American Elephants

Free Speech Has Been Expelled From Our Universities. Students Must Be Shielded from Uncomfortable Ideas. by The Elephant's Child


The cries of pain from our coddled college students grows ever more shrill. It would be helpful if the media stopped paying attention. It is not newsworthy. It is largely about a misunderstood First Amendment to the Constitution with which they are seriously, deeply, unfamiliar. Clearly, they have not the slightest understanding of freedom of speech, human nature, nor real life. No wonder they don’t seem to know anything.

The problem is that they are easily offended, and not just that, but they somehow have the idea that they have a right not to be offended. And even beyond that, there is an expectation that they shouldn’t encounter opinions that conflict with their own. And these are supposed to be institutions of higher learning? Jack Kelly wrote at Real Clear Politics:

The Center for Campus Involvement at the University of Michigan recently cancelled a screening of “American Sniper” the Clint Eastwood film about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. It was cancelled after sophomore Lamees Mekkaoui gathered “roughly 200″ signatures (out of a student body of 42,700) on a petition alleging that the film “promotes anti-Muslim rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer.”

The Center for Campus Involvement said in a statement “We deeply regret causing harm to members of our community, and appreciate the thoughtful feedback provided to us by students.”

In a recent essay for the Weekly Standard, historian Gordon S, Wood wrote about his own history professor and mentor Bernard Bailyn and the state of history in our colleges and universities. Bailyn got off on the wrong foot from the outset with his “Peopling of British North America Project.” Didn’t he know, his critics carped, that there were people, indigenous people already here before the English came?”

College students and many historians have become obsessed with inequality and white privilege in American society. And this obsession has seriously affected the writing of American history. The inequalities of race and gender now permeate much of academic history-writing, so much so that the general reading public that wants to learn about the whole of our nation’s past has had to turn to history books written by nonacademics who have no Ph.D.s and are not involved in the incestuous conversations of the academic scholars.

But a new generation of historians is no longer interested in how the United States came to be. That kind of narrative history of the nation, they say, is not only inherently triumphalist but has a teleological bias built into it. Those who write narrative histories necessarily have to choose and assign significance to events in terms of a known outcome, and that, the moral critics believe, is bound to glorify the nation. So instead of writing full-scale narrative histories, the new generation of historians has devoted itself to isolating and recovering stories of the dispossessed: the women kept in dependence; the American Indians shorn of their lands; the black slaves brought in chains from Africa. Consequently, much of their history is fragmentary and essentially anachronistic—condemning the past for not being more like the present. It has no real interest in the pastness of the past.

Back at the University of Michigan, the screening was back on a day later. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he would show “American Sniper” to the football team.”Proud of Kris Kyle and proud to be an American,” Mr. Harbaugh tweeted. “if that offends anybody, then so be it.”

Denying free speech is “a horrible betrayal of everything universities are supposed to be about” wrote Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College. But the worst thing about “PC stupidity and mandatory cocooning on campus is…the catastrophic dumbing down of a younger generation that is becoming too fragile to exist in the current world.”

If you expect to get through life without being offended, you’re going to have a hard time of it. Colleges are offering “safe spaces” to students who are traumatized by “microaggressions.” Smith College President Kathleen McCartney apologized for causing students to be “hurt” and “made to feel unsafe” because she didn’t object when a fellow panel member uttered the “N word” during a discussion about teaching “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Free speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, wrote “It’s amazing to me [students] can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech.”

Back at Michigan, the CCI scheduled an alternative film for those who objected to “American Sniper,” a children’s movie about a stuffed bear. When “American Sniper” was screened, the 150-seat room was filled to near capacity. Most applauded as the credits rolled. Only seven students chose to watch “Paddington Bear.”

It is interesting, if appalling, to pay a little attention to the whining students to see just what subjects or what speakers draw the outrage and offense of students, and just who those students seem to be.The Media will not touch that question.They remain unidentified.

ADDENDUM: Christina Hoff Summers of the American Enterprise Institute, also blogs as the “Factual Feminist.” An outstanding scholar, she took on a misleading ad campaign by Verizon which portrays girls as victims of sexism in math and science. Actually, girls are thriving in math and science, and it has nothing to do with sexism. But the precious little girls at Georgetown were “invited to a “Safe Space” if they feel triggered or upset by today’s events. Hate speech will not be appreciated in this space.” Can’t have their ideas questioned. They are victims, and proud of it.

Sensitivity Training 101: Andrew Klavan on the Culture by The Elephant's Child
September 11, 2012, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Islam, Middle East, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

The Heavy Hand of the State Censors A Blogger by The Elephant's Child

Steven Cooksey 51, of Stanley N.C. had diabetes. He was hospitalized in 2009 after his blood sugar spiked. At the time, Cooksey, who works for a medical equipment company weighed more than 240 pounds.  He was, he admitted, in bad physical shape, ate poorly and didn’t exercise.  In the hospital, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and was told by a doctor that he would probably be insulin-dependent for the rest of his life.

So he began reading and studying about diabetes and how it is affected by diet and exercise. He discovered that there were many different opinions. He decided on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet similar to what stone age men ate with ordinary unprocessed foods like meat, eggs, vegetables and butter. He ate nuts and fruits sparingly. Within a month of reducing his carbohydrate intake, his blood sugar normalized. Cooksey is now down to 163 pounds.

He was passionate about his life-altering change. Cooksey started a website to chronicle his personal transformation. Later that year, he added a “Diabetes Support” life-coaching service, where he charged a modest fee for the same knowledge, opinions and advice he had been giving to his friends for free. He never described himself as a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist, but only offered his own success.

In December, he started answering reader questions in a Dear Abby-style column. A month later he received a notice from the state asking him to stop “providing advice to readers, friends and family in private emails and conversations, and offering a paid life-coaching service.”

The state’s interest seemed to come from a nutritional seminar for diabetics. A director of  diabetic services at a local hospital was the guest and she said diabetics should eat a diet rich in whole-grain carbohydrates and low in fat. During the question and answer session, Cooksey disagreed. Someone filed a complaint saying he was acting as an unlicensed dietician.

The state ordered him to take down the part of his website where he offered his life-coaching services. Um, there’s that little thing about free speech.

Man of Mystery or Actor Playing a Role? by The Elephant's Child

It is only two weeks until the election, and Barack Obama remains a man of mystery.  He has played a role, revealing little of himself.  It’s like his autobiography, some people are made up, and conversations are made up, and some people are composites, but other than being partly fiction, how much is real?  His supporters seem more enchanted than informed.

So what do we know about his positions? First, he claims to be for free trade. It is just that he votes against it every time it comes up for a vote.   He voted against the Free Trade Agreement with Columbia, one of our closest allies in South America.  He voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement and he has stated that he wants to re-negotiate NAFTA, which has been hugely successful for us and for Canada and Mexico.  Canada is already negotiating a new free trade agreement with France because they are worried about the U.S.  The Smoot-Hawley tariffs were a major cause of the Great Depression.  The current credit crisis would seem to be an exceptionally poor time to be opposing free trade which has been nothing but a benefit to our country, and to the world.

Obama is opposed to Capitalism, which is simply the name Karl Marx gave to the natural workings of the free market.  You hear it over and over in his positions.  He doesn’t like “big business”, as if being big is somehow worse than being small or middle sized.  He is offended by businesses that report healthy profits, apparently in the belief that there is something wrong with profit — which is the only reason that a business exists, even a small business.  This odd idea, that profit is bad, doesn’t affect you unless you work for a business or sell to a business, or buy things like groceries and clothing, or use things like oil and gas and electricity and water.

He has pushed a bill to rein in CEO pay. There are very few people who are capable of running large corporations, and they don’t get there without a long learning period and vast experience, unlike some politicians. A skilled CEO can make a difference of billions in corporate profit and growth, or rescue a corporation from going under.  Obama is offended that corporations sometimes have to lay people off.  This shows a vast ignorance of how business operates, but Obama has never worked for business, and seems to feel that it is somehow a lesser occupation than a “service” job — feeding at the public trough.  Perhaps Mr. Obama can point out where the power to regulate pay occurs in the constitution.

Obama seems to know that small business creates most of the new jobs in this country. He just doesn’t understand what a small business is.  According to a Gallup survey conducted for the National Federation of Independent Business conducted at the beginning of the year, only 10% of businesses that hire between one and nine employees would pay the Obama tax.  But 19.5% of employers with 10 to 19 employees would be hit by the tax, and 50% of firms with 20 to 249 workers would pay the tax. His plan is an incentive to hire fewer workers.

Third, Obama believes in redistribution, a policy that is opposed by majorities of every political party. Someone who believes in wealth resistribution usually labors under the misconception that there is a pie of wealth and that one needs to divide it into equal slices. The economy is not a pie, but grows to meet the needs of the participants. You do not help people by making them dependent on the government — that helps only politicians who want reliable voters, for if you are dependent you cannot vote against those who give you sustenance. Obama’s tax plan is simply a back-door return to welfare.

You will notice that all solutions in Obama’s world involve passing out taxpayer money and more government control. But if there is one thing we have learned, it is that government does not do things well. Although we have long experience with foreign aid and it’s propensity to line the pockets or Swiss bank accounts of some dictator, Obama is ready to pass out billions to alleviate world poverty. Very little foreign aid ever reaches the intended recipients.  What actually alleviates world poverty is free trade.  There is very substantial evidence for that.

Fourth, Obama wants the EPA to regulate CO2. You remember, the stuff you breathe out. This would put the EPA in charge of regulating your lawnmower, your chainsaw, your motorcycle or your boat, a really bad idea.  He wants to do this to force Congress to pass taxes on carbon dioxide or some kind of cap-and-trade program. This would be disastrous for the economy. Even the Europeans realize a financial crisis is not the time for climate pacts on CO2 reduction. CO2 is not a pollutant, and is not a cause of global warming.  Europe is realizing that ethanol was a bad idea, but Obama is still supporting it. Economists have warned that cap-and-trade or carbon taxes could devastate the economy, but environmental organizations don’t care.

Fifth, Obama has a nasty tendency to try to silence his critics. His campaign sent out e-mails to get supporters to shut down a talk show that was interviewing scholar Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center about his research into Acorn and the Annenberg Challenge, and again when author David Freddoso appeared on the same program.  He demanded that the Justice Department investigate the Bush administration for Republicans’ allegations that ACORN was committing vote fraud. The attempts to silence his critics by playing the race card are numerous. The most recent claim is that the word “socialism” is a code word for blacks.

Sixth,The Employer Free Choice Act is a startling deprivation of workers’ freedom.  It forces union recognition without elections and employment contracts through mandatory arbitration thereafter.  Workers no longer would get a choice of whether to belong to a union or not.  It’s something the unions want, and Obama owes the unions for their support.

Obama has promised something new, hope and change, but all his ideas are borrowed from the past in the presumption that old tired Democrat ideas will be different if we just do it again.  Roosevelt’s bad ideas prolonged the Great Depression, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was a flop.  Doing the same thing over and over again is…probably a mistake.


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