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February 2017

Elsewhere (226)

Social psychologist Clay Routledge on the tragedy and farce of identity politics:

Identity politics, especially what is going on within the academic left, is strange because it is at odds with much of what we know about inter-group relations. Decades ago, psychological scientists established that dividing people into groups and highlighting group differences leads to in-group bias. It also leads to hostility if the groups perceive themselves as fighting over scarce resources… Experimental research also shows that making people feel like victims, which is common in identity politics and on college campuses, increases feelings of entitlement and reduces pro-social behaviour… The postmodern fields that promote identity politics ignore decades of good research on both what creates conflict and the best ways to reduce it.

Why, it’s almost as if the point of the exercise were to cultivate lots of pretentious guilt and exploitable animosity

Jack F Mourouzis interviews Christina Hoff Sommers

For activists committed to the doctrine of intersectionality, universities have to be seen as racist, sexist, violent institutions. The theory demands it. In fact, our institutions of higher learning are among the least bigoted or violent places on Earth. To maintain the theory, activists stretch the meanings of words beyond comprehension. When I politely challenged fainting-couch feminism at Oberlin and Georgetown, protestors accused me of “violence.” According to diversity officials at Berkeley and UCLA, anyone who suggests that “men and women have equal opportunities for achievement” or refers to the US as “a land of opportunity” is creating a “hostile” environment and “targeting” marginalised people.

And Roger Kimball on news, fake news and very fake news: 

The motor of fake news is not inaccuracy. It’s malice. I had an insight into this important truth a couple weeks back when I was at a swank New York club for an evening event. The establishment in question is overwhelmingly conventional, i.e., leftish, in that smug sort of way that publications like the New Yorker and the New York Times, along with CNN and MSNBC, exude. I ran into an acquaintance, a female journalist I hadn’t seen in years. I knew that her politics were conventional in the above sense, but I had also found her an amusing and lively person. We were chatting when someone she knew from the Times joined in. I then overheard him explain to her that she had to be careful about what she posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc., because anything too explicitly anti-Trump could be used against her when that glorious day came and “they” - the conventional fraternity of groupthink scribblers - finally took down that horrible, despicable man. “We’ve got dozens of people working on it all the time,” he explained, adding that it was only a matter of time before they got the goods on Trump and destroyed him.

At which point, inexplicably, this sprang to mind

Feel free to share your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments.

Don’t Tell Your Parents

Dennis Prager on attempts to hide classroom indoctrination:

The vast majority of our colleges have become left-wing seminaries. Just as Christian seminaries exist to produce committed Christians, Western universities exist to produce committed leftists… Universities differ in only one respect: Christian seminaries admit their goal, whereas the universities deceive the public about theirs. Thus, in the “social sciences” — disciplines outside the natural sciences and math — a large number of college teachers inject their politics into their classrooms. And if they are recorded, the general public will become aware of just how politicised their classroom lectures are.

But there is another reason. Most professors objecting to being recorded know on some level that they are persuasive only when their audience is composed largely of very young people just out of high school. They know that if their ideas are exposed to adults, they may be revealed as intellectual lightweights. Students therefore need to understand that when professors object to being recorded, it is a statement of contempt for them. The professors are, in effect, saying to their students: “Listen. I can get away with this intellectually shallow, emotion-based propaganda when you are the only people who actually hear it. You aren’t wise enough to perceive it as such. But if people over 21 years of age hear it, I’m toast.”

See, for instance, this first day of a creative writing class, and the examples that follow it, in which attempts to circumvent normal proprieties are passionately endorsed by leftist educators. The subject of some educators’ disdain for students – say, by conspiring to rob them of a chance to hear an alternative view - was touched on here. And for an illustration of just how vigorous and successful those efforts to indoctrinate can be, see also this


And here’s a footnote to the Caleb O’Neil case mentioned in Prager’s article.

She’s Seething With Empowerment

Meanwhile, in the world of the well-adjusted Guardian columnist

It was July 2014, Nashville Tennessee. I was walking into a gas station for a bottle of water when the man behind me stepped up to open the door for me. With that act of kindness, something inside me snapped and I flew into a blind rage. I began screaming at him at the top of my lungs.

This latest admission of derangement is by Stacie Huckeba, a photographer and video-maker. She continues,

“No, you cannot open this door for me! You wouldn’t have opened it two years ago, so you damn sure can’t open it now!” I scowled and stormed away, completely enraged.

You see, he’s not allowed to do that - holding open the door for her - or for any woman, presumably. Because although Ms Huckeba didn’t know this polite gentleman and had never seen him before, she’s nevertheless sure of what his views on holding doors open for people must have been two years previously, back when she was fat. It’s intersectional science. And then, inadvertently, a punchline of sorts:

It was the third time that week that a man had done something polite for me.

Damn the patriarchy and all its works.

First a man had bought me a drink at a concert, and then there was the nice man who had helped me scoop up my groceries after I dropped my bag, and now this man with the door.

At this point, thankfully, Ms Huckeba offers an explanation, and justification, for her erratic, rather alarming mood swings:

Two years before this, in July 2012, I weighed 365lb, which roughly translates into 26 stone. I was enormous, and had been my entire life. I grew up an obese kid, was an obese teenager, an obese young adult, and by my mid-40s I had ballooned into a hugely obese adult. But that summer I started a massive journey to lose 220lb, or almost 16 stone, over the course of four and a half years. As I sit here today, I’m literally a third of the body mass I used to be. I am an average-sized woman who wears a size medium pretty much across the board. And, I am happy to report, I am also a fairly happy, confident person.

Yes, of course. That would explain all the random screaming.

Continue reading "She’s Seething With Empowerment" »

Bad Medicine

I’ve previously mentioned the taxpayer-funded race hustler Dr Caprice Hollins, whose efforts to empower black Seattle school pupils included dismissing grammar and foresight as “white values” and expectations thereof as “cultural racism.” Rather than encouraging “students of colour” to articulate their thoughts, to be responsible and plan ahead, like everyone else, we must, said Dr Hollins, see people as “racial beings” and “teach [children] to view the world through a racial lens.” But we mustn’t correct their grammar and spelling, or expect them to turn up on time.

Similar sentiments were voiced, in a somewhat boggling way, by Dr Riyad A Shahjahan, a professional educator at Michigan State University and a “social justice theorist,” who wants us to believe that people with brown skin are mystical and exotic, akin to leprechauns, and, unlike white people, “inhabit [their] bodies fully.” Dr Shahjahan also denounces expectations of attentiveness and academic competence, and even punctuality, as racist and oppressive. We should, he says, embrace “embodied pedagogy” and “disrupt Eurocentric notions of time.”

With such deep and incontestable thinking in mind, it may not be surprising to learn that the Writing Centre at the University of Washington, Tacoma is exploring similar avenues. The Centre, the stated goal of which is to “help writers write and succeed in a racist society,” aims to improve the life chances of brown-skinned students by encouraging them to give employers the impression that they’re incapable of mastering even rudimentary grammar:  

An “antiracist” poster in a college writing centre insists American grammar is “racist” and an “unjust language structure,” promising to prioritise rhetoric over “grammatical ‘correctness.’” The poster, written by the director, staff, and tutors of the Writing Centre, states, “racism is the normal condition of things,” declaring that it permeates rules, systems, expectations, in courses, school and society… The Centre pledges to “listen and look carefully and compassionately for ways we may unintentionally perpetuate racism or social injustice, actively engaging in antiracist practices.” “We promise to emphasise the importance of rhetorical situations… in the production of texts,” announces the poster. “We promise to challenge conventional word choices and writing explanations.”

The Writing Centre press release - which, according to one of its authors, Dr Asao Inoue, took “over a year” to write, despite its brevity – tells us that language is “constantly changing” and it is therefore, allegedly, “difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate.” Instead of becoming proficient in the structure and expressive possibilities of the national tongue, students – brown ones – should “become more critical” of “unjust language structures.” Apparently, the way for minority students to flourish as writers is to dismiss any criticism of their prose, and any attempt to improve it, as a racially motivated “microaggression” and an “oppressive practice,” and thus proof of “an inherently racist society.”

In short, then, students with brown skin needn’t be articulate, verbally self-possessed, or precise in their thoughts. And that ungrammatical job application, the one enlivened with incomprehensible sentences and lots of inventive spelling, will do just fine. And by the time the real-world consequences of this “social justice” posturing become difficult to avoid, Dr Inoue will have been paid - and be merrily exploiting the next batch of suckers.

Thank goodness these enlightened people are here to help.

The Latest Thing

And speaking of notable trends

A leading girls’ school has drawn up a “gender identity protocol” that allows pupils to be called by boys’ names and to wear boys’ clothes if they request it… There are understood to be up to 10 girls in the sixth form who have gone through a formal process to be known within the school either as boys or as gender-neutral.

Ten, in just one sixth form of maybe 200 students, in a school of 770. 

“We are moving to the point where your gender is a choice,” said [headmistress, Clarissa] Farr. “I see this as a social phenomenon, especially in London, which is much talked about among school leaders.”

And presumably, among students too.

Farr said no one had yet come forward to be counselled on whether to embark on medical procedures to change sex. If a pupil had fully transitioned and become legally male they could no longer be a pupil, the protocol states, because St Paul’s is a girls’ school.

At risk of sounding heathen and indelicate, and while wishing no ill to people actually alienated from their own physiology, I do wonder to what extent this may be a fashion thing, a way to become interesting.

Friday Ephemera

Fun with condoms. // Fans of FC Magdeburg help their team locate their opponents’ goal. (h/t, Obo) // Dads who didn’t want a dog. // On the theme for Doctor Who. (h/t, Damian) // Whalesynth. // Life at sea. // The Victorian illustrated Shakespeare archive. // The search for the greatest, like, ever, Valley Girl. // A brief history of Oscar-winning visual effects. // A brief history of nail clipping. // This. // TopoTopo. // Our impartial media. // Made with Google Earth. // Meanwhile, in academia. (h/t, TDK) // Delivery of note. // You have my undivided attention. // A touch of drag. // On the adhesive properties of geckos’ feet. // Don’t touch my stuff. // These things exist. // And finally, informatively, an interactive real-time 3D map of every bit of man-made stuff currently in orbit.

Fashionable Malice

Via the comments, Spiny Norman steers us to another ‘progressive’ initiative:

The University of Cincinnati is sponsoring a workshop on “white fragility” and “white tears” this semester… “White fragility,” as defined by a paper in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, “is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviours such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviours, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.”

In the spirit of reciprocity, I’ll attempt an alternative, and perhaps more realistic, definition. “White fragility” is the unremarkable fact that people by and large don’t like being slandered as racists and then assigned with some pretentious collective guilt, the supposed atonement for which requires deference to actual racists and predatory hokum merchants.

As Hippogryph notes in the comments, the official definition of “white fragility” looks an awful lot like Kafkatrapping, a dishonest and pathological manoeuvre, a form of emotional bullying, in which the denial of an unproven and insulting accusation is instantly seized upon as damning confirmation of said accusation. The object being to inculcate pretentious guilt via some notional group association, making a person feel somehow responsible for the actions of others, even strangers long dead, over whom he or she has zero influence. It’s an attempt to induce a profound unrealism, and thereby compliance

In light of which, we could parse the official definition of “white fragility” a little further:

These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear…

Or, put another way: “How dare you be annoyed by our slandering? How dare you question our motives as anything other than benign?”

...and behaviours such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.

Or, “How dare you talk back and draw attention to our question-begging? How dare you not want to remain in the presence of people who wish to do you psychological harm?”

I’m paraphrasing, of course.

But You Mustn’t Call Them Bitches

Here’s yet another example of leftist student protest bearing a remarkable resemblance to opportunist spite:   

The Whiffenpoofs, “one of the most prestigious a cappella groups in the United States,” last November chose to remain exclusively male.

I’m sure you can see where this one is headed. This male-only line-up has been both a musical aesthetic and the group’s identity for over a century. Whatever the prevailing politics on campus, male and female voices are, by and large, not entirely interchangeable, and I’d imagine that, say, close-harmony work, a signature of the group, is probably easier if the voices are in the same range. However, 

As the Yale Daily News notes, this did not thwart females and “nonmales” from protesting that policy during their auditions.


Student Sydney Garick used her try-out time to criticise the group’s male-only tradition.


A gender nonbinary student… told the News that four Whiffs walked out in the middle of the audition as the student stood in silent protest rather than performing a solo.

Well, given the imposition on others’ time, and the limited number of audition slots available, stage hogging in silent protest is fairly dull to watch, to say nothing of being selfish and insulting.

And because a cake needs icing

Before auditioning for the Whiffs, students are required to sign a contract committing to the group’s demanding travel schedule. The student told the News they signed the contract with the pronouns “they/them/their” rather than a name.

But of course. Because pissing about with the paperwork and refusing even to give a name shows everyone just how serious you are, how genuine in your interest, and how terribly radical. For some people it’s just politics über alles. Imagine the fun on tour. Oh, and do note that the protest, the petitions, and the hectoring about inclusivity were aimed only at the university’s all-male singing group. The university’s all-female singing group, which doesn’t admit male singers, was strangely exempt from similar fuss and umbrage.

Elsewhere (225)

Heather Mac Donald on the farce and scope of UC Berkeley’s cultivated victimhood: 

UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion has hung vertical banners across the main campus reminding students of the contemporary university’s paramount mission: assigning guilt and innocence within the ruthlessly competitive hierarchy of victimhood… “I will acknowledge how power and privilege intersect in our daily lives,” vows an Asian female member of the class of 2017. Just how crippling is that “intersection” of “power and privilege”? The answer comes in a banner showing a black female student in a backward baseball cap and a male Hispanic student, who together urge the Berkeley community to “Create an environment where people other than yourself can exist.” A naïve observer of the Berkeley campus would think that lots of people “other than himself” exist there, and would even think that Berkeley welcomes those “other” people with overflowing intellectual and material riches. Such a misperception, however, is precisely why Berkeley funds the Division of Equity and Inclusion with a cool $20 million annually and staffs it with 150 full-time functionaries: it takes that much money and personnel to drum into students’ heads how horribly Berkeley treats its “othered” students.

Jade Haney on blatant indoctrination and replacing facts with pretentious guilt: 

Jack Flotte, a member of Regis University’s Social Justice and Spirituality Committee, opened the session by scolding his white peers and professors on their state of “white fragility,” saying, “Like it or not, we are already accomplices. The question becomes: to what end are we partners in the crime of continuing to perpetuate these systems that dehumanise and oppress people?” Flotte also advised white students and faculty to “spend less time being upset about accusations that you’re complicit and that white people are bad and spend more time being mad at the racism and suffering,” adding, “Stop changing the subject when race does come into a conversation. Not that you understand this concept of white fragility. You’re going to be made uncomfortable as white folks when the conversation of race comes up. But, just get over it and then channel that energy. Channel that guilt into activism.”

See also, Laurie Penny

Speaking of dehumanising people, and added via the comments, here’s Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Yusra Khogali being every bit as charming as you’d imagine. What’s particularly endearing - after all the boasting of genetic superiority, and her claim that “melanin directly communicates with cosmic energy” – is when she asks Allah to give her the strength “to not kill these men and white folks.”

Continue reading "Elsewhere (225)" »

Friday Ephemera

Saucy. // At last, a sorting-Skittles-by-colour machine. // How large would a building need to be to store 7.4 billion human beings? // On the origins of tosspot, ramsquaddled and booze. // Bachelor pad. // When baby tortoises attack. // WWII aviation photographs. (h/t, Damian) // Fingers of steel. // Your fake tan is oppressing me. // Feminist fantasy and reality. // Reading room. // “For readers who disagree with the message, the comics portray them as the enemy.” // Improvisation. (h/t, dicentra) // Have you met my eleven puppies? // Cover version of note. // Single-use shaving cream sachets. // Steam turbine of note. // Good deed. // I suspect his dog is better behaved than yours. // And finally, via Obo, if you laugh at this thing here, then there’s something wrong with you.