Sunday, September 17, 2017

'Anti-Fascist' Fascists Fail to Stop Jewish Speech at Berkeley

Ben Shapiro spoke to students, while beefed up security around campus kept the peace.

As we noted earlier this week, the University of California-Berkeley was ramping up security in anticipation of “antifa” (read: fascist) violence at a speech by conservative writer Ben Shapiro. In a statement last week, the school declared, “No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe.” Of course, the university was not referring to conservative speakers but to snowflake students. The statement prefaced that declaration with this: “We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging.” In fact, “support services are being offered and encouraged.” That means counseling for students “offended” by the mere presence of a differing viewpoint. Or maybe the school wants to help fascists who hate Jews like Shapiro.

Well, thanks to riot police on hand, six buildings shut down, a perimeter of blockades, checks of all ticketholders and an estimated $600,000 spent on security, Shapiro was actually allowed to speak without much incident Thursday night. How astounding that such is the cost of free speech at a public university in America.

In other Berkeley news, the university was just awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Park Service to compile historical information intended to “honor the legacy” of the Black Panther Party. Yes, that would be the racist and Marxist revolutionary group that the FBI describes as having “advocated the use of violence and guerilla tactics to overthrow the U.S. government.” According to the funding announcement, the “cooperative research project … is anchored in historical methods, visual culture, and the preservation of sites and voices.” Who’s in charge at the Park Service? Michael Reynolds, one of Barack Obama’s many holdovers.

With this kind of garbage passing for “higher education” at these bastions of leftist indoctrination and intolerance, is it any wonder that enrollments and budgets are falling short?


Civics Ignorance Is Enormous Threat to Constitution

Far too few Americans can name our branches of government, much less our enumerated rights

During a year in which national politics has dominated the 24-hour news cycle, one might think Americans are more in touch with the Constitution than ever before. But the reality is just the opposite. As we approach the 230th anniversary of the ratification of our Constitution on Sept. 17, we should consider mourning the document’s demise as much as celebrating its relevance after so many years.

Brace yourselves: The numbers aren’t pretty.

According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, “Only 26 percent of respondents can name the three branches of government, the same result as last year. People who identified themselves as conservatives were significantly more likely to name all three branches correctly than liberals and moderates. The 26 percent total was down significantly from APPC’s first survey on this question, in 2011, when 38 percent could name all three. In the current survey, 33 percent could not name any of the three branches, the same as in 2011.”

You might say it’s not a big problem if citizens aren’t able to identify the three branches of government as long as they’re aware of their basic rights. After all, we’ve witnessed plenty of protests across the country in recent years made up of disgruntled and badly parented youth demanding their rights, so they must know what’s in the Constitution, right?

Unfortunately, when it comes to the rights enshrined in the Constitution, the numbers are even worse. As the APPC poll reveals, “Nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) say that freedom of speech is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment. But, unprompted, 37 percent could not name any First Amendment rights. And far fewer people could name the other First Amendment rights: 15 percent of respondents say freedom of religion; 14 percent say freedom of the press; 10 percent say the right of assembly; and only 3 percent say the right to petition the government.” Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Nearly 40% of all Americans surveyed couldn’t name a single right in the First Amendment.

We don’t need a citizenry made up of constitutional experts, but how can we expect voters to make informed decisions if they know next to nothing about our system of government or their rights under the Constitution? How can we as Americans ever hope to protect our cherished rights if we don’t even know what they are?

Rather than keeping an eye on those in power and making sure that they’re protecting our Constitution, we’re blind to what’s happening in the halls of whatever that branch is that makes laws. One of the consequences of our hyper-political mindset is that those who do know what’s in our Constitution often take advantage of the masses by proposing ideas that are clearly in violation of that same document.

We’d like to think that our middle schools, high schools, and even colleges and universities are providing students with at least a basic understanding of our government and Constitution. Educating young citizens is perhaps the most critical part of ensuring that future generations will be ready to protect and defend our nation’s ideals and principles.

The problem is that many schools either don’t teach civics, or teach it the wrong way, or teach it in a politicized manner. Compounding this, universities today are more interested in turning students into political activists than knowledgeable citizens who value the ideals upon which our country was founded. As a result, Americans have a lot to say about “rights” that their teachers and professors have conjured up, but they know nothing about the rights in the Constitution.

But let’s not put all of this on our education system. During turbulent times in our nation’s past, we took solace in knowing that those in power were there to defend our sacred documents. Not today. In 2012, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”

And in 2014, Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly that “on issue after issue, we cannot rely on a rulebook written for a different century,” a clear allusion to the Constitution that leftists believe is outdated and places too many restrictions on government power.

It seems that year after year we predict the demise of the Constitution, but as its anniversary approaches, perhaps we should look for a glimmer of hope. There are new initiatives springing up around the country that encourage the teaching of civics and require students to pass a civics examination.

Over the years, we in our humble shop have distributed more than one million pocket Constitutions toward the end of educating our fellow citizens.

And just this year, President Donald Trump appointed a constitutionalist to the Supreme Court in Neil Gorsuch, and there may be more to follow in the coming years. But a more constructionist Supreme Court is just a start; we have to prepare a new generation to stand up for the Constitution not only in government but also throughout society.

While the recent downward trend in knowledge about our Constitution is troubling, we cannot surrender our solemn obligation to support and defend a document whose ideas have blessed us for 230 years. As our Founders overcame great obstacles in ratifying the Constitution, we too must remain steadfast in educating our citizenry. Only then can we support and defend the framework of our republican system of government and our precious natural rights.


Surprisingly, some feminist lawyers side with Trump and DeVos on campus assault policy

When Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last week announced plans to revise the nation’s guidelines on campus sexual assault, the predictable din of outrage drowned out the applause from some unlikely corners of college campuses: Many liberals actually approve.

Groups of Harvard Law scholars, feminist lawyers, and other university professors had long argued that the Obama-era policy for policing student sexual charges was unfair, creating a Kafkaesque system that presumed guilt rather than innocence. Now, those academics find themselves atypically aligned with the Trump administration on an issue as contentious as sexual violence.

“Betsy DeVos and I don’t have many overlapping normative and political views,” said Janet Halley, a Harvard Law School professor and expert on sexual harassment who supports the change. “But I’m a human being, and I’m entitled to say what I think.”

The liberal-leaning American Association of University Professors has expressed concerns about the Trump administration, but agrees the assault policy needs revision.

“Funny what strange bedfellows politics makes sometimes,” said association senior program officer Anita Levy.

At the center of the debate is the guidance former president Barack Obama’s administration gave to college officials in 2011 under Title IX, the education law prohibiting sex discrimination at schools. Pointing to the continued prevalence of sexual assault on campuses, the rule pushed colleges to take the issue more seriously or lose federal funding.

Covering faculty and students, the new guidelines demanded that schools address every accusation and adopt a weaker standard of evidence than some had already been using. Rather than proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt, as in a criminal trial, or offering “clear and convincing evidence” that an offense was committed, it called for claims to be adjudicated based on a “preponderance of evidence” — guilt was “more likely than not.”

That made the bar lower to prove a sexual assault than any other kind of infraction that warrants discipline on campus, Levy said.

When DeVos raised such issues last week, legions of feminists, distrustful of a president who had bragged about his sexual conquests, bristled at the sound of it. But critics in academia and law had been voicing those same complaints for years. In 2014, 28 Harvard Law professors published an open letter in The Boston Globe criticizing Harvard’s then-new policy as “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”

“As teachers responsible for educating our students about due process of law, we find the new sexual harassment policy inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach,” wrote the professors, who included Charles Ogletree, an Obama friend and mentor, and emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz.

Also among them were four feminist professors who wrote a letter to the Department of Education last month beseeching DeVos’s department for a revision of the rule. Definitions of sexual wrongdoing are now far too broad, they wrote.

“They go way beyond accepted legal definitions of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment,” they wrote. “The definitions often include mere speech about sexual matters. They therefore allow students who find class discussion of sexuality offensive to accuse instructors of sexual harassment.”

The authors — Halley, Elizabeth Bartholet, Nancy Gertner, and Jeannie Suk Gersen — have all researched, taught, and written about sexual assault and feminist legal reform for years. Halley, who has represented both accusers and the accused in campus cases, said her colleagues maintain universities should have robust programs against sexual assault.

“We’re feminists. We get that,” Halley said in an interview. “But we don’t think it’s beneficial to address it in a way that includes overbroad definitions, structurally biased decision-makers, and due process violations.”

The professors argue in their letter that the way the policy has played out on campus led to adjudication that was “so unfair as to be truly shocking.” Some students don’t get to see the complaints against them, the factual basis of the charges, the evidence gathered, or the identities of witnesses, they wrote. Some schools don’t even provide hearings or let a lawyer speak up for the accused.

Still, many women reacted with alarm to see the Trump administration stepping up to defend accused rapists. Rape survivors said they feared their claims would be ignored or doubted once again. On Twitter, where the outrage machine churned, activist Amy Siskind blasted someone for repeating the “hackneyed due process talking point.”

“It’s very hard to get anybody to hear a nuanced position on this issue,” said Halley. “There’s passionate advocates on either side who will pretty much say anything.”

The optics could hardly look worse for Trump, whose treatment of women during his campaign spawned worldwide women’s protests the day after his inauguration. Many women could see the announcement only in the context of Trump’s preelection boasts about his penchant for kissing women and grabbing their genitals.

Dana Bolger, cofounder of Know Your IX, an advocacy group for survivors of sexual assault, called the policy change “a heartless move, but one that is not unexpected coming from an administration by a man who has bragged openly about sexually assaulting women.”

Activists have been eyeing DeVos with suspicion since revelations that she and her husband had contributed $10,000 to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that advocates for free speech on campuses and that has fought the Obama policy. When DeVos recently held discussions about changing the policy, she included representatives of men’s rights groups.

“They don’t believe survivors. They don’t think they are as credible as the accused,” Neena Chaudhry, director of education for the National Women’s Law Center, charged last week.

Women’s rights groups also recoiled upon hearing that Candice Jackson, the acting head of the Office of Civil Rights, dismissed the bulk of sexual assault accusations as drunken sexual encounters that women had later reconsidered and found problematic.

(Jackson is the person who appeared at a presidential debate with the women who had accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.)

Lee Burdette Williams, who left her post as dean of students at Wheaton College after her work was consumed by policing sexual assault, said the complicated issue can be oversimplified by the sharp political and cultural divisions of the moment.

“There’s not a lot of sense that if we collaborate and we bring all these people together and really work on this, good things will happen. There’s just these sides,” she said. “But I’ve interacted with the people [defending accused students] and they’re not awful people. They’re really good people. They’re moms who are just trying to figure this out. But we can’t even have these conversations anymore.”

Some professors who agree with the change in policy still remain skeptical about the way it will play out in the Trump administration. They say they intend to watch closely and weigh in with their own recommendations and they note, with frustration, that the Obama administration never sought public input on the rule it handed down. “The possibility of good policy coming out of this administration is very low,” Halley said. “The surprise is that such bad policy came out of the prior administration on this issue. It’s very confusing.”


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