Category Archive 'Nicholas Christakis'
20 Feb 2020
Rod Dreher notes that, within many of our most elite institutions, like Yale, the fanatical revolutionary Left has already won.
Last year, I spoke to a Soviet-born scholar who teaches in an American public university. Iâ€™m using a quote from our discussion in my forthcoming (September) book, Live Not By Lies. This morning, she sent me this e-mail, which I reproduce here with her permission:
I know from your blog that the work on your new book is going well and Iâ€™m glad because, boy, itâ€™s so needed. Iâ€™m observing some disturbing developments on my campus, and we are really not one of those wokester schools for spoiled brats one normally associates with this kind of thing.
This academic year Iâ€™ve had an opportunity to work with some early-career academics. These are newly-minted PhDs that are in their first year on the tenure-track. Whatâ€™s really scary is that they sincerely believe all the woke dogma. Older people â€“ those in their forties, fifties or sixties â€“ might parrot the woke mantras because itâ€™s what everybody in academia does and you have to survive. But the younger generation actually believes it all. Transwomen are women, black students fail calculus because there are no calc profs who â€œlook like them,â€ â€˜whitenessâ€™ is the most oppressive thing in the world, the US is the most evil country in history, anybody who votes Republican is a racist, everybody who goes to church is a bigot but the hijab is deeply liberating. I gently mocked some of this stuff (like we normally do among older academics), and two of the younger academics in the group I supervise actually cried. Because they believe all this so deeply, and Iâ€™d even say fanatically, that they couldnâ€™t comprehend why I wasnâ€™t taking it seriously.
The fanatical glimmer in their eyes really scared me.
Back in the USSR in the 1970s and the 1980s nobody believed the dogma. People repeated the ideological mantras for cynical reasons, to get advanced in their careers or get food packages. Many did it to protect their kids. But nobody sincerely believed. That is what ultimately saved us. As soon as the regime weakened a bit, it was doomed because there were no sincere believers any more. Everybody who did take the dogma seriously belonged to the generation of my great-grandparents.
In the US, though, the generation of the fanatical believers is only now growing up and coming into its prime. Weâ€™ll have to wait until their grandkids grow up to see a generation that will be so fed up with the dogma that it will embrace freedom of thought and expression. But thatâ€™s a long way away in the future.
Iâ€™m mentoring a group of young scholars in the Humanities to help them do research, and Iâ€™m starting to hate this task. Young scholars almost without exception think that scholarship is entirely about repeating woke slogans completely uncritically. Again, this is different from the USSR where scholars peppered their writing with the slogans but always took great pride in trying to sneak in some real thinking and real analysis behind the required ideological drivel. Every Soviet scholar starting from the 1970s was a dissident at heart because everybody knew that the ideology was rotten.
All of this is sad and very scary. I never thought Iâ€™d experience anything worse, anything more intellectually stifling than the USSR of its last two decades of existence. But now I do see something worse.
The book you are writing is very important, and I hope that many people hear your message.
Folks, Americans are extremely naive about whatâ€™s coming. We just cannot imagine that people who burst into tears in the face of gentle mockery of their political beliefs can ever come to power. They are already in power, in the sense that they have mesmerized leaders of American institutions. Iâ€™m telling you, that 2015 showdown on Yaleâ€™s campus between Prof. Nicholas Christakis and the shrieking students was profoundly symbolic. Christakis used the techniques of discursive reason to try to establish contact with these young people. None of it mattered. They yelled and cursed and sobbed. The fact that he disagreed with them, they took as an assault on their person.
And Yale University caved to them!
15 Sep 2018
Jamie Kirchick, Pierson 2006, is running as an outsider candidate for a seat on the Yale Corporation. In Quillette, he describes the disgraceful events of 2015.
Three years ago this Fall, Yale University descended into what can only be described as a fit of mass psychosis.
On November 9, 2015, over 1,000 peopleâ€”about one fifth of the undergraduate student bodyâ€”walked out of classrooms and into the quad to participate in a â€˜March of Resilience.â€™ An a cappella group led the crowd in a medley of â€œWe Shall Overcome.â€ Native Indian performers formed a drum circle. â€œWe are not victims,â€ a student organizer affiliated with the schoolâ€™s Latino cultural center declared. â€œToday, we are on our way to being victors.â€
Against what sinister forces did Yaleâ€™s students feel compelled to summon up their stocks of â€˜resilienceâ€™ in righteous battle? The first grievance cited by the student protestors was an alleged â€˜white girls onlyâ€™ party thrown by one of the universityâ€™s fraternities. Word of this event had gone from a Facebook post to international headlines, tarnishing Yaleâ€™s good name in the process. Had such a party actually taken place, it indeed would have been cause for protest. But itâ€™s hard not to be skeptical about this sort of thing, as many of them turn out to be hoaxes, often perpetrated by the very people claiming offense.
Which is exactly what an investigation by the Yale College Deanâ€™s Office determined a month later, finding â€œno evidence of systematic discrimination against people of colorâ€ at said â€˜white girls onlyâ€™ party. The Dean did, however, fault the brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon for â€œcreat[ing] a chaotic environment,â€ demonstrating â€œlittle regard to crowd control and overcrowding inside the houseâ€ and â€œbehaviorâ€ that â€œfell short of the community standards and the kind of civic engagement that I have sought to promote.â€ He found them guilty, in other words, of being frat brothers.
The second supposed incident of racial injustice involved an email sent by a professor, Erika Christakis, questioning an administrative warning to students regarding Halloween costumes that perpetrate â€˜cultural appropriation.â€™ Because Christakis had suggested that young adults should be able to make their own decisions about masks and capes, a mob of students, faculty, and deans demanded that Yale remove Christakis and her husband, fellow professor Nicholas, from their positions as residential advisors. During a two-hour, outdoor harangue of Nicholas, captured on a video that went viral, students yelled, cursed, and physically intimidated him as four Yale deans and administrators watched impassively.
While the university did not succumb to demands that the couple be sacked, the administration essentially sent the message that sided it with the students. Two weeks after the â€˜March of Resilience,â€™ the administration announced a doubling of budgets for the various (African-American, Latino, Native American etc.) cultural centers, racial sensitivity training for faculty and administrators, and the creation of the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (which has since become the institutional home of the postmodern cultural studies journal Social Text, known primarily for its embarrassing role in the Sokal hoax). This diversity-budget bloat is part of a larger trend. And it has coincided, not coincidentally, with a doubling of tuition since the time I was a Yale freshman 15 years ago. As for the students who mobbed Nicholas Christakis, not only did the University (disregarding its own undergraduate regulations) conclude that their behavior fell short of grounds for disciplinary action, it rewarded two of them with prestigious class prizes upon graduation in 2017. …
It would be nice to have university leaders whose instinct, upon being confronted with baseless accusations that their school is suffused with racism, would be to defend the institutionâ€™s good name, not bow and capitulate. There are, no doubt, racist people at Yale, just as there are racist people everywhere. But there is no reason to believeâ€”and, indeed, very much reason to doubtâ€”that Yale is any more racist than the country at large (unless one takes into account its potential discrimination against Asians, which the university has implicitly acknowledged by signing onto an amicus brief defending Harvardâ€™s allegedly anti-Asian undergraduate admissions policy).
That Yale does not, presently, have leaders willing to speak plainly to such attacks is one of the reasons I am now mounting a petition candidacy to join the universityâ€™s board of trustees (formally known as The Yale Corporation).
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