California State University, Los Angeles, where the life of the mind is a thing to behold:
It all started when CSULA’s branch of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative youth organisation, announced that [conservative author Ben] Shapiro would be appearing for a lecture titled “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.” The lecture will discuss topics like Black Lives Matter, microaggressions and trigger warnings, and whether they pose a threat to freedom of speech. Ironically, several students and faculty have reacted to the notion they want to stifle free speech by savagely attacking the event, with some of them arguing it should be shut down.
In short, the standard obliviousness. But then things got a little heated:
One of those aggressively denouncing the event is Robert Weide, an assistant professor of sociology at the school. Weide posted a comment on the event’s Facebook page accusing “Young Americans for Liberty” [sic] of being a group of “white supremacists” looking to intimidate “POC” (people of colour), and predicted they would need police protection at their event to protect themselves from mob violence.
Yes, it turns out that if you dare to question the premise of microaggressions, you will be called names and there will be shoving and punching.
Weide became enmeshed in a long-running, extremely bitter argument with supporters of the event, both on-campus and off. In the process, he repeatedly accused his opponents of “white supremacy,” and at one point suggested they show up at CSULA’s campus gym for a fight. But they had best be careful before accepting the challenge, he warned, saying “I lift bro.”
If we’re doing the whole chest-puffing thing with lecturers in sociology picking fights with students who happen to disagree - and apparently we are - why settle for just punching each other? So uncouth. Pistols at dawn, I say.
The comments by students are scarcely less revealing than those of Dr Weide. One student, Jose Trinidad Castañeda III, declares that he is “emailing the Dean of Students,” who “must be made aware this event is fuelling hostility and polarising the students.” Which is to say, the current monopoly of opinion is likely to be challenged by an invited speaker. And it seems that in progressive circles this is not to be permitted. Another student, Cecelia Villarreal, asks, “How is this hostile event acceptable on our campus?” She then announces, “I think it poses a threat to campus safety.” Because an author’s speaking engagement can be deemed “hostile” and hazardous weeks before it even happens and without knowing what exactly may be said. As I can’t readily imagine Mr Shapiro kicking off and challenging students to a fistfight, I’m tempted to wonder from where the alleged “threat to campus safety” will come.
Dr Weide, meanwhile, claims that even the title of event – “When Diversity Becomes a Problem” – is a “less than subtle attempt to intimidate people of colour on our campus.” This is immediately followed by intimations of thuggery and a prediction that the organisers and their guest will need the protection of campus security. Our fearless, selfless academic is currently denouncing the speaking engagement as a “racist neo-fascist event” - despite offering no evidence whatsoever of the invited speaker’s supposedly racist motives. However, Dr Weide finds time to signal his own moral immensity: “I will always defend you,” says he to the entire student population. “Now and forever.” If that sounds like narcissism, you may well be right.
Dr Weide’s attitude is of course a perfect illustration of the ugly rhetorical tactics that Mr Shapiro writes about. By pre-emptively denouncing those who disagree as bad people, as racists, fascists, haters, etc., and doing so irrespective of evidence or reasonable inference, the denouncer short circuits any attempt to address the actual issue of whether “diversity” ideology is entirely benign – say, by shutting down discussions before they can happen - while simultaneously elevating himself as a good person, a champion of the downtrodden. (“I will always defend you.”) Indeed Dr Weide is so keen to frame himself as an opponent of all the evils in the world that he’s willing to smear random strangers and even his own students as “white supremacists.”
As dicentra notes in the comments, if the pre-emptive accusations are implausible and bizarre, at least to those outside the “social justice” bubble, this doesn’t really matter. Ditto the lurid projection and inversion of meaning, whereby victimhood is professed with hints of mob intimidation, and “diversity” comes to mean intolerant conformity. What matters is the shortcut to piety, or pseudo-piety. It’s a piety that’s lazy, bogus and unearned, and fundamentally insincere; but hey, for some that’s good enough. It’s both a badge of status and a viable weapon.
Via the comments, more on Dr Weide and his charming personality:
Dr Weide immediately tore down the flyers we had just placed and ordered us to stand still… He then proceeded to call us “fascists” for simply promoting an alternative viewpoint and tried to blame us for “death threats” that he’d received… [He] continued to tell this administrator that we were “intimidating him” by putting up flyers… As the conversation progressed, the administrator actually had to tell Dr Weide to “calm down” numerous times, for he was getting visibly angrier as time went on.
When you’ve seen the footage of these righteous intellectuals acting out their values, it may be worth bearing in mind that the Clown Quarter of academia is the left’s proving ground and fiefdom, a place where leftist ideas are developed, institutionalised and prevail all but unopposed. It’s a taster of their idealised, corrected, more compassionate society. And as such, it tells us quite a lot about who they are, and who they would be, given power.
Oh look. A button. I wonder what it does.