Monday, May 09, 2016

Protestors Have Jumped the Shark

Victor Davis Hanson

“Jump the shark” is an American pop-culture expression that derives from a 1977 “Happy Days” sitcom episode and describes a moment of decline. At a certain point, a TV show becomes so predictable, empty of ideas and gimmicky that in desperation its writers will try anything — like the character “The Fonz” jumping over a shark on water skis — just to keep on the air.

Contemporary protestors have reached that moment, when demonstrations exist for demonstrations' sake, without any consistent or coherent agenda of dissent.

At a recent forum on political correctness at the University of Massachusetts, three invited guest speakers were shouted down by protestors in the audience. A video of one shouter went viral. In the manner of a 2-year-old, she threw a loud temper tantrum, interrupting the speakers, screaming obscenities and yelling, “Keep your hate speech off this campus!”

How does one stop “hate speech” by bellowing out four-letter obscenities to disrupt free expression at a university? The childish protestor then proved that she had jumped the shark when she finished by screaming, “Stop treating us like children!”

At an earlier protest at Yale, one particularly emotional student jumped the shark by cursing at a faculty member whose crime was advising students not to overreact to the childish Halloween costumes that other students would be wearing.

Protestors have a right to object to Donald Trump’s various crudities, as long as they do so peacefully and respect the right of free speech. But recently, disrupters at a Trump rally in California likewise jumped the shark when some waved the flag of Mexico or bore placards with slogans such as “Make America Mexico Again.” If the protest was directed against Trump’s pledges to deport undocumented immigrants to Mexico, then it made little sense to celebrate the country to which protestors did not wish immigrants to return, or to suggest that immigrants' new home should become identical to the old home that they had chosen to leave.

At the University of Missouri last year, protestors demanded concessions from the university. In a public area, assistant communications professor Melissa Click called for “some muscle” to manhandle a student journalist who was trying to photograph a public demonstration. Click might as well have put on water skis and jumped a plastic shark. A right-wing cartoonist could not have dreamed up a sillier scenario, with a faculty member from a university’s communications department trying to have a student reporter physically blocked from covering a news story in a free-speech zone.

Harvard Law School is supposedly as liberal an institution as exists in America. Recently, a Harvard Law student in a public forum asked former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, “How is it that you are so smelly? … It’s regarding your odor — about the odor of Tzipi Livni, very smelly.”

Politically correct Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow offered little more than a broad email condemnation of the incident. In fact, she shielded the identity of the questioner. And just to reiterate its pro-Palestinian credentials, Harvard Law School edited out this anti-Semitic smear from its video of the event.

Last year, someone placed tape over portraits of African-American faculty members in a Harvard Law School building. Minow publicly decried it as a racist act, then later stayed mostly mum about the results of an investigation to find out who was responsible. Yet when Minow recently accepted an award at Brandeis University, a group of student protestors jumped the shark by heckling her for not doing enough to address racism at Harvard Law — even as she was being honored for making “a lasting contribution to racial, ethnic or religious relations.”

Brown University President Christina H. Paxson tried to quiet student protestors by promising to spend $100 million to ensure “a just and inclusive campus.” No matter: The protestors jumped the shark when they derided Brown’s proposed $100 million “Diversity Action and Inclusion Plan” as “insufficient.”

Student debt in America has surpassed $1 trillion. Many graduates did not receive in return an education competitive enough to qualify them for high-paying jobs.

The country owes about $20 trillion in debt. It will soon not be able to meet its pension and Social Security obligations. After slashing the military budget and raising income tax rates, the United States is still running unsustainable annual deficits. The world abroad is becoming dangerously chaotic.

Instead of protesting those existential crises, students cry over Halloween costumes, deride free speech as hate speech, devour their own liberal administrators, and dismiss $100 million payoffs as too little.

Protestors have finally hit rock bottom and jumped the shark. From now on, the same old screaming will be seen mostly as going through the tired motions in lieu of offering coherent ideas.


Entering the New Dark Ages?

Freedom is all the rage on college campuses these days. That is, freedom from freedom

Freedom from having the name Donald Trump chalked on a walkway at Emory University.  Freedom from Milos Yiannopoulos appearing on college campuses and poking holes in the politically correct victim bubbles that have been created as “safe spaces” to the detriment of the very dialogue that not so long ago, was demanded by the left. Freedom from the indignity of learning about the very Western Civilization that is responsible for the classical liberal notion that individual freedom is to be exalted rather than feared, as recently happened at Stanford University.

Stanford students rejected via referendum a Western Civilization course requirement by a six to one margin, opting to exist in a world devoid of basic knowledge of the underlying philosophies that brought about the Enlightenment, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the very constructs of individual liberty versus the totalitarian-based political philosophy that rights are whatever the state chooses to allow.

On the last point, anyone interested in understanding the fall of liberty in the West and the beginning of a new dark age of anti-intellectualism needs to understand that even proponents of including a Western Civilization requirement at Stanford only did so under the guise of understanding the evils of the world around them arguing in the petition that prompted the vote, “The West’s history of colonization and racial oppression is also essential to understanding why the events at Yale and Mizzou arose in the first place.”

On today’s college campus, classical liberalism is viewed as oppression because it allows, in fact demands, that precepts be examined and subjected to critical thought.  Critical thought itself is viewed as oppressive because it leads to objective observations.  Objective and quantifiable observations are dangerous because truth is nothing more than how each person feels at the moment, and to challenge those feelings is intolerant.  And intolerance of mush-minded relativism is a crime because it offends the feelings of some sub-class of people who have been marginalized in the past.

There is no rational discussion with the new anti-intellectual of the left, because they reject rationality on the altar of tolerance and fairness.

So, when you wonder why the world seems to have gone crazy, understand that it has. And it is our fault, because we turned our education system over to those who hate the concept of individual liberty. In just two generations, the bitter fruit of that decision is being harvested as the concept of freedom has been transformed from a God-given protection against government abuse of power and coercion to a demand for government protection against normal political dialogue.

This is how California Attorney General Kamala Harris and her many defenders can justify using the power of the state to go after a filmmaker who had the audacity to expose Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts selling business.

It is how seventeen Democrat state Attorneys General can announce with straight faces that they are launching investigations into organizations like Competitive Enterprise Institute which has provided intellectual arguments against their climate change anti-capitalist transformation agenda.

In the brave new world, the Internal Revenue Service is justified in attacking those who espouse the old outdated ideas of liberty as it is the government’s right to quash those who oppose the modern precept that the public must be protected from these thoughts.

The new age of “freedom” is the death of America and an ushering in of a new dark age.  After all, how can future leaders fight against government suppression of individual liberty, when they don’t even know what the “Enlightenment” and the centuries-long struggle for liberty was all about, and as a result accept the underlying premises of those who seek to enslave them.

The freedom from freedom is what is destroying our culture, and if it is not exposed, will surely destroy our country.



Three current articles below

A teacher has warned men not to join the profession after enduring two-year investigation

A TEACHER of 35 years experience has warned young men against joining the profession after enduring an investigation into an alleged incident with a student that lasted close to two years and left him mentally scarred.

The southern suburbs man has detailed the isolating and humiliating “farce” he was put through when investigated by the Education Department, which has revealed it finalised 80 disciplinary matters involving teachers and other staff last year.

“It goes from zero to psycho in an instant,” the teacher said of the investigation into whether he inappropriately touched a student, which he estimated would have cost taxpayers $250,000.

“I am so pissed off because of the indignity of what I had to go through.  “It must cost (the department) millions each year chasing frivolous or vexatious complaints that should be at least attempted to be resolved at the local level.

“I would discourage any young guy from going into teaching.”

The Australian Education Union says cases often run for well over a year and as long as three years, arguing principals should be allowed to deal with many of them to resolve them faster.

But the Department says the delays are out of its control as it must wait for any police investigations and court cases to end before it can finalise its own actions, which are slowed by interventions from the union and the accused’s lawyers.

A spokesman acknowledged the process was “stressful” but said investigations had to be robust to ensure “the safety and wellbeing of the children in our care”.

Investigations can cover allegations of abuse or assault, financial wrongdoing, sexual harassment and a range of other matters. Last year 27 allegations were “substantiated with findings” and in three cases staff resigned prior to an outcome. Another 17 were handled through “managerial processes” and 33 were unsubstantiated. The department would not detail outcomes of substantiated cases or say how much it spends on investigations.

The physical education teacher, 60, was stood down from his job at a suburban primary school in 2014.

He was kept in the dark for six months about basic details of the accusation until he was interviewed by police who did not lay charges. He maintained his innocence through the department’s investigation and was sent a “cold and calculating” letter early this year ordering him back to work.

But suffering severe anxiety and panic attacks and diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, he is taking sick leave and long service leave to recover and hopes to teach again next year.


White flight: race segregation in Melbourne state schools

"White flight" is shaping education in Melbourne's inner city state schools, leading to unofficial segregation along race and class.

In the Greens-voting socially liberal enclaves of the inner north, white middle class families have deserted the schools closest to the remaining commission housing towers, while competing for spots in a handful of schools seen to have greater prestige.

Schools such as Fitzroy Primary, Carlton Primary School and Mount Alexander College in Flemington have become catchments for poor students of African heritage, many of whom live in the flats. Between 71 to 94 per cent of students attending these schools speak a language other than English at home.

The average median house price in some of these school's suburbs teeters around $1 million, yet about 60 to 80 per cent of students at these schools are among the poorest in the state.

They've been called "sink schools" – schools drained of affluent families and high achieving students.

White families with higher incomes are opting to enrol their children in over-subscribed schools a few suburbs away.

They favour Clifton Hill, Princes Hill and Merri Creek primary schools, where 79 to 84 per cent of families are among the state's richest.

These schools – with just 10 to 30 per cent of students speaking a language other than English at home – offer accelerated programs, overseas trips and boast above-average NAPLAN scores.

Abeselom Nega, an Ethiopian refugee and community leader, is alarmed by this trend.

"The white parents don't send their kids to these schools because all they see is black kids," says Mr Nega, who sits on the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

"They may not view it as racism, but it is … you can sugar coat it, and put it differently, but I won't."


Sydney’s public school popularity driving real estate mini-boom

A surge in the popularity of public schools throughout Sydney is driving a real estate mini-boom in catchment areas.

With enrolments in public schools rising 6.4 per cent from 2012, and the NSW Department of Education announcing this week an investment of more than $60 million into new inner-Sydney schools to overcome a shortage of places, property agents have been overwhelmed by parents wanting to buy homes nearby.

“For the majority of families, couples and blended families, that’s now their No. 1 factor when looking for a home,” says Curtis Associates buyers agent Chris Curtis.

“It’s always been important, but probably the changing boundaries and the fiscal burden of private education are making being close to public schools even more of a priority. I think it’ll get more important too, as time goes by. If the state government steps up to the plate and provides more public schools where they’re desperately needed, then demand for those areas will be higher still.”

On February census figures, there are 494,102 children being enrolled this year in public schools in the Sydney metropolitan area, as against 464,343 in 2012. The Education Department attributes the rise to changing parental choices, retention rates between grades and an overall increase in the number of school-aged children.

Business development manager Jillian Cook is one mum who’s switching her allegiance from private schools to public, choosing to move house from Maroubra to within the catchment area of Bellevue Hill Public School. This week she enrolled her youngest, four-year-old Samantha, into the public school – despite having her two eldest daughters, Jessica, 13, and Charlotte, 10,  at private girls’ school Ascham

“Bellevue Hill Public School is a very good school and I think it’ll suit her more than the private school,” says Cook, 42. “We just don’t feel there’s a lot of value for money in going to private school, and we’re quite happy to put her in a co-ed public school.

“The way they teach reading and writing at Ascham, I no longer believe in. So we were happy to move to Bellevue Hill and to make sure we were in that catchment area.”

The public schools-driven demand for property is also having an effect on prices, says Mark Cook, principal of Richardson and Wrench St Ives-Turramurra. “We’re seeing a strong surge in demand for people who want to send their children to good public schools, particularly from newcomers to the area,” he says.

“St Ives North is now rated highly and, as a result, St Ives Chase in the narrow catchment area has probably jumped up in value 10-15 per cent. Once, it wasn’t popular at all, but now people are buying for very good prices.”

The catchment neighbourhoods for public schools with particularly glowing reputations, such as Killara High, Killarney Heights High,  Summer Hill Public and Newtown Public, are especially sought after.

Chadwick Killara agent Pamela McCulloch says the location of a home within a sought-after school zone can be a non-negotiable point for many buyers. “You are aware when you have a property in a very popular school zone that it creates more competition between buyers, which in turn is likely to lead to a higher price,” she says.

Century 21 Northside agent Jason Roach agrees. “The accessibility to high-quality public education, like Killara High, is an important component in people’s decisions about where to buy,” he says. “And certainly with the changing demographic of buyers coming through, many from Asia, it’s becoming even more important.”

In Newtown, McGrath Estate Agents’ Josh Martin says for many buyers at openings, their first question is whether a house is in the catchment area. “So demand is strong,” he says. “We hear stories of some people renting just to stay in those areas.”

Along with the increasing demand, parents are often going to extraordinary lengths to be allowed to send their children to schools – one parent saying he knows others who rent for a year to qualify, and then move somewhere cheaper – and the schools sometimes check on the addresses to make sure their students are still there.  

Killara High School’s enrolment policy includes parents having to submit rate notices or tenancy agreements, and three utility account statements, such as electricity, water, telephone or gas, to show they’re resident.


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