Friday, April 24, 2015

College Authoritarians Feeling “Unsafe”

Yes, the currently fashionable tactic for trying to shut up campus speech that leftists don’t like is to claim that it makes students feel “unsafe” as Charlie Sykes discussed in a recent show.

From National Review, a good roundup of the bizarro cases on campuses where the politically correct authoritarians tried (and often succeeded) in shutting up campus speech by claiming to feel “unsafe.”
The University of Michigan made headlines this week for initially canceling a screening of the blockbuster film American Sniper because some Muslim students said that it being shown would make them feel “unsafe.” The college has since reversed this decision, but it’s not the only time something like this has happened.
Why should Muslim students feel “unsafe” seeing the movie American Sniper?

Could it be that some are thinking about going to Afghanistan and joining the Taliban and trying to kill American soldiers? If so, we want them to feel unsafe. Indeed, we want them to be scared shitless. And if they actually go join the Taliban, we want them killed by people like Chris Kyle.

But no, the campus grievance mongers aren’t going to do any such thing. They lack the courage to do much more than pop off in the oh-so-indulgent campus environment.

But have they thought about the message they are sending? As between American soldiers and terrorists trying to kill American soldiers, they seem to be siding with the terrorists. People are going to question their patriotism — and with good cause.
Here are seven other things that a school or its students have declared hazards to campus safety:

1. Bill Maher

When the University of Berkeley announced that Bill Maher would be its graduation speaker last October, more than 6,000 students signed a petition demanding that he be banned because he “perpetuates a dangerous learning environment” and “they cannot stand for any action that makes our students feel unsafe.”
Maher is a vicious anti-Christian bigot. But that’s not what makes him unpopular on a university campus. Being an equal opportunity bigot, it’s also anti-Muslim. That’s what can’t be forgiven.
2. Face paint of any color at any event ever

Last October, Arizona State University’s athletics department banned facepaint — “whether the theme is black, maroon, gold or white” — because ASU is an “inclusive and forward-thinking university” and they must make sure that “everyone feels safe and accepted.” They did not explain whether or not any students had actually reported feeling threatened by the paint, and if so, how those students were handling their lives currently.
And face paint is bad how? Perhaps because American Indians used it? But how many other groups have used face paint? Lots, including U.S. Special Forces.

But wait, face paint is bad if an oppressed minority group uses it. But then it’s bad if American soldiers use it.

Any excuse to articulate a grievance, we suppose.
3. A petting-zoo camel (due to concerns over racial tensions)

Students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota planned to bring a camel (one which had been trained for these kinds of events) to campus last spring as part of a fun “Hump Day” event celebrating the end of the year — only to be told that the idea was not fun, but actually so horribly racist against Middle Eastern students that it would be “possibly unsafe” for anyone to attend. It was canceled.
So apparently Eskimo students should be offended at a picture of a polar bear. And South American students at a llama. Given the variety of interesting animals from Africa, black students have dozens of ways to be offended. Student Government, don’t ever plan an outing to the zoo.
4. The word “bullet” (not to be confused with actual bullets, which are a perfect example of something that can actually be dangerous)

Last fall, the student newspaper staff at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia decided to change the publication’s name from The Bullet to The Blue and Gray Press on the grounds that the word “bullet” “propagated violence.”

5. Calling freshmen students “freshmen”

Last November, the administration at Elon University in North Carolina instructed student orientation leaders not to call the freshmen “freshmen” — because the word makes women sound “vulnerable” and therefore suggests that they “might be targets” for sexual violence, according to the school’s Inclusive Community Wellbeing Director. (Yes . . . “Inclusive Community Wellbeing Director.”)
In the insular little world of academia, there is no politically correct grievance so trivial or so silly that it can be dismissed.
6. Cinco de Mayo–themed parties

On May 19, 2013, Northwestern University’s Hispanic/Latino Alliance wrote a letter explaining why they were totally not ridiculous for having told students that they shouldn’t drink tequila or eat tacos at parties earlier that month: Sometimes people will be “drinking tequila shots while saying things like ‘cinco de drinko,’” and that contributes to a “campus climate” where Mexican students “feel unwelcome if not often unsafe.”
Of course, refusing to drink tequila or eat tacos would be deemed “racist,” showing an antipathy to Mexican culture. So if you embrace parts of the culture of a minority group you are racist, and if you reject them you are racist. Whichever is convenient for concocting a grievance.
7. Posters

Students at Boston College did something crazy last month: They put up posters advocating for free speech without officially registering as a campus group before doing so. School administrators called the cops, and Dean of Students Thomas Mogan explained that the posters were “a nuisance and in some cases a safety hazard.” What he thinks “safety hazard” means remains unclear. Maybe someone had to go into a Cinco de Mayo party to grab one.
Campus activists, and the campus bureaucrats who pet them and pander to them really don’t understand how silly all this looks. They exist in an insular, parochial environment where any claims made on behalf of a politically correct victim group must be instantly accepted.

Wimps and Wusses

But of course, the image conveyed here is that such groups are oversensitive wimps and wusses.

As for the guys, whether Muslim or Latino or American Indian: how about a little macho, fellows. Are you such sissies that a camel, or face paint, or a taco, or a lame jibe like “cinco de drinko” turns you into a quivering bowl of jelly?

And ladies, how about living up to the feminist idea that women are tough, resilient, self-confident and assertive. You think women should be in combat? If hearing the word “freshmen” freaks you out, how are you going to react to incoming fire from the Taliban? Do infantry units need to be equipped with smelling salts?

You folks are making fools of yourselves.  But indulgent campus bureaucrats are encouraging you.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Academic “Safe Space:” Shutting up Ideas the Left Does Not Like

From Charlie Sykes’ show this morning: a discussion of “trigger warnings” and the supposed need for “safe space” on university campuses.

So what is a “safe space?” A place where politically correct leftists need not be exposed to ideas they don’t like.

But then, the campus leftists want to prevent other students from hearing ideas that the leftists don’t like. In other words, it’s another tactic of campus authoritarians wanting to shut up ideas. Add it to “harassment” and “micro-aggressions” and “incivility” and “offensiveness” and “hate speech.”

The campus left has many, many excuses for their censorship.  Some of the examples Sykes cites are bizarre, “beyond parody” as he puts it.

And of course, it ties the whole phenomenon to Marquette’s attack on this blogger.
Sources Syles cites:

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Affirmative Action Debate in Madison Tomorrow Night

These two fellows are heavyweights, and this debate should be excellent. We expect to be there.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Writer of Bizarre Anti-Police Tirade Was Mover of Femsex at Marquette

It created quite a stir:  a column in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel where one Claire Van Fossen demanded the abolition of police!

Titled “A just and free world means a world without police,” the lede paragraph sets the tone:
Whether we call them because of a dispute between neighbors or a robbery, a shooting or sexual violence, the police rarely meet our needs. They don’t help us heal. And they don’t prevent future harm. Rather than serve as advocates for true justice, they use their nearly limitless power to reinforce the oppressive status quo. They threaten us with violence and incarceration and target the most oppressed and vulnerable people in our society. By blaming “crime” and “criminals” instead of systemic oppression for society’s ills, the police exacerbate societal problems, harm citizens, and bar the people from liberation by maintaining the capitalist social order.
And further:
What’s perhaps worse is the fact that, because the police do not keep us safe, their predominant role in society is maintaining a social order that enables people in power to operate with the least amount of disruption possible and thus continue to exploit and oppress the already disenfranchised. By targeting low-income individuals and people of color, the police maintain a racial and economic system of social stratification that is profitable and beneficial only for the ruling class.
Yes, it’s a left-wing tirade.

Van Fossen, however, is not a stranger to Marquette. She was one of the organizers of the Femsex Workshop at Marquette in 2013. We exposed the event here, and Marquette eventually decided it was so over the top in terms of the way it dealt with female sexuality that the university ordered the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to cease its sponsorship.

Van Fossen responded with a deranged rant. She sent the Journal-Sentinel (which covered the story) an op-ed saying:
As a Marquette student, I demand punitive action on McAdams and am prepared to convene any and all students who have been hurt or slandered by him in order to ensure that he is held accountable.
And further:
McAdams and his blog . . . are regular sources of oppressive, hateful content and blatant misogyny, not to mention homophobia, racism, and slander of Marquette students.
All this is the standard politically correct denunciation of any politically incorrect ideas, showing the nasty authoritarianism of campus leftists.

But demanding the abolition of the police is extreme even by the standards of campus leftists.

[Note:]  As of right now, the Van Fossen column is online.  There is a report that the Journal-Sentinel has decided to withdraw it and take it offline.  If so, an archived copy can be found here.

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Politically Correct Intolerance in Schools of Social Work

From National Review, an account of narrow, bigoted liberal intolerance in schools of Social Work:
“I can’t have you participate in class anymore.”

I was on my way out of class when my social welfare and policy professor casually called me over to tell me this. The friendliness of her tone did not match her words, and I attempted a shocked, confused apology. It was my first semester at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and I was as yet unfamiliar with the consistent, underlying threat that characterized much of the school’s policy and atmosphere. This professor was simply more open and direct than most.

I asked if I had said or done anything inappropriate or disrespectful, and she was quick to assure me that it was not my behavior that was the problem. No: It was my opinions. Or, as she put it, “I have to give over this information as is.”

I spent the rest of that semester mostly quiet, frustrated, and missing my undergraduate days, when my professors encouraged intellectual diversity and give-and-take. I attempted to take my case to a higher-up at school, an extremely nice, fair professor who insisted that it was in my own best interest not to rock the boat. I was doing well in his class, and I believed him when he told me he wanted me to continue doing well. He explained to me that people who were viewed as too conservative had had problems graduating in the past, and he didn’t want that to happen to me. I thought he was joking .  .  . until I realized he wasn’t.
Read the entire account here.

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Monday, April 06, 2015

The Bogus Male/Female Wage Gap

Friday, April 03, 2015

Scott Walker Using Mitt Romney Mailing List

This blogger gets a lot of spam e-mail. That’s true of everybody, but we tend to get more political spam than other people.

Recently, we got two e-mail messages from Scott Walker. Since he’s clearly running for president, this is hardly surprising.

Here is one of the e-mails.

Here is the other.

What is interesting is that both come from the Mitt Romney campaign, apparently using a mailing list left over from 2012.

But clicking on the link sends one to “Friends of Scott Walker.”

Of course, it doesn’t say “Walker for President,” but everybody knows that’s what it is, de facto.

The e-mail says “This message reflects the opinions and representations of Friends of Scott Walker, and is not an endorsement by Mitt Romney.”

Sure. But we will see how many other candidates get to send out fundraising e-mails with the Romney list. At a minimum, this is “endorsement lite.”

This could be a minus for Walker among conservatives who think Romney was too soft a conservative, or a plus as a “semi,” “maybe,” “somewhat” endorsement by an important Republican figure. But it’s early in the election season, any anything one says at this point is little better than speculation.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Airhead Celebrities Tout Ferguson Lies

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marquette in Academic Freedom Hall of Shame

From the (liberal) Huffington Post, “Free Speech on Campus: The 10 Worst Offenders of 2014.”

Featured, of course, is Marquette, and its attempt to fire us for a blog post that the politically correct crowd did not like.
Marquette University

Marquette University’s chilling campaign to revoke the tenure of political science professor John McAdams due to writings on his private blog ensures its place on this year’s list. McAdams criticized a graduate instructor for what he viewed as her inappropriate suppression of certain viewpoints for in-class discussion (one student’s opposition to same-sex marriage in particular), and the instructor came in for heavy criticism. Marquette then suspended McAdams without due process and abruptly cancelled his classes for the next semester. It also publicly insinuated that McAdams violated its harassment policy and was a safety threat to the campus, despite a complete lack of proof for either charge. Marquette’s disregard of due process and its incredible denial that its campaign against McAdams’s tenure implicates free speech or academic freedom in any way should frighten anyone concerned about faculty rights. Indeed, if the university succeeds in removing McAdams, free speech and academic freedom will lose whatever meaning they had at Marquette.
The fact that a liberal website would post such an article underlines an important fact: among liberals, there is still a substantial number of old-style traditionalists who favor free speech and expression.

Unfortunately, they are becoming rarer, especially in universities, where the center of gravity increasingly shifts toward politically correct people who happily will shut up opinions of which the disapprove. Indeed, this whole business arose when one Philosophy instructor expressed the intention of doing just that.

Vocabulary of Suppression

Campus leftists have a whole verbal arsenal to use against speech they don’t like. They may call it “harassment.” Or “offensive.” Or “uncivil.” Or “hate speech.” Or “cyber bullying.” Or claim it creates a “hostile learning environment” or “hostile work environment.”

The simple message is “shut up.”

And the clear corollary is “we are going to punish you if you don’t shut up.”

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Monday, March 02, 2015

Do Black Lives Matter?

It’s not so clear that they do to the activists who use that slogan.

We are not entirely sure that “broken windows policing” is quite as effective as the hype suggests, but there is no question that it’s a policy promoted by people who really do believe that black lives matter.

Interestingly, it seems that rank and file black people (as opposed to the race hustling activists) favor such policing.

Consider, for example, a poll of black people in New York City, as reported by the leftist outlet The Root.
Despite the looming specter of police brutality, which casts shadows over street corners, neighborhoods and homes across black America, 56 percent of black voters in New York City support “broken windows” policing tactics, compared with 61 percent of the city’s white voters, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The controversial policing style frames community disorder and signs of neglect—such as broken windows, littering and loitering—as indicators of encroaching crime that will lead to more dangerous communities and must be addressed with the full force of the law.

In theory, broken-windows policing, and its variants stop-and-frisk, zero-tolerance and quality-of-life policing, are tactics used by officers who are hyperinvested in keeping communities safe, clean and crime-free. In practice, however, they provide opportunities for racial profiling and resulting antagonistic and abusive encounters between law enforcement and people of color.

Interestingly, when participants in the Quinnipiac poll were asked whether police officers should “actively issue summonses or make arrests for so-called quality of life offenses,” including selling small amounts of marijuana or making loud noise, 60 percent of black voters said yes, a negligible difference from the 59 percent of white voters who said the same.

“It’s different where you live from what you see in the media,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll. “Overall, black New Yorkers are negative about cops citywide. White voters are positive. But looking at cops in their own neighborhood, the support turns positive among black voters and heavily positive among whites.

“Does it improve the quality of life in your neighborhood when police arrest someone for a low-level offense, or does it increase neighborhood tensions? New Yorkers decide for quality of life,” Carroll added.
Contrary to the activist myth, black people don’t see the courts as excessively harsh on criminals. The following tabulation is from the National Opinion Research Center General Social Survey, combining polls from 2008 through 2012 (to get a reasonable number of black respondents).

Click on Image to Enlarge
The numbers show that while blacks are a bit more likely than whites to say the courts are “too harsh” (27 percent as opposed to 10 percent for whites) a robust majority of blacks (56 percent) say the courts are “not harsh enough.” Another sixteen percent of blacks say the courts are “about right.”

Given that rank-and-file black people don’t seem to agree with the race hustlers, how do the politically correct types respond?

The Root went to one Arlene Eisen to provide a politically correct gloss on the findings.
“If [we are to] assume the study is reliable, then you have to ask, ‘What black people?’ Generally, more middle class and professional people will prioritize protecting property,” said Arlene Eisen, the author and primary researcher of Operation Ghetto Storm, a frequently quoted study on the extrajudicial killing of black people. “Then, you need to consider the level of political education of whoever responded to the survey. This includes what a lot of people call ‘internalized racism’—where black people learn a lot of the same views of themselves as whites. Unfortunately, there is very little in the education system and corporate media to counter the hegemonic status of white supremacy.”
Thus politically correct people always end up demeaning the people they are supposedly championing. “Those ignorant blacks,” she seems to be saying, “are anti-black racists too. They just aren’t educated enough to see what’s going on.”

To whom do black lives matter?

To rank-and-file black folks, yes. To people who favor strict law enforcement, yes. To the race hustlers who would rather have a political grievance than to protect black lives, no.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

A Message to Beheaded Christians

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is Marquette Finally Going to Tell the Truth About Campus Date Rape?

Sent out last fall by Marquette: a “Teal Poster” about sexual violence.

It touts the following statistics:
“1 in 5 women and 1 in 70 men will experience rape in their lifetime.”
(National Crime Victims Survey, 2007)
“7 out of 10 rape survivors knew their attacker.”
(National Crime Victims Survey, 2007)
“People between the ages of 18 to 24 experience the highest prevalence of stalking, sexual assault an dating violence.”
U.S. Department of Justice (Revised, 2012)
“1 in 4 Stalking victims are cyberstalked”
U.S. Bureau of Justice, 2009
What is missing? Bogus statistics about the incidence of campus date rape.

We have found that our students have been told that 20% of college women are victims of date rape. And indeed, one “training” module that was mandated for all University employees last fall used a somewhat scarier statistic, claiming that 25% of college women are victims of “some sort of sexual assault.”

Click on Image to Enlarge
We called Susannah Bartlow, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, which was responsible for the poster. We wanted to ask her whether Marquette is backing off inflated claims about date rape.  We left voice mail, but she never got back to us.

Instead, Brian Dorrington, head public relations guy at Marquette, responded.

(It’s significant that nobody in the Provost’s office will talk to us, but rather gives Dorrington the task of framing an evasive response.)

Dorrington said:
Hi John,

Susannah Bartlow shared your inquiry with me and I’m writing to provide context. This year’s sexual violence prevention poster offers new information and statistics to expand the knowledge base of our university community on this important topic. The information from both posters is accurate and includes widely accepted statistics. We have worked diligently to educate our entire campus community about preventing sexual misconduct. This includes sexual violence prevention and bystander intervention during the past four years and mandatory training for all first-year students.
Dorrington, of course, has completely and entirely avoided our query, which was whether Marquette is backing off of the bogus statistics it has been giving students.  Perhaps he did not understand our query, or perhaps he simply was unwilling to admit that Marquette is backing off something it has been (falsely) telling students.

That colleges (following feminist activists) have been trafficking in bogus, grossly inflated statistics about date rape is not new information.

The first widely noticed article questioning inflated date rape statistics appeared in 1991, written by Berkeley professor Neil Gilbert.

And of course, we have repeatedly blogged on the issue.

Why Inflate the Problem?

The chronic inflation of the problem of sexual assault on campus is the result of the confluence of two forces.

The first is feminism, which casts men as the evil oppressor class. What better metaphor for male evil than the notion that lots of men are raping women. Indeed, why not go beyond that and say that all men are responsible for the prevalence of rape, or that a “rape culture” encompasses all men?

Thus, a certain R. Clifton Spargo from the English Department, in a campus program on sexual violence. . .
. . . rejected the notion that rape is “merely aberrant, deviant behavior,” and told the male members of the audience “you are living in the rape culture.” Where? “On Campus. In the bars.”
The other force is the interests of campus bureaucrats. Hyping “sexual violence” is a justification for programs, and initiatives, workshops, and indoctrination sessions. All which have the effect of inflating the budgets and staffs of campus bureaucrats.

There are a few things that students should be told about rape. The “Teal Poster” is pretty good in this regard. Women should be told that, if a victim of rape, they should not shower, not change their clothes, but go immediately to an Emergency Room. Women should be told to be careful about ever taking a drink if it might possibly contain a date rape drug.

And women ought to be strongly encouraged to report rape. The entire student body should encourage women to report rape and support those who do. This is more likely to happen if Marquette can (honestly) tell students that reports of rape will be dealt with in a sensitive and professional manner.

But it doesn’t help when Marquette makes stupid statements about rape.

This page, for example, says that a women has not consented to sex if she is “Giving in or going along with someone to gain approval.” A lot of women have sex to gain approval. A guy who makes his “approval” continent on getting sex is not a gentleman, but he’s not a rapist either (at least if that’s all he does).

Another stupid statement coming from Marquette was in the “training” module required of all employees and faculty. It flatly asserts that rape is “not about sex, it’s about power.” If that’s true, why is it “sexual assault” rather than “power assault?”

Check on Image to Enlarge
Another stupid statement is found in the “Teal Poster.” It tells students:
Consent. If you want to have sexual contact with someone, it is your responsibility to make sure they consent...enthusiastically!
No, grudging consent will do. A guy who gets only grudging consent from his date really ought to back off. But he’s not rapist if he fails to.

Making stupid statements about rape encourages students to blow off the “training” that Marquette offers as politically correct indoctrination, rather than good advice and information.

Marquette Compromised

Then there is the fact that Marquette is badly compromised in dealing with campus rape, having covered up two serious cases of sexual assault during the 2011 school year. Both were reported by the Chicago Tribune. Here is one report. And here is the other.


If Marquette is backing off of bogus claims about campus date rape, good. But it would be better if the University admitted that the numbers it has been giving students are badly inflated, and that a sober view of the situation requires good data.

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Governor Walker’s Son on Political Bias at Marquette

Matt Walker, son of Governor Scott Walker and a Marquette student, gave a fairly lengthy interview to, and talked about his experiences at Marquette.

Two key issues where how he has been treated as the son of a governor whom most faculty voted against, and how much ideological bias he has encountered in his classes. Quoting the article:
“It always comes down to the professor in the end,” he said when asked if he’s treated fairly.
But one of the most surprising themes of my experience in college has been that political bias appears less in my political courses (as a political science and economics double major), but more so in classes like English, Philosophy, and other humanities.

In the beginning years of my time at Marquette, I don’t think most professors knew who I was. I don’t think too many professors treat me differently when they find out, but every now and then I’ll have a minor issue.
He said that conservatives and Republicans on college campuses who are aiming to fight back against liberal bias by leftist professors and academia figures should work to create bias reporting systems to expose any double standards they face.
This is consistent with our experience, and indeed with a lot of data on ideological bias in academia. Intolerant political correctness is most common in the humanities, and in some social sciences, especially sociology and some subfields in psychology. It’s less common in political science and much less common in economics.

Marquette’s Political Science Department, for example, leans heavily liberal, but there are conservative voices (including ours, which Marquette is trying to shut up), but most of what our liberal colleagues preach is “disciplinal:” more concerned with the theoretical constructs of political science than with raw liberal or conservative politics.

The humanities are very different, and several fiascoes in Marquette’s Philosophy Department are just the tip of the iceberg.

Humanities faculty, lacking any disciplined view of politics, simply give vent to their biases.

With this in mind, the recent move by Dean Rick Holz to water down the Arts & Sciences core curriculum may be a good thing. Students will be more free to pursue the subjects they want, with less burden of politically correct indoctrination in Marquette’s humanities departments.

But in any real “Catholic university” there would be a robust humanities requirement, and it would not consist of politically correct indoctrination.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Terrorism: Being Honest About the Enemy

From liberal New York Times columnist (not a Fox News pundit) Thomas Friedman, thoughts on the inability of the Obama White House to honestly discuss the nature of the terrorist threat.
I’ve never been a fan of global conferences to solve problems, but when I read that the Obama administration is organizing a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism for Feb. 18, in response to the Paris killings, I had a visceral reaction: Is there a box on my tax returns that I can check so my tax dollars won’t go to pay for this?

When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq. We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.

Last week the conservative columnist Rich Lowry wrote an essay in Politico Magazine that contained quotes from White House spokesman Josh Earnest that I could not believe. I was sure they were made up. But I checked the transcript: 100 percent correct. I can’t say it better than Lowry did:

“The administration has lapsed into unselfconscious ridiculousness. Asked why the administration won’t say [after the Paris attacks] we are at war with radical Islam, Earnest on Tuesday explained the administration’s first concern ‘is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it.’

This makes it sound as if the Charlie Hebdo terrorists set out to commit a random act of violent extremism and only subsequently, when they realized that they needed some justification, did they reach for Islam.

The day before, Earnest had conceded that there are lists of recent ‘examples of individuals who have cited Islam as they’ve carried out acts of violence.’ Cited Islam? According to the Earnest theory ... purposeless violent extremists rummage through the scriptures of great faiths, looking for some verses to cite to support their mayhem and often happen to settle on the holy texts of Islam.”

President Obama knows better. I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community. It is coming mostly, but not exclusively, from angry young men and preachers on the fringe of the Sunni Arab and Pakistani communities in the Middle East and Europe.
Friedman then goes on to make an important distinction among Muslim communities.
Something else is also at work, and it needs to be discussed. It is the struggle within Arab and Pakistani Sunni Islam over whether and how to embrace modernity, pluralism and women’s rights. That struggle drives, and is driven by, the dysfunctionality of so many Arab states and Pakistan. It has left these societies with too many young men who have never held a job or a girl’s hand, who then seek to overcome their humiliation at being left behind, and to find identity, by “purifying” their worlds of other Muslims who are not sufficiently pious and of Westerners whom they perceive to be putting Muslims down. But you don’t see this in the two giant Muslim communities in Indonesia or India.
Friedman, in other words, is not keen to blame all of Islam for terrorism, but neither is he unwilling to honestly voice the problem.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marquette Students Ignoring Climate Survey

An e-mail from Kimberly A. Newman, Executive Administrative Assistant in the Provost’s office:
The Climate Study Working Group seeks your help in getting more students to complete the Marquette University Climate Survey. As of today less than 10% of our undergraduate and graduate students have taken the time to complete the survey, falling short of what we need to get the pulse of students’ experiences and observations of life at Marquette. And with a new President and Provost, what information students provide will go far in setting priorities for the future of Marquette.
Faculty are then asked to encourage students to take the survey. Students should be assured, for example, that even if they are Freshmen and relatively new to campus their input is wanted. The survey only takes a few minutes. And further, students should be told “That by ‘climate’ survey, we are asking about what they’ve experienced and observed at Marquette and not their opinions about the weather.”

Good to get that cleared up.

Of course, if students were paying any attention, they would notice some questionable things about the enterprise. For example, Newman assures people:
All responses are anonymous. There will never be an analysis of the findings that might identify any individual who completes the survey, and safeguards have been taken to assure both confidentiality of information and anonymity of responses.
But then you have this:
Why do some demographic questions contain a large number of response options?

It is important in campus climate research for survey participants to “see” themselves in response choices to prevent “othering” an individual or an individual’s characteristics. Some researchers maintain that assigning someone to the status of “other” is a form of marginalization and should be minimized, particularly in a campus climate research that has an intended purpose of inclusiveness. Along these lines, survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. It is impossible reasonably to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”
So students who are asexual or of Croatian ancestry might get alienated if they don’t see that choice in the response categories offered.

But then you have this:
How is a respondent’s confidentiality protected?

Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly because sensitive and personal topics are discussed. Though the survey can’t guarantee complete anonymity because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the consultant will take multiple precautionary measures to ensure individual confidentiality and the deidentification of data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., Social Security Number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey….
That’s very reassuring.

But the fundamental problem with the survey is that we know perfectly well how it will turn out. The outside consultant who is doing it (one Dr. Susan Rankin) is in the business of making surveys turn out the way campus administrators want them to.

First, it will not be determined that the “campus climate” sucks for everybody. That would be bad publicity for Marquette. But it will be determined that there are “problems,” almost certainly problems for some politically correct group. It’s completely inconceivable that (say) devout Catholics will be found to face a “hostile climate” as their views are demeaned, or that males will be found to chafe under anti-male sexism from feminists.

These “problems” will need to be “addressed” by more programs, more mandatory “training,” and more “initiatives.” All of which will justify the budgets and staffing of various bureaucracies at Marquette.

The game is pretty transparent.  Except to administrators at Marquette, who probably believe their own rhetoric.


From a comment, information on the firm that is doing the survey. Is there any doubt that the “fix is in” as to how this survey will turn out?

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