Wait a sec...how does Charles know that I was the one who snatched that flier and made that report?
As an opening caveat, I should be clear that my actions reflect my own personal convictions and judgments, not those of any organizations I am affiliated with. That being said, Charles and I are largely in agreement.
Offensive material should be protested for what it is, nothing more and nothing less. I am grateful that Dean Gerbick recognizes this, and that he recognizes the contradiction in HMC's goals to "inculcate real respect for people with differing backgrounds, opinions, and values," the actions of HMC students, and the truth that "We can do better than that."
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Wait a sec...how does Charles know that I was the one who snatched that flier and made that report?
Aditya and I take a strong position against the official statements of bias related incidents.
We know that there is no 'right' to be offended. We agree that offensive material should be condemned and criticized for its immaturity, but shouldn't give rise to speech codes or hate crimes, both of which are against the spirit of the American constitution and human liberty itself.
As such, it came as something of a shock to me that my co-blogger, David, would go take the flier from the promotion of the Wild West party to go "report a bias-related incident."
As a sometimes Christian, it certainly offends me and is likely to be pretty offensive to the family members I have who are believers. When you believe that Christ died for your sins, it is pretty hard to take the use of him for sacrilegious purposes. But I would never use the power of the school to get people to condemn an act of speech.
Still, in the process of reporting a bias-related incident, David seems more in the process of following an intellectual curiosity than a full fledged belief that Christianity is under attack on our campuses. By contacting the Dean of Harvey Mudd and CMC, David did us all a favor by exposing the standards by which the five colleges determine whether or not they are offended.
HMC Dean Guy L. Gerbrick basically has engaged in legalese to twist himself out of having to come down against the statement by the standards that Harvey Mudd itself has set up. Remember, Harvey Mudd is the same school where a girl got in trouble for saying the negao word and where a student wrote "Hillary is a foxy lesbian" only to be threatened by one of the Deans. (Apparently truth is no defense against accusations of a bias-related incident...)
He's right to argue that determining whether or not this is a bias related incident is one of subjectivity, but by that token, all bias related incidents are subjective and therefore have no place being condemned officially, constituting as they do, student protected speech under the Leonard Law and the First Amendment.
This statement seems awfully weasel worded when compared with those of prior statements. Might it be evidence of bias against Christians? I surely wouldn't go that far! But judge for yourself:
He is to be commended for discussing the issue, given that Harvey Mudd has had such a poor respect for the Leonard Law. (It is the only one of the five colleges to be rated with a speech code of "Red" by FIRE.)
The dean of students at CMC received an email from a CMC student who was
offended at the use of the image of Jesus with a beer can in one hand
and a cigarette in the other to advertise the Wild Wild West party. The
heading for the poster additionally stated: "Where is the one who has
been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the West and have come to
The use of a demeaning depiction of a religious symbol to promote a
party is clearly offensive to many people. HMC is a community that value
everyone. This is not okay on a campus that strives to inculcate real
respect for people with differing backgrounds, opinions, and values. We
can do better than that.
Since there has been much discussion lately about what constitutes a
bias related incident, let's use this example so that everyone understands.
This student reported that he was offended--as a Catholic--to the dean
on his campus about a flyer posted by our students on his campus (or
maybe he saw one on Platt when he came to Jay's Place).
The bias related incident protocol
"Bias related incidents are expressions of hostility against another
person (or group) because of that person's (or group's) race, color,
religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, gender or sexual
orientation, or because the perpetrator perceives that the other person
(or group) has one or more of those characteristics. As used in this
Protocol, the term 'bias related incident' is limited to conduct that
violates one or more of The Claremont Colleges' disciplinary codes and
which is not protected by the First Amendment of the United States
Constitution or by analogous provisions of state law."
The student complained that the flyer was offensive to him because of
his religion. That satisfies the first part of the definition. Does it
violate an HMC disciplinary code? Let's check the Discriminatory
"B. Discriminatory Harassment is defined as behavior that creates an
offensive, demeaning, intimidating, or hostile environment.
Discriminatory harassment must meet the following criteria:
* The conduct is related to race, color, religion, ancestry, national
origin, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation
or any other classification or characteristic protected by law
* The conduct is unwanted or unwelcome
* The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with
or otherwise unreasonably adversely affecting an individual?s
employment, educational opportunity, work performance, or organizational
This incident certainly meets the first two criteria. Does it meet the
third? That is very difficult to judge. Given the subjective nature of
determining whether someone has been reasonably or unreasonably affected
by something, we have generally defaulted to the complainant's
definition of the situation. This student, by bringing the matter
forward, has seemingly deemed the depiction unreasonable.
If there's a doubt about whether a picture can be discriminatory, the
policy further clarifies: "Examples of discriminatory harassment may
include:... 3. Visual conduct: demeaning depictions (pictures, objects,
posters, video, audio, or broadcast material) in a public place."
Now, HMC has a separate poster policy that says (in short) that if you
find something on a flyer offensive, you pull one down and contact the
person who made the poster to complain
However, our posting policy seems to be incompatible with our
discriminatory harassment policy. This is an area that we need to reconcile.
I hope this long explanation clarifies how the deans of students of the
Claremont Colleges make decisions about handling bias related incidents.
I also hope that you don't lose sight of the feeling of hurt that these
types of incidents cause. We can often get tangled in discussions of
rights and forget about the people who are truly hurt by the
insensitivity of others.
If you want to dispute my reasoning or discuss these policies or the
Wild Wild West flyer further, please use firstname.lastname@example.org. That is a
good forum for everyone to participate.
If you are a Mudd student, staff, or faculty member who is not currently
subscribed, you can do so by writing to email@example.com and typing
only "subscribe community-l" in the body of the text. If you'd like to
see the recent archives of community-l, they are at
Sahil Kapur, CMC '09 wrote a piece for the far left group, Campus Progress, on what Barack Obama needs to do to repair the fissure to our reputation that the Bush administration has supposedly done. (Didn't he listen to Karl Rove talk about how the Bush Administration is helping to make AIDS history in Africa? I jest, but only slightly...)
For those of you who have short memories, Campus Progress doubles as one of the funders and trainers of The Claremont Port Side. (You might remember that Aditya and I attended a conference with them earlier at U.C.L.A. last semester to put some rather pointed questions to Milton Friedman libeler and slandered, Naomi Klein.)
Mr. Kapur makes several arguments that have become all but boilerplate for majors of "international relations" and lest you accuse me of attacking him, look up the definition of "boilerplate." If somehow all of the common attacks on George W. Bush were to come to pass, one wonders what career international relations majors would have, given their love of criticizing the current president.
He has four major points that he hopes President-elect Obama will achieve. They are as follows: 1) U.S. troops out of Iraq. 2) More soft power, less recklessness. 3) Multilateralism 4) Diplomacy
I won't go into too much of the refutation of the points he brings up. John Bolton, who I heard speak three weeks ago, delivered a better refutation of those ideas than I'll be able to here. (Fortunately I wrote about it then!)
1) If you hate genocide, you're really going to dislike Iraq if we leave before the conditions on the ground require it.
Kapur argues that "[a] long-term United States military presence in the Middle East is exacerbating the larger battle against terrorism by offering extremist groups more ammunition for recruitment." I frankly see no evidence for that, but I'll let the forthcoming issue of The Claremont Independent in which Eric Yingling talks about his time in Iraq do the persuading.
2) Kapur writes of "soft power" next. I haven't quite figured out what "soft power" is, other than to be a code word for what liberals want the U.S to be doing. Kapur writes, "The reason for America’s greatness isn’t its awesome military; it’s America’s values, culture, and institutions that are the envy of the world."
No, but the U.S. military certainly helps secure those values, culture, and institutions. Come to think of it, it helps secure the values, culture, and institutions of the entire world, especially Europe post-Cold War, South Korea, Japan, South Vietnam (we didn't do so hot on that one!), Greece, Turkey, Israel, Colombia, and on and on.
Kapur writes further,
"The United States turned freedom, social justice, and tolerance into universal truths; that’s the country that so many revere."
To suggest that social justice is a "universal truth" is to have a profound misunderstanding of the American revolution and universal truths. Justice is always social, and social justice is always redistributive politics, an idea that is wholly un-American and against the spirit of success that permeates the American experience. (Social justice had to be tried first in Germany and Russia, where it blew away the competition, so to speak.)
Kapur then discusses "the PATRIOT Act, Guantanamo Bay, and warrantless wiretapping have undermined some of America’s most fundamental values, including liberty and human rights. If America tortures people, taps its own citizens’ phones, and erodes domestic civil liberties, then it begins to destroy its own credibility in the world. "
I fail to see how the protection of the liberties of all against an insidious terrorist threat somehow undermines "our fundamental values." Is a terrorist's human rights violated when he has his phone calls listened in on as he's planning the next 9/11? What's wrong with torture if it is used sparingly? Perhaps he'd prefer we just kill them on the battlefield or turn them over to their host governments which would be a lot less forgiving or "tolerant" than the United States.
3). To suggest that the U.S. isn't engaged in "multilateralism" is silly and ignores the sacrifices of the brave non-American men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dozens of countries have had troops in Iraq, working to stabilize Iraq. A dozen more have troops in Afghanistan, working to stabilize that country.
The U.S. simply put teeth in the U.N. resolutions that the U.N. has passed. (Much good it did us, by the way.)
4). To quote John Bolton, "Diplomacy is a tactic, not a strategy." But Kapur goes on to create a force moral equivalence between Iran, North Korea, and Israel and argues implausibly that "threats and intimidation put us on the path to World War II." In fact, the lack of threats and intimidation against Hilter, a.k.a. appeasement, but us on the path to the last World War, and I suspect that the third one, will happen in much the same way. Still Kapur write,
Nobody wants Iran to have a nuclear weapon, but threats and intimidation put us on a path to World War III. It helps to remember that the rogue governments in Iran and North Korea know how drastic the consequences would be if they so much as spit in the direction of the United States or Israel. It also helps to understand the reasons for their military ambitions: They’re scared, they’re thinking defensively, and they’re behaving rationally. They see the United States as a threat (rightfully so) and want to be able to defend themselves.To suggest that N. Korea or Iran are responsible states is to be ignorant of the history or personalities that run those countries. Just take a lot at some of the more nutty things that Kim Jung Il has done as of late, one of the more sane ideas includes plans to stop N. Korea's famine by growing giant rabbits.
I suspect that many international relations majors are unable to acknowledge evil, given that the tendencies of that major are to be non-judgmental and culturally relative. As such, we can't expect them to understand that insanity can't be talked to, but must be endured or defeated.
While we're on the topic of wishlists, here's my own list of what Obama ought to do to improve our moral image in the world.
1) Keep the troops in Iraq.
2) Keep the Mexico City policy.
3) Eliminate all foreign aid payments.
4) Use proscription and place bounties on the heads of all the terrorists and rogue leader we want killed.
5) End the U.S. farm subsidies.
Be prepared for a rather free wheeling discussion of blacks and the G.O.P. You've been forewarned! Glorious for Republicans, perhaps, but symbolic and insignificant amidst the backdrop of an Obama presidency, said Jack Pitney, government professor at Claremont McKenna College. Friction between Republicans and blacks runs too deep to overcome, he said, starting with Barry Goldwater's vote in 1964 against the Civil Rights Act and codified four years later under President Nixon's Southern Strategy, in which appeals to racist sentiments ushered in a GOP electoral stronghold in the South and black loyalty to the Democratic Party. And with Obama about to become the nation's first black president, Republicans will be nothing more than an afterthought for blacks, Pitney said. There is "absolutely no chance Republicans can make the slightest dent among blacks," Pitney said. "Every few years, Republicans come up with some plan to crack the black vote and it's never worked. There's simply too much distrust of Republicans, the perception that Republicans have played the race card. It may be unfair but nevertheless it's a powerful perception."
While we're on the topic of race, let's consider something Professor Pitney was quoted as saying earlier today in Inside Bay Area.
After reading Bruce Bartlett's masterful book on race and the Democratic party, I must confess that I don't exactly agree with the charge that Republicans waged a "Southern strategy." More likely, the Democratic party was imploding under all of its own stresses and inconsistencies, one of which was Vietnam. You can listen to Bruce Bartlett talk about the G.O.P. and black Americans in this Cato event, if you're unwilling to read Wrong on Race. More books like these are needed to make a crack in the so-called black vote. More resources need to be expended to identify potential fissures, like those that already exist between black Americans and Americans of Caribbean or African descent.
Black businessmen want to make money, just like the rest of businessmen do. Black parents, just like white parents, want their children to attend the best schools, as CMC student Elise Viebeck made clear during her good reporting for The National Review. Republicans should say to President-elect Obama that while his kids go to the finest prep schools in the D.C. area, thousands of black children down the street are prevented from getting out of their failed public schools. While the teachers' unions say that Obama should be exempt from criticism on that front, he shouldn't be.
Thinking of blacks as economic populists with a social conservative streak does them an injustice. Black Americans are more diverse than you'd think. And as Frederick Douglass long ago argued, nothing should be "done to black Americans." Though I have to say, I rather like Alan Keyes's idea that everyone with slave heritage be exempt from paying income tax for a generation or two. (Does that apply to the Irish, I wonder...) Although I don't support reparations for slavery, I'm open to the idea of them for Jim Crow, provided you could actually identify people who were denied various things to which they were entitled.
I've long maintained that the way to win black Americans is to speak to them as Americans first, and blacks second. As such, the selection of Michael Steele as RNC Chair is a must. Steele, who is black, is a powerful voice for conservative values. Contrary to the attacks that are waged on him as an "Uncle Tom," Steele's life story is the kind of Horatio Alger story that Americans of all races live. When his father died of liver disease, Steele's mother refused to go on welfare. She worked a minimum wage job to support Michael Steele and his sister. Steele's done a terrific job at GOPAC and isn't afraid to say that Obama's using the race card to get his policy objectives secured.
I firmly believe that within the heart of every black American (just as every American) there runs the blood of a libertarian. Of all Americans, blacks know well what it is like to be experimented upon and to have the power of the state wielded against you. They are often the victims of a failed drug war and of a gang culture that robs too many of their children of the fun of adolescent. Progressive policies toward abortion mean that blacks are slightly more likely to be born than aborted.
Contrary to popular belief, I don't believe that blacks will mindlessly follow Obama anymore than they mindlessly followed Clinton, who up until recently, was the "first black President," according to Maya Angelou, at least.
If the G.O.P. were looking for ways of winning black Americans, it need look no further than Claremont McKenna alum, John N. Doggett, who founded the Black Student Union and later joined the Republican party and reject racism. I interviewed him here and here.
Glorious for Republicans, perhaps, but symbolic and insignificant amidst the backdrop of an Obama presidency, said Jack Pitney, government professor at Claremont McKenna College.
Friction between Republicans and blacks runs too deep to overcome, he said, starting with Barry Goldwater's vote in 1964 against the Civil Rights Act and codified four years later under President Nixon's Southern Strategy, in which appeals to racist sentiments ushered in a GOP electoral stronghold in the South and black loyalty to the Democratic Party.
And with Obama about to become the nation's first black president, Republicans will be nothing more than an afterthought for blacks, Pitney said.
There is "absolutely no chance Republicans can make the slightest dent among blacks," Pitney said. "Every few years, Republicans come up with some plan to crack the black vote and it's never worked. There's simply too much distrust of Republicans, the perception that Republicans have played the race card. It may be unfair but nevertheless it's a powerful perception."
Sam already blogged about the disruptive activities of anti-Prop 8 types in our lunch halls.
I missed the demonstration in Collins, but found myself right in the middle of one this past Wednesday down at Frary. (I wonder what Prometheus thought of the shouting and yelling.)
Part of the reason that it is hard to take the anti-Proposition 8 mobs seriously is their ahistoricism and self-congratulating narcissism in which they, the "courageous individuals" refuse to let injustices go ignored. They compare themselves to "the current struggle for human civil rights, a struggle which has spanned throughout history" and compare the treatment of women before the 19th amendment to that of gays. They say it is "unacceptable" to "deny a group of people human rights." (Better get used to it as it its becoming all the more common!)
The authors of the flier draw explicit parallels to Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, the Japanese interment of 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent and Japanese nationals during World War II, the Indian Removal Act of 1830, and Loving v. Virgina which said that interracial marriage in the United States remained unconstitutional until the Supreme Court decision. (In fact, at the time of Loving v. Virginia, only sixteen states had laws banning miscegenation and only a few enforced them.)
The flier also ignores certain historical truths -- that men, not women, gave women the right to vote (and that that vote was first given to them in the states with the highest gender imbalance, which suggests something other than a natural right to vote, but that's another topic.)
This parallel seem strikingly familiar to one I noticed last year in which the treatment of terrorists was compared to that of Americans of Japanese descent in World War II. (Conveniently left out of both fliers, of course, is that Earl Warren, the person who helped strike down anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia was the very governor who interned those Japanese people! He doubles as the left's hero of Brown v. Board, which relied upon silly social science for an otherwise good decision.)
(In my opinion, Warren typifies the kind of progressives that love to be down with black Americans, but find the civil rights of Asians a bit too hard to swallow. In a 1943 speech, he warned that "if the Japs are released, no one will be able to tell a saboteur from any other Jap." He urged, "we don't propose to have the Japs back in California during this war if there is any lawful means of preventing it." Of course, the members of the all-Japanese American regiment of 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion beg to differ, given that they sustained some of the highest casualties of any regiment of the war.)
The point, of course, is that history is much more complex than the Hegelian terms in which it is described. Every argument for natural rights must stand on its own and not cloak itself in the language of other "struggles."
This observation of analogizing yourself to certain struggles is part of a general, and highly unspecific one that I've made in recent months. The Left, you see, learns by analogy, lacking as it does any coherent, consistent way of viewing the world.Leftists compare things to one another and then let their passions do the rest.
The Right, by contrast, thinks of things in terms of universal constants, like natural rights, which is in part, why they are more consistent in terms of their politics. That's why the Rights treatment of groups tends to be more uniform -- why they dislike affirmative action and racism -- while the left condemns the later but excuses the first. The laws against miscegenation banned the marriage of people whose makeup differed by even one drop, while the laws for affirmative action give preference to people who have but one drop of a certain race's blood. Progressives condemn the first, but love the second. After all, it's diversity!
Allow me to be clear. I support the right of anyone to protest, to petition, and to speech out.
It is, after all, their First Amendment right and as a patriot, I am duty bound to the Constitution to defend it. Nevertheless, I think that the advocates for gay marriage do themselves a tremendous disservice when they resort to the kind of mass politics of the militant Left. As you lay claim to the civil rights struggle of black Americans, dress your language more like Martin Luther King, Jr. than Malcolm X. You might find yourself allies, like me, who want all the benefits of marriage without the recognition of the state.