"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

"An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support." - John Buchan


One of the few failings of the book is that although a moral panic over a moral panic is raised, the fact that only some sectors of American society (some Universities, schools, newspapers and companies) were afflicted by the madness. Nonetheless, some of these anecdotes are horrifying:

"Slowly these discussions have become mandatory in the way that attending religious services was once mandatory at American universities. They became an official part of university life organized by a growing multiculturalist bureaucracy, a heavy rank of assistant deans and assistant provosts, of diversity programmers and social equity directors and affirmative action officers, of educational consultants who give full-day seminars on “understanding differences,” of people with master’s degrees in psychology and social work whose vocabulary is chock-full of expressions like “internalized oppression” and “psycho-logical captivity,” of specialists in multicultural education, people who use words like “problematize” and use “impact” as a verb (as in “white culture and white identity negatively impact the lives of people”). Not all institutions are the same. Brigham Young University, the Mormon institution in Utah, is unlike the University of California at Santa Cruz. But there is certainly plenty of evidence that at many places discussions about diversity are not frank exchanges about race, class, gender, discrimination, affirmative action, and other difficult questions, during which the component parts of the American mosaic can learn to understand one another. They have become the moments when the holders of the dominant view on campus minister to captive congregations made up of the entire student body, and they use that opportunity to instill in the young minds their vision of society as a nightmare of isms...

At Harvard a few years ago there as a weeklong program of panels and workshops seductively called AWARE (Actively Working Against Racism and Ethnocentrism), whose purposes, the program notes said, were to “address people’s denial about racism” and “to engage people in trying to understand racism.” Participants heard very precise statistics: that 85 percent of Americans harbor “subtle racism” while 15 percent are “overt racists.” One professor, Karel Liem, an ichthyologist, was quoted as saying: "The pain that racial insensitivity can create is more important than professor’s academic freedom." Another speaker said: “Overreacting and being paranoid is the only way we can deal with this system.” One Harvard professor offered the dissenting view that haranguing white people about their racism is not the way to improve race relations, but the tone of the meeting seemed better represented by the comment of another speaker; referring to racial insensitivity, he said: “Never think you imagined it, because chances are that you didn't.”...

Students are encouraged to believe that if they do not feel racism and oppression personally, it is because they have engaged in internalized repression. For those who ask how it could be that the institution that admitted them, gave them financial aid, and officially encourages diversity education could be racist, there is an answer. It is provided in many places, one of them a little booklet entitled Racism at Penn—Waddaya Mean? Racism, the booklet argues, involves who gets to see themselves reflected in the curriculum, in the fact that Afro-American studies is only a program and not a full department, in the low numbers of tenured minor professors, in the racial “homogeneity in the composition of Penn’s leadership,” in the “alienating general atmosphere” for “students of at our school.”...

"If you are perceived [emphasis added] to be racist, sexist, heterosexist, ethnocentric, biased against those with religions different from our own, or intolerant of disabilities, you must be willing to examine and change that behavior,” the administration’s notice says.

"The Daily Pennsylvanian itself provides a steady diet of stories that show the mood of antagonism and the paramountcy given to identity politics. One day, there will be a long list of faculty and students, representing black organizations, signing a letter protesting the newspaper’s “racism” and “insensitivity” in publishing a photgraph of a black homeless man hanging out and drinking from liquor bottle near the Penn campus. “Objectivity does not exist in journalism,” the letter will say, echoing common multiculturali themes, especially the notion, borrowed from poststructuralist literary criticism, that there is no reality, only representations, text signifiers. “The juxtaposition of images and words creates a particular and distinct system of meaning.”

"A recent graduate of Penn, Katie Brant, once told me that, in her opinion at least, the Penn Women’s Center was not about choice at all, and certainly not about a respect for diversity. “If you’re not pro-lesbian and pro-choice, resentful of men and career oriented, you’re not really a woman by their lights,” she said. A pro-choice advocate herself, Brant told me that she once went to the Women’s Center to get information about antiabortion groups on campus. She says that the receptionist curtly told her, “This office is pro-choice.” Elena DiLapi used exactly the same expression when I visited her, and I asked her why it was necessary—indeed, if it was appropriate-for a branch of the university administration that supposedly served all tuition-paying students to take an official position on one of the most vexing and divisive issues in American politics.

“My position is that the pro-choice position is the middle ground,” DiLapi said. “The middle ground allows for everybody to have their own personal opinion.”

What, I asked, is on the other side, then?

“If you have pro-life saying there should be no abortion,” she replied, “the opposite of that is that everybody should have an abortion. The middle ground is that everybody should decide for themselves. You cannot point to a program where I have said everybody should get an abortion. We don’t support that.”

This is like arguing that favoring the death penalty would put you in the middle position in the debate about capital punishment. If you are against the death penalty then you think that nobody should be executed. The opposite of that is that everybody should be executed."

"Penn is the kind of place where, in 1989, an undergraduate on the university’s planning committee for diversity education wrote a memo to her colleagues in which she mentioned “my deep regard for the individual and my desire to protect the freedom of all members of society.” An administrator underlined the word “individual” in the memo and wrote back: “This is a RED FLAG phrase today, which is considered by many to be RACIST. Arguments that champion the individual over the group ultimately privileges [sic] the 'individuals' belonging to the largest or dominant group.”"

... I was handed a flyer calling on the members of a [hall to wear jeans to show their support for gay civil rights].

Given that about 80 percent of college students these days wear every day of the year, I wasn’t sure how the supporters of gay civil rights would be distinguished from others who were simply wearing their usual jeans. Were those who did not wear jeans showing themselves to be the enemies of gay civil rights, or were their jeans simply at the laundry? Would they be excoriated? Would they feel pressured to wear jeans on that day so as to avoid embarrassment or conflict? Never mind...

It is worth pointing out that one year during Gay Jeans Day a few protesters stood near the gay and lesbian activists and held out a placard declaring HETEROSEXUAL FOOTWEAR DAY—WEAR SHOES IF YOU ARE A HETEROSEXUAL and DON’T BEND FOR A FRIEND. This was officially branded an “incident of harassment” by the Penn administration and was put on the list of such incidents to be read at freshman orientation. In short, it is fine to pressure students into showing their support for gay rights but it is harassment to parody the effort...

In 1992, several campus organizations, including the Student Health Office, sponsored something called "Eroticizing Safer Sex Worhshops" as part of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week at Penn (there are so many weeks devoted to awareness at Penn, it’s a wonder anybody has time to learn anything of an academic nature)."

"“Students today,” said Glenn Loury, an economist at Boston University, “can take over the university by much more subtle means than picking up weapons. Rather than controlling people’s bodies with guns, they control their minds with... politically correct epithets. It’s much more satisfying to be able to claim that anything your opponent is saying is racist and actually hound them off campus, than it is to take guns and threaten to kill people. It’s a much greater exercise of Power.”"

"Resident-life training at Cornell, like so much of multiculturalism in practice, proclaims the richness of difference when difference is a matter of race, sex, and sexual preference, but suppresses difference of opinion...

Once during the “Issues of Oppression” workshop, a fellow trainee (she happened to be black) asserted, as Tim remembered it, that white men have life handed to them on a “silver platter.” They just "slide down the glistening sidewalk of life," she said. Tim responded to this. He did not mean to downplay the disadvantages of people of color, he said, but he came from a rural part of Pennsylviania where many white people lived lives of dire poverty, so it did not seem to him that all whites automatically have lives of great privilege and ease.

"I was screamed at so severely by the other RAs and RHDs [resident hall directors] for espousing such 'racist' views that I almost quit on the spot," Tim said. Later that same day, he attended a small-group session with other trainees where he was required to explain why he had made his offensive comment... [One trainee said of New York City's St. Patrick's Day Parade organisers], "They're just a bunch of drunken Irish anyway." Tim is of Irish descent. Another student said that white males had no culture.

"The double standard is so blatant," Tim said. "If an 'oppressed person' says something offensive to somebody in a privileged group it's just a reflection of his plight. But if I say something that is construed to be offensive, I have to explain myself. And naturally if I'd said something like 'Blacks are just a bunch of stupid watermelon eaters' (not that I would want to say anything like that), I would definitely have been fired." [An anecdote follows about how RA trainees were not allowed to go to religious service but were forced to watch XXX gay and lesbian porn and were monitored for facial expressions indicating 'homophobia']"

"And even if students find the world described to them strange and irrelevant, even if they repudiate the view of the world presented to them as the sole correct view from their very first day, the terms of the debate have been set, the language has been imposed, and, as the bearers of the new consciousness never tire of saying—and in this they are correct—to control the language is to hold power."

"The collective moral of the stories that follow [is] not to demonstrate that political correct is is a worse problem than discrimination or prejudice, but to show the movement of liberal minds that led the fight against those evils is in danger of being captured by the very forces of intolerance of difference and narrow-mindedness that were once the preserve of the racist and sexist right."

"[At] the universities, where the derogatory term “dead white European males” emerged as a way of denigrating the geniuses of Western literature and philosophy. The works of the DWEMs were going to be balanced by what Stanford University called “works by women, minorities, and people of color.”

The “dead white males” concept reached a conceptual apogee at Georgetown University, where the faculty decided to give a new literature course, English 112, the name White Male Writers. The justification, according to Valerie Babb, the assistant professor of English who originated the course, and providing a good illustration of wishful thinking that passes for scholarly analysis. these days, was: "This is just one small group within a large body of literature, so let’s title it that. Just as we say Native American writers, just as we say black women writers, these are white male writers.”

Certainly the “canon” of great works needed to be redefined, even if it is difficult to see the white-male contribution to literature as the products of “just one small group.” How many eighteen-year those days are really going to be turned on to the pleasures of thought by reading Saint Thomas Aquinas? Still, there were many things that were objectionable in the formulation “dead white European male,” not least of all the erroneous impression that the seminal figures of Western thought were, somehow, conservatives. In fact they were the very figures of courage and rebellion against the received ideas who laid the groundwork for the demand for the inclusion of the Other that is so central to multicultural thinking.

A second fault was that the DWEMs were pictured in the same way as those famous stone megaliths of Easter Island staring out to sea—as Jacob Bronowski pointed out, what is impressive about them is not that they are big or that they must have been very difficult transport to their particular positions, but that they are all the same. The third was the idea related to the attack on the DWEMs, which is that the curriculum needs an affirmative action component, too, with choices of “great” books made not regardless of the race or sex of the author but because of them.

These last two elements need each other. The idea that the creators of the canon were all pretty much the same, or that they shared the essential characteristic of their white maleness, was necessary for the idea that followed, namely that reading lists had to be ethnically, racially, and sexually representative, rather than based merely on pure brilliance. It’s a good thing that basketball teams are not governed by the same criteria.

The point is that “white male” becomes synonymous with the hunger for power, with imperialism, with ruthless capitalist exploitation, while all others belong to the camp of the meek and the beautiful. The white male is the symbol of inclusion, while all others are, by definition, seeking to be included against white-male resistance... Some white males have had it easy; they were practically born into their privileged positions. Others, many others, are just emerging from centuries of penury and discrimination themselves."

"At Columbia University in 1992, the comfortingly named Committee on Race, Religion, and Ethnicity, a group whose goal is to promote understanding and tolerance among the races, sponsored a workshop entitled “White Culture and White Identity.” The suggestion that there is some definable white culture and white identity is probably defensible, even if the separate identities of white are so diverse as to make very dubious any attempt to associate personal qualities with whiteness. That did not stop the group at Columbia from agreeing with Baker by attributing a number of ignoble habits of mind to white people, who are prone

• to have negative stereotypes about others
• to take a Paternalistic/patronizing attitude toward the targets of racism
• to secure what we can do for ourselves without concern for others who may have less than we do
• to blame the victims of racism/people of color for the realities of their lives

In other words, white people are selfish, uncaring, egotistical, paternalistic/patronizing, and inconsiderate. Well, no doubt some are."

"At the University of Wisconsin in 1992 a faculty investigation on salary discrepancies, commissioned by Donna Shalala, later to be secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration, found that men were paid roughly 1.6 percent more than women doing the same jobs and showing the same merit. An unintended consequence of the study, however, was to show salary differentials by race and by age as well. It turned out that the gap between whites and blacks was higher than that between men and women, with blacks earning 2.9 percent more than whites. And while men were ahead of women in absolute amounts, the amount of the merit increases going to women in recent years was 3 percent higher than the amount for men...

[Women are less represented in full professorships than men because in 1970 13% of PhDs went to women and it takes 20 years to become a full professor]... astonishingly rapid. Women faculty in the humanities went from a total of 10,800 in 1977 to 20,800 in 1989. While 10,000 more women joined the university teaching ranks in that twelve-year period, then umber of men went up by 7,800, suggesting that if there is discrimination at all, it is probably against males."

"What [PJ Corso] calls “one of the worst sexist violations in print” is "a Look photo essay explaining how the ocean liner Titanic was ‘steaming through the North Atlantic when an iceberg slashed a 300-foot gash in her starboard side.’" This is “one of the worst,” Corso explains, because by “assigning a gender” to the ship, “the journalist about the Titanic has recreated an act of violence against a female, not a luxury liner.”


Et Tu, Beethoven?
Beethoven’s symphonies add two other dimensions to the history of style: assaultive pelvic pounding... and sexual violence. The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth is one of the most horrifying moments in music, as the carefully prepared cadence is frustrated, damming up energy which finally explodes in the throttling, murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release.

— Susan McClary, Getting Down Off the Beanstalk: The Presence of a Woman’s Voice in Janika Vandervelde’s Genesis II"

--- Dictatorship of virtue : how the battle over multiculturalism is reshaping our schools, our country, and our lives / Richard Bernstein (1995)
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