Spitting in the soup

That people associated with a university would invite a hateful mythmonger like Richard Spencer to campus is a tragedy; but it’s a greater tragedy that someone like Spencer is a public figure at all. That’s not something that even the best university administration can fix.

I might add that when people say that they want conservative ideas to be represented on campus and then invite Ann Coulter or Milo or Richard Spencer to speak, they have zero interest in ideas. They just want to spit in their neighbor’s soup.

(Alan Jacobs, part of his delayed reaction to the New Atlantis article I recently alluded to)

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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Where I glean stuff.

Toxins and antidotes

I encountered one of this quotes before and may have shared it, but now I’ve read the whole article:

When I was at Yale in the 1980s, I was given so many tools for understanding the world. By the time I graduated, I could think about things as a Utilitarian or a Kantian, as a Freudian or a behaviorist, as a computer scientist or a humanist. I was given many lenses to apply to any one situation. But nowadays, students who major in departments that prioritize social justice over the disinterested pursuit of truth are given just one lens—power—and told to apply it to all situations. Everything is about power. Every situation is to be analyzed in terms of the bad people acting to preserve their power and privilege over the good people. This is not an education. This is induction into a cult, a fundamentalist religion, a paranoid worldview that separates people from each other and sends them down the road to alienation, anxiety, and intellectual impotence.

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you, let me end with a few rays of hope and some thoughts about what can be done. I began this lecture with a discussion of the fine-tuned liberal democracy, which is the hypothesis that human beings are unsuited for life in large diverse secular democracies, unless we can get certain settings finely adjusted. I think this hypothesis is true, and I have tried to show that we have stumbled into some very bad settings. I am pessimistic about our future, but let me state clearly that I have low confidence in my pessimism. It has always been wrong to bet against America, and it is probably wrong to do so now …

[I]f you want more hope, let me tell you why I think things are going to start to improve on university campuses, beginning in the fall of 2018: because as things get worse on campus, more people are beginning to stand up, and more people are searching for solutions. Some college presidents are starting to stand up. They all know they are sitting on a powder keg, and they want to defuse it. Also, they are generally liberal scholars, deeply opposed to illiberalism …

Professors are starting to stand up, too. At Heterodox Academy, we started with 25 members two years ago; now we have over 1,400, evenly balanced between left and right. We got a big surge of members after the violence at Middlebury because that was a tipping point. Professors are overwhelmingly on the left, but they are mostly liberal Left, not illiberal. My field—social psychology—for example, is quite sane. I have been raising the alarm about political imbalance and orthodoxy since 2011, and so far nothing bad has happened to me …

And most importantly, some students are beginning to stand up. At Reed College, one of the most politically orthodox schools in the country, social-justice activists had been protesting and disrupting the first-year humanities course for more than a year. They called the course an act of white supremacy because it focused on dead white authors. They said the course was traumatizing to non-white students. They brought their signs and chants into the classroom every day, making it hard for professors to teach or for students to learn. Many Reed students and professors objected, but none dared to do so publicly, lest they be called racist themselves. Finally, this fall, several Asian students stood up, criticized the protesters, and asked them to stop interfering with their education. Once these students stood up, support for the protesters collapsed. Many people had been going along out of fear, rather than conviction.

(Jonathan Haidt) This edited transcript of Haidt’s Wriston Lecture for the Manhattan Institute, delivered on November 15 has much more of worth than I have quoted, including analysis of how we got so polarized. A hint: I left the GOP in 2005, but there was handwriting on the walls ten years earlier (which I did not notice.)

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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Where I glean stuff.

Ees Outrage!

The insanity we’re up against, part 1:

Protesters are demanding that the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston remove an exhibit by a white female artist because she once painted a picture of Emmett Till — even though the exhibit does not even contain that Emmett Till painting.

Some background: The artist, Dana Schutz, initially came under fire for Open Casket after the painting appeared at the Whitney Biennial in June, according to an article in Art World. The painting depicted the open-casket funeral of Emmett Till, a black boy who was murdered after a white woman accused him of flirting with her, and critics said it was offensive because it amounted to a white woman’s profiting off of the tragedy of a black boy …

[So the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston decided not to show that Emmett Till painting.]

The critics’ letter claims that the ICA’s showing any of Schutz’s work essentially amounts to both it and Schutz benefiting financially from the tragedy of Emmett Till. Now, of course, some people might suggest that the fact that the painting of Till will not even be in the exhibit means that neither the museum nor Schutz could possibly be making money from the tragedy that it depicts. You know, because it’s literally not even going to be there.

But the critics have a different view. They claim that it still amounts to the museum’s taking an opportunity to “capitalize on the notoriety of said painter, not only directly benefiting her access and future opportunities, but also the institution’s,” and that the museum did something very wrong by refusing to meet all of its demands.

(Katherine Timpf)

Read between the lines: If you once paint someone of a different race, you are guilty of an artistic capital crime and should never be allowed to exhibit anywhere again.

The insanity we’re up against, part 2:

By a margin of over two to one, Republicans support using the courts to shut down news media outlets for “biased or inaccurate” stories, according to a recent poll from The Economist and YouGov.

When asked if cracking down on the press in this manner would violate the First Amendment, a narrow majority of Republicans agreed that it does, seeming to create a contradiction. However, a further question gave them a chance to clear the air and reaffirm the primacy of principle over political expediency: “Which is more important to you?” it asked, “(A) Protecting freedom of the press, even if that means media outlets sometimes publish biased or inaccurate stories; (B) Punishing biased or inaccurate news media, even if that means limiting the freedom of the press; (C) Not sure.”

Shockingly, a full 47 percent of Republicans support “punishing biased or inaccurate news media, even if that means limiting the freedom of the press,” versus just 34 percent who support “protecting freedom of the press, even if that means media outlets sometimes publish biased or inaccurate stories.”

(Elliott Kaufman)

Because these Republicans are presumably fully adult, this is more obnoxious than the students of Madison, in my last episode, who at least hesitated about throwing principle under the bus.

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Fiat justitia ruat caelum

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.