Category Archive 'Ressentiment'
14 Oct 2017

The Brain-Washing Starts Early

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Even a Canadian Progressive like Tama Ward can be made a little uncomfortable with the role of Post-Colonial Parent.

At breakfast, in the glass-towered city of Vancouver, five-year-old Abigail looks glumly at her half-eaten bowl of cereal.

“What is it, honey?” I brush the bangs back from her face.

She lets out a big sigh. “I wish I wasn’t white.”

I start. Nothing in the parenting manuals has prepared me for that.

“All we’ve ever done is hurt people,” she continues. “I wish my skin was dark and that I had a culture.”

We live in a part of the city where immigrant families abound. Our neighbours are homesick, first-generation Mexicans, which means that salsas and pinatas and Aztec legends feature prominently at shared social gatherings. Our family regularly eats in Little India where we gush over the flavours of curry and dhal, and every February, we attend the Chinese New Year parade in the slanting rain. Plus, my husband and I are children of missionaries and harbour an acute guilt for the cultural imperialism of our forebears. To compensate, we’ve raised our children with a deep appreciation of non-Western cultures.

So when Abigail laments the colour of her white skin, part of me is programmed to protest. Is it not my moral obligation to tell her that her feelings of poor self-worth are nothing compared with the psychological ruin of real racism? Girl, everything about Canadian culture weighs in your advantage and you have no right to snivel!

Instead, I feel a sadness settle over me. We thought we were raising the enlightened child of the 21st century. We thought we were doing our part in setting the history record straight. Yet, in doing so, it seems we have robbed our oldest child of something primal to psychological health, something elemental to her well-being as a human being: cultural roots.

I don’t know what to say.

I consider the you-are-Canadian spiel: “part of a new society made up of the vibrancy of many cultures, etc.” Yet, “Canadian” is precisely the problem. What is Canadian? Her best friend is Canadian and Mexican. Her cousin, Canadian and Bengali. Even our Indigenous neighbours have a First Nation before they have Canada. To play the Canadian card will further neuter her culturally when what she’s looking for are deep roots that ground her to a people and place.

Seized by maternal panic I go in search of our oversized National Geographic Atlas and hoist it up onto the breakfast table. Abigail sits up and she leans in. “It was almost 200 years ago that your people came to Canada from this island.”

Abigail’s face brightens at that word: island. I know what she’s thinking. Islands are places of primal innocence and cultural distinctiveness, such as Haida Gwaii or Never Never Land.

But then when I speak the name of her island, Abigail’s full-body slump returns.

“Great Britain?!” she pouts accusingly. “Aren’t they the bad ones?”

RTWT

20 Sep 2017

Latest News from the Insane Asylum in New Haven

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Endangered portraits in the Davenport College Dining Hall.

The Oldest College Daily keeps the craziness a-coming.

Head of Davenport College John Witt announced on Monday the formation of a student committee charged with improving the diversity of the portraits that hang from the walls of the college.

In a collegewide email, Witt — who last year chaired the faculty-led committee that drafted broad principles on renaming and who took over as head of Davenport this fall — wrote that the committee would explore ways to complement the portraits hanging in the college with “more contemporary images of figures from a wide array of backgrounds and from many walks of life.”

“It’s … fair to say that the imagery of our walls has not quite kept up with our traditions,” Witt wrote. “For several decades now, the imagery of our walls has not reflected the diversity of Davenport’s student body, fellowship or staff.” …

College artwork played an important role over the last two years in the racially charged debate leading up to the renaming of Calhoun College in February. In the winter of 2016, Julia Adams, the head of the newly renamed Grace Hopper College, had portraits of John C. Calhoun, class of 1804, removed from the dining hall and college house. …

According to Tresa Joseph ’18, co-president of the Davenport College Council and a former Production and Design Editor for the News, Witt solicited advice on the portrait project from the DCC and the college at large on multiple occasions before Monday’s announcement, including during a recent council meeting.

“I think he is someone who is genuinely open to input and collaboration with the students, which is why I think that this committee that he’s forming is really promising,” Joseph said.

Other Davenport students interviewed also applauded Witt’s initiative.

Tarek Ziad ’20 said the portrait project epitomizes Witt’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, which several students said has defined the first weeks of his tenure as Davenport head. Witt has already assembled a group of black graduate affiliates to advise black Davenport students, Ziad said.

Kesi Wilson ’21 said that given Yale’s tendency to sometimes honor the wrong leaders, it is important to line Davenport’s walls with figures students can collectively admire.

So, the portraits of Yale’s first rector, John Davenport, and other great men who achieved real accomplishments of significance for Yale and the Nation are to come down to be replaced with representatives of currently favored identity groups, whose student members, fellows, and faculty are really only at Yale through the extraordinarily benevolent charity of the original Yale founding constituency (the one currently being purged) coupled with heavy-thumb-on-the-scale group favoritism.

Evidently admitting dubiously-qualified minorities to Yale, creating new departments of Bogus Group-Ego-Stroking Studies and hiring a bunch of academic fraudsters and mountebanks on the basis of skin color, sexual perversity, and virulently radical opinions was not enough. Having filled the University nest with cuckoos, the current presiding administration is proceeding with a purge of Yale’s history, eliminating the great men of European ancestry which contemporary snowflakes of color or sodomitical inclination can neither identify with nor admire.

Personally, I find in all of this prima facie evidence that new constituency intrinsically alienated from, and hostile towards, Yale’s and America’s past are insolently egotistical, poorly-educated barbarians and bad citizens utterly intellectually unqualified and morally unworthy of admission or teaching or administrative appointment in the first place.

RTWT

11 Sep 2017

Oh, No! Yale’s Philosophy Department Lacks “Diversity”

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Detail, Raphael, The School of Athens, 1509-1511, Apostolic Palace, Vatican. Seriously lacking in Diversity.

The OCD is reporting on another crucial problem at Yale.

Yale’s Philosophy Department… has historically been majority white and male.

Philosophy has struggled as a discipline to attract students from diverse backgrounds, and faculty and students within Yale’s Philosophy Department told the News that while the department is not as diverse as it could be in terms of racial and gender makeup or curricular offerings, ongoing efforts to remedy the problem are a cause for optimism.

“[Lack of diversity] has inspired a lot of soul-searching in the discipline in recent years,” said Joanna Demaree-Cotton GRD ’21, co-coordinator of Yale’s chapter of Minorities and Philosophy which works to combat issues faced by minorities in academia. “Lots of departments, including ours at Yale, have started asking tough questions about the cause of this drop-off in the representation of women and racial minorities, and how we might go about ameliorating the problem.” …

“There is no question that as a field, philosophy is significantly less diverse nationally in terms of race and gender than we would like it be,” said Stephen Darwall, philosophy professor and former department chair.

He said that 2 percent of philosophy graduate students at Yale are black, and that there are no black faculty members currently in the department. …

Gender disparities also persist at the faculty level. Darwall said that five out of 18 philosophy ladder faculty, or 28 percent, are women. He added that the department focuses on identifying and recruiting talented women and philosophers of color to the doctoral program.

RTWT

For a Philosophy Department anywhere to fail to conform to contemporary notions of “Diversity” ought not to be surprising in the least.

In the first place, anyone sufficiently intellectually competent to study Philosophy could not possibly avoid noticing that Diversity as presently defined is a purely arbitrary and fundamentally bogus concept. Only identity groups identified with political grievances count toward Diversity. Nobody cares how many Appalachian hillbillies, Swedes, Belgians, Corsicans, Lithuanians, Eskimos, or Tibetans are studying Philosophy at Yale. Only identity groups with a litany of complaints and power-seeking political agendas count.

Many students of Philosophy these days take a particular interest in the philosophical thought of Friedrich Nietszche. Anyone adequately read in Nietszche cannot possibly avoid recognizing in “Diversity” what the great philosopher identified as “the slave revolt in morality,” the inversion of values, and the cynical and calculating attempt of the base and unworthy to gain power over their betters through the exploitation of their charity and benevolence. Anyone familiar with Zur Genealogie der Moral (1887) can hardly avoid identifing “Diversity” as nothing other than Ressentiment deceptively packaged for purposes of marketing.

(Disclosure: NYM’s proprietor was a white, male Philosophy major at Yale.)

15 Aug 2017

Teddy Roosevelt Already on the List

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The Guardian reported last Fall that they were already protesting in New York to get rid of Teddy Roosevelt (and to rename Columbus Day).

Hundreds of activists gathered at the American Museum of Natural History on Monday to take down the “racist” statue of Theodore Roosevelt and an urgent call to rename Columbus Day.

More than 200 people cheered outside the museum as activists covered the statue of Roosevelt on horseback flanked by an African American and Native American on either side and demanded it be ultimately removed.

“A stark embodiment of the white supremacy that Roosevelt himself espoused and promoted,” the group explained in a statement. “The statue is seen as an affront to all who pass it on entering the museum, but especially to African and Native Americans.”

Activists from the groups NYC Stands with Standing Rock and Decolonize This Place organized the protest to draw attention to the museum’s encouragement of racist tropes, and implored New York City to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.

RTWT

19 Jul 2017

Intersectionality is a Religion

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Elizabeth C. Corey, at First Things, describes the First Church of Intersectionality.

In 1968, the political philosopher Eric Voegelin published a little book called Science, Politics and Gnosticism. In a section of that book entitled “Ersatz Religion,” he argued that modern ideologies are very much like ancient Gnostic movements. Certain fundamental assumptions, Voegelin wrote, characterize both ancient and modern Gnosticism.

The gnostic, Voegelin observed, is fundamentally dissatisfied with his situation and believes that the world is “intrinsically poorly organized” and that salvation from the world’s evils is possible. The gnostic further thinks that “the order of being will have to be changed in an historical process” and that this is possible through human effort. Finally, the gnostic looks for a prophet who shares saving knowledge about how to make the transformation happen. It turns out that the intersectional project accords in every detail with Voegelin’s description.

Intersectional scholars are, by definition, unhappy with their situations in life. From an outsider’s perspective, this seems more reasonable for some than for others, though it’s apparent that everyone feels it to a greater or lesser extent. Most affectingly, at the Notre Dame conference, several black feminist scholars from South Africa described the explicitly repressive measures they had endured at their universities, where the prejudice against them is overt and sometimes results in violence. As one scholar put it, “It’s not like I’m full of despair.” Then she paused and thought for a moment. “But, of course, I am full of despair.”

This nearly moved black American women to tears. They detailed their feelings of inadequacy in American universities, confessing that they feel they have no legitimate place, or that they are expected constantly to serve, because this is what has always been expected of black women. A young Hispanic assistant professor explained that United States immigration policy was a systematic attempt “to deny intimacy and family” to immigrants from Mexico. A self-identified “Chicano gender non-conforming queer Latinx” detailed the exclusion she had felt until she discovered a support group of other transgender people in Los Angeles. And the stories continued.

Expressions of hurt and exclusion were inevitably followed by anger at the system—at the patriarchy, racism, unjust institutions, and structural prejudice—and then by exhortations to do something about it. In Voegelin’s terms, they were rebelling against the poor organization of the world, and maintained the hope of salvation through human effort.

Voegelin’s idea that the order of being must be changed “in an historical process” nicely captures the mandate of intersectionality. If schools, churches, and families are the primary institutions that have always formed people, and if they are fundamentally shot through with oppression and prejudice, then these institutions must themselves be thoroughly remade. In light of such an objective, the self-conscious deconstruction of what we take for granted makes sense. Gender, sexuality, family, ­hierarchy, capitalism, and, most of all, the university and its “pretense” to objective knowledge must be destroyed and reconstituted. Scholarship is secondary. Activism is what matters most.

RTWT

29 Jun 2017

Saying “Homework Was Easy” Deemed a Microagression by Stanford Prof

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Ruth Starkman, writing specialist for Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science.

HeatStreet records another PC landmine that today’s elite college students at Stanford have been warned to avoid.

To the mounting list of ways to possibly offend other students on college campuses these days, you can now add talking about your homework.

“Sure, you had no ill-intent, and absolutely nothing racist in mind at all,” Stanford Prof, Ruth Starkman writes in the Huffington Post. But by merely uttering the words out loud, you risk a microaggression because you don’t know who in class may have struggled with the assignment, she says.

Trying to explain why an assignment wasn’t too hard for you is also a microaggression, Starkman advises students at elite colleges like Stanford. So don’t even think about telling peers if you’ve already been exposed to a subject or idea in high school.

“Not everyone went to your high school, had your fortunate circumstances, or such a dazzling delivery room arrival, and even if they did, they might still be suffering because of the genuine challenges of the assignments,” Starkman writes.

Fundamentally, Starkman says, some students struggle while others breeze through because of an injustice—namely “unevenly distributed knowledge.”

In Starkman’s mind, any student who comes to an elite university with a decent educational foundation is excelling because of their wealth and privilege. “Chances are,” Starkman writes, “your parents paid substantial sums of money for that knowledge, either in property taxes in highly resourced school districts or in private education or in pricey enrichment.” …

“Your response ‘I already had this in high school’ really means ‘not only do I have rich parents, I somehow took exactly the right courses to be perfectly prepared,’” Starkman writes. “Congrats if you did. Try not to be a jerk about it.”

25 May 2017

Peter Salovey’s False Narrative

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Heather MacDonald debunks Peter Salovey’s sanctimonious PC nonsense.

Yale University’s president recently provided a window into the modern university’s self-conception—an understanding embraced by both liberals and conservatives but flawed in essential ways. A primary purpose of a Yale education, President Peter Salovey told Yale’s freshman class last year, is to teach students to recognize “false narratives.” Such narratives, Salovey claimed, are ubiquitous in American culture: “My sense is that we are bombarded daily by false narratives of various kinds, and that they are doing a great deal of damage.” Advocates may “exaggerate or distort or neglect crucial facts,” Salovey said, “in ways that serve primarily to fuel your anger, fear, or disgust.” (Salovey repeated this trilogy of “anger, fear, and disgust” several times; it was impossible not to hear a reference to Donald Trump, though Salovey tried to stay nonpartisan.)

According to Salovey, the Yale faculty is a model for how to respond to false narratives: they are united by a “stubborn skepticism about narratives that oversimplify issues, inflame the emotions, or misdirect the mind,” he said.

Two things can be said about Salovey’s theme: first, it is hilariously wrong about the actual state of “stubborn skepticism” at Yale. Second, and more important, Salovey mistakes the true mission of a college education.

To assess whether Yale is, in fact, a bastion of myth-busting, it is necessary to return to one of the darkest moments in Yale’s history: the university’s response to a shocking mass outbreak of student narcissism in October 2015. The wife of a college master had sent an e-mail to students, suggesting that they were capable of deciding for themselves which Halloween costume to wear and didn’t need oversight from Yale’s diversity commissars. (Halloween costumes have been the target of the PC police nationally for allegedly “appropriating” minority cultures.)

The e-mail sparked a furor among minority students across Yale and beyond, who claimed that it threatened their very being. In one of many charged gatherings that followed, students surrounded the college master, berating him for the pain that his wife had caused them. One female student was captured on video violently gesturing at the master and shrieking, “Be quiet!” as he gently tries to answer her tirade. She then screams: “Why the fuck did you accept this position [of college master]? Who the fuck hired you?”

Of all the Black Lives Matter–inspired protests that were sweeping campuses at that moment, Yale’s shrieking-girl episode was the most grotesque. In reaction, Yale groveled. President Salovey sent around a campus-wide letter declaring that he had never been as “simultaneously moved, challenged, and encouraged by our community—and all the promise it embodies—as in the past two weeks.” He proclaimed the need to work “toward a better, more diverse, and more inclusive Yale”—implying that Yale was not “inclusive” —and thanked students for offering him “the opportunity to listen to and learn from you.” That the shrieking girl had refused to listen to her college master—or to give him an opportunity to speak—was never mentioned; she suffered no known repercussions for her outrageous incivility. Salovey went on to pledge a reinforced “commitment to a campus where hatred and discrimination have no place,” implying that hatred and discrimination currently did have a place at Yale. Salovey announced that the entire administration, including faculty chairs and deans, would receive training on how to combat racism at Yale and reiterated a promise to dump another $50 million into Yale’s already all-consuming diversity efforts.

If ever there were a narrative worthy of being subjected to “stubborn skepticism,” in Salovey’s words, the claim that Yale was the home of “hatred and discrimination” is it. There is not a single faculty member or administrator at Yale (or any other American college) who does not want minority students to succeed. Yale has been obsessed with what the academy calls “diversity,” trying to admit and hire as many “underrepresented minorities” as it possibly can without totally eviscerating academic standards. There has never been a more tolerant social environment in human history than Yale (and every other American college)—at least if you don’t challenge the reigning political orthodoxies. Any Yale student who thinks himself victimized by the institution is in the throes of a terrible delusion, unable to understand his supreme good fortune in ending up at one of the most august and richly endowed universities in the world.

But the ubiquitous claim that American campuses are riven with racism is not, apparently, one of the “false narratives” that Salovey had in mind. Not only did the president endorse that claim, but the husband-and-wife team who had triggered the Halloween costume furor penned a sycophantic apology to minority students in their residential college: “We understand that [the original e-mail] was hurtful to you, and we are truly sorry,” wrote Professors Nicholas and Erika Christakis. “We understand that many students feel voiceless in diverse ways and we want you to know that we hear you and we will support you.” Yale’s minority students may “feel” voiceless, but that feeling is just as delusional as the feeling that Yale is not “inclusive.”

So Salovey’s claim that Yale resolutely seeks out and unmasks “false narratives” is itself a false narrative.

RTWT

17 Apr 2017

Would “They” Go There?

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The Wall Street Journal reports that the Brown Admissions Office has lost its marbles.

Brown University in Providence, R.I. houses one of the country’s most selective undergraduate colleges. The Brown Daily Herald, a student-run newspaper, cites Dean of Admission Logan Powell in reporting that the school received a record-high 32,724 applications this year, and admitted just 8.3% of applicants.

Among those lucky few is the daughter of a Journal reader who is still trying to make sense of a letter the family received this week from Mr. Powell. Our reader’s bright daughter had already received news of her acceptance when a letter arrived that was addressed to her “Parent/Guardian.”

Oddly, the note referred to the accepted student not as “she” but as “they.” Dean Powell’s letter also stated that our reader’s daughter had no doubt worked hard and made positive contributions to “their” school and community. Our reader reports that his perplexed family initially thought that Brown had made a word-processing error. That was before they listened to a voice mail message from the school congratulating his daughter and referring to her as “them.”…

It turns out that the errors were intentional. Brown spokesman Brian Clark writes in an email that “our admission office typically refers to applicants either by first name or by using ‘they/their’ pronouns. While the grammatical construction may read as unfamiliar to some, it has been adopted by many newsrooms and other organizations as a gender-inclusive option.”

RTWT

11 Apr 2017

Face It, The Red Gods Hate Minorities

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Writing in Everyday Feminism, “Raging Bisexual” Emily Zak explains that Googles and Yahoos do not recreate themselves in the out-of-doors as much as white folks, and it’s all your fault!

Ambreen Tariq runs Brown People Camping, an Instagram account that promotes diversity in public lands. She says she can feel like an outsider hiking and camping as a Muslim woman of color and immigrant.

“I felt like I had to establish myself – ‘Yeah, I’m a camper, I’m a hiker’ – that other people don’t do as much because they don’t have to question their belonging in that space,” Tariq tells Outside.

“Not only did I not have an authentic background doing activities in the outdoors, but my family didn’t do it, and I don’t have the legacy of being connected to a piece of land because we were always moving.”

We need to acknowledge outdoor recreation’s lack of diversity and inclusion.

Without understanding what’s keeping folks home, we blame oppressed individuals for “not taking initiative,” rather than addressing what may be preventing them from participating in certain activities.

To encourage people to take their own adventures, we might say well-meaning things like, “Anybody can do this if they’re motivated enough.”

This can be inspirational to someone who has the resources and leisurely time to explore the outdoors and needs a kick in the butt to do so. However, the message can be draining for folks who are raring to explore, but can’t.

We forget that society’s hierarchies of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, body size, and economic class don’t magically disappear in the forest. We deny that society actively discourages millions from playing outside, possibly stopping budding conservation activists.

As Tariq notes, “The more of us who can connect to it, the more we can protect it together.”

Here are a few barriers that marginalize people have to overcome to experience nature.

1. You Need Equipment

Our society treats nature as something we can enjoy independent of capitalism.

Theoretically, we go there to escape, and all we need are some sturdy shoes and maybe a sleeping bag.

The reality is more complicated. In the United States, outdoor recreation is a $646 billion industry. Open the pages of outdoor magazines, and you’ll find $150 trail running shoes, $500 tents and $4,000 mountain bikes.

We’ve created a culture of elitism around the outdoors, led by wealthy gear heads.

The Minnesota Land Trust’s Hansi Johnson, who’s white, recalls how he used to see people wearing jeans and flannel cross-country skiing growing up – a rare sight today.

Even if folks push past mainstream narratives and seek more affordable gear, cost is still a factor for low-income people.

If deals on used equipment or borrowing from a friend aren’t feasible in someone’s area, gear for a no-frills camping trip can still cost $500. Forget the cost of a car and gas to get to the campsite.

While do-it-yourself fixes for gear do exist – anybody else try cooking on a beer can camp stove? – they’re not universally known outside of backpacking circles. Ditto on cheap gear websites.

Those who make outdoor activities cheap often have a support system behind them.

As a freelancer with a college education, I’m perpetually broke, not poor. I couldn’t camp comfortably if I didn’t have the gear my parents gifted me back in high school.

No wonder 40% of participants in outdoor activities make $75,000-plus salaries a year.

The paradox that being poor is expensive is true: If you want to participate in a no-cost outdoor activity, you need to have money to invest in the gear initially.

This system reveals deeply entrenched classism. Ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away.

2. Outdoor Gear Doesn’t Fit Everyone

Cost is just one hurdle. Outdoor gear needs to fit.

Fitness culture overall reeks of fat-shaming, for one, which is reflected in workout clothing offerings.

Ultra-marathoner and cross-country coach Mirna Valerio says on Fat Girl Running that she struggles to find functional, flattering outfits that don’t pinch or cost a lot. In fact, most sportswear goes up to just a size twelve.

For those who’d prefer cycling: Only last year did anyone think to build a bike for someone who’s heavier than 300 pounds.

As with disability access, if the equipment isn’t readily available, people aren’t as likely to think that the outdoors are theirs to explore.

If we truly believe that everyone should be outside, we need to hold companies accountable for their limited views on body size.

3. Access to Natural Spaces Is Tangled in Historic Privilege and Oppression

In principle, public lands belong to all of us. In reality, select people get to enjoy it.

Carolyn Finney, geographer and author of Black Faces, White Spaces, explains about how national parks contribute to a larger story about who we are as a country, which historically excludes Black folks.

On Tavis Smiley, a PBS show hosted by Tavis Smiley, Finney reminds us that people of color do have a connection to natural spaces, but some of that land was stolen from them:

    ” …whether it’s the 400,000 acres of land that were originally given to freed enslaved Africans and then taken away, whether it’s all the native people that had to be removed from land in order for the Homestead Act to make sense, and then give it to European immigrants so that they could have their own plot of land.”

Finney continues, “This is part of the legacy of who we are and our issues of land and ownership and connection.”

Today, 80% of communities of color live “in areas where the proportion of remaining natural area is lower than the state average.” According to a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, low-income neighborhoods are four and a half times less likely to have recreation facilities like parks in some states.

Furthermore, what we consider “untouched wilderness” is anything but.

As Kimberly Fanshier notes for Everyday Feminism, this concept centers around white people’s perspective and erases Indigenous populations who lived there for centuries before.

Many national parks and public lands were built on colonized lands. Even US National Parks reflect colonialism, where white leaders ignored Indigenous people in the area to establish.

Our society leverages natural spaces as a tool for capitalism and colonialism, while at the same time touted them as apolitical, free, and pure.

It goes on.

Personally I thought urban minorities do a pretty good job of stealing other people’s bicycles, so why wouldn’t they be adequately equipped for mountain biking?

07 Apr 2017

The Stock of the Puritans Has Apparently Died

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Eden Girma, Harvard ’18, performing.

The Crimson reports that “the Puritan stock” is going to be re-written out of Harvard’s alma mater song.

Harvard will hold a competition to change the final line of “Fair Harvard,” the University’s 181-year-old alma mater, which has read “Till the stock of the Puritans die” since its composition in 1836.

Government professor Danielle S. Allen, co-chair of Presidential Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging, announced the plans to change the lyric at a three-hour event the task force held Wednesday in Sanders Theatre. Convened by University President Drew G. Faust in September, the committee is tasked with evaluating Harvard’s efforts to create an inclusive environment and recommend improvements.

The group is also launching a second competition for “a new musical variant” of the alma mater that could be performed as electronic, hip hop, or spoken word music. The traditional music would remain the official mode of performance for the song, but the new mode would be “preserved by the University as an endorsed alternative,” according to the group’s website—“The inspiration is ‘Hamilton.’ The point is to use your imagination,” it reads.

University affiliates can submit lyric and music variant submissions on the task force’s website through September, and winners will be announced in spring 2018.

Also at Wednesday’s event, the “Afternoon of Engagement on Inclusion and Belonging” featured remarks from Faust, stories from Harvard affiliates, and collaborative exercises designed to inform the task force’s future discussions.

In her welcoming remarks, Faust shared a story about receiving letters from young girls around the world after she became the University’s first female president.

“Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are fundamental to our missions and to our identity and essential for creating a better university, and the responsibility for that is one shared by students, faculty, and staff,” she said.

Individuals from across the University then took to the stage to discuss their personal experiences with “belonging.”…

Eden H. Girma ’18… recalled participating in a protest at Primal Scream, a biannual naked run around Harvard Yard before the first day of finals. The protesters wanted to observe minute and a half of silence for black men killed by police, Girma said.

“Thinking back to that experience, with all of the emotions that I had, I can only see at the moment, that seems so clear to me, seeing two Harvards. One, a student body that felt so intrinsically implicated in the violence that was happening in the world, and another that seemed so blind to that,” Girma said. “Thinking retrospectively, I know there are so many nuances to this.”

——————————-

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“Fair Harvard”

Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o’er
By these Festival-rites, from the Age that is past,
To the Age that is waiting before.
O Relic and Type of our ancestors’ worth,
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow’r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising thro’ change and thro’ storm.

Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for Right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by,
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.

Samuel Gilman, Class of 1811
[Revised 1998]

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Shouldn’t they also change the song’s title to “Dusky Harvard”?

The admission to elite Ivy League Schools of non-traditional applicants started out as an effort to make more national the constituency of such schools and to discharge what the administrations of those universities saw as a duty to supply a national leadership class. In those days, the basis for the admission of outsider applicants was a combination meritocratic grades and test scores with geographical diversity.

More recently, identity group representation and Affirmative Action compensatory admission of members of favored groups has played a major role in determining the makeup of classes at elite schools.

In my own day, we had only a small number of African-American classmates, but they were admitted on pretty much the same sort of bases as everybody else, getting only a small (equivalent to geographical diversity) number of extra points for being black. Our black classmates consequently integrated into their Yale classes quite conventionally.

A few years later, in the early 1970s, Yale had a larger constituency of African Americans, admitted with a much stronger dose of racial favoritism. Those admittees were commonly far less well prepared for Yale educationally and integrated far less well. They tended to hang out together in all black groups, and spent most of their time in the African-American identity house. One tended not to know any of them. A few were spectacular failures, winding up arrested for crimes on campus. One guy, admitted to Yale out of the New Haven inner city community, was busted for dealing heroin to townies out of his room in Jonathan Edwards.

Today, decades later, the representation of non-traditional minority groups at these elite schools is much larger still, and those groups of students are more unruly, more obsessed with group identity and historical grievances, more self-entitled than ever.

In the early decades of the 20th Century, presidents of elite schools like Harvard placed a strict quota on Jewish admissions, fearing that intensely keen Jewish academic competition would change the composition of classes and the constituency of such schools completely, remaking them into Jewish institutions.

Today, minority admittees and presiding administrations eagerly lobby for fundamentally changing the composition, constituency, and even the complexion of those schools. Matters have reached a point at which the non-traditional groups feel entitled to rename buildings and to purge references and memorials to illustrious alumni and benefactors on the basis of their own amour propre. Now, at Harvard, they are sending the founders and original constituency of the college into exile from the school’s alma mater. All this causes me to wonder: had the people who initiated the effort at diversity admissions been able to foresee this occurring, would they ever have admitted any of these minorities at all in the first place?

31 Mar 2017

Universities “Full of Passionate Intensity”

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Flagg Taylor, taking the riots at Middlebury over a proposed talk by Charles Murray as an example, discusses how training in activism and applause for passion and commitment have replaced the quest for truth and the cultivation of the mind as goals for the modern (post-Gramscian Long March) university.

Training in politically correct opinions is designed self-consciously to churn out activists or silence dissenters. One must display one’s passionate commitment to these correct opinions; subjects like race and inequality are not really up for discussion, notwithstanding the omnipresent talk of “dialogue” and ceaseless self-congratulatory paeans to diversity.

But the praise of passion and engagement has another less noticeable but pernicious consequence. The loud, confident voices are applauded, but the quiet students are presumed not to be “engaged.” At best they are called apathetic, at worst they are “part of the problem.” Thus what institutions of higher learning have done with this fetishization of passion is to destroy the space for intellectual modesty. Some students might think, very naturally, “I really don’t know enough about that topic to have a strong opinion.” But the general atmosphere tells them to get committed, get passionate; there is no time to waste! For those who, perhaps instinctually, turn away from the politically correct opinions to which they are supposed to give their passionate embrace, what is left is most often a cynical distance from anything that smells of politics. So the destruction of the space of intellectual modesty leaves a desiccated field strewn with impassioned fanatics, knowing cynics, and careerists willing so say whatever provides the path of least resistance.

Read the whole thing.

31 Mar 2017

Yale English Department: Out With Shakespeare, In With Toni Morrison

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Oldest College Daily:

English Department faculty voted Tuesday to change the requirements for the major in an effort to increase the curriculum’s diversity, represent more literary periods and make the major more flexible.

The department’s 30 voting faculty were “overwhelmingly in favor” of reform, according to English professor Leslie Brisman. The revised curriculum, which has yet to be finalized, places equal importance on every major historical period from medieval to contemporary, rather than requiring students to take three pre-1800 courses before studying modern literature, and cuts the number of required courses from 14 to 12. The proposed changes would also double the number of ways to fulfill the major’s central requirements, allowing students to take English 127 and 128, an American literature introductory sequence, in place of the long-standing “Major English Poets” sequence.

The decision, which the department has not formally announced, comes nearly one year after 160 students signed a petition calling for the department to “decolonize” its course offerings.

“The solution we ended up with makes an implicit promise to students, which the department is deeply committed to honoring: that is, that students should and will encounter a broad diversity of texts, writers and traditions within every period,” English professor Catherine Nicholson said. “The form that diversity takes will vary across time, of course, which is part of the point, but no period will simply and exclusively focus on the writing representations of aristocratic white men.”

These requirements will apply to undergraduates in the class of 2021 and onward, according to acting English Department Chair Ruth Yeazell GRD ’71.

Rather than impose a “diversity requirement” or a “contemporary literature requirement,” Brisman said, the department voted to create a new English 128 course called “World Anglophone Literature,” which may have a historical breadth as well as an emphasis on contemporary literature. He explained the decision to elevate English 127 and 128 to a status equivalent to that of English 125 and 126 was intended to “tear down the barrier between canonical and noncanonical authors” while removing poetry from its “privileged position” within the Yale English Department.

Brisman said the department aims to better respond to student interest in diversity by increasing the number of courses featuring works by women and people of color, as well as authors who wrote in English but lived in non-English speaking countries. Several courses on the early histories of racial and religious differences are in the works, Nicholson said, adding that she and a colleague are discussing a cross-period course on early female writers.

Director of Undergraduate Studies and English professor Jessica Brantley said the department periodically revises the curriculum, but the past year’s conversations have taken on “added urgency” because of campus and national discussions about inclusion. She added that the new major better reflects the work and spirit of the department as well as the needs and desires of its students.

“We’ve constructed a curriculum that has inclusion as its goal, embedded in the structures of its requirements, and I’m very excited to implement and develop that curriculum further,” Brantley said.

Previously, English majors had four historical distribution requirements: three pre-1800 and one pre-1900. The revised requirements aim to make the department’s commitment to historical range better reflect its “actual sense of what’s important and why” by including every major historical period and valuing each equally, Nicholson said.

Faculty members debated between requiring students to take four out of five historical periods — medieval, Renaissance, 18th century, 19th century and 20th/21st century — or combining the 18th and 19th centuries into a unit and requiring students to take all four periods. Nicholson said the final decision to require four out of four periods reflects the fact that faculty members want students to encounter the broadest possible range of materials and writers.

“In sum, the new requirements give further guidance to students about sampling the variety of English literature of all kinds and periods, but they also allow more choice in shaping a major that suits the student’s particular interests,” Brisman said. …

Brisman said student feedback informed the process, since faculty members acknowledged during the negotiations that requiring three pre-1800 courses and one pre-1900 course made it look as though the department valued those courses more than contemporary or diversity literature.

“We hope that the new structure of requirements will give our students a strong foundation in the history of writing in English over the millennia, while introducing them to writers and periods whose cultures and perspectives might initially seem remote from their own,” Yeazell said.

Adriana Miele ’16, one of the petition’s signatories and a former opinion columnist for the News, said her experiences as one of the few nonwhite students in the English major showed her that the department needed to broaden its approach to literature. Still, Miele said she worries that the English Department’s push for diversity may be only superficial.

“The fact that there are so few nonwhite scholars [in the department] makes me really skeptical of any advancements that can be made,” Miele said. “But it’s definitely moving in the right direction.”

English major Frances Lindemann ’19 called the change “fantastic and long overdue.” She added that it would be impossible to represent all groups of people in a semesterlong course, but requiring a single sequence and calling it “Major English Poets” falsely suggests this collection of authors is the most important and the only one worth studying. Lindemann said she would like to see the department develop a more inclusive range of prerequisite options to make students feel more welcome in the major.

Some students acknowledged that the new requirements shift attention away from poetry. Brisman said he hopes students will continue to gravitate toward classes focusing on Milton and Shakespeare, but he suspects students overall will move away from canonical authors toward other, less canonical ones.

Full story.

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What can one say, looking on as those specially charged with the preservation and transmission of our civilization decline to defend it and surrender spinelessly to the whims and vanity of the barbarous young?

It obviously never occurred to any of the leading faculty members of the Yale English Department (in my day universally regarded as the best in the country, possibly in the world) to quote that notable representative of diversity W.E.B. DuBois:

I sit with Shakespeare, and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm and arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out of the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed Earth and the tracery of stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the veil. Is this the life you grudge us, O knightly America? Is this the life you long to change into the dull red hideousness of Georgia? Are you so afraid lest peering from this high Pisgah, between Philistine and Amalekite, we sight the Promised Land?”

What a thing it is to live in a time when those appointed to the most prestigious position in the land devoted to the study of the Canon of the English Language are not prepared to tell the ignorant young that “Yes, this collection of authors really is the most important and, by far, the most worth studying. And if you do not care to study these authors, you will not receive a degree in English from this department.”

17 Mar 2017

Inevitable

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Hat tip to Stephen Green.

16 Mar 2017

Just “A Vast Slave Society”

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J.T. Zealy, Renty, A Congolese slave on plantation of B.F. Taylor, Columbia, S.C., Daguerrotype photograph taken for Louis Agassiz’s study on Polygenism, March 1850.

Harvard Magazine reports that Harvard recently invited professional race-baiter Ta-Nehisi Coates to deliver the keynote address at a day-long liberal guiltfest over the century-and-a-half extinct institution which (regrettably) brought Coates’ ancestors to American shores.

The above 19th century daguerrotype served as poster-image for the conference because the wicked and nefarious naturalist Louis Agassiz, while working at Harvard, had caused that image to be captured for use in his studies of taxonomy and human etiology. That racist bastard Agassiz working in the first half of the 19th century (Can you imagine?) actually took the differences in skin color and physiognomy exhibited in this image as evidence supporting a significant taxonomic distinction between Sub-Saharan Africans and Europeans.

The audience of Harvards trembled guiltily on their seats as Ta-Nehisi Coates demanded reparations, telling his open-mouthed listeners that “We talk about enslavement as if it were a bump in the road. And I tell people: it’s the road. It’s the actual road.”

Daniel Coquillette, Harvard Law School’s Warren visiting professor of American legal history, and the author of the 2015 book, On the Battlefield of Merit: Harvard Law School, the First Century, gave an account of Isaac Royall, whose bequest led to the 1817 founding of the law school and whose newly revealed slave legacy roiled the campus last year with intense protest and controversy. A West Indian planter and strikingly cruel man, Royall owned a sugar plantation on the island of Antigua during the eighteenth century. Sending gasps through the audience, Coquillette described how Royall brutally suppressed a major slave revolt there in 1736. More than 350 slaves had mobilized, but “at the last moment,” Coquillette said, they were betrayed. After it was over, 77 slaves were burned at the stake, and six others were drawn and quartered. The leader of the uprising, a slave named “King” Court, was gibbeted alive.

Following student-led protests, organized under the name Royall Must Fall, the law school decided last spring to change its shield, which was based on the Royall family crest. At the same time, professor Janet Halley, who is the school’s Royall professor—one of the country’s oldest named chairs—began taking first-year law students on tours of the slave quarters at Royall’s home in Medford, as a way of engaging the University’s heritage.

Read the whole thing.

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