Students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary, rushed the stage, and prevented the invited guest—the American Civil Liberties Union’s Claire Gastañaga, a W & M alum—from speaking.
Ironically, Gastañaga had intended to speak on the subject, “Students and the First Amendment.”
And I’m all out of popcorn…
At the same time… what the heck is going on with the left?
I mean I expected them to walk back the crazy scare mongering of prison camps for minorities, women and gays after Trump was elected, because, well… that’s what happened when Reagan was elected, and when Bush was elected.
Instead, they seem to have gone crazier and to think the rounding up is just around the corner and that maybe it’s already happening (yes, I know Hillary is an old woman and listening to old people raving is silly, but she actually imagines that Trump is SOMEHOW having journalists killed and no one knows.) They virtue signal that they accept everyone, as opposed to the rest of us who… accept everyone. They take knees and fight really hard in the “resistance” against something that isn’t happening.
It sure as hell sounds like the three am terrors. Only, they can’t be having them, can they? I don’t believe for a moment that the left, the real convinced left, not the ones who go along to get along, are 50% of the nation. I think they were more than that, thirty years ago, or so, because there was still a working (for values of working) communist block that could be idealized, and because the idea is so attractive.
Maybe it’s something like this:
But if we step back and look squarely at it, the one group in America that most demands and expects privileged treatment is the far left. And it is time the rest of us called them on it.
Here is a brief checklist to aid in recognizing the signs of liberal privilege:
1. Assuming that you have the right to control what everyone else does, what they have, what they say, and how they think. The idea of living your own life and – here’s a thought – leaving others the hell alone to do the same never crosses your mind.
2. Assuming that you have the right never to hear any opinion that contradicts your own, and using intimidation and violence if necessary to protect your ideological bubble. And if someone actually does or says something you don’t like, you are entitled to a hug or a puppy.
3. Assuming that feeling offended on your part constitutes a political crisis on the nation’s part. Others might have to grow up and accept the fact that the world will not bow to their every whim, but not you.
4. Having exquisite sensitivity to the moral speck in society’s eye while ignoring the beam in your own. It is your privilege to establish the standards by which others must live and to critique them at will, but any criticism of you is evidence of hatred.
5. Consistency is for other people. You are free to deny the existence of absolutes while imposing absolute standards that others must follow. As long as your heroes condemn fossil fuels and support gun control, they are free to fly in private jets and live in mega-mansions protected by armed guards. You are free to say the vilest things about conservative blacks or women, but any criticism of liberal blacks or women is evidence of racism or sexism.
6. You must be judged only by your rhetoric and not by your results. If your social policy weakens black families, the resulting social ills are the result of racism on society’s part and not any arrogance, presumption, or failing on your part. As long as you claim to value education, you are free to support an educational system that cranks out students who cannot read or do basic math, and who are ignorant of even the most essential points of American and world history.
7. And finally, liberal privilege means never having to say “not guilty.” Laws that apply to everyone else do not apply to you. Laws protecting public and private property may be suspended in order to allow leftists room to ventilate their feelings. Laws protecting classified information or forbidding the abuse of governmental positions to harass opponents do not apply to you or your allies.
The left constantly introduces new words and phrases into our political discourse. Perhaps the phrase that has been missing is, “Your liberal privilege is showing.”
This would be a good time to introduce it.
In an anticipated speech yesterday, delivered at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the U.S. Department of Education is moving to end the reckless Title IX enforcement regime adopted by the Obama administration. The speech reflected a welcome regard for statute after years of executive-branch adventurism and, more important, a much-needed push to begin correcting for the kangaroo-court insanity that Obama-administration ideologues unleashed on college campuses.
DeVos appropriately framed her remarks by hailing twin imperatives: the need to protect all students on college campuses from sexual harassment or assault, and the need to ensure that those accused of such acts are treated fairly. Especially for someone who has had her share of stumbles in public remarks, DeVos delivered a well-crafted speech with aplomb. The balance and tenor of her remarks was just right.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos makes remarks during a major policy address on Title IX enforcement, which in college covers sexual harassment, rape and assault, at George Mason University, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler
She opened by flatly declaring, “Let me be clear at the outset: Acts of sexual misconduct are reprehensible, disgusting, and unacceptable. They are acts of cowardice and personal weakness. . . . One rape is one too many. One assault is one too many. One aggressive act of harassment is one too many. . . . Survivors aren’t well-served when they are re-traumatized with appeal after appeal because the failed system failed the accused.”
But DeVos also proceeded to do something that her Obama-era counterparts never did, which is to carefully affirm that we do not protect or support victims by railroading the accused through sham processes. As DeVos put it, “One person denied due process is too many. . . . Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined. . . . Due process either protects everyone, or it protects no one. The notion that a school must diminish due-process rights to better serve the ‘victim’ only creates more victims.”
DeVos addressed the worrisome way in which Title IX enforcement has grown into a tool for policing speech. She highlighted the need to be “more precise in the definition of sexual misconduct” and observed:
Schools have been compelled by Washington to enforce ambiguous and incredibly broad definitions of assault and harassment. Too many cases involve students and faculty who have faced investigation and punishment simply for speaking their minds or teaching their classes. . . . But if everything is harassment, then nothing is. Punishing speech protected by the First Amendment trivializes actual harassment.
Bizarrely, DeVos’s sensible stance represents a sea change from current policy. In April 2011, responding to hyperbolic claims of a “campus rape epidemic” fueled by junk science, the Obama Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that dramatically altered Title IX enforcement on college campuses. The letter greatly expanded federal reach into how colleges should adjudicate sexual-harassment investigations if they wanted to steer clear of a potential federal investigation.
The 2011 guidance, issued without the required notice-and-comment rulemaking process, informed schools receiving federal funds that they should use the “preponderance of evidence” standard — the lowest possible standard of proof in our judiciary system — in all investigations of sexual offenses, ranging from unwelcome sexually charged speech to rape. The preponderance of evidence standard means that if the campus administrator thinks there is a 50.1 percent chance that accusation is true, the accused is to be found guilty. The letter also imposed a form of double jeopardy by requiring that schools allow accusers to appeal not-guilty rulings. It further “strongly discouraged” institutions from allowing accusers to be cross-examined. Campuses that failed to abide by any of these “suggestions” would be vulnerable to federal civil-rights investigations.
Subsequent Obama-era Title IX guidance imposed further federal strictures on higher-education institutions, including telling them to adopt a remarkably expansive (and unconstitutional) definition of sexual harassment. A self-proclaimed “blueprint” for Title IX compliance issued in 2013, for example, reaffirmed OCR’s expectation that schools treat any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including speech, as sexual harassment, despite the Supreme Court holding otherwise. It also made clear that conduct which a “reasonable person” would not consider “objectively offensive” could still be deemed to constitute harassment.
The consequences of all this were as unfortunate as they were predictable. K. C. Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, has noted that a district-court decision against Appalachian State University last month marked the 60th time that courts have ruled against colleges and universities in campus due-process cases since the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter. This September, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a study of campus due process in which it reported that of 53 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, 85 percent maintain policies that grossly violate due-process protections and nearly three-quarters don’t even presume the accused innocent until proven guilty. In one striking instance, Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis found herself subject to two Title IX investigations in 2015 following an essay she had written for The Chronicle of Higher Education about campus sexual politics and paranoia. Other instances of accused students and faculty being railroaded by university kangaroo courts can be found in nearly any major news outlet.
DeVos’s speech marks a promising turn. While the education press reported that DeVos was, for now, leaving the 2011 Obama guidance intact, a senior Department of Education official told us that this is misleading. Rather, the official says the department has already filed paperwork with the Office of Management and Budget to rescind the guidance and adopt new interim guidance in its place.
The interim guidance will stipulate fair-treatment standards for both parties involved in these investigations. This means no more star chambers: All the evidence available to one party is to be available to the other, and institutions will be required to notify the accused of any charges levied against them. The interim guidance will also take Washington’s thumb off the scale in terms of evidentiary standards, cross-examination, and the like, allowing campuses to reinstate due-process protections without fearing they will trigger a federal civil-rights investigation. DeVos also announced that she will launch a “transparent notice-and-comment process,” in accord with federal law, to develop guidelines that can more responsibly and effectively promote safe campuses, provide justice to victims, and safeguard the rights of the accused.
Secretary DeVos’s fine speech and pledge to act are worth commending — especially given the caterwauling and vitriol with which she knew she’d be greeted by the Title IX lobby, campus ideologues, and old Obama hands. If she’s able and willing to follow through, DeVos’s articulate and measured challenge to campus kangaroo courts will prove to be a heartening win for common sense.
Perhaps the most problematic aspect of Green’s post is that, despite what he believes, most conservatives do not complain about liberal bias on American campuses because they are full of people who believe that evolution is true or that the US lost a war against Vietnam. They complain about liberal bias on American campuses because they are full of people who think conservatives are just cretins who are incapable of forming their beliefs in a rational way and have no problem saying so on a regular basis. In short, they complain about liberal bias on American campuses because they are full of ignorant fools like Green, who know next to nothing about what conservatives actually believe. Green’s lazy rant is a perfect illustration of why it’s hard to be a conservative on campus. Of course, he didn’t do it on purpose, but that doesn’t make his post any less valuable.
Conservatives also complain because right-wing intellectuals are regularly prevented from speaking on American campuses by unhinged, illiberal left-wing thugs, who sometimes don’t hesitate to resort to violence. They point out that large segments of academia have become hotbeds of activism posing as scholarly enterprises. In other words, far from complaining because universities are places where people are devoted to the rational search for the truth, they complain because universities increasingly are not. I should add that conservatives are right about that and that one doesn’t need to be a conservative to worry about that. I know plenty of liberals who find the politicization of universities extremely concerning. You have to live in a parallel universe to deny that it’s a problem.
If Green actually listened to what conservatives say when they complain about liberal bias on campuses, he would know that, but it’s clear that he has no idea what conservatives really think and that he is only familiar with a caricature. When I say that, people often retort that it’s because I’m a European conservative, who isn’t even religious and isn’t really familiar with American conservatism. If that’s what you’re inclined to say, I’m going to stop you right there. I’m far more familiar with American conservatism than any American liberal I know. I read American conservative publications every day, know many American conservatives personally and have read countless books about American conservatism. (I also listen to Democracy Now and read plenty of left-wing sources.) I even watch Fox News on a regular basis, so I’m quite familiar with the kind of things American conservatives say when they complain about liberal bias on campuses, which is clearly more than I can say about Green and people who take his post seriously.
This bias is a real problem that should concern everyone and deserves better than Green’s idiotic post. I’m one of a handful of openly right-wing people in academia, so I’m in a particularly good position to talk about it. In my experience, people who aren’t conservative have no idea what kind of things those who are have to deal with in academia on a daily basis, which is part of the problem. Universities worry a lot about micro-aggressions, implicit bias, etc. against women and minorities. But there is nothing “micro” or “implicit” about the hostility conservatives have to face on campus. Nobody goes around campuses saying that women and black people are stupid, but not a day goes by on campus without people saying that about conservatives. In my field, conservatives are so afraid to speak up that some of them have created secret groups, where they can say what they think without fear of reprisal. Just think for a second about how toxic the environment must be in order for things to have come to that.
And don’t tell me that conservatives just need to grow a pair and speak up more often. I actually agree that conservatives in academia should speak up more often, but most people who say that have no idea how difficult it is, because they never had to face the kind of hostility that conservatives in academia have to deal with. Everyone is a war hero until they actually go to war. Moreover, conservatives aren’t the only ones who are afraid to say what they think in academia, the problem is far more widespread than that. One of the advantages of being so outspoken is that everyone tells me what they really think, because they know I don’t give a shit and don’t have to worry that I’m going to repeat it. You have no idea how many people have reached out to me privately to thank me for saying things nobody else will. Most of them are conservatives, but many are liberals, who have views that are at odds with the zeitgeist and don’t feel comfortable expressing them. Often, they don’t even agree with what I’m saying, but they’re just glad that someone is saying it so they can have another viewpoint. Which brings me to why the liberal bias on campuses is bad even for people who aren’t conservative.
The problem with political bias, no matter who it’s directed against, is that it makes people who share the dominant view stupid and uninformed. Most of the things liberal academics think are obvious really aren’t obvious at all, but they don’t know that, because they rarely get to hear the other side. And they rarely get to hear the other side not because conservatives have nothing to say against their arguments, but more often than not because they are just afraid to say what they think. As a result, intelligent conservatives in academia are typically in a much better epistemic position than similarly intelligent liberals, because they are familiar with the best arguments for the views they disagree with, whereas liberals are robbed of this opportunity by the fact that conservatives don’t feel comfortable speaking freely.
For example, I’m strongly in favor of restrictionism about immigration, a view that most academics think is not only misguided but obviously false and morally repugnant. The problem is that I have read and thought a lot about immigration. Moreover, because almost everyone around me thinks restrictionism is wrong, I’m very familiar with their arguments. But they’re not familiar with mine, because they have almost never met anyone who disagreed with them on that issue and wasn’t afraid to say it. So when I have a debate about someone about that, it usually becomes really embarrassing very quickly, but not for me. In almost every case, I know exactly what they’re going to say. I know what studies they’re going to cite and, since I have actually read them (which is rarely the case of my interlocutors), I can explain why they don’t show what they think they show.
To be clear, although I think I’m right about immigration, I’m not saying that I’m obviously right. Precisely because I have read and thought a lot about it, I know this debate involves many complicated issues, both empirical and philosophical. My point is that, because of the liberal bias on campuses, most academics don’t know that. They think it’s obviously true that restrictionism about immigration is both intellectually and morally bankrupt, which is why they typically look like fools when they have a debate about this with someone who actually has a grasp of how complex the issue really is. Of course, I’m not saying that nobody on the pro-immigration side of that debate knows what they’re talking about, I know some who do. But I don’t know many of them and that’s really not surprising given the abuse people who defend a restrictionist position are subjected to.
Nobody benefits from this state of affairs. This isn’t just bad because it makes academics politically uninformed. There is plenty of evidence that it actually affects their scholarship and make it worse than it would otherwise be. There has been a healthy conversation about this in social psychology, a field that heavily leans left, where some researchers have demonstrated that the lack of diversity harmed the field. This was the impetus for the creation of Heterodox Academy, which seeks to remedy this problem in academia. Unless you have a completely unrealistic view of human cognition, you have to realize that any environment that leans so heavily toward one side of the political spectrum, far from being a place where belief is proportionate to evidence, will be epistemically suboptimal. Echo chambers aren’t exactly ideal environments to discover the truth about anything. If you don’t want to take seriously the liberal bias on campuses, that’s fine with me, but then don’t complain when people elect a vulgarian like Trump or when Republicans defund universities.
Finally, I want to reply to one point some people have made in defense of Green’s post, because it adds insult to injury. Both he and other people have claimed that his critics were misguided because he wasn’t talking about conservatives in general but only about a specific type of conservative. It’s true that, in his post, he occasionally qualifies his claims with vague expressions such as “a certain kind of conservative.” But he doesn’t always do that and, in any case, this is largely beside the point. You don’t write a post called “Why it is hard to be a campus conservative” if all you want to do is point out that people who form their beliefs in a totally irrational way, which is the case of only a small proportion of the people who complain that it’s hard to be a conservative on campus (at least it’s not larger than the proportion of people who deny it’s a problem and form their beliefs in the same irrational way), are bound to be uncomfortable in places such as universities, which are supposed to be dedicated to the rational search for the truth.
Are there conservatives who complain that it’s hard to be conservative on campus for bad reasons? Well of course there are, plenty of them even. But that their reasons are bad is obvious, so when you write a post which you claim is about why it’s hard to be conservative on campus and only address those reasons, you are in effect suggesting that conservatives don’t also have plenty of good reasons to complain that it’s hard to be a conservative on campus. If that’s not what you think, then why not address the interesting reasons people have to complain that it’s hard to be a conservative on campus, instead of writing a post on reasons nobody intelligent cares about? Even if it were true that most conservatives complain about the liberal bias on campuses for the reasons Green seems to think, which it isn’t, it would still not be why most conservative academics, who aren’t typical of conservatives in general anymore than liberal academics are typical of liberals in general, complain about it. This defense of Green’s post is a classic case of gaslighting. It will only work against imbeciles, but despite what Green seems to think, most conservatives aren’t imbeciles.
One might retort that, while it may be rare for a black man to be killed by the police, black men are still constantly stopped and routinely brutalized by the police, even if they don’t die from it. However, even this weaker claim is false. It just isn’t true that black men are kicked, punched, etc., on a regular basis by the police.
In order to show that, I’m going to use data from the Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS), which, as its name suggests, provides detailed information about contacts between the police and the public. It’s conducted on a regular basis by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and is based on a nationally representative sample of more than 70,000 U.S. residents age 16 or older. Respondents are asked whether they had a contact with the police during the past 12 months; if they say they did, they answer a battery of questions about the nature of their last contact, including any use of force. Since the respondents also provide their age, race, gender, etc., we can use this survey to calculate the prevalence of police violence for various demographic groups. The numbers in this piece are from my own analysis of the data, the details and code for which I provide here, but they are consistent with a 2015 report compiled by the BJS itself to the extent the two overlap.
Jackie’s story of fraternity rape at UVA remains an exception in that it was exposed as false beyond any reasonable doubt. But Sulkowicz’s claims look increasingly unlikely, especially since her new interviews point strongly to habitual mendacity. (A recent Daily Beast story quotes her as saying that it was Nungesser, not she, who publicized his identity—even though there is an extensive record of her admitted efforts to make his name public.) Several of the stories featured in the 2015 campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground have been effectively debunked in critiques by the veteran journalist Emily Yoffe, the legal scholar Stuart Taylor Jr., and the Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk.
If rape culture in America is real, why does the case for it rest on so much fabulism?
CATHY YOUNG: Betsy DeVos is right about campus sexual assault. “Why the fury? DeVos offered a full-throated defense of due process, asserting that ‘every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously’ but “every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined. It is the right message, whatever one thinks of the messenger.”
FROM USA TODAY, A STRONG EDITORIAL IN FAVOR OF BETSY DEVOS’S CHANGES: Campus rape cases don’t deserve second-class justice. “Sexual assaults are serious crimes best handled by the criminal justice system. The most stringent punishment schools can order is expulsion. That can be appropriate for cheating on a term paper, but not for rape. . . . At the same time, when universities employ tribunals or other quasi-judicial systems, they have an obligation to follow due process.”
EMILY YOFFE: The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy: At many schools, the rules intended to protect victims of sexual assault mean students have lost their right to due process—and an accusation of wrongdoing can derail a person’s entire college education. “The way in which Bonsu’s case was handled may seem perverse, but many of the university’s actions—the interim restrictions, the full-bore investigation and adjudication even though R.M.’s own statement does not describe a sexual assault—were mandated or strongly encouraged by federal rules that govern the handling of sexual assault allegations on campus today. These rules proliferated during the Obama administration, as did threats of sanctions if schools didn’t follow them precisely. The impulse behind them was noble and necessary—sexual assault is a scourge that should not be tolerated in any society, much less by institutions of higher learning. But taken in sum, these directives have left a mess of a system, and many unintended consequences.”
When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.
—Robert A. Heinlein
Let’s add, “this you must not say” and “this you must not think”.
And the Factual Feminist has her say:
And she links to the document itself.
It’s long been observed that people who do three things: graduate from high school, stay off of recreational drugs, and get married before having kids, are 96% likely to never be in poverty. There are a few other items of what may be called “bourgeois culture”, including hard work and being civil, including “keeping a civil tongue in your head”.
A lot of the pressure to violate these norms seems to come from people who think cultural norms that violate bourgeois values are somehow more “authentic” expressions of certain cultures. Indeed, there’s a poisonously racist belief that dysfunctional culture is hard-wired in to certain races, and forcing them to adopt some other culture is racist.
Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.
The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.
That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.
Heather MacDonald at National Review writes:
Were you planning to instruct your child about the value of hard work and civility? Not so fast! According to a current uproar at the University of Pennsylvania, advocacy of such bourgeois virtues is “hate speech.” The controversy, sparked by an op-ed written by two law professors, illustrates the rapidly shrinking boundaries of acceptable thought on college campuses and the use of racial victimology to police those boundaries.
The fuse was lit. The rules of the game were the following: Ignore what Wax and Alexander had actually said; avoid providing any counterevidence; and play the race card to the hilt as a substitute for engaging with their arguments.
Wax will not be silenced by this fierce deployment of the racism card. But most academics are not so brave. The op-ed’s primary sin was to talk about behavior. The founding idea of contemporary progressivism is that structural and individual racism lies behind socioeconomic inequalities. Discussing bad behavioral choices and maladaptive culture is out of bounds and will be punished mercilessly by slinging at the offender the usual fusillade of “isms” (to be supplemented, post-Charlottesville, with frequent mentions of “white supremacy”). The fact that underclass behaviors are increasingly common among lower-class whites, and not at all limited to poor blacks and Hispanics, might have made it possible to address personal responsibility. That does not appear to be the case. What if the progressive analysis of inequality is wrong, however, and a cultural analysis is closest to the truth? If confronting the need to change behavior is punishable “hate speech,” then it is hard to see how the country can resolve its social problems.
Eugene Volokh comments.
My thinking: My parents brought me from a place — Soviet Russia — that had not just an oppressive political system and a failed economic system, but also (largely as a result but perhaps partly a cause of) a destructive culture, a culture characterized (much more than American culture) by cheating, shirking and distrust. They brought me to a country that thrived because of its superior cultural assets (which is not to deny that it had cultural weaknesses as well).
It seems to me indubitably clear that certain cultural traits, including the ones that Wax and Alexander note, are more conducive to societal success and long-term individual happiness and others are not. (The norm of raising children in stable, married two-parent families is one well-documented example.) Indeed, my sense is that most on the left actually believe that some cultural traits and some cultures are superior, just as most on the right do: It’s just that they often praise different kinds of cultural traits, and different kinds of cultures and subcultures. Indeed, openness to other cultures is itself a cultural trait, one that different cultures possess to different extents and in different ways; so are, for instance, aversion to race discrimination, support for sexual equality and embrace of sexual freedom.
And of course there is nothing racially exclusive about positive cultural traits. All racial groups can benefit from adopting them (or from the good fortune of having been born into them), just as they can benefit from adopting successful political and economic systems (most reliably, by moving to places that have such beneficial political and economic systems and cultures, and raising their children to adopt those cultures). Indeed, many people of all racial groups, in the United States and elsewhere, eagerly seek to acculturate their children to the bourgeois traits that Wax and Alexander pointed to.