Friday, May 05, 2017

Campus Progressivism & Free Speech: Illiberal Discourse Explained

Deion Kathawa

This weekend, I became one alumnus among thousands of University of Michigan alumni heading out into the world to begin discharging my duties as a citizen: voting, paying taxes, and engaging my co-citizens in the public square. Some have argued that a sizeable number of my fellow graduates will not be able to make it in the real world. Because they have been conditioned to have an “expectation of confirmation” of their ideas, the thinking goes, these “snowflakes” will “melt” upon contact with different opinions. While that is a striking (and horrifying) thing to contemplate, I think we ought to take a step back and try to understand the campus mindset more thoroughly, because if we don’t, we’ll be subject to increasingly extreme displays of illiberalism and anti-intellectualism that will inevitably trickle out of universities and infect the wider society — to our collective detriment.

    The first thing to know is that the picture that is painted in the media of campuses as incubators and hotbeds of far-left radicalism is, too often, accurate — and depressing. What’s more, too many of the most politically active liberal students understand neither free speech nor one of its prime functions: to discover what’s true. And why would they? After all, free speech and truth itself are nothing more than oppressive, white-supremacist social constructs! Nearly every liberal college student with whom I have spoken in-person or engaged online believes that the First Amendment proscribes so-called hate speech, by which they seem to mean nothing more than speech that expresses ideas with which they disagree or that offend them. And when they find out that the First Amendment does not actually achieve this, to them, desirable end, they bristle: Well, it should!

    “That’s offensive!” is a common retort among my peers, and it shows how far standards of discourse have plummeted. The numbers bear this out. But while clustering, the political polarization of academia and society more generally, and the rise of social media bear their share of the blame, they are not by themselves sufficient explanations for what is happening on our elite campuses. Why are students behaving in ever more fascistic ways?

    There are two primary reasons. First, students themselves don’t believe that it is at all unrealistic to expect that their professors peddle progressive ideas about any and all subjects, because their politics are increasingly indistinguishable from a sort of new-age religion. Second, they operate under a concept of “freedom” that is illiberal but nonetheless highly consistent with their basic moral and intellectual intuitions, backgrounds, and formations.

    John McWhorter, an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, in his “Antiracism, Our Flawed New Religion,” at the Daily Beast, likens our society’s now-commonplace stigmatization of racism to a religion. Essentially, McWhorter argues that, for the political Left, questions and challenges to progressive orthodoxy vis-à-vis race are a priori inappropriate and thus “a symptom of, yes, racism’s persistence.” Increasingly, too, sexual orientation, gender, and various other social identities have been folded into the religion of Antiracism, which is, as a result, morphing into the broader religion of what I’ll call “Antibigotry,” where “bigotry” is defined exclusively and unilaterally by the Left’s tripartite secular clerisy: legacy media, academia, and Hollywood.

    Consequently, discussions about certain controversial issues are often fraught with tension and wholly unproductive. Take, for example, affirmative action. Philosophically, there are good arguments for and against the practice. Practically speaking, though, there seems to be strong evidence that the policy harms minorities and spawns unnecessary problems. And constitutionally speaking, it seems quite plausible that an original understanding of the 14th Amendment — very much in the “mainstream” of judicial practice, contra the rantings of Senator Schumer and co. — would hold that the Constitution abhors distinctions based solely on race.

    Despite this powerful case to be made against affirmative action, the response by many of my peers is often simply to assert that to oppose the practice is itself racist, no matter the seeming reasonableness of the person who does so. This is because, for many of those who support affirmative action, there simply is no reasonable case against it. Anyone who dares to argue otherwise or even just fails to express unbridled enthusiasm for the practice reveals his own damnable unbelief, and opens himself up for ritual purging.

    How did we get to this point?

    McWhorter once again offers insight. In his “When Slogans Replace Arguments,” at the Chronicle of Higher Education, he maintains that student protesters — those whom the right-wing commentariat often labels “whiners” — operate with the tacit assumption that the racism that they are battling is “something as unequivocally, conclusively intolerable as genocide, slavery, or the withdrawal of women’s suffrage” when, in reality, “their demands [e.g., speaking out against ‘microaggressions’] address problems more specific than ‘racism,’ ones that are very much up for intelligent, civil debate.” These students fervently believe that they are the front-line troops of an infallible moral vanguard, locked in an epic struggle for the very soul of their generation — and of their nation, rotten to the core though they often maintain it to be. Unsurprisingly, then, speech that “offends” them, or ideas that call into question their own conception of the world, are more truly seen as existential threats to the all-consuming struggle for “social justice” — not to mention harbingers of the resurgence of the frightening, oppressive, “cisnormative,” “heteropatriarchal,” white-supremacist, highly defective moral order of yesteryear.

    What I call “true racism,” the sort rampant during Jim Crow, obviously just is wrong. But left-wing students are not now dealing with such a phenomenon; they are instead faced with “racism-lite,” or the existence of persons whose only sin is to offer robust arguments that contradict the sacrosanct dogmas of Antibigotry. Given their moral, intellectual, and social journeys, then, it is not quite so shocking that they understand themselves to have entirely legitimate grievances and are accordingly motivated to act in extreme ways against what they see as the specter of normalized bigotry’s reasserting itself.

    Many left-wing students are also utterly incapable of fathoming that their political opponents disagree with them in good faith. Emmett Rensin’s Vox essay “The Smug Style of American Liberalism” is instructive here because of what it doesn’t say. Rensin notes what numerous others have noted previously: Progressives do not believe that they have an ideology. Rather, they believe that their policy prescriptions and even value judgments are “fact-based” and reflect only their commitment to dispassionate pragmatism — that they are advocating for any given political program exclusively because it is just “what works.” This is laughable on its face, and yet all-too-many progressives continue to believe it. Why?

    Because, per Rensin, American liberalism — progressivism — is shot through with a nasty smugness, a “way of conducting politics” that is “predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence . . . but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them.” It is this smugness that turns off so many of the Americans who he believes should be progressivism’s natural constituents:

    This . . . is fundamental to understanding the smug style. If good politics and good beliefs are just Good Facts and good tweets—that is, if there is no ideology beyond sensible conclusions drawn from a rational assessment of the world—then there are no moral fights, only lying liars and the stupid rubes who believe them.

    Rensin’s point is that the “hicks” out there are just grossly out of step with the modern world, that the only way they can possibly disagree with progressivism’s tenets is if they are morons. That they oppose the cultural Marxism of gender deconstructionists or demands for so-called reproductive justice (read: an unlimited right to abortion), that their gut reaction is to shudder at mass, illegal immigration or recoil at the Left’s flagrant, frequent, and often fanatical rhetoric and displays of anti-Americanism is simply proof positive that they have been duped, hoodwinked, or otherwise allowed themselves to be misled by right-wing charlatans. They are, in other words, dreadfully mired in their wrong-thinking ways, all the while committing myriad thought crimes.

    Rensin doesn’t go far enough, however. Believing that one’s ideological opponents are merely dumb is one thing, sure. But if that truly is the case, how can the crazed manner in which students behave be conceptualized and justified when they insist, as they did at UC Berkeley after Milo Yiannopoulos was prevented from speaking there in early February, that physical violence is an appropriate response to mere words? It is clear that something else is afoot. Progressives on campus tacitly subscribe to the notion of the existence of a Kantian “higher self” when dealing with speech. Thus they see it as their (sacred) duty to “educate” the unwashed masses on the arcane and ultimately risible particularities of how one is to properly comport oneself in polite society. (Asking another student, “Where are you from?” — a completely reasonable question under normal circumstances — is a “microaggression” at the University of Minnesota and far too many other universities.)

    In this way, paradoxically, speech is supposedly freer than when the First Amendment is fully intact. Indeed, the First Amendment as written actually hinders speech, for it does nothing to assist people on the journey to becoming their “higher selves,” the selves who would never think to question the self-evidently bogus shibboleths of progressivism. When speech that offends is suppressed and its proponents are driven out of polite society, those who have been historically oppressed are more able to speak their minds. Thus, we are all freer when true free speech is curtailed.

    These positions, commonly held by my peers and many others, are profoundly wrongheaded. But it is not because students are “snowflakes” and have pie-in-the-sky illusions about what to expect from college that they shout down or assault speakers. It is because they have been bombarded by messages from an overwhelmingly progressive media (“The Megaphone”) and raised on a steady diet of Antibigotry scripture that they have come to believe that arguments against certain policies that just so happen to implicate people’s identities — their race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. — are fueled by nothing more than a barely (if at all) veiled hatred of the members of those groups.

    No wonder these students are so livid. After all, roughly half the populace (the conservative, “traditional,” Republican half) shamelessly flouts one of the crystal-clear moral imperatives of our age: that to be free, decent, and fully human means collectively agreeing to give no quarter to ideas which may offend anyone, anywhere, at any time.


Spying on Students in the Classroom

It seems a day doesn’t go by without another report of a company monitoring what we do on the Internet and selling that data to generate more revenue. And now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has examined what happens to the data that's collected from students using technology in the classroom. They released the results of an extensive survey covering students in grades K-12.

What they found was that little work has been done to protect the privacy of the student information that is collected from both the classroom and from using the online software the schools issue for use at home on the students' own devices. They found that while many school districts have embraced technology and all of the benefits it can bring to the schools and students, often little thought has been given to one of the unintended consequences of this: the students' privacy.

The study was very extensive and took two years to complete. Virtually everything was examined, including what's being done along each point from the suppliers of hardware and software and the cloud services, to the schools and the students. They found that lots of data is being collected without permission and that it's easy for outside companies to access the data. They also discovered that there's little to prevent suppliers from sharing data with others, including advertisers.

The survey noted that schools are adopting technology at a growing rate and providing students with Chromebooks, iPads, and computers for use in the school, and are having students use their own computers to go online at home to do their homework, check assignments and communicate with their teachers.

In its two-year investigation, EFF found that:

Educational technology services often collect far more information on kids than is necessary and store this information indefinitely. This privacy-implicating information goes beyond personally identifying information like name and date of birth, and can include browsing history, search terms, location data, contact lists, and behavioral information. Some programs upload this student data to the cloud automatically and by default. All of this often happens without the awareness or consent of students and their families.

EFF noted that parents and students have had little communication from the schools about privacy and often students' personal information is made available to many different entities without parents' awareness or permission. They found that many parents and students have concerns and want to know much more than they are being told. Often the schools don't have that knowledge and have yet to institute any privacy policies.

Basic security practices were not followed in a vast majority of the schools, such as encryption, data retention practices, and anonymizing the data. Instead the schools relied on the private companies providing the technology tools to ensure the privacy of the students. But many administrators were unaware of whether these companies were complying or what they were actually doing.


DC School Choice Takes Center Stage at the White House

President Donald Trump signaled his support for education choice at a Wednesday event celebrating the achievements of charter school students and school voucher recipients in the nation’s capital.

It was an honor to be at this White House event to watch Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, applaud the students who participate in the District of Columbia’s school choice programs.

School choice participants gathered in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, many of whom utilize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, or DCOSP, which provides scholarships to low-income children in the District of Columbia to attend a private school of choice.

The DCOSP has increased satisfaction among participating parents, and led to graduation rates 21 percentage points higher than non-scholarship students. Parents said they feel their children are safer in schools they have chosen, while moving toward the “center of their children’s academic development.”

“And this is what winning for young children and kids from all over the country looks like,” Trump said at the White House event.

Trump continued:

The opportunity scholarship program that we’re funding allows families in the inner city of our nation’s capital to leave failing public schools and attend a private school, making an extraordinary difference in these incredible young lives … I’m deeply excited for the amazing things that lie ahead for these truly inspiring young Americans right here in Washington, D.C.

Pence said that Trump’s appearance was a surprise and demonstrated how proud the president is of the students’ achievements and school choice programs. He echoed Trump’s statements, noting that the DCOSP is “a case study in school choice success” and that its proposed reauthorization “is a victory for families and students throughout the District of Columbia.”

“Since its creation in 2004,” Pence said, “the Opportunities Scholarship Program has given parents and families hope by giving them a pathway to take their children out of schools that too often are failing to meet the needs of children here in our nation’s capital, give them a chance that other families have to put their children into a private school.”

The event and support for the DCOSP is a welcome change of pace from President Barack Obama’s tenure, during which time funding for the scholarships was under constant threat of being defunded. Nearly every budget cycle, the Obama administration had attempted to zero-out funding for the program.

Supporting the DCOSP will provide education opportunities for thousands of children in the District.

The administration should also consider additional options that are appropriate through federal policy to create more choice for more American families. That includes school choice options for military-connected students, children attending Bureau of Indian Education schools, and an even greater expansion of choice in D.C. to include all children living in the city.

And the president should continue to provide rhetorical support to states, as more and more rightly continue the school choice march.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Trump’s Agriculture Chief Tosses Out Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Rules

Former first lady Michelle Obama’s dictates on school lunches were thrown out Monday by one of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet members.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a proclamation to begin to undo federal standards that the Obama administration placed on lunches in public schools and return those decisions to local schools.

“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Perdue said in prepared remarks. “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition—thus undermining the intent of the program.”

The announcement “begins the process of restoring local control of guidelines on whole grains, sodium, and milk,” a press release from the Agriculture Department reads.

The standards, implemented in 2012, were crafted with the heavy involvement of Michelle Obama, who made better nutrition and more exercise for children part of her agenda as first lady. The standards include directives on vastly reducing use of salt, calorie limits, restrictions on meat, prohibitions on the contents of vending machines, and increased servings of whole grains, fruits, and  vegetables, as the New York Post reported.

The standards implemented provisions of a law called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. President Barack Obama’s wife also championed the law, Daren Bakst, a research fellow in agricultural policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email.

The 2010 law set calorie limits, stipulated portion sizes, and required specific nutrients.

“Michelle [Obama] is a big proponent and defender of the standards,” Bakst said. 

Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, said in a tweet that the rules have been counterproductive:

Perdue “took an important step to making school meals edible again,” Bakst told The Daily Signal. “The federal school meal standards implemented by the Obama administration have been a disaster, creating massive plate waste and imposing high costs on schools.”

Perdue’s action, Bakst said, is significant for both parents and kids.

“This issue isn’t about nutrition,” Bakst said Monday, adding:

It’s about whether one believes the federal government should dictate almost every aspect of what kids eat at schools, or if local communities, with the input of parents, should make these decisions. Today was certainly a big win for kids across the country, but it was also a big win for those who respect the opinions of parents more than those of federal bureaucrats.

Patricia Montague, CEO of the School Nutrition Association, a national nonprofit with more than 57,000 members that provides meals to students across the nation, praised Perdue’s leadership.

“I commend Secretary Perdue for taking this important step,” Montague said. “We have been wanting flexibility so that schools can serve meals that are both nutritious and palatable. We don’t want kids wasting their meals by throwing them away. Some of our schools are actually using that food waste as compost. That shouldn’t be happening.”


Professor with what sounds like a fried brain tells student to Stop Reading Bible
It’s apparently okay to read history books at Northern Arizona University, but not the Good Book.

Mark Holden, a 22-year-old history major, tells me he was ordered to leave a lecture hall after his professor objected to him reading the Bible before the start of the class.

Holden alleges that Professor Heather Martel ordered him to put away the Good Book around six minutes before a scheduled history class. It’s unclear why she objected to the reading of God’s Word.

According to her biography, Professor Martel is a noted scholar who is working on an essay titled, “The Gender Amazon: Indigenous Female Masculinity in Early Modern European Representations of Contact." She also teaches classes on Global Queer History and Feminist Theory.

When Holden declined to stop reading his Bible, the professor summoned Derek Heng, the chairman of the department. Heng then proceeded to explain the situation.

Holden recorded the conversation and turned it over to congressional candidate Kevin Cavanaugh. In turn, Cavanaugh provided me with a copy of the audio.

"So Professor Martel says that she doesn’t want you sitting in front of her because you put, you know, a Bible out, right?” Heng said.

“So she doesn’t want me in the front because I have my Bible out,” Holden replied.

“No, I think she, I mean, well why do you have your Bible out anyway?” Heng asked.

After a bit more back and forth regarding the dynamics in the classroom, the chairman of the department got to the heart of the issue. “So, will you, will you, will you, put your Bible away?” Heng asked.

The incident occurred back in February, but just recently became public after Campus Reform reported on the controversy.

Holden had previously drawn the ire of his professor during a classroom discussion on assimilation.

“All the students agreed with her that assimilation is oppressive and evil,” Holden said. “I suggested there are both positive and negative aspects to assimilation.”

As an example, he referenced a report about two Muslim men in California who reportedly said the Koran justified doing terrible things to women.

“She told me I was a racist and she would not tolerate that kind of racism in the class,” Holden said. “I told her Islam was not a race and I was only talking about what the two Muslims men as individuals said — I was not making broad claims about Islam or my interpretation of the Koran.”

After a bit of back and forth, Holden said the professor told the class, “Welcome to Trump’s new America — where straight white males can say prejudicial things without being reprimanded for it.”

I reached out to the university for its side of the story but so far it has not returned my calls.

However, I did obtain an email Martel sent to Holden warning him about “disruptive behavior.”

“For the remainder of the class, I will ask you to move to one of the desks along the wall by the door,” she wrote. “The roll sheet will be passed to you. You will make sure that students who come in late sign in. I will also require that you respect me and the other students in the class by acting in a civil manner.”

In a separate email addressed to the entire class, Martel vowed to “re-instate civility” in the classroom.

“I want this to be clear: hate speech does not meet the definition of respectful discussion and will not be tolerated,” she wrote. “In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group.”

Something tells me Christians and conservatives are not considered to be a protected group at Northern Arizona University.

“If you are a Christian, you are being targeted,” Cavanaugh told me. “Christians are being silenced.”

Cavanaugh said he got involved in Holden’s case because stopping the radicalization of public universities is a part of his campaign platform. “If free speech is not permitted on a public university campus, federal funding should be refused,” he told me. “If you want to limit free speech, don’t take federal money.”

“We have seen on this campus and across the nation that people are being punished for their Christian views,” Cavanaugh said.

That may or may not be the case here — but based on that audio recording, there’s not much wiggle room.

The cold hard reality is a student was yanked out of a classroom for reading the Bible. Woe be to us, America.


Australia: Private schools the big losers under misguided Federal plan

Kevin Donnelly

It takes a particular kind of political ineptitude to arrive at a school funding model that represents a slap in the face to Catholic and independent schools — schools that John Howard, when prime minister, sought to defend and to properly fund.

It also beggars belief that the Turnbull government is employing David Gonski and Ken Boston, both strong supporters of government schools and favoured by Julia Gillard when she was Labor’s education minister, to undertake a needless and wasteful review investigating what is already accepted about how best to raise standards.

The Turnbull government’s proposed funding model, based on the original Gonski report, financially discriminates against parents who send their children to Catholic and independent schools — especially low-fee-paying, non-government schools serving less wealthy and less privileged communities.

The new model is also based on the flawed assumption that the cost of educating students across the different states and territories is the same; certainly not so when it comes to teacher pay scales.

The proposed model, by adopting what is described as the Schooling Resource Standards as the basis for deciding how much will be allocated to students and schools, is also flawed.

As argued by the Melbourne Institute’s policy brief No 2/13, the Schooling Resource Standards are “essentially arbitrary, and despite the veneer of technical sophistication in their construction, do not have a sound methodological basis”.

The authors of the policy brief also argue that because the Gonski model adopts a highly centralised command-and-control approach, school autonomy will be stifled and a one-size-fits-all approach enforced on all schools.

Both Gonski and Boston, who are responsible for Gonski Mark II, in addition to arguing that more needs to be done to boost enrolments in government schools, argue that a student’s socio-economic status (SES) or home background significantly affects educational results. Based on the mistaken assumption that SES is such a significant factor, the Gonski report then argues that what is most needed is additional funding. In yesterday’s press conference, Gonski made specific mention of SES when arguing what needs to be done to raise standards; not so, based on the latest OECD research that puts the impact of SES on Australian students at 12 per cent.

The fact the government met non-government school authorities only yesterday, less than a week before the budget is tabled, represents another blunder. Instead of presenting a fait accompli, what minister Simon Birmingham should have done over the last 12 months is negotiate and be transparent.


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Repeal and replace universities

The political left has made a complete pig's breakfast of our educational system.

Political intolerance is now the official policy at colleges and universities across the United States with violence or the threat thereof as the means of enforcing extreme leftist orthodoxy.

In February, a proposed speech by former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos precipitated riots at the University of California Berkeley as protesters smashed ATMs and bank windows, looted a Starbucks, beat Trump supporters, pepper-sprayed innocent individuals, and set fires in the street. The speech was cancelled.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter was forced to cancel her speech at Berkeley, after law enforcement sources announced that there was a "99% chance" of violence from left-wing activists if the speech was held.

Eric Clanton, a faculty member at California's Diablo Valley College and alleged ANTIFA (self-proclaimed anti-fascist but in reality anti-First Amendment) activist, who spends "a lot of time thinking about REVOLUTION," is the prime suspect in bloody attacks, where a bicycle lock was used as a weapon to assault free speech campaigners and Trump supporters. Clanton's Diablo Valley College profile has now been scrubbed, but according to the WayBack Machine, he joined the faculty in 2015 and "His primary research interests are ethics and politics." Got that? He teaches ethics in politics.

Clanton's lead professor for his Master's degree thesis was Muhammad Azadpur, who has frequently lectured at the Iranian Institute of Philosophy in Tehran, is an advocate of Obama's Iranian nuclear deal, took part in a 2015 panel that justified the brutal Paris nightclub attacks and argued that Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 did not take place due to Islam or Islamic radicalism, but it was "directly proportional to the level of tyrannical manipulations" of the United States.

Rather than training in preparation for success in life, the exorbitant costs of higher education are mainly devoted to leftist political indoctrination.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the percentage of young adults living with their parents has risen to 75-year high, likely because the economic usefulness of brainwashing by a gaggle of tenured radicals has reached an all-time low.

As an interesting coincidence, it seems that the demand for Social Justice Warriors in the American job market numerically matches the supply of Social Justice Warriors who survived Stalin's firing squads - which is zero.

Academic political intolerance or Totalitarianism 101 is both deliberate and as old as the Russian Revolution.

It is based on an essay "Repressive Tolerance" written in 1965 by Herbert Marcuse, an adherent of the Soviet-controlled Frankfurt School, which was the cultural arm of the Communist International founded to undermine western Judeo-Christian democracy from within.

Fred Bauer, in his article "The Left and ‘Discriminating Tolerance,'" captures Marcuse's inverted logic and identifies the origin of the political intolerance presently practiced at U.S. academic institutions:

"Marcuse argued that, because of the radical repressiveness of Western society, a tolerance for all viewpoints actually contributed to social oppression. A pervasive network of assumptions and biases implicitly privileges the viewpoint of the powerful, so that seemingly ‘equal' presentations of opposite opinions actually end up benefiting the viewpoint of the powerful.

He offered the example of a magazine running a piece criticizing the FBI along with one praising the FBI. Fair and balanced? Not so fast, Marcuse said: ‘the chances are that the positive [story] wins because the image of [the FBI] is deeply engraved in the mind of the people.' Because of social programming, the inhabitants of a given society automatically favor certain values. The ideological playing field's lack of levelness means that seemingly equal presentations of ideas are not really equal."

"In the light of this situation, Marcuse made a rather cunning inversion (one that has been aped countless times since by cultural organs across the United States): The fact that society is so radically unequal means that we should be intolerant and repressive in the name of tolerance and liberty. He rejected what he termed ‘indiscriminate tolerance' - a tolerance that accepts all viewpoints - in favor of ‘liberating tolerance' or ‘discriminating tolerance.'

Unlike many of his disciples, Marcuse was frank about what this intolerance would mean: ‘Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.' When many in the media junked the Bush-era refrain, ‘Dissent is patriotic', and began to suggest that dissent during the Obama administration was a product of some unhealthy motivation (especially racism), they were putting into practice Marcuse's theory of ‘discriminating tolerance.'"

The political extremism in academia can only persist by inventing ever increasing degrees of extremism and can only survive in an environment devoid of alternatives.

The time has long passed for the diversion of federal funds away from politically intolerant colleges and universities to more practical and effective regionally-based business/online educational consortia that fulfill the needs of the marketplace, community and the students rather than perpetuating leftist propaganda mills dedicated only to their own institutional self-preservation.

"Too much of what is called ‘education' is little more than an expensive isolation from reality." - Thomas Sowell


University of California’s Secret Slush Funds

University of California President Janet Napolitano, the former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and also the former governor of the state of Arizona, appears to have been caught by California state auditors with her hand in the proverbial public tax dollar cookie jar.

Writing at Coyote Blog, Warren Meyer, who runs a business that manages campgrounds at publicly-owned parks and forests, remembers that another California state agency’s bureaucrats were also caught hiding state taxpayer funds from the state’s legislature, and even used the same excuses now being offered up by Napolitano and her fellow university administrators.

Pretty much the entire management team of California State Parks got fired for doing almost the exact same thing, with the exact same excuses.

California state parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned and her second-in-command was fired Friday after officials discovered the department has been sitting on “hidden assets” totalling [sic] nearly $54 million.

The money accumulated over 12 years in two special funds the department uses to collect revenue and pay for operations: $20.4 million in the Parks and Recreation Fund, and $33.5 million in the Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund.

The money accumulated, state officials said, because the parks department had a pattern of under-reporting the actual size of the funds in its regular dealings with the state Department of Finance.

Ms. Coleman (who I worked with a few times and liked) was frankly an easier “kill” because, while long tenured in the state parks job, she really did not have a lot of political muscle. Napolitano does. Relying on consistent standards would say Napolitano should go, but government has never been about applying consistent standards, only power. So we shall see.

With such a history, perhaps a good question to ask is how many other California state government agencies are similarly attempting to stash taxpayer funds out of the sight of the state’s taxpayers? If that unethical practice is likewise occurring at multiple state agencies, it might provide the leverage needed by responsible state officials to clean house and to oust the politically-entrenched administrators at the University of California.


Australia: Fat cat universities to get reduced Federal funding

UNIVERSITY funding will be slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars in the May Budget after a report found they receive enough revenue to cover the cost of teaching most degrees.

Student fees are likely to rise and graduates will likely be required to pay back their loans faster under the sweeping changes, Fairfax Media reports.

Universities will reportedly face new efficiency measures of between 2 and 3 per cent to be phased in over a number of years.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham will foreshadow the education package to be announced at next week’s Budget at a higher education and business event in Canberra tonight.

It’s understood he will point to a report by Deloitte Access Economics which shows universities receive enough funding, through government and student fees, to cover the costs of teaching most degrees.

The report shows the average cost of delivery per student grew 9.5 per cent between 2010 and 2015, while funding per student grew by 15 per cent.

Universities received $19,285 per student place in 2016.

Government figures show the average cost of an undergraduate place is $16,000 and for postgraduates $20,000.

The government acknowledges funding in some areas — such as dentistry and veterinary studies — didn’t cover the cost of delivery but says the vast majority of courses could be delivered cheaper than the level of funding provided.

Senator Birmingham says this showed the record level of funding for universities had grown beyond the cost of their operations.

“Universities have a vital role to play in Australia but many mums and dads are feeling the pinch of tighter budgets at home and want to know their tax dollars are being used effectively and efficiently,” he said on Monday. “Universities need to invest taxpayer money judiciously and with appropriate public scrutiny and accountability.”

Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek has slammed the proposed efficiency measures.

The government should not be “slashing” money from education to repair the budget, Ms Plibersek said.

She also questioned the Deloitte report’s credibility.

“Isn’t it surprising that when the government commissions a company to do a report to justify cuts to university funding and increases to student costs that the report comes out saying we should cut university funding and increase student costs,” she said.

Ms Plibersek also laughed off suggestions Labor had promised similar efficiency measures, saying funding for education had nearly doubled to $14 billion under the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Universities have tried to pre-empt any funding cuts with an analysis the sector says shows it has contributed $3.9 billion to the budget bottom line in recent years. The sector’s peak body says there is no capacity to absorb further cuts.


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Yale College Republicans Host Barbecue Right Next To Hunger Strike

Members of the Yale College Republicans hosted a barbecue Friday right next to where members of the Local 33 graduate student union participated in a hunger strike, the New Haven Register reports.

The College Republicans served a meal of barbecued beef, baked beans and corn to those on the plaza, just a few feet from the tent Local 33 had erected to house hunger strikers protesting the school’s decision not to negotiate a contract.

Local 33 was not fazed by the Republicans’ barbecue, but instead focused on staying healthy and not eating. Eight Yale University graduate student teachers have not eaten in days, the New Haven Register reports.

“I’m not really focused on that,” Aaron Greenberg, Local 33 chairman and political science graduate student teacher told the New Haven Register. “I’m focused on making sure we have lots of water, make sure I’m healthy. We have a check-in with our nurse this afternoon. We are focused on that.”

The union chapter said it wants the hunger strike to be a source of joy, and invited others to join in when one of their members got too hungry. “Instead of eating your lunch, sit with us and lift our spirits,” reads a flier Local 33 distributed on campus earlier this week. “When one of us cannot continue, come take our place.”

Local 33, the graduate student teachers’ union which is part of the international labor union UNITE HERE, is protesting the school’s decision not to negotiate a contract. Greenberg said the school is stalling until President Donald Trump appoints a new head of the National Labor Relations Board, someone who might be harsher to the union’s requests.

Greenberg said Yale President Peter Salovey, along with “top members of the Yale administration and members of the Yale Corporation are deciding to side with Donald Trump over members of their own community. I think that is unacceptable. I think that is despicable. They say we have to wait so we are waiting without eating.”


A win for free speech in London

‘There must no longer be a mouthpiece for Israel on this campus’, one student leader pronounced to a throng of anti-Israel protesters. Cheers went up and signs jiggled. A placard echoed the speaker’s sentiment: ‘No to Israeli invasions of SOAS.’ Was the IDF about to launch a military strike against the Bloomsbury-based School of Oriental and African Studies? Perhaps Mossad had planned to wipe out the SOAS students’ union? No, something much more calamitous was going to happen: Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, was about to give a talk to students.

Back in 2015, the SOAS students’ union voted to support the anti-Israel BDS movement by 73 per cent — although its mandate was somewhat clouded by the fact that only 20 per cent of the student body bothered to vote. Nonetheless, with BDS instituted, the union seeks to boycott Israeli goods from entering the campus — including ambassadors.

Last night, it wasn’t only students who wanted to prevent Regev from speaking. Prior to the event, 150 academics from SOAS and other universities wrote to SOAS’s director, Valerie Amos, asking her to cancel the event on the basis that it would ‘cause substantial distress’ to the student body. The idea that students are vulnerable creatures who need shielding from the horrors of the world, particularly the pesky repercussions of Israeli infiltration, has long been perpetuated by campus censors. But the endorsement of this idea by university academics marks a worrying development in the paternalistic impulse gaining sway at universities.

As Richard Verber, senior vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told me at the protest: ‘Universities are supposed to be centres of knowledge.’ Rather than adopt the mantra that Israel is ‘fundamentally evil and shouldn’t be given a platform’ – as Josh, a SOAS student, told me – universities should be unsafe spaces where any and every idea can be discussed and challenged.

It was, therefore, reassuring to see that last night’s BDS protesters were not left unchallenged. Undisturbed by the bleak drizzle descending on SOAS’s main plaza, around 300 protesters gathered for what turned out to be a relatively calm face-off. On one side, bolstered by a pop-up stall selling falafel, around 200 BDS supporters clamoured loudly about the need to ‘Free, free Palestine’. On the other, a pro-Israeli contingent made up of students and non-students alike smilingly retorted: ‘Free from Hamas.’

Despite the heated nature of the debate, there wasn’t much conflict. The most confrontational moment came when the BDS supporters decided it was time for some speeches. In a move similar to a politically charged version of Glee, the pro-Israeli block unsheathed a music system and did its best to drown out the ravings of the pro-Palestinians with Israeli pop.

Police and legal observers were spread thinly throughout the crowd. David Jones, an observer from Jewish Human Rights Watch, explained to me that their presence was necessary because the BDS activists were ‘driving students out of universities’. It seemed doubtful that this chickpea-ridden clash of protesters would spout anything more heated than the falafel wraps beings sold for a fiver, but things took a nasty turn when one anti-Semitic protester announced that ‘six million Jews walked into the gas chambers like lambs for slaughter!’. When asked by a group of disgusted pro-Israeli protesters what he meant, he smiled charmingly and explained: ‘Because they were cowards.’

Many of the pro-Palestine speakers and protesters said they were taking a stand against ‘Israeli apartheid’. When I asked a protester what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had to do with apartheid, he responded gruffly: ‘Are you stupid? The Palestinians are being discriminated against!’ Robert Sacks, a South African pro-Israel protester who fought against Apartheid in Pretoria, disagreed. He told me the ‘mindlessness of the BDS movement is frightening… It is an insult to the real anti-Apartheid movement.’ Pointing to the 1957 Immorality Act in Apartheid South Africa, he maintained that ‘these people who have come here to rant about Apartheid don’t understand what it was’.

While the clash of protests was ostensibly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it soon became clear free speech was the real battleground here. Some of the anti-Israel protesters claimed to be bastions of free expression on the basis that they want to ‘give a voice to the Palestinians.’ But it soon became clear that their conviction in free speech is far from resolute. Leaflets with ‘unofficial demo advice’ – which, unsurprisingly, were being distributed by a man who materialised from a group surrounding the demo’s official organisers – advised protesters: ‘Don’t talk to the media… Don’t talk to Zionists.’ Not only did this highlight the conspiratorial tone of contemporary critics of Israel — it also demonstrated the pitiful esteem in which the BDS movement holds open discussion and debate.

Reassuringly, interspersed among the protesters were individuals carrying neither Israeli nor Palestinian flags, but rather placards saying censorship has no place on campus. Izzy Posen, a student carrying a sign criticising the attempted No Platforming of Regev, told me: ‘I’m not here for Israel. I’m here for free speech.’ Why? ‘Because it’s the cornerstone of democracy.’ It is only through allowing the open circulation of ideas, including those we find abhorrent, that individuals can learn to think for themselves and take themselves seriously. As Lawrence Rosenberg, who had an Israeli flag draped round his shoulders, told me: ‘The BDS movement is inherently anti-free speech.’

For all the furore, Regev’s talk inside SOAS was notably tame. Undoubtedly taking note from last year’s debacle at UCL – where former IDF officer Hen Mazzig was chased off campus by infuriated BDS protesters – security was tight. There were multiple ID checks. Security personnel were positioned on every door. Yet despite the stringent security measures, the discussion was very open. Before he could even get comfortable, Regev was immediately asked to defend himself against claims he is a war criminal. Students were allowed to ask whatever they liked, whether it be for Regev to distinguish between a colonialist and an Israeli settler, or for him to justify why Israel even deserves to exist in the first place.

Concluding the discussion, the president of SOAS’s Jewish Society thanked the audience ‘for coming along and supporting free speech’. It was in this liberal and open-minded spirit that the meeting was carried out. It demonstrated that for all the rumpus occurring outside, those who wish to restrict free speech on campus won’t win. For no matter how many falafel wraps they buy, the BDS movement will always be thwarted by those who want to listen to and interrogate contentious ideas.


Australia: Thought police screening schoolbooks in Victoria

Kevin Donnelly

Victoria’s politically correct thought police and nanny state mentality know no bounds. The Marxist-inspired LGBTI gender and sexuality program is being forced on all government schools, as is the Respectful Relationships program that presents boys and men as violent and misogynist.

Add the state’s Curriculum and Assess­ment Authority’s principles and guidelines dictating what texts should be studied in years 11 and 12, and it’s no wonder Victoria is once again being ­described as our Albania of the South — a state where cultural-left ideology and group-think rules, and freedom of thought is under threat.

The guidelines warn that texts should not be chosen “regardless of literary or dramatic merit” if they deal with “violence or physical, psychological or sexual abuse”, “gratuitous use of coarse language” or they “promote or normalise the abuse of alcohol, the use of illegal drugs or other ­illegal behaviour”. Texts dealing with the full ambit of human ­nature with all its flaws, weaknesses and susceptibility to give in to temptation are to be cut from the state-mandated curriculum.

Often the most enduring and worthwhile examples of literature by their very nature portray the dark and unsettling side of ­humanity and personal relationships. In the Greek tragedy The Bacchae, Euripides presents Dionysus as a god of wine, promiscuity and physical gratification that represents an enduring ­aspect of human nature. Other Greek tragedies, such as Antigone and King Oedipus, centre on the nature and impact of violence, ­deceit, betrayal and the ­impact of psychological and sexual abuse.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth, as vividly portrayed in Roman ­Polan­ski’s film adaptation, is awash with violence and death, and there’s no escaping the reality that what drives Lady Macbeth to suicide is her mental and psychological ­instability. The final scene of Hamlet is also bloody, and once again the destructive impact of psychological abuse is evident with Ophelia’s suicide. As proved by one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, Falstaff, it’s also true that great literature often involves bawdy scenes ­involving alcohol and rude and ­offensive language.

Similar to Falstaff, the central character in Zorba the Greek would fall foul of today’s PC thought police as he is consumed by the attraction of women and drink, illus­trated by his statement: “To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”

There’s also no doubt that if the Victorian guidelines relating to “social and sexual relationships” are taken seriously then metaphysical poets like Marvell and Donne would be unacceptable.

Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress is a seduction poem feminists would castigate as misogynist in nature as the poet’s aim is to convince his mistress to consummate their relationship “like amorous birds of prey”. Donne’s poem Elegie: To his Mistress Going to Bed would also definitely be in the no-go zone as the lines, “Licence my roving hands, and let them goe, Behind, before, above, between, below”, would cause feminist apoplexy.

Modern Australian classics like Wake in Fright, The One Day of the Year and Don’s Party, given the pervasive influence of alcohol, gambling and sexual innuendo and misbehaviour, would also fall foul of the politically correct mentality that seeks to impose state sanctioned behaviour.

And what of Tolstoy’s War and Peace,that vast and majestic novel that not only vividly and in detail portrays the death, suffering and violence of war but also the interplay of characters depicting the full range of human emotions and ­actions ­including sexual promiscuity, ­betrayal and abuse?

Whatever the nature of the text or how challenging its issues, teachers must ensure the way it is taught is affirmative and constructive, that lessons ­include a range of perspectives and there are alternative points of view.

DH Lawrence argues: “The Business of art is to reveal the relation between man and his circumambient universe at the living moment.” Lawrence also argues that literature should never be sanitised and, as such, students have the right to encounter human nature and their world in all its complexity and challenges — good and evil, dark and light.


Monday, May 01, 2017

UC President Janet Napolitano hid $175 million while raising tuition, paying excessive salaries

A state audit released Tuesday concludes that the University of California Office of the President, led by former Obama administration DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, hid away $175 million while paying excessive salaries to staff and raising tuition on students. Auditor Elaine Howle also says someone from Napolitano’s office interfered with questionnaires sent to various UC campuses as part of the audit. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The UC Office of the President amassed millions in the secret reserve funds in part by overestimating how much it needed to run the 10-campus university system — and then spending less than budgeted, the audit said. From 2012 to 2016, the office sought increased funding based on the inflated estimates, not actual spending, according to Howle…

About $32 million of the $175 million that Howle’s audit found in the secret reserve came from campus assessment fees — money that the auditor said could have been spent on students and should be returned to the campuses.

Even as it accumulated the campus fees, Napolitano persuaded the Board of Regents to increase those fees in two of the four years audited, Howle said.

There are nearly 1,700 people working in the Office of the President. The audit notes that number is significantly higher than other similar offices. This chart makes the comparison. Note that the California State system has more than twice as many campuses and nearly twice as many students but manages to get by with 1/3 the amount of staff of the UC system:

In addition to having an outsized staff, the Office of the President was also paying significantly higher salaries than comparable state workers were earning, plus offering a special retirement plan, and other questionable expenses. From the LA Times:

The audit said: “10 executives in the Office of the President whose compensation we analyzed were paid a total of $3.7 million in fiscal year 2014-15 — over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.”

On benefits, the Office of the President provided a regular retirement plan but also offered its executives a retirement savings account into which the office contributes up to 5% of the executives’ salaries—about $2.5 million over the past five years, the audit found.

“The Office of the President also spent more than $2 million for its staff’s business meetings and entertainment expenses over the past five years—a benefit that the State does not offer to its employees except in limited circumstances,” the audit said.

Given how bad this looks, perhaps it’s not surprising that Napolitano’s office interfered with the auditor’s efforts to investigate the situation. In order to gather information on how much the services being offered by the Office of the President were actually being used by the system’s 10 campuses and whether the campuses thought the cost of those services was reasonable, the auditor sent out two surveys to each campus. The auditor specifically asked the campus executives who received the surveys not to share them with the Office of the President. But that didn’t stop one of Napolitano’s deputies from interfering and arranging a call to manage the responses. From the report:

Although we explicitly asked each campus not to share its survey results with anyone outside of the campus, we learned in February 2017 that the Office of the President had requested campuses to send their survey responses to it and that the deputy chief of staff of the Office of the President (deputy chief of staff) organized a conference call with all campuses to discuss the survey and screened the surveys before the campuses submitted them to us…

When we compared the prescreened versions of the surveys to the versions the campuses subsequently submitted to us, we discovered trends that concerned us. Specifically, we found that the survey responses were changed in ways that made the Office of the President appear more efficient and effective. The most extensive changes were in the open-ended comments that campuses provided in response to our broad questions. Table 15 summarizes several examples of those changes. Further, after the Office of the President’s review, campuses also changed 13 ratings that we know of; 12 of these made the Office of the President look better. For example, in the prescreened version of its survey, San Diego stated that it was dissatisfied with the transparency regarding what the campus assessment pays for within the Office of the President. However, the survey we received stated that the campus was satisfied with the level of transparency. In addition, San Diego’s comments documenting concerns with the Office of the President’s budget process were deleted.

As a result of this clear effort to massage the data, the auditor determined the results were unusable:

Because of the Office of the President’s involvement, we believe that the survey results carry an unacceptably high risk of leading us and users of the survey results to reach incorrect or improper conclusions regarding the efficacy of the Office of the President’s operations. Auditing standards prohibit us from using such evidence as support for findings and conclusions.

For the record, Napolitano has denied the claims made in the audit. She says the reserve fund was only $38 million which was set aside as a reserve in case of emergency. But needless to say, all of this stinks to high heaven. Howle, the auditor, told the SF Chronicle, “I’ve never had a situation like that in my 17 years as state auditor.” Lawmakers plan to hold a hearing on the results of the audit next week.


In response to Berkeley, Rep. Sean Duffy asks Betsy DeVos to take action on taxpayer-funded campuses

On the heels of Ann Coulter's canceled lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Wis., is asking Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for a list of actions her department can take to address the problems caused by recent free speech controversies on taxpayer-funded college campuses.

In a new letter sent from Duffy to DeVos on Friday morning, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Examiner, the Wisconsin Republican says he is "deeply concerned" by UC Berkeley's decision to "suppress free speech" by canceling Coulter's lecture.

"If university officials feel that it is their priority to keep students safe," Duffy wrote, "they should do so by addressing the culture of violence that accompanies these lawless riots, not by suppressing the constitutional rights of everyday American citizens."

"By canceling the original event," he continued, "UC Berkeley has sent a clear and disturbing message to protesters everywhere: continue the violence and you will win."

The congressman detailed examples from his home state in the letter as well, noting, "Students tell me all the time that they spend four years enduring rather than learning, and never once have the opportunity to study under a conservative professor."

In response, Duffy is asking DeVos to provide him with "a set of specific actions the Department of Education can take to ensure that taxpayer-funded institutions of higher education create and support a fair environment that protects speech and fosters dialogue." He also requested "specific recommendations" for actions that Congress can take to ensure taxpayer-funded colleges and universities "foster an honest, equitable, and fair discussion of political issues and thought."

"I implore you to be mindful of these politically intolerant environments that our taxpayer dollars are funding throughout the United States, and to take any and all necessary action to prevent this systematic suppression of free speech," Duffy wrote.

"Universities are a place for our best and brightest to be educated, not indoctrinated," he concluded.

Given her previous statements, it is likely DeVos will be sympathetic to Duffy's plea.

At this year's CPAC she decried the silencing of conservative voices on college campuses, telling students in the audience, "The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say and, more ominously, what to think."

She continued, "They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you're a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree."

Given the bipartisan uproar over Coulter's canceled lecture — even Duffy's congressional colleagues Sens. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., both criticized the decision made by Berkeley — his sentiments are likely shared by many others on Capitol Hill.


The Death of Higher Education

As tuition and far-left ideologies rise, many universities are experiencing a plunge in enrollment and donations.

The average graduate of the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt. Altogether, that’s almost $620 billion more than the total of U.S. credit card debt. But the staggering cost of tuition isn’t the only reason why many liberal arts colleges have observed a steady decline in enrollment over the past decade. The radical suppression of free speech and the blatant touting of far-left ideologies have caused many students to seek their degrees in a more tolerant environment.

The University of Missouri is closing down three dorms this year due to lack of enrollment since its infamous Melissa Click incident and its announcement of an “open season” on student journalists last year.

And it’s not just Mizzou. Alumni of colleges and universities nationwide are awakening to the fact that their beloved alma maters are nothing like they remember. “As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized, and basically dismissed as an old, white bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” one 77-year-old wrote in a letter to Amherst College’s alumni fund. He proceeded to reduce his support to the college to a mere $5 per year before cutting off his donations entirely. A 1982 Yale graduate said he was on campus last fall when activists tried to shut down a free speech conference, “because apparently they missed irony class that day.” He concluded, “The worst part is that campus administrators are wilting before the activists like flowers.” Not surprisingly, Yale College’s alumni fund was flat between this year and last.

To put it plainly, alumni from a range of generations and schools say they are baffled by today’s college culture. Their predominant lament is that students are irreparably embroiled in racial and identity politics. Let’s put it more plainly: Colleges are America’s most racist consortiums. They encourage black dorms and black graduations; they praise minority hatred of whites through “white privilege” indoctrination seminars and ethnic-and-black-studies courses; and they shamelessly tear down statues of their old, white, male founders and re-name academic buildings that were christened for bigoted, slave-owning misogynists. Modern universities have eviscerated and dishonored their heritage by judging them by today’s standards rather than in the context of their times. Not even Thomas Jefferson is safe at the University of Virginia he founded.

Is this academic moral decline worth upwards of $60,000 a year in tuition? Not by a long shot. To add insult to injury, most college students graduate without taking any courses that enrich their intellect or develop their character (which was, after all, the original purpose of universities). Today, one can obtain a bachelor’s in English lit at UCLA without even cracking open a book of Shakespeare’s plays while being required to read the lesbian interpretation “Juliet and Juliet.” Other colleges freely spend their students' tuition dollars to put free condoms and lubricant in every student dorm or free bus rides to the nearest Planned Parenthood.

Even more shocking is the Institute of Education Statistics estimate that 40% of students at a four-year college drop out before completing their degree. For the 60% who do complete their degree, 64% take longer than four years to graduate, costing themselves nearly $70,000 in lost wages and educational expenses per year. In light of these facts, many young people are forgoing the traditional BA for trade and vocational schools after realizing the obvious truth: higher education is no longer worth the social and financial costs. The prediction that college closures will triple by 2017 only confirms this.

While wealthy fools will continue to fund Yale and its fellow left-wing seminaries, a day of reckoning may well be on the horizon for our institutions of “higher education.”


Sunday, April 30, 2017

UK: How parents are removing their children from religious education classes because they do not want them to learn about Islam

Parents are pulling their children out of school religious education lessons because they do not want them taught about Islam, the Church of England said yesterday.

Some, Church officials said, hope to shield their children from learning about any faith but Christianity, and others have a particular intention to keep children from any knowledge of Islam.

They pointed towards far right political groups and some minority faith sects as activists who are trying to ‘exploit’ the legal right of parents to withdraw their children from school RE.

CofE leaders called for the right of withdrawal to be repealed and for RE to become a compulsory part of school timetables to encourage pupils to learn to live with others from different backgrounds.

The accusation against parents who remove children from RE classes comes against a background of intensifying arguments about the future of religious education teaching.

The subject is not part of the compulsory National Curriculum, and is, alongside sex education, the only subject from which parents can withdraw pupils.

CofE school inspection chief Derek Holloway said: ‘Through RE teacher social media forums and feedback from our RE advisers I am aware that some parents have sought to exploit the right to withdraw children from RE lessons.

‘This is seemingly because they do not want their children exposed to other faiths and world views, in particular Islam. Anecdotally, there have also been some cases in different parts of the country of parents with fundamentalist religious beliefs also taking a similar course.

‘This is not confined to any one particular religion or area of the country.’

Mr Holloway added: ‘To enable all to live well together there is a need for all pupils from all backgrounds to receive a broad and balanced curriculum that includes high quality RE.

‘Sadly, and dangerously the right of withdrawal from RE is now being exploited by a range of interest groups often using a dubious interpretation of human rights legislation. The right of withdrawal from RE now gives comfort to those who are breaking the law and seeking to incite religious hatred.’

School RE lessons are supposed to teach children not just about Christianity but to give them a background on the beliefs and history of all the major faiths.

Parents have a legal right to remove their children from RE under a 1998 education law.

The CofE, which has 4,700 schools including 200 secondary schools, aims to promote ‘deep respect for the integrity of other traditions’ in RE.

Mr Holloway said the subject ‘does have a contribution to make to combatting extremism and to community cohesion, but these are not its core purpose nor its main aims.’

He said the teaching of RE should not be confused with the daily act of worship which schools are required to offer to pupils. In most schools this is a Christian assembly, and parents are entitled to withdraw their children from the act of worship.

There are no figures on how many parents remove their children from RE classes, although CofE officials said the figure is thought to be small. The subject is popular at GCSE, with more than 250,000 children taking the exam at 16.

Critics of religious education said parents should continue to be able to remove their children from classes.

Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: ‘The fundamental problem is that RE is a confused subject area, still sometimes taught in a biased or partisan way.

‘If the subject was reformed to be genuinely educational and non-partisan study of religious and non-religious worldviews, the right to withdraw may no longer be necessary. But until such time, the right of withdrawal is required to protect parental rights and freedoms.’


U of Missouri Journalism Prof.: Which is More Dangerous -- ISIS or the NRA?

Missouri School of Journalism Professor Emeritus George Kennedy, the former managing editor of the Columbia Missourian, the school's teaching newspaper, suggested in a recent commentary published by the Missourian that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is more dangerous to Americans than the radical jihadist Islamic State (ISIS).

In the April 20 commentary, "The NRA's Influence is a Danger to Us All," Professor Kennedy compared the NRA and ISIS, noting when each group was founded and claiming that while the world may fear ISIS, it is politicians who fear the NRA. He also said the NRA is far closer to attaining its goal than ISIS is to attaining its caliphate.

The NRA's goal, Kennedy claims, is to remove "all restrictions on the possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone."  Kennedy neither cites nor quotes any NRA source to back up that assertion.

Kennedy then notes some gun-death and terrorism statistics, claiming "annual averages" show that -- when not counting the 2,996 victims from 9/11 -- the number of Americans killed by Islamic terrorists averages 9 per year, but the number of Americans killed each year by another American with a gun, since 9/11, averages 11,737 a year.

The apparent suggestion is that Americans are more dangerous to other Americans than ISIS, and that this is somehow because of the influence of the NRA.   

As Kennedy asks, "Which organization is more dangerous to Americans -- ISIS or the NRA?"

Conveniently, Kennedy does not present statistics on the number of incidents where Americans use guns defensively to protect themselves or their property, a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

A 2013 report by the gun-control group Violence Policy Center, using data from the FBI, concluded that over a five-year period (2007-2011) "the total number of self-protective behaviors involving a firearm by victims of attempted or completed violent crimes or property crimes totaled only 338,700," which averages to 67,740 defensive gun uses a year.

In other words, Americans use guns to protect themselves and their property about 67,740 times a year -- and that's a conservative estimate from a pro-gun control organization.

On a related note, a CDC study commissioned by the Obama administration in 2013 found that "self-defense" with a firearm "can be an important crime deterrent." In fact, the injury rate is lower for crime victims who defensively use a gun than it is for victims using other, non-gun, self-protective strategies, said the CDC.

Kennedy also does not mention the number of Americans killed by automobiles each year.

In 2015 that number was 38,300 people killed on U.S. roads, and the deaths apparently had nothing to do with the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the NRA.

In concluding his commentary, Journalism Prof. Kennedy softens a bit, admitting "there's plenty of blame to go around" when it comes to the misuse of firearms.  "However, there is no denying that the NRA is Missouri’s and the nation’s most vociferous, most generous to its friends and most vindictive to its enemies advocate of a free-fire zone for guns of all types in all places," says Kennedy.  "And that’s a danger to us all."

I wonder if any of the 49 murder victims of the Islamist attack at the gay nightclub in Orlando wished they had been carrying a gun. Or the 89 murder victims at the Bataclan in Paris.  Or the 5 Americans murdered in Chattanooga. Sadly, they can't tell us now.


ACLU Comes Out In Grudging Support Of Ann Coulter After Speech Cancelled

The liberal American Civil Liberties Union has came out in support of conservative columnist Ann Coulter’s right to speak on a public college campus Wednesday after the event was cancelled.

Coulter, a 12-time New York Times bestselling author, was slated to speak on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley until the school cancelled the event, claiming they couldn’t guarantee the security of Coulter or attendees.

Coulter, who was invited to speak by a student group, said she would go to the campus and speak anyway, but ultimately cancelled after the event’s sponsor dropped out Wednesday morning.

It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon, more than a week after the controversy erupted and after Coulter announced her event was cancelled, that the ACLU spoke up in support of her right to speak.

In a tweet, the ACLU said, “The heckler’s veto of Coulter’s Berkeley speech is a loss for the 1st Amendment. We must protect speech on campus, even when hateful.”

Earlier in the day, the ACLU tweeted a link to a press release from Monday reading, “UC Berkeley cannot limit speech because of its content or because of the viewpoint it espouses. Nor can it help others to do so by canceling, delaying, or moving an event in reaction to threats of disruption or violence, unless doing so is truly necessary to preserve public safety or some other compelling government interest.”

But the same release continues to take a swipe at Coulter as a purveyor of “hate speech.” The statement claims, “Hate is contrary to our core values. The ACLU condemns bigotry and fights for equal rights for all, and we hope that the University and its officials will do the same. But no matter how heinous the speech, the First Amendment protects everyone. To be clear, the constitution does not protect speech that directly incites violence or harasses individual students or community members.”