Saturday, December 31, 2016

Professor Fired for “Anti-Semitism”

By Professor Doom

     The culture of fear in higher education is quite remarkable. Publicly, we’re told we have freedom of speech and academic freedom, but the reality is quite clear that faculty are only free to talk about certain things, publicly or academically.

     And so we come to the latest firing for a professor saying the wrong thing:

Oberlin College has dismissed Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, following an investigation into anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements she made on social media

     Weird, we’re so terrified right now of so many harsh words…but so unconcerned about rioters in the streets. It strikes me as irrational, but for the sake of argument, what horrible anti-Semitic things did she say?

“…her assertion that ISIS is really an arm of Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies and that Israel was behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris…”

     Huh. ISIS did get its weapons via the CIA, but I’m not here to defend her words.

      I’m not saying I agree with her, but to use this as a reason for firing is…extreme. Yes, I know, the mainstream media insists that their narratives regarding the above are true, but, allow me to go back to that presidential election for a few moments.

     Does anyone else remember how that election went? We were told, over and over and over again, that Trump was wayyyyyy behind in the polls. After every debate, we were told, by mainstream media, that Trump lost the debate, and Hillary’s numbers were even better…all three debates went this way.

     There were many calls for Trump to just quit, because he was behind, you see. Heck, John Oliver spent a great deal of time on his show begging Trump to quit his “hopeless” quest to become president, even offering Trump a spot on his show if he would quit. Because Trump had no chance, you see. Have we ever seen a presidential candidate being begged to quit before, because his campaign was so hopeless? How can we be sure the people begging Trump to quit in such an unprecedented way didn’t know the truth of how the election would turn out?

      “Trump has no chance of winning” was the media narrative, for months. And it was all lies. Nonstop lies, for months, on quite a few other Trump-related issues, I might mention.

     A few weeks ago Obama assured us it was fact that Trump was an idiot for saying the election process could be rigged. Now, every day, the media tells us it is fact that Russia hacked the election.

     But back to the point: if the mainstream media will literally pour a river of urine in our ears and insist it’s raining, it’s very fair to question everything it says about everything else going on in the world.

     Some more of her "bad" words:

“Let some tell it, an attack on Zionism is an attack on Jews,” Karega wrote on Facebook last January, for example, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. “It’s anti-Semitic, so they say. Total nonsense. And I stopped letting folks bully me with that ‘You’re being anti-Semitic’ nonsense a long time ago.”

     Much as many Americans are tired of being called RACIST for a far too wide range of words and actions, the “anti-Semitic” slur is also overused. It’s fair to consider the possibility that Zionism is not the same thing as Judaism…the words are different, after all.

Me: “I see you’re using the mathematical average here, instead of a consensus or majority assessment of value. Consensus is not the same thing as mathematical average.”

Admin: “Yes, those are the same thing.”

Me: “The policy itself specifies that they are not the same, in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of page 1, and using the mean warps the entire purpose of these assessments. This is probably why almost every assessment here was ruled invalid. It wouldn’t take much to go back and do this the proper way. Can we please discuss this?”

Admin: “I’m not going to argue with you, and this conversation is over.”

--I did not lightly come to the conclusion that a Ph.D. in Administration is rubbish. I was actually punished for “non-collegially” questioning how admin was “interpreting policy.”

     I know how difficult it is to teach administrators how different words have different meanings…I don’t think we should trust academic freedom to administrators who are reluctant to use a dictionary when needed. Too bad my opinions aren’t particularly relevant in how our institutions of higher education are run.

       One line in the article is hysterical:

“Karega’s case has raised questions about whether academic freedom covers statements that have no basis in fact…”

      I’ve read this line three times, and I’ve laughed every time. It seems just a few weeks ago that polls asserting Trump would win were factually wrong. I had many people telling me my assertions about this had no basis in fact

     In theory, the line makes sense, but our world is so warped right now that I feel the need to paraphrase Stalin: In today's world, those who know facts determine nothing, those who determine facts know everything.

     Unfortunately in today's world, facts are determined by the people in power, and are echoed by the media.

     Maybe her statements have no basis in fact…but shutting her up is not the way to determine what a “fact” is, any more than referring to the average American as a deplorable is going to win an election.

     The professor even received criticism for posting Facebook memes that weren’t entirely accurate. I’m serious…if you can be fired for posting a “wrong” Facebook meme, what’s next? 

     I repeat, I won’t go so far as to say I agree with anything she says, but I support her right to say things, to hold unpopular views. 

     Have we really forgotten how, just a few centuries ago, if you stood up and said “Black people are just as human as white people, and they should not be slaves,” you could easily get your house burned to the ground and cast out of “decent” society? Back then, you could be told the expression “blacks should have the same rights as whites” would have no basis in fact. Honest, there were whole “scientific” fields justifying why it made sense for one class of human beings to be slaves (it’s why phrenology was so popular, after all, because it “proved the facts everyone knew to be true”).

     The horribly unpopular views of a few centuries ago are now considered common sense today…and they are considered common sense today because, ultimately, people were allowed to say unpopular things, were allowed to present their ideas, no matter how “poisonous” those ideas were considered at the time.

     I humbly submit that we have not yet reached the end of history…we still need to allow people to say unpopular things, no matter how much we don’t like to hear them.

      Because the evidence is very strong that, sometimes, very unpopular is still very true.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

University is Not Day Care

By Professor Doom

     So often I’ve quoted Poo Bahs in Higher Ed bragging about how they’re going to make education worse, to make it harder for students to actually gain something from university, that I can understand why a reader might think that’s the only thing Poo Bahs do. Granted, it’s what most Poo Bahs do, but I highlight when one of our “leaders” of higher ed actually shows some leadership (happens about once a year, mind you, but it does happen).

      Oklahoma Wesleyan is a relatively small religious school, with some 1200 students and a motto of “A university where Jesus is Lord.” With that kind of motto, you’d think a student would rather accept there’s going to be a bit of preaching on campus. Naturally, a student complained about a sermon:

:…a student complained about a sermon that made him feel guilty and blamed the school for making students feel uncomfortable…” 

      Yeah, no kidding, the preacher’s words make him feel uncomfortable. You know, “no pain, no gain” is a catchphrase in body building—if you’re not working hard enough for your muscles to be sore, to be uncomfortable, then you’re not working hard enough to make a difference.

     “No pain, no gain” needs to be a catchphrase for all forms of self-improvement. I’ve spent many hours in intense frustration gaining the mathematical skills necessary for my job, I’ve spent many hours in dull practice learning the piano…and, back to the point, if the preacher’s sermon is making nobody uncomfortable, then it’s probably a worthless sermon.

     So, the student lodges a complaint with admin. The Poo Bah, correction, the President (he actually deserves the title), writes back to the students in general, explaining an important concept that’s been lost on many campuses, which have devoted themselves to the “student as customer” idiocy.

      So many choice words were in this letter, but let’s focus on a few:

Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

--anyone else notice Trump has been a public figure for over 30 years, but nobody seriously called him these things until recently? Ok, that might merely be because he ran against a Democrat, but it's not the only possibility.

     While the President here targets the kids, it’s not just the kids, it’s the ideology. It’s so funny, when I tried to explain during the election that some polls were predicting a Trump win, the responses I received, “the poll comes from a racist,” “the poll comes from a biased source,” among others, didn’t allow for any discussion of a possible variation on the Establishment reality…and the same thing happens when I cite how our economic numbers are nearly (I’m being generous) pure fiction. Rather than address the issue being raised, our children for the last few decades (and hence many of our citizens today) have been trained to respond to issues with name-calling.

     The Trump election might be a sign those dark days are ending, and maybe we’ll see more letters from the people who claim to be our leaders, actually denouncing the “insult as counter-argument” paradigm that has dominated discussion for the last generation.

     The President goes further in explaining the purpose of higher education, or at least explaining what it is not:

If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.

     All across the country, our institutions of higher education are endlessly explaining to students how they are victims…instead of training them how not to be victims. Is it any wonder that we have graduates in the streets holding signs about how life is unfair?

      Unlike most Poo Bahs, who are in a race to debase higher education in search of endless growth, the President here gets it: the university has a mission to help human beings improve. It is not a mission to get more growth at all costs:

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.

     It’s a safe bet every Poo Bah who reads this (assuming any read at all) will simply discard the message here, thinking something along the lines of “The fool! He’s actually turning away sweet student loan checks!”

Student: “Why does everyone keep telling me I need to grow up?”

--I overheard a student complaining about this. It was all I could do to restrain myself from laughing until I got back to my office.

     The President then concludes with an important message, a message that, despite its importance, is seldom given on campus today, despite the legions of “Vice President of Student Assistance” positions on campus:

Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.

     While the President is accurate, and right, one critical question keeps coming to my mind:

     Why isn’t this message being given on all our campuses?

Monday, December 26, 2016

When Marx Attacks

By Professor Doom

     The Trump election, a repudiation of a few of the lies which have been the foundation of our recent culture, is certainly something…but it’s not a complete solution.

     Our campuses in particular seem bent on enforcing the lies; there are many reports that these places are hotbeds of resistance to the “Trump repudiation,” and go so far as to provide coloring books and Play-Doh to the college students “suffering” from being exposed to the idea that reality may not be as the safe space of campus presents it.

     The big reason for this is the strong left-wing bias of administration. Administrators punish conservative faculty, restrict and harass conservative student groups, and keep conservative speakers from presenting ideas on campus. This prevents students from ever learning of any other way to think but one, the one that is strongly encouraged on campus.

      Socialism is endlessly presented as the solution to all problems, and Northeastern University’s promotion of Boston’s International Socialist Organization really exemplifies the mindless support given here, as the latter has been allowed to “provide” multiple events and workshops on campus…even as conservative options are not allowed.

     I don’t understand how socialism can be taken seriously; to do so requires completely ignoring the historical evidence, written in oceans of blood during the 20th century, particularly a great war where the Nazis (National Socialists) lost to the USSR (International Socialists, much like Boston’s Organization)…with the USSR collapsing despite winning the biggest war in history, because a socialist system simply doesn’t work. It’s funny, when the USSR collapsed, we learned that parts of Moscow’s phone system had been basically unchanged since the Bolshevik revolution many decades earlier. While the rest of the non-socialist world went through generations of phone technology, the USSR’s phones, like most everything else, was incapable of advancing under socialism.

      Not being exposed to other ideas and ignoring historical evidence are only part of what’s necessary to believe in socialism…you also need to not think about what socialists are saying today, because they haven't changed.

     Let’s take some examples of what this society teaches our kids on campus, to exclusion of other points of view:

“Inequality is a law of capitalism.”

     Turns out, inequality is a law of reality. All one needs to do is go to the grocery store, and pick up a bag of grapes and see it with your own eyes: not all the grapes are equal in size and consistency. The closest we can come to equality in the real world is an anthill, and again, we see how socialist inequality works: most ants count for nothing, but the one at the top, the queen ant, gets everything. There hasn’t been a socialist system yet that didn’t give everything to the guy on top…but that doesn’t make inequality a law peculiar to socialism, either.

     Yes, I grant this system seems to work quite well for ants but I just don’t think it’s a good system for human beings. Time and again we’ve seen individual human beings do amazing things, and these humans aren’t at the top of the heap. On the other hand, outside of the queen, most every ant really is just like every other ant. When I see a lone ant invent a written language or the like, I’ll reconsider my opinion here.

     Another tidbit of socialist “wisdom”:

“In the United States, there are 400 billionaires. They are the reason why there are 47 million poor people,” an event description asserts, contending that “you cannot have obscene, untold wealth unless you have obscene, unimaginable poverty.”

      Look, the socialists should be allowed to speak, but not letting other sides present their point of view allows for obvious foolishness, like the above.

     Let’s take the socialist’s numbers at face value. If we simply kill the 400 billionaires and distribute their wealth to the 47 million poor people in the US, what would that change? The poor people will get less than $9,000 apiece. They still won’t be able to get a car with that money, much less pay for insurance and maintenance for the car. They won’t be able to buy health insurance for their family for more than a year. They won’t be able to pay a year’s tuition at most any US university. It’s not even a year’s rent in most cities. 

     In short, the end result of killing off the rich will be that the poor will remain poor. Basic math shows that the existence of the rich is not, by itself, the reason there are poor. Of course, basic math isn’t necessarily part of the college curriculum any more (and what we call “advanced” math today has been dumbed  down to the optional basic math you can find on many campuses).

Indeed, the event description praises Sanders’ candidacy as a confirmation of “what people struggling for a living wage and against racism and police brutality have been saying for years: Capitalist [sic] isn’t working for anyone but bankers and billionaires, and to end our suffering we need an alternative.”

     Hey, Sanders was at least attempting to fix the very serious problems in our current economic system, and Sanders should be allowed to present his ideas…even if I disagree, he should be allowed to speak.

     On the other hand, the “other side” of economic thought should be allowed to be heard as well. It’s not capitalism per se that’s causing the suffering…if anything, capitalism is what’s keeping it from being much worse. The “other side” says our fiat monetary system is causing suffering because any attempt to save inevitably just transfers wealth to the “bankers and billionaires.” The “other side” says our current zero interest rate policies are causing suffering because people can no longer survive on the interest from their savings...even as the “bankers and billionaires” get rich because they still collect interest on loans to the little people. There’s the difference: while socialism attacks all the rich for being rich in a spasm of primal envy, the “other side” addresses why some of the rich are getting rich, and seeks solutions to the heart of the problem causing the suffering. There’s room for open discussion here (none of these nonsocialist ideas, incidentally, were even remotely mentioned to me in high school, where I was trained to believe the fiat system was a great system).

      There is supposed to be an exchange of ideas here, but the only “alternative” presented is the socialist, failed, “alternative.”

While the university informed Campus Reform that it is unaware as to whether any student organizations are involved in the event, the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter is now listed as a co-sponsor, along with the International Socialist Organization.

Campus Reform has yet to hear back from the school as to whether the student groups’ involvement means that any university funds will help pay for the day-long event.

     I won’t bother addressing the university’s probable lie about not knowing about a student group co-sponsoring, but it’s obvious university funds are paying for this, dare I say it, indoctrination.

     I know, indoctrination is a strong word, but as long as it’s forbidden to speak of any alternative to our current problems besides socialism, what other word applies to forcing only one method of thought down our students’ throats?