she talked about the racial discrimination she has faced at UCLA.

“As a woman of color, I should not have to get up every single day to have my identity questioned. … I am tired of it,” she said, crying as she spoke. “I’m tired, and it hurts me so much.”


Damn, someone beat me to it!!


"In other news, Harvard students can’t name the capital of Canada"

For heaven's sake! The capital of Canada is C. At least it is if you are being oppressive towards those less of your skin colour. Otherwise it is just canada.


Dear Mr Thompson

The elephant on the campus would appear to be the overt, macro-aggression towards white people.

The implication of the Professor of Racist Sandwiches is that the people of different cultures should be protected from learning anything new. That's modern education for you.


Steve 2

Nik - I am also a woman of colour - no, wait - a genderqueer woman of colour - a sassy black BBW - and I am equally tired of having my identity called into question.

People will say "Steve, but you're clearly a skinny white man". That is the sort of microaggression I have to deal with every day of my so-called life on this racist so-called planet. What right do patriarchal oppressors like my wife have to define me?

My boss asked me recently "Steve, could you please stop breezing into the office at around 10? Your contracted hours are 9–5.30"

"STOP HATE-SPEECHING ME YOU RACIST WELSH BASTARD!", I explained as I threw a stapler in his direction to emphasise my point. My culture is a demonstrative and ebullient one.

I have explained to HR that my trigger warnings include being expected to obey the white man's clock, as if I were on some sort of plantation. Also, Mondays.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to get that salary increase I asked for.


“As a woman of colour, I should not have to get up every single day to have my identity questioned. … I am tired of it,” she said, crying as she spoke. “I’m tired, and it hurts me so much.”

I did wonder whether Ms Flores also regards grammar correction as part of that tear-inducing experience. The poor, dear creature – having her cartoon identity questioned in one of the most exquisitely cosseting and PC environments on the face of the planet. It’s such a trial. It’s easy to laugh of course - or to despair at the cultivated whininess. They sound utterly self-absorbed and pathologically unrealistic. But this is no accident. Like this idiot, mentioned previously, they’re the ideal end product of a leftist education. They’ve been processed quite effectively.


"... it hurts me so much."

This one phrase encapsulates the entire world of victimology in only 5 words.

the wolf

Not correcting children’s grammar, thereby ensuring they sound like idiots, is apparently a great way to ensure they get good jobs and escape poverty.

It's the subtle racism of low expectations.

Steve 2

Update - Jenny from accounts just tried to get me to sign up for the office Christmas party.

I burst into tears, explaining how offended I am to be reminded of Christmas, because I am a wizard. My people have been persecuted and made fun of by Xtians for years.

Then I started scratching her face and miaowing, because I am also a cat.

Jenny from accounts won't be in a hurry to tangle with Steve again.


Someone fetch a net. I think Steve’s brain fever is flaring up again.

Steve 2

David - that is exactly the sort of reactionary felisophobic microaggression that I faced when I protested Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats". "You're just humans in catface!", I reasoned, as Mister Mistoffelees tried to drown out the sound of my righteous protest with his awful singing.

I hadn't been so poorly treated since I showed up at Jesus Christ: Superstar dressed as a centurion and carrying a hammer and nails. I understand they now have a picture of me in the security kiosk of the Lyceum.

Shame on you, sir.


I denounce myself.


I can assure the professor that the vast majority of grocer's apostrophes I see are the product not of 'non-whites', but of people as Anglo Saxon as I am!


And, of course, when it comes to the hallowed halls of academe, you can never start too early:


Nik White

Steve 2

Whatever you else you do, no matter how hard it gets - keep that resistance going! Resist your boss, your wife, common sense and gravity but just resist!

Your very identity as a loud and proud fluid-gendered atemporally-oriented wizard is a hammer ringing the death knell of Third Stage Patriarchal-Corporative Capitalism, shaking it's crumbling foundations into dust!

Remember - just being you is what speaks truth to the oppressor's power ¡Vive la lucha para simpre, mi camarada hermana-hermano!

Also, this might help motivate you. It may even, who knows, blow your mind:



As a technical writer working for a software developer, I was HIRED to engage in microagression.

Sometimes, I correct the grammar/spelling/punctuation of people of color who are natives of India.

I am so damned racist it hurts.


Also, every programmer will tell you that coding is absolutist in its intolerance for mistakes in spelling, syntax, and punctuation.

Those racist systems will SHUT DOWN rather than tolerate sloppiness in that wise.

Technology is Da Man.


How many of you would like to have your financial matters managed by a computer that was designed according to the feminist principles of logic?


The GSE&IS mission statement says they're all about...

1. High academic standards and integrity;
2. The intellectual and professional development of students;

And (obviously)…

3. The pursuit of social justice;


Looks like #3 is at odds with the other two.


I'm reminded of my parents, correcting my spoken and written English constantly when I was a kid. I was informed, "it doesn't matter how smart you are. If your English is incorrect, people will think you're stupid." Nice to see their words validated.


The sheer rejection of reality is breathtaking... it reminds me of this...


On the contrary, dicentra, programmers will tell you that spelling is unimportant, as long as you mis-spell consistently. The names are for human convenience, the compiler replaces them with location references.

sargon of akkad

"These basic skills and others, including punctuality, are apparently 'white values', and expectations thereof constitute 'cultural racism'" . . .

Imperial China was white? Who knew!


How many of you would like to have your financial matters managed by a computer that was designed according to the feminist principles of logic?

A 1 is a 1 unless a woman wants it to be a 0, then it's a 0. Unless she changes her mind. Bit flips via shaming!

I wonder if quantum computing could work this way. Can feminists affect the spin of atoms with their whining? I think we should test it; let's put 1000 feminists in a room and see if they can nag and complain the bits into switching. At least it would prevent them from other mischief.


Imperial China was white?

"White" just means "bad" or "inconvenient to leftists" now. Thus a group of Republicans or Tea Partiers can be "frighteningly white" but not the editorial board of the New York Times.

David Gillies

In software engineering, there exist three levels at which a program's correctness can be specified: lexical, syntactical and semantical. A program must be lexically correct (e.g. drawn from a defined character set and using a finite set of keywords) before the lexer hands it off to the parser. It must be syntactically correct in order to compile (or be executed if it is an interpreted language). It must be semantically correct to provide correct output. All three of these criteria are essential but the first two are relatively easy to satisfy and the third is, in general, astoundingly hard. It is also the stage where software fails (q.v. every IT project that has not worked satisfactorily).

With the illustrious students of the UCLA GSEIS, matters are somewhat similar. It's no good writing theses in Enochian or invisible ink, and the sentences have to conform to at least a minimal set of syntactic rules even to be parsed as English. This is where the 'micro-aggressions' of spelling and punctuation corrections make their appearance. But I would not mind betting that it is at the third hurdle that most of these students' output comes a cropper. It is dollars to doughnuts that, almost without exception, work at graduate level in a large US university in the woollier fringes of the humanities will consist of the most atrociously meaningless horseshit that can be compassed by the mind of Man. This is the purpose of graduate-level arts faculties: to pan for the few flecks of common sense that are to be found in a torrential flood of crap and ruthlessly discard them. This explains the confusion of obscurity with profundity that has been remarked on so often here.

Note, also, that it is the surplus productivity created by, inter alia, software engineers getting their code right that affords people like Caprice Hollins their sinecures and prevents them from dying of pellagra.

carbon based lifeform

[Professor] Rust said students in the demonstration described grammar and spelling corrections he made on their dissertation proposals as a form of “micro-aggression.”

Using spellcheck must be a real bitch. And racist.


Hey, you don't know until you walk a mile in their shoes. . . .

Absolutely true. Because after that, you're a mile away, you've got the shoes, and there isn't a thing that can be done to stop you.


Micro-aggressions, and macro-offended about them. Go figure.


The good thing about stories like this is that they help me smile upon the British students who stagger about the city centres, puking down the fronts of their undersized togas. Sure, it's vile, but at least it's not self righteous.


Actually I consider the spellcheck and its red underscores to be aggressive and demeaning of my ability to spell. It is also usually racist in defaulting to English as the language I am assumed to be writing in.

Michael Collins, Esq.

Not even the great Communist in DC can "redistribute" IQ. As much as the socialist try, DNA and IQ are linked and no amount of social engineering can change one's IQ of 82, Not HUD Sec 8 housing, EBT, or Obama phones.


I denounce myself!


I also wish to denounce myself. My Beijing-born missus hitherto appreciated it when I corrected her English, as she foolishly desires to speak it as well as possible. Fortunately I now recognise my micro-aggressive patronage and understand her complicity to be a betrayal of the sisterhood of colour. Thanks davidthompson.blog!




Such are the mental and emotional traumas of the modern grad school intellectual. These, remember, are people studying for master’s degrees and doctorates. Advanced learning.

The question is how did they get into grad school?


Great blog, Mr Thompson. *hits tip jar*


Micro-aggressions, and macro-offended about them. Go figure.

Imagine the mental contortions that are required for standard grammar and spelling corrections to equal “subtle verbal and nonverbal insults directed toward non-whites… layered insults based on race.” And all in a place where the nation’s brightest are supposed to learn, among other things, how to write well. A mind that bent out of shape - and an institution that indulges such dishonesty - is probably beyond repair.

*hits tip jar*

Your host endorses this message wholeheartedly.


This is relatively ridiculous but I would point out that a large proportion of grad students are foreign and as such will not have the greatest English skills. While those skills would be necessary to properly function in an American professional job (I assume that's the aim) they would not be needed if they return to their home country afterwards. For that reason I can see ignoring minor grammatical errors that a foreign student might make in subjects other than English. If a student is learning economics he needs to know economics, if he's learning math he needs to know math, if he's learning chemistry he needs to know chemistry etc. English is important but unless this student intends to work in an English speaking area after completion it is not as important as you make it out to be.


W/o commas, how are we to understand meaning? Point in case,
Luke 22:43
"Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”"
"Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise.”"
Very different meanings, aren't they??



I would point out that a large proportion of grad students are foreign and as such will not have the greatest English skills.

It’s an interesting point, whether one should make exceptions of that kind for non-native English speakers in the marking of some advanced studies, where English grammar and spelling aren’t regarded as fundamental to the subject.

But it’s one that doesn’t feature in any of the five reports on this I’ve seen. From what I’ve read, it isn’t the crux of the students’ complaint – in fact, it doesn’t seem to crop up at all. Even assuming the errors were all minor ones, and even assuming professors should make allowances of the kind you suggest, the 25 protesting students aren’t reported as all being newcomers or foreign-born, all having English as a second language, all being students of, say, chemistry, and all intending to work overseas in their native tongue. Instead, the students of education and information have framed the issue, emphatically, as one of “toxic” racism, claiming that Professor Rust’s classroom - and the whole school - constitute an “unsafe climate for students of colour.” (Partly, it seems, because someone in class questioned the premises of “critical race theory.”)

It’s a little odd, don’t you think?

Nik White


This is relatively ridiculous but I would point out that a large proportion of grad students are foreign and as such will not have the greatest English skills … those skills … would not be needed if they return to their home country

You raise an interesting point, however, I'm afraid it is one that is just not relevant to the UCLA case discussed above:

Firstly, overseas students for whom English is a second or foreign language may, as you say, have issues with written accuracy and also (sometimes) issues in becoming accustomed to different academic conventions. However, it would be highly improbable for such a student to perceive correction of their grammar, spelling and referencing as a form of 'subtle' racial prejudice. I'm sure – in fact, I know – that after many years of studying English in high school that while such overseas students do find it frustrating to discover errors in their work, they nevertheless accept the need to correct them. As a rule, they are therefore generally grateful for any instructor who helps point out any errors to them. They have, after all, paid significant fees for their education and not to be corrected in this way would be seen as negligence on the part of the school. So the student protestors we're talking about will be mono- or bilingual Americans with English as their first and main language.

Secondly, approximately 85% of all the world's most important science journals are published in English. Therefore the ability to write up scientific research in accurate and appropriate English is of huge importance for scientists around the world and continues to be so long after they have left university education – they will simply not see their work published if the language it has been written in lacks precision or (in the worst cases) intelligibility.

Only a few weeks ago, I helped revise a paper written by a Spanish postgraduate researcher who is employed by NASA – the journal was keen on the content of her paper and wanted to publish it but insisted that she first check the accuracy of her written English – and I can assure you her paper contained only really comparatively infrequent and minor errors in syntax and lexical choice. This was not an act of 'microaggression' on the part of the journal's editors, most of whom are themselves speakers of English as a second or foreign language. This was an example of guaranteeing high standards of professionalism, showing respect for the readers and respect for the very long tradition of scientific enquiry.

Thirdly, the UCLA story is about students in a Graduate school of Education – with that in mind, we are very likely talking about students who will become professionals in education research, administration or classroom practice. I'm sure that any teacher-in-training who finds their spelling, citations etc. being corrected will feel embarrassed, ashamed, even angry – but they should use that anger and shame as motivation to make sure that they do better next time. What they absolutely should not do is attempt to explain away their personal failures and shortcomings as 'microagressive' acts of racial prejudice or assaults on their 'identity'. That, quite frankly, is bullshit.

Graduate students ought to see themselves as mental Olympians. Do you think Michael Phelps ever accused his swimming coaches of 'microagression' for making him get up at 4am every day so that he could be shouted at while doing laps, over and over again? Do you think there has never been a day when Phelps hasn't heard his alarm go off at the crack of dawn and wished, just for once, that he could lie in bed until 8? Or a day when he really wanted to go to Taco Bell for a burrito and a beer rather than pounding down another tasteless protein shake?

Anything that is worth achieving costs effort - and then some - and it inevitably causes a great deal of frustration, pain and misery. No one should be handed a Masters or a Doctorate on a plate. It would be a devaluation of the entire process.

Those UCLA protestors might want to start reconsidering a career in education now, because if they can't even manage to be good students today what kind of teacher will they make tomorrow?



As you say, the students will either be studying for a role in education or doing a doctoral degree in some subset of information studies. In either case, a sound grasp of English would seem to be quite useful and a measure of their punctiliousness. Still, they’ve evidently internalised plenty of identity politics and leftwing attitudinising. And hey, that’s what matters.


I denounce myself more than David denounces himself!
(This proves me to be morally superior to David.)


I’ve posted a link to this before but it seems relevant:

One MP says he believes schools in his constituency are only correcting up to 3 [spelling] mistakes because they fear it knocks students’ confidence.

At my own state schools there were several teachers who felt that teaching basic grammar was insufficiently ‘progressive’ and therefore unnecessary. (At secondary school, my long-suffering German teacher couldn’t believe that his ‘A’ stream students had no idea what a subordinate clause was. He had to spend large chunks of his lessons providing remedial English tuition.) Similar views are still propagated by, among others, the communist, poet and BBC regular Michael Rosen, who tells fellow Guardian readers that “there’s no such thing as correct grammar.” For Rosen - whose own grammar is of course carefully crafted - learning the rules of the national language is inegalitarian and should therefore be frowned upon.


The students are correct. Precise language, good dictions, advanced grammar are oppressing to students of colour. So they testify, so it is. Let them be themselves with their own grammar.


My mother tells a tale from her schooldays before the war. The headmistress gave them all elocution lessons to try and take the edge off their Sussex accents, she said that they should all try and speak 'correctly' to adults in a position of authority as it made a good impression, they could happily drop their aitches and the like in the company of their own kind. How oppressive and classist was that, the very idea of helping working class kids to gain a small advantage in life, the fascist cow. Come to think of it that's why all the kids now speak estuary and can't tell an apostrophe from an aspidistra, it's a liberating blow against false consciousness.


Cut welfare payments and let them wallow in their own filth and stupidity.
It will sort itself out....


Not even the great Communist in DC can "redistribute" IQ. As much as the socialist try, DNA and IQ are linked and no amount of social engineering can change one's IQ...

Wait until the racist White man's science comes up with genetic modification and drugs for pregnant women and young children to do just that.

Watch as progressives wonder whether it's oppressive towards retards to presume to raise their IQs, or if it should be provided free of charge by the government.

Then watch them announce that it provides final proof of absolute human equality.


For Rosen - whose own grammar is of course carefully crafted - learning the rules of the national language is inegalitarian and should therefore be frowned upon... Dr Hollins was paid $86,000 a year to tell Seattle educators that “students of colour” needn’t learn the grammar and fluency she herself enjoys - and which employers generally expect of job candidates.

It's always the same. 'Do as I say not as I do'. People who can't write properly or spell won't get jobs like theirs.


Morning all.

‘Do as I say not as I do’. People who can’t write properly or spell won’t get jobs like theirs.

Well, it’s peculiar advice, to say the least. Especially when one of the people giving it makes a comfortable living writing reports, presumably in grammatical English, and the other, when not writing Guardian columns, is a poet and novelist. It’s almost as if they don’t think that other people – poorer people or people with browner skin – should be offered the same tools to get on in life. Presumably, ambitious young people who happen to have more melanin should just make do with their ethnic charm.

And this is a pretty standard feature of patrician leftism - a belief that the Designated Victim Group must be indulged with lower standards and lower expectations. As if the way to show compassion for someone is to treat them as hopelessly inferior and condescend to them. As if they were something akin to a pet. It isn’t exactly hard to find leftwing pundits and academics who openly say that other people, poorer people, shouldn’t even want the kind of opportunities and comforts that they themselves enjoy. For instance, the clownish Robert Skidelsky, a man mystified by why the rabble won’t make do with what he thinks is good for them. Or rather, good enough.

[ Edited. ]

sackcloth and ashes

'This is relatively ridiculous but I would point out that a large proportion of grad students are foreign and as such will not have the greatest English skills … those skills … would not be needed if they return to their home country'.

I have taught a number of graduate-level students who are not native English speakers. I cannot think of a single one who did not seek to be as proficient as possible in the language they were studying, and who wanted to be held to a lower standard as far as literacy is concerned than native English speakers were concerned. If you pointed out mistakes in grammar, spelling, typos, malapropisms etc, they appreciated both your efforts to help with their own educational aspirations at fluency, and did not see this as discriminatory. In fact, they would have regarded an unwillingness to do so as a sign that you were not committed to your job as a tutor, and they would certainly have resented a policy of positive discrimination that meant they were marked to lower standards than Brits.


From the comment thread in the Robert Skidelsky that David links to:

"But Star Trek, which is utopian - and whose stars, writers and producers think we should want that kind of utopia - hasn’t really tried, at all. Despite umpteen iterations of the series and half a century in which to try, there’s been virtually no acknowledgement of how ordinary people might live."

Perhaps the fates of the crew wearing red shirts give us a clue. :-)


In that same comment thread David writes: "Bingo. I can’t say much about Mr Miéville’s literary talents, but his socialist politics are suitably juvenile and unrealistic." and links to Miéville’s list of recommended sf books for socialists.

Here is what Miéville writes about Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward"

"A hugely influential, rather bureaucratic egalitarian/naïve communist utopia. Deals very well with the confusion of the 'modern' (19th Century) protagonist in a world he hasn’t helped creatd"

Rather bureaucratic? Naive? How about frighteningly, creepily fascistic? Miéville’s choice of words to describe this evil utopian fantasy is telling. Very telling.


In that same comment thread…

That’s a good thread. I like the fact that after all these years I still can’t often guess where the discussions will go. Someone should print them out, laminate them and file them in a museum. A custom built museum. On the Moon.


Oh man, everyone of you is a tool of the REAL RACIST MICRO-AGGRESSORS. They are obviously succeeding in getting you to spend your resources on this Prof. Rust action to keep you from spotting them and calling them out. Just how subtle and non-verbal are Spell Check and, worse, Auto-Correct? My god, think about the white-washing of culturally distinctive grammar ignorance, incorrect spelling and misphrasing. What could possibly demean a person of colour more clandestinely and more perniciously. They are the real cultural bullies!


bjd: I have done my part to fight the racist power structure by programming the next version of our spell checker to always replace "put the budget in the black" with "put the budget in the African-American".


pst314; xclnt. there's hope after all.


"I like the fact that after all these years I still can’t often guess where the discussions will go"

Let me put it to you Mr Thompson that in that same thread you contradict this notion with the sentence:

"Wow. You spend enough time online and, sooner or later, the conversation will turn to Star Trek. It’s like internet gravity."

So there....though please lets not start up about Star Trek here ... Damn, I just mentioned it!



In my defence, I was expressing surprise at how an Observer article on the virtues of poverty and the evils of pre-washed salad could prompt a detailed analysis of the Star Trek franchise.

I blame Steve 2. He started it.


Not entirely un-related, this came to my attention this morning


It seems that some people can see racism everywhere. I must need re-educating.


Spare a thought for the outraged. There’s so much to denounce on the slimmest of pretexts. That kind of pseudo-piety must be exhausting.



I think this perfectly brings together two of your recent threads...




Nik White

There's a wonderful hypocrisy in the so-called 'controversy' of Katy Perry's AMA performance.

I realise of course that it's not actually the Cultural Studies academy that has taken to Twitter to fire off accusations of prejudice and racism at Perry, but it is they who ought really to accept a little of the responsibility for encouraging that type of witch-hunting behavior in the first place.

The accusations are hypocritical because the larger part of the great and good of PoMo and PoCo cultural studies theorists hold ideas such as 'cultural hybridity' and 'syncretism' in such high regard that you might have reasonably expected Perry's costume and act to be considered praiseworthy rather than racist. So why is it that Perry's act and costume are unlikely to be seen as 'disruptive and (de)colonizing' acts of 'dynamic resistance'? Why is it unlikely to ever be seen as a 'playfully schizoid (dis)placement' of ersatz Chinese and Japanese nineteenth-century stereotypes, one that could 'expose the framework of the Capitalist matrix of power relations' and 'disrupt the ossified and ossifying tropes of racist colonialism'?

Ah, Mais, bien sûr! As Perry is wealthy and successful she has identified herself as a capitalist stooge. Her creativity cannot – must not – be celebrated as 'a hybridising (dis)placement of the tropes of Otherness'; it may only be vilified as a rapacious act of 'colonial appropriation and exploitation of the resources of the Other'. Her wealth and success are the very signs that expose her as one of the exploitative class.

Only if Katy Perry was not in fact called Katy Perry, but rather (for the sake of argument) Kiziah Balewa; and if rather than performing at the AMA, she had been doing precisely the same performance of the same song in the same costume in a slightly ramshackle bar or café on the outskirts of Lagos, then and only then would she be worthy of celebration.

The lesson is clear - Perry is tainted by her success and so would never be celebrated unless she were poor and unsuccessful. And even if she were poor and unsuccessful, she would have to wait for a passing cultural theorist to see the performance before a kind of anonymous celebrity could be conferred upon her. A situation from which, rather ironically considering the foregoing, the passing cultural theorist might achieve a kind of prominence on the back of 'that wonderful unknown singer from that Lagos bar I happened upon'.

I wouldn't normally care about something so utterly trivial, but I think the story is handy as an off-the-cuff illustration of the simple and simplistic ideas that lie underneath the deluge of incoherent babble you find in PoMo- and PoCo-speak - it also underscores the deep irony in that everything such critics accuse capitalist democratic societies of doing financially (appropriation, exploitation, disempowering etc,) they are doing academically and intellectually.


Re Katy Perry, racist b*tch...So when I see a German or Italian or Benny Hill wearing a cowboy hat, is that racist? How about the Spaghetti Westerns of the 60's? One would think the term itself would be racist, but then again not so sure. If an Italian director constructs romantic, never-really-existed stories using cliches about the American west in the post-bellum 19th century, is that a pre-reaction to the racist term used to describe said films? And if he dubs the films in such a way that the dialog doesn't exactly match the lib sync, what exactly is he saying? I think I have a PhD dissertation here. Surely there's a website to plug in the relative terms and generate such whilst I go off and fill out student loan applications. Alas another drop in the bucket list...


Uhhh, obviously that should be "lip sync" not "lib sync", though the latter is a damn good little bon mot if I do say so myself. And a quick google search turns up nothing but boring, icky technical stuff "lib/sync". Feel free to apply, uh...liberally as necessary.


So when I see a German or Italian or Benny Hill wearing a cowboy hat, is that racist?

Yes of course! A disproportionate number of cowboys were black so by definition you are racist. QED.


"Lib Sink" would make me happier.


re: Katy Perry

I was amused by the recent attacks on Lily Allen. She obviously intended to create a "right-on" video critical of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke and ended up getting criticised as if she wasn't being ironic.

It's tough being on the left. ROFL!


An update on the grammar oppression saga from Inside Higher Ed:

The [students’] statement accuses “the professor” (it does not identify Rust by name) of correcting “perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies” and “repeatedly questioning the value of our work on social identity and the related dynamics of oppression, power and privilege.” The “barrage of questions by white colleagues and the grammar ‘lessons’ by the professor have contributed to a hostile class climate,” it continues.

Yes, the students are upset about having the value of their ideas questioned. Given the students’ liking for Marxoid “critical race theory” and Marxoid “standpoint theory,” outright laughter seems more fitting. The piece goes on to list the students’ grievances as including having to comply with the standard style guide for dissertation work and such agonies as whether or not the word indigenous should be capitalised. The nearest thing I could find to a basis for complaint is that during a heated exchange between two students – basically over which of them is more victimised and therefore righteous - the professor shook the male student’s arm in an attempt to calm him down. According to the students, who are evidently fixated by racial victimhood, “there are additional [i.e., racial] implications when an older white man does so with a younger black man.”

These, then, are the psychodramas that make grad students – sorry, students of “colour and consciousness” - feel entitled to interrupt a class, impose on others and conduct an hour-long self-flattering “sit-in.”

Nik White

Have just skimmed over the three Lily Allen pieces (that Suzanne Moore, boy, it's almost as if she wrote that article in her sleep). All of this puts me in mind of the following very apt quote from The Wilder Shores of Marx: Journeys in a Vanishing World:

'Apart from the massacres, deaths and famines for which communism was responsible, the worst thing about the system was the official lying: that is to say the lying in which everyone was forced to take part, by repetition, assent or failure to contradict. I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate and emasculate. In this sense, the less true it was, the less it corresponded in any way to reality, the better; the more it contradicted the experience of the persons to whom it was directed, the more docile, self-despising for their failure to protest, and impotent they became.'

It's slightly alarming that in the cases of both Katy Perry and Lily Allen, neither of whom, I think it's fair to say, is even remotely likely to be a secret fifth-columnist working for the KKK or the BNP, it seems to be assumed that both women set out to be racially offensive because some anonymous Twitterers twatted that they were. The fact that said Twatterers might be pernicious slanderers, have been drunk or high at the time or, even more simply, just be idiots, doesn't seem to have been considered.

By a twisted and hysterical logic, merely suggesting that an accusation of racism might be wrong or at least unlikely is enough to find the person raising the suggestion accused of being a racist in turn on the grounds that no one would ever deny a Twatterer's privilege to be offended on racist grounds unless they were a covert racist. If these hysterical commentators had any actual power, they would be utterly terrifying.


Yes, the students are upset about having the value of their ideas questioned.

Just the people you want to work in education…

It looks like the professor had been teaching this victim voodoo so I don't feel much pity for him now that it's being turned on him too.


programmers will tell you that spelling is unimportant, as long as you mis-spell consistently.

The HTTP Header field "referer" is one such example. The original coder left out an R, so now we all must do so.


Actually I consider the spellcheck and its red underscores to be aggressive and demeaning

File > Options > Proofing.

Clear "Check spelling as you type."

Problem solved.

Microsoft: WORST default settings EVAR.


"there are additional [i.e., racial] implications when an older white man does so with a younger black man."

Some people really need to be told to get over themselves.


Some people really need to be told to get over themselves.

I suspect it’s a little late for that. When your students are arguing heatedly over which of them gets to use “standpoint theory” and therefore win the argument by virtue of simply being black or female – it’s time to rethink your career choices.

That, or turn off the cooling unit and pray you can reach minimum safe distance.


Some of these people will apply jobs in education policy and teacher training. That can't be good.


That can’t be good.

Well, it may be good for them, if not for education in general or the people over whom they may ultimately have influence. The students certainly have the kinds of ideological pretensions that seem very much in fashion among their peers and quite a few potential employers. Not least in the public school system. As we’ve seen, would-be educators can face quite blatant and shameless political filtering. On those terms, they conform almost perfectly.

And when would-be educators are schooled in Marxoid Victim Theory and complain about racist “micro-aggressions” such as having their ideas and grammar questioned by their instructor and classmates, there’s a very good chance those people are narcissistic and passive-aggressive. As people schooled in Marxoid theory very often are. It would, I think, be wise to avoid their presence wherever possible, and it would also be wise to ensure that such people never have influence over your children and how they’re educated. I mean, imagine that kind of personality with influence and authority.

Nik White

What you are talking about is surprisingly common.

Following a webinar in which an educationalist put forward an argument along the lines that during a time of recession and under the burden of free market capitalism, it was important for teachers to teach their students to be critical of the ideas and values that were (he contended) the root cause of the student's own oppression. The speaker's argument included a number of references to Dickens's Hard Times and a somewhat predictable comparison of Michael Gove MP (the UK's Secretary of State for Education) to Mr Gradrind.

During the follow-up online discussion, I posed this question:

To what extent, in a liberal democracy, are teachers at liberty to introduce a programme of education that is critical of the status quo and supportive of a particular political point of view that is in conflict with the elected government of that country?

To which this was one of the replies (I stress only one, but it is not entirely untypical or unexpected as a response):

Oh. You appear to have far more faith in electoral processes even in liberal democracies than I do. In so many countries such a low percentage of people vote that the winners represent a minority of the given country's population. "The majority view" is actually, at best, the view of the minority. Personally, I feel it is the duty of teachers, especially teachers of the young, to teach in the light of their moral convictions. Ultimately I find it hard to trust any politician. By definition for me they are interested in power and strategies for obtaining and maintaining power.

In response to this, I expressed the concern that this would presumably the very same justification used by someone on the extreme right, e.g. Greece's Golden Dawn - I completely understand that the writer of this comment would be (is) - quite rightly - horrified by such groups but nevertheless, it's difficult to see how the justification given above is vastly different from those given by other minority political groups for pursuing their own agendas.

(I also hasten to add that the question isn't representative of my own personal point of view, as the responder seems to have assumed it was - I was simply putting it out there)


Ultimately I find it hard to trust any politician... they are interested in power and strategies for obtaining and maintaining power.

Unlike people who think themselves entitled to politically groom a captive and unwitting audience of other people’s children.

Nik White


Thank you very much for these links, especially the first one, which I was previously unaware of – I was particularly struck by this quote (from David Horowitz, 2009) that comes up within the first two minutes:

The academic bill of rights was a very modest proposal. Basically it said that if there's a controversial issue, if the subject is a matter of opinion, the students should get to hear both sides of the controversy. That they should be able to read books with more than one perspective. That would seem like a very simple thing … the campaign against [this academic bill of rights] has been quite ferocious.

At one point in the same post-webinar discussion I mentioned in the previous comment, I made essentially the same argument as Horowitz does above. One of the responses I received is below (to be fair on this person, they did go on to concede that it is not the place of the teacher to impose their own politics onto their students). Admittedly, it's hardly what you'd call 'ferocious' but I think it's revealing nonetheless:

Students are saturated with noise from what Daniel Quinn describes as "Mother Culture", so I think exposing students to views that they are unfamiliar with is important. I think neo-liberal/capitalist messages are over-represented [in society as a whole] so … if I were to use them it would be with the purpose of getting students to respond critically.

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