Saturday, January 29, 2005
NBAHere is the team I'm currently fielding in my fantasy league:
K. Garnett (Min - F)
S. Marbury (NY - PG)
B. Miller (Sac - C,FC)
A. Stoudemire (Pho - FC,PF)
K. Hinrich (Chi - G,PG)
J. Richardson (GS - SG)
J. Tinsley (Ind - PG)
J. Kidd (NJ - PG)
K. Van Horn (Mil - SF)
S. Abdur-RahimIL (Por - F,PF)
E. Jones (Mia - GF,SG
L. Sprewell (Min - GF)
J. Rose (Tor - G,GF)
S. Swift (Mem - FC)
R. LaFrentz (Bos - FC)
A. Iguodala (Phi - GF,SF)
Politics and KnowledgeAn article ran in yesterday’s LA Times, about conservatives in college. The article, by Brian C. Anderson (yet another “intellectual” on the payroll of everyone’s favorite press Regnery) argues that campuses are moving rightwards, finally taking on the leftist elite that has all to long held the Ivory Tower hostage. The article is marked by highly selective use of statistics, and anecdotal evidence as well as sloppy argumentation (I think they teach a course on that somewhere deep in the bowels of Regnery). However, I think there is a point in the article that the academy ought to take to heart; there are indeed forces bent on storming the Ivory Tower to the detriment of academic freedom and intellectual autonomy and academics would do well to think about how they will respond to that.
Before getting to the heart of what I take from the article, let me say I think that the article dramatically overestimates the way the extent to which the academy has become a site of leftist indoctrination. I will give a short example here of some evidence that Anderson reads uncritically:
Katherine Ernst, a recent NYU grad, confirms the point [that students healthily question the priestly leanings of their profs]. Ernst already leaned right when she arrived on campus. But the left-wing propagandizing of her professors made her conservatism rock-solid.
"One professor, right after Sept. 11, gave a terrorist-sympathy speech that went, you know: 'Oil, oil, oil, they're poor, we take advantage of them, it's really complicated, blah, blah, blah,' " Ernst says acidly. "How could anybody exposed to this kind of stuff not become a raging right-winger?"
So, let me get this straight. Noting that recent policy in the Middle East has been dictated to a major extent by concerns over oil (which is true), that poverty is a problem in the area, and that “it’s really complicated…” constitutes “terrorist sympathy”? If leftist indoctrination involves pointing out simple facts, then I do not think it sounds like much of a problem. I suppose any professor that does not say “it is really simple, has nothing to do with oil, and everyone in the Mid East is upper middle class” is clearly a raving Marxist.
Notice as well this student’s pathetic inability to summarize arguments. I hate to tell Ernst that covering your ears and yelling “blah, blah, blah” does not an effective counter-argument make.
Do not get me wrong; the classroom can be used inappropriately to squelch opposition. But this does not appear to be a very good example of indoctrination. Given the limited space devoted to the article, the fact that Anderson found this nugget to be particularly useful doesn’t bode well for his ability to use evidence. But then evidence never gets in the way Regnery’s fine crew of polemicists…
Laughable as much of Anderson’s writing is, however, attacks on the political orientation of professors need to be taken seriously. In particular, I think that any effective response to charges of political bias need to be replied to in terms of an idea many scholars have a problem with—objectivity. If academics hold that one's politics are entirely inseparable from one's conclusions, that objectivity is a fruitless and pointless enterprise, from what basis can they respond to criticisms about their unbalanced political leanings?
This is a pragmatic reason to think carefully about how academics integrate politics into their writing and teaching. The Ivory Tower does in the end exist in a larger society. The gates are not impermeable, and the Tower can be stormed
Friday, January 28, 2005
These are some pictures of some of my friends from college. The new program PICASA 2 (free from google) has been sucking up my time. I LOVE IT.
sophisticated academics shrewdly note jew's jewishnessUCLA is hosting a lecture on "Arafat's Legacy" this week, and some clever soul on campus has carefully marked up some of the fliers for the event -- circling the name of the lecturer, Stein, and the name of the country he studies, Israel.
So that we can, you know, understand his special situation, hint hint nudge nudge.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
close enough for contemporary political discourseTed Turner has just compared Fox News to Adolf Hitler:
While FOX may be the largest news network [and has overtaken Turner's CNN], it's not the best, Turner said.Folks, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor by the German president. Long story short, when the president died, Hitler seized power. He was...not...elected.
He followed up by pointing out that Adolf Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany prior to WWII. He said the network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration.
Enough with the lazy and historically false Nazi analogies, already.
Over and out.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
revoking the law of unintended consequencesNewt Gingrich's new book is called Winning the Future. Here's how the publisher, Regnery, describes Gingrich's premise: "America is at the forefront of dramatic change. We will either become an unparalleled force for freedom and economic opportunity or fall into decline, much like our European allies."
Marching to utopia behind the banner of the liberationist state -- the new conservative project.
Unparalleled forces and dramatic change drenched the world in blood during the last century, but what the hell. Set a course for the sun, boys -- we're remaking the world. We have an ambitious global plan.
What could go wrong?
Friday, January 21, 2005
"The Department of Defense employs 257 of them. Transportation has 17. Justice has 13; Homeland Security, 12; Treasury, eight."Horror. Read this.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
consistency checkNow that two terrorism suspects possibly roaming Boston are Asian women, I will of course expect Michelle Malkin to call for Asian women to be subjected to broad and largely unrestricted threat profiling by law enforcement and national security officials. Or is she one of these dirty, good-for-nothing "civil liberties absolutists"?
(And, hey, if China isn't exactly the Philippines...Well, fine. We're talking about someone who's consistently argued that a threat from Islamic fundamentalists requires that we profile "Arabs." Afghanistan? Arabs. Iran? Arabs. Indonesia? The Philippines? Uh, there are Muslims in Indonesia and the Philippines? I formally invoke the Malkin rule: close enough for Regnery. Wonder if I can get a book deal.)
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
the fatherland has been pollutedIn a recent post, I mentioned that Daniel Drezner had posted a chart from the CIA showing that the Muslim population of Europe was growing larger as a ratio of the "ethnic European" population. In case it's not clear what the comparison of a religious faith and a pan-European ethnicity means in practical fact, take a look at the comments that follow Drezner's post. My personal favorite, so far: " I'm leaving these (UK) shores for the white havens of America, many have already gone and a vast number are to follow. The UK is lost."
Slavery Demonstrates the Power of DemocracyAm I the only person that finds this juxtaposition jarring?:
Allies like Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen say Rice will preview the theme of Bush's inaugural address -- spreading democracy around the world.
And they say Rice's personal story of growing up in the segregated South will help her carry that banner on the world stage.
As the American example of three and a half centuries of slavery and Jim Crow clearly demonstrate, democracy produces justice everywhere it flourishes. I like democracy as much as the next American, but (as I think segregation makes clear) anyone who thinks it fixes all humanities problems is fooling themselves.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
diluting the purity of the european volkDaniel Drezner notes a remarkable chart from the federal government's National Intelligence Council. The chart compares the projected growth of two populations in Europe over the next couple of decades, suggesting that the population of Muslims may grow significantly there -- increasing the ratio of that population against the number of "ethnic Europeans."
It's a little surprising, at first, to see government analysts discussing the way that a religious community threatens to dilute the ethnic purity of Europeans. But once you get past that hurdle, you have to concede the seriousness of the problem. Europeans will surely have a tough time dealing with this.
If only there were a precedent for attempting to render the European continent free from the contaminating presence of a particular religious community...
Friday, January 14, 2005
Where is the Love?When will the escalating cycle of office violence end?
Thursday, January 13, 2005
"landmarks in the destruction of a free society"As a United States Senator, Barry Goldwater -- closely advised by a pair of up-and-coming conservative lawyers, young guys named Rehnquist and Bork -- voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There were some interesting tensions at work between conservatives in this one: Rick Perlstein, a leftist scholar and the author of Before the Storm, notes that Rehnquist "had aggressively fought local antidiscrimination laws in Phoenix, where Goldwater had fought for them as appropriate and morally imperative." Goldwater gave a speech on the floor of the Senate laying out his opposition to the civil rights bill, Perlstein notes, "rapidly, tonelessly, head down, as if reading into the record."
So Goldwater, we gather, supported the outcome, but couldn't bring himself to support the means to that end. His objection, as stated in that Senate speech, is that the bill would
require the creation of a federal police force of mammoth proportions. It also bids fair to result in the development of an "informer" psychology in great areas of our national life -- neighbors spying on neighbors, workers spying on workers, businessmen spying on businessmen, where those who would harass their fellow citizens for selfish and narrow purposes will have ample inducement to do so. These, the federal police force and an "informer" psychology, are the hallmarks of the police state and landmarks in the destruction of a free society.So: Compare and contrast. Daniel Pipes is delighted that Michelle Malkin has the courage to argue that "civil liberties are not sacrosanct." Is this argument consistent with the conservative tradition? Is any of this?
Pipes, Malkin, John Leo, Thomas Sowell, and many other "conservatives" now offer warm support for the WWII internment of American citizens of Japanese descent, and call for aggressive, if carefully vague, state security measures against American Muslims. Malkin calls for the militarization of the border, and the growth of a massive federal police state dedicated to rooting out illegal immigrants: "Every measly 'No Entry' sign should immediately be replaced with an armed National Guardsman--at least until 100,000 new Border Patrol and interior enforcement agents are trained and ready to be deployed."
I propose a new bumper sticker acronym: WWBGD? (What would Barry Goldwater do?) If these folks are "conservatives," then we have some serious rethinking to do. Because Goldwater, and many other "conservatives," saw the world in exceptionally different terms.
Malkin and Pipes would undoubtedly argue, as they often do, that normal rules don't apply, because "we're at war." But we're at war in the same sense that the British were at war with the IRA, or that Israel is at war with Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO; we're in a war potentially not of years but decades, against shadowy, non-state actors. Call me crazy, but wouldn't cancelling the Constitution for broad classes of putative internal enemies because of a war of that nature look a great deal like this scenario?
Again: not conservative. Authoritarian, fascist, Stalinist, you name it. Michelle Malkin and Daniel Pipes -- and their unfortunate fans -- are not conservatives, and can't reasonably be called that. Granting them the use of the label grants them a dangerous kind of cover.
(btw, The block quote is from "Before the Storm," page 364, and the quote before the block quote is from 363.)
the unmasterable pastSwimming harder, and getting farther out to sea.
I'm studying history, and realizing -- a little more every day -- just how many serious gaps there are in my knowledge. And I'm seeing how badly these gaps impair my ability to understand the history that I'm studying. The problem is that I don't think the problem can be solved by studying more of whatever it is that I'm most directly studying; the problem of understanding American foreign policy, for example, can't just be answered by reading a big pile of books about American foreign policy, which I tend to think is the standard approach.
To understand nineteenth-century U.S. foreign policy, I would think that it would be necessary to understand the stories that nineteenth-century foreign policymakers told themselves about their world. Those stories came from the Bible, from ancient history, from the Italian Renaissance, from the Scottish Enlightenment, from English legal and political tradition, from the emerging social sciences...
Well, I mean, come on. (Economic theory! Forgot to include economic theory.)
And I haven't even started to talk about the problem of the other part of foreign policy: the history of the people on the other end. Can a British historian understand the Opium Wars without understanding Chinese history? Can an Americanist understand the War of 1898 without knowing the histories of Spain, Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines? Can we understand American chattel slavery without understanding African politics, culture, and economy (or European legacies of servitude)?
And then there's the theory problem -- and let's just go ahead and acknowledge this still-unread list of books on subaltern theory still sitting on my desk. One day I will read these fucking books, excuse my language. (And then onto the equally baffling world systems theory.)
So how do we ever get there? Does everyone else have a deep understanding of all this, and the joke's on me? Why do I feel like I know less and less as I study more and more? Is there a point at which I'll begin to catch up? J.G.A. Pocock aside, does anyone claim to know it all? (Can we find that person and yell rude things at him?)
It does seem to me that so much of the facile "social control" history that so....many...historians are doing is an attempt to evade the difficulty of historical understanding; whatever the question is, the answer is that "the elites" were deploying the hegemonic instrument of language and symbols to advance their economic interests and consolidate their power, thank you goodnight. In a single theoretical stroke, we manage to render ideology, religion, and heritage irrelevant. And reduce history to a cartoon, but at least it's easy.
I do hereby sing the Coldplay song:
Nobody said it was easy/
No one ever said it would be so hard/
Oh take me back to the start.
ADDED LATER: Let me just toss in here the observation that grad school seems to be uniquely designed to prevent students from learning any of this. The need to work as a TA and get teaching experience on the c.v., the need to check off boxes on the to-do list and keep advancing through the program, the luscious temptation of glorious student committees...
And if you have any time left, hey, read a book.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Torture DenialHeather Macdonald has written a piece denying that Americans have really been sullying their hand with much of anything like real torture. Her article relies(thanks to Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy for the pointer) among other things on trivializing the nature of the tortures that have been used. Take for example her description of forced standing in Afghanistan:
Many of the interrogators argued for a calibrated use of “stress techniques”—long interrogations that would cut into the detainees’ sleep schedules, for example, or making a prisoner kneel or stand, or aggressive questioning that would put a detainee on edge.
Gee it sounds so nice doesn’t it? Well it might set them "on edge" a bit, but other than that it sound harmless right? Compare that to a description from a former professor of mine, and leading expert on torture of forced standing:
In 1956, the CIA commissioned two experts, Harold Wolff and Lawrence Hinkle, who described the effects of forced standing. The ankles and feet swell to twice their normal size within 24 hours. Moving becomes agony. Large blisters develop. The heart rate increases, and some faint. The kidneys eventually shut down.
In the mid-20th century, torturers learned how to use the swelling and blistering to cause more pain. The South African and Brazilian police made prisoners stand on cans or bricks, the edges causing excruciating pain to the sensitive feet. In 1999, the South African Truth Commission determined that forced standing was the third-most-common torture during apartheid, after beating and applying electricity.
Forced standing is something that doesn’t sound terrible—at first. Yet the actual effects are horrifying. And it has one advantage over more commonly thought of torture methods, it leaves few marks and so consequently is hard to prove.
This is important, because MacDonald’s purpose is to extricate the administration from culpability for Abu Gharib largely via a reading of official administrative directives:
This [the idea of Abu Gharib as illustrative of larger problems] story’s success depends on the reader’s remaining ignorant of the actual interrogation techniques promulgated in the war on terror. Not only were they light years from real torture and hedged around with bureaucratic safeguards, but they had nothing to do with the Abu Ghraib anarchy.
Forced standing is a torture technique, and a very effective one. It was used in Abu Gharib, and it’s not an obvious torture method. Additionally the implements used like wires, were added at specific historical moment to make the torture more effective. So, where did these soldiers learn this technique of torture and why were they taught it? (Rejali article)
If you train people how to torture, and how to do it without being detected, and then you give those people access to prisoners, abuse will occur. And you are culpable for the results no matter how many memos you send out telling them to be good boys and girls and not do what you taught them how to do.
What’s more, are we really to believe these people were trained how to torture in the hopes that they would never torture? Isn’t it more likely that this “stress and duress” interrogation is really just a nice term for good old-fashioned brutality?
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
darkness and lightVery, very difficult to stop staring at this.
(By way of the the Volokh Conspiracy, which notes: "UPDATE: Reader Eric McErlain suggests that people check out North Korea on the map. Compare it to South Korea or even to China.")
Monday, January 10, 2005
Sunday, January 09, 2005
on the nightstandI'm finding that reading about the Philippines is helping me to understand the war in Iraq.
Or at least to find it more familiar.
perched at the top of the slide1) An airplane, owned by people who don't actually appear to exist -- including an apparent non-person with a post office box in Langley, Virginia -- has been flying suspected terrorists to countries that aren't shy about torture. A fascinating window into a whole different kind of world.
2) Officials at the Pentagon are reportedly discussing the possibility of training Iraqi kidnapping and assassination squads to take out insurgent leaders, a solution said to have been effective in El Salvador.
3) A December report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies concludes that the Iraqi insurgency is growing in size and effectiveness.
Friday, January 07, 2005
A deeply humorous two page reflection on trademarks. To be honest, I'm pretty shocked that I never throught about "Trojan condoms" in the deconstructivist lens that our legal scholar Volokh has adroitly done. Am I the only one?
And Napoleon Dynamite remains my hero. Dang.
Kudos. On this rainly LA day, precious little amused me.
And Napoleon Dynamite remains my hero. Dang.
Kudos. On this rainly LA day, precious little amused me.
the only possible explanation......is that John Derbyshire is a fictional character created as a vehicle for parody.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
important new conservative blog...apparently inspired by Michelle Malkin, and campaigning to amend the Constitution.
Christopher BrayChristopher Bray, GET TO WORK and STOP BLOGGING.
Signed, Your Conscience
Otherwise known as, YoMama.
P.S. How come I've not yet heard a clever pun relating Yo Yo Ma, to Yo Mama? HELLO freestyler MC Bray.
one of these is no vice: extremism in the defense of a) liberty, or b) internment"Fellow Republicans, it is the cause of Republicanism to resist concentrations of power, private or public, which enforce such conformity and inflict such despotism."
I humbly beg anyone who thinks that Michelle Malkin and Daniel Pipes are "conservatives" -- and that everyone criticizing them are therefore necessarily "leftists" -- to take five minutes and read Barry Goldwater's 1964 acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention.
The difference in vision -- in what constitutes a "conservative" vision -- is profound. Malkin calls for a massive network of federal "internal enforcement agents" and the suppression of local police autonomy in favor of central state control, disloyalty trials (with secret evidence) for internal enemies, and a belief that "civil liberties are not sacrosanct."
Goldwater argued, though imperfectly and with some careful evasions, for freedom, freedom, freedom, and freedom:
And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom - freedom made orderly for this nation by our constitutional government; freedom under a government limited by laws of nature and of nature's God; freedom - balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the slavery of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.
Try to picture Barry Goldwater responding to Michelle Malkin's insistence that "civil liberties are not sacrosanct."
Goldwater's stated vision (and I'll complicate this pretty significantly, in a moment) was a vision of a pluralist society, made great by its diversity and cultural freedom:
We have lost the brisk pace of diversity and the genius of individual creativity. We are plodding at a pace set by centralized planning, red tape, rules without responsibility, and regimentation without recourse...
In our vision of a good and decent future, free and peaceful, there must be room for deliberation of the energy and talent of the individual - otherwise our vision is blind at the outset.
We must assure a society here which, while never abandoning the needy or forsaking the helpless, nurtures incentives and opportunity for the creative and the productive. We must know the whole good is the product of many single contributions...
Balance, diversity, creativity - these are the elements of Republican equation. Republicans agree, Republicans agree heartily to disagree on many, many of their applications, but we have never disagreed on the basic fundamental issues of why you and I are Republicans.
Goldwater also spoke harshly about the war in Vietnam, insisting that the primary purpose of military power was the preservation of peace through a posture of ready strength:
It is further the cause of Republicanism to remind ourselves, and the world, that only the strong can remain free, that only the strong can keep the peace.
Now, I needn't remind you, or my fellow Americans regardless of party, that Republicans have shouldered this hard responsibility and marched in this cause before. It was Republican leadership under Dwight Eisenhower that kept the peace, and passed along to this administration the mightiest arsenal for defense the world has ever known. And I needn't remind you that it was the strength and the unbelievable will of the Eisenhower years that kept the peace by using our strength, by using it in the Formosa Straits and in Lebanon and by showing it courageously at all times.
It was during those Republican years that the thrust of Communist imperialism was blunted. It was during those years of Republican leadership that this world moved closer, not to war, but closer to peace, than at any other time in the three decades just passed.
And I needn't remind you - but I will - that it's been during Democratic years that our strength to deter war has stood still, and even gone into a planned decline. It has been during Democratic years that we have weakly stumbled into conflict, timidly refusing to draw our own lines against aggression, deceitfully refusing to tell even our people of our full participation, and tragically, letting our finest men die on battlefields (unmarked by purpose, unmarked by pride or the prospect of victory)...
We here in America can keep the peace only if we remain vigilant and only if we remain strong. Only if we keep our eyes open and keep our guard up can we prevent war. And I want to make this abundantly clear - I don't intend to let peace or freedom be torn from our grasp because of lack of strength or lack of will - and that I promise you Americans.
Now, to be sure, Goldwater was also undercutting his own pretty words with some sneaky code:
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.
Not especially difficult to know what Goldwater was talking about, in 1964, when he hinted that the government was enforcing a mistaken definition of equality. Goldwater was also selling a law-and-order vision to go with his anti-racial equality vision, warning of the "growing menace in our country tonight, to personal safety, to life, to limb and property, in homes, in churches, on the playgrounds, and places of business, particularly in our great cities." Finally, Goldwater sold a bit of Malkin-style Cold War fear: "The Republican cause demands that we brand communism as a principal disturber of peace in the world today. Indeed, we should brand it as the only significant disturber of the peace, and we must make clear that until its goals of conquest are absolutely renounced and its rejections with all nations tempered, communism and the governments it now controls are enemies of every man on earth who is or wants to be free."
Bur for all that red meat, Goldwater was at root defining conservatism as a drive for freedom, as a movement to restrict the reach of government and open many different paths toward the achievement of creative individual accomplishment:
And beyond that, we see, in cherished diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives and accomplishments. We do not seek to lead anyone's life for him - we seek only to secure his rights and to guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks which cannot otherwise be performed.
We Republicans seek a government that attends to its inherent responsibilities of maintaining a stable monetary and fiscal climate, encouraging a free and a competitive economy and enforcing law and order. Thus do we seek inventiveness, diversity, and creativity within a stable order, for we Republicans define government's role where needed at many, many levels, preferably through the one closest to the people involved.
Our towns and our cities, then our counties, then our states, then our regional contacts - and only then, the national government. That, let me remind you, is the ladder of liberty, built by decentralized power. On it also we must have balance between the branches of government at every level...
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
The beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this Federal system of ours is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution. Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.
So, in short, we have Goldwater -- "the ladder of liberty, built by decentralized power" -- and we have Malkin: "Tough times require tough managers."
Goldwater's conservative vision had some extraordinary blindspots; Patricia Nelson Limerick, for one quick example, enjoyably places Goldwater's description of his rugged and individualistic western upbringing in the context of the federal bureaucracy's creation of the modern West. And Goldwater's hostility to racial justice is impossible to ignore. But compare his view of freedom to Malkin's tiny, shitty worldview -- or to the howling emptiness of VDARE or FrontPage Magazine -- and you're looking at two altogether different planets. Goldwater conservatism (somewhat like the conservatism of President Reagan) is optimistic, confident, relatively pluralistic, and devoted to liberty; Malkin conservatism (somewhat like the conservatism of Governor Reagan) is paranoid, angry, vicious, cheap, and devoted to restricting the freedoms of a whole set of broadly defined (and putatively ubiquitous) internal enemies.
They are different beliefs, claiming the same label. Only one is really telling the truth about its view of American freedom.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
i am firmly in favor of mumble mumble mumble(...and I firmly oppose the measures that I have described as being wholly justifiable.)
In a fairly amusing "clarifying" post on his blog, the perennially panicky Daniel Pipes insists that he does "not specifically endorse [the] notion of Muslims having to register their whereabouts." Also, he adds, "I raised the subject of the Japanese internment because it 'still matters' in its influence on the U.S. public debate, and not because I advocate the internment of anyone today."
So if that's what he's not for, what is he for? Pipes says in his clarification that he's merely "encouraged...that many Americans understand the need to focus on the segment of the population that is engaged in Islamist activities." (emphasis added)
He doesn't favor internment or registration, just an undefined "focus on" Muslims, wink wink. Professional hysteric Michelle Malkin, similarly, maintains that she's not in favor of internment for Muslims -- she just thinks that mass internment of internal enemies has been a good idea in the past, and that "civil liberties are not sacrosanct," wink wink.
My favorite anti-liberty columnists can be awfully coy when they feel the need to be, yeah? They just favor, ahem, special measures for internal enemies. Why do people insist on twisting their intent?
FearA minor point:
I notice Michelle Malkin refrains from faithfully or accurately summarizing Chris Bray’s blog entry. It’s a typical move of hers; after all in her book she fails to do the same for any of the scholarship she “debunks.” I suppose it’s reasonable for her to be somewhat frightened of actually engaging the arguments of her opponents in good faith.
It’s a bit ironic, however, that she insults bloggers for having “seriously distorted his [Pipes’] views” while at the same time relying on two whole words to summarize Bray’s response. But, I guess the busy demands of a research journalist leave little time to bother with unimportant details like fully responding to critics.
Running in the WoodsOver the break I went to Sacramento. I was able to run in a new location, near the American river in a beautiful and unpopulated park. Running through the trees is an entirely different experience from running through traffic. As your body slowly starts to warm up from the run, you pass a beautifully still pond or a moss covered riverbank. The serenity of the outside can help make you feel calmer and more peaceful on the inside. It was refreshing to say the least.
a nod from our favorite pro-big-government, anti-liberty columnistMichelle Malkin, a putatively "conservative" columnist who objects to liberty ("Civil liberties are not sacrosanct"), links, midway through a long rant, to my post on her Stalinist tendencies.
Monday, January 03, 2005
new academic freedom legislation in californiaA California state senator has introduced legislation that would create a "Student Bill of Rights" in the state's UC, CSU, and community college systems. The bill would define academic freedom as a principle protecting students as well as professors. The core principles, as summarized by the watchdog group CalAware:
(1) Students shall be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study, not on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.Full text and legislative history at the State Senate's website.
(2) Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences shall respect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge in these areas, and provide students with dissenting sources and viewpoints. While teachers are and should be free to pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they should consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints. Academic disciplines should welcome a diversity of approaches to unsettled questions
(3) Exposing students to the spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints on the subjects examined in their courses is a major responsibility of faculty. Faculty shall not use their courses or their positions for the purpose of political, ideological, religious, or anti-religious indoctrination.
(4) The selection of speakers, allocation of funds for speakers' programs, and other student activities shall observe the principles of academic freedom and promote intellectual pluralism.
(5) An environment conducive to the civil exchange of ideas being an essential component of a free university, the obstruction of invited campus speakers, the destruction of campus literature, or any other effort to obstruct this exchange shall not be tolerated.
that nostalgic yearning for the strong handAs the Soviet Union mercifully collapsed and passed from the earth, the Washington Post reporter David Remnick met a woman who burned with resentment over the loss. Remnick, now the editor of the New Yorker, was invited to dinner with Kira Korniyenkova, a virulent Stalinist. He tells the story of that grim evening in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Lenin's Tomb. Korniyenkova knew in her heart that Stalin's purges had been a glorious idea:
"People who want to build a monument to the so-called victims of Stalin should think about that a little. It's not necessary to build a monument to people who were imprisoned. They had something to answer for. It's not necessary to build monuments for rich peasants who were purged. They should build monuments to the Communists. Traitors don't deserve monuments...I am for real order, an iron hand or some other kind of hand. I am for a situation in which people are answerable for their deeds."
Remnick encountered several Russians who shared Korniyenkova's nostalgia for the days when internal enemies were identified, flushed out, and dealt with unambiguously. Communists at communism's funeral, they held on to the nasty little dream: paranoid, urgently alarmed, seeing danger everywhere, and determined to see central authority take unapologetically tough action.
And so now we have Daniel Pipes, Middle East scholar and professional hysteric, who continually warns of the bloodthirsty American Muslims living among us (who must have launched an unbroken wave of thousands of attacks against Iowa and Ohio, judging by their numbers and Pipes' description of their enormous threat to the country).
In a December 28 column in the New York Sun*, Pipes praises another weak and panicky hysteric, Michelle Malkin, for being brave enough to argue that "Civil liberties are not sacrosanct." Malkin, like Pipes, insists that the United States is crawling with internal enemies -- aided by the coddling of our oversoft federal government. Malkin has called for a militarized border, a major increase in Border Patrol staffing, and the deployment of massive numbers of "interior enforcement agents" to protect the nation against illegal immigrants. This call for an enormous increase in the power of the central government as an armed presence in everyday life, it turns out, is a "conservative" view. (Perhaps in her next book Malkin will really prove her conservative credentials by calling on the government to quarter troops in private houses.)
Pipes, another putative "conservative," approves of it all, and in his recent column joins Malkin in recasting the truth about the internment of Japanese-American U.S. citizens during WWII. In some truly glorious language, Pipes even notes that the camps were "for the most part administered humanely." Yearning for the great old days when the central government didn't let lilly-livered notions of legality and humanity stand in the way of firmness, Pipes approvingly notes Malkin's conclusions, agreeing all the way:
"She correctly concludes that, especially in time of war, governments should take into account nationality, ethnicity, and religious affiliation in their homeland security policies..."
So. I've said this before, and I'll say it again and again:
These people are not "conservatives."
Call them "authoritarians," if you'd like, or the appropriate but overplayed "fascists." Me, I'm sticking with my old favorite. Malkin calls, in her book, for Muslim-American "disloyalty" trials, the suspension of those non-sacrosanct civil liberties, and the unrestrained purging of apparently ubiquitous internal enemies; she is now joined by Daniel Pipes in expressing warm admiration for the days when the central government threw its citizens into internment camps by the box lot. These, ladies and gentlemen, are Stalinists. Kira Korniyenkova would know them by their ideas, and respect them as comrades.
Mercilessly crush and defeat the enemy within! We must be Stakhonovites for the anti-Muslim cause! (It's not necessary to build a monument to people who were imprisoned. They had something to answer for.)
No wonder David Horowitz is so comfortable with this crowd.
(*Thanks to Eric Muller for his post on the Pipes column, which brought it to my attention. Do click on that link and read Muller's post; he nails Pipes for what appears to be a serious act of dishonesty.)
Saturday, January 01, 2005
academic freedom as "naked authoritarianism"I've noted here before that some academics tend to construe "academic freedom" as a promise that they won't be questioned or challenged in their classrooms. "Freedom," for these folks, means that students and other peasants may sit down and shut up, thank you very much, as the professor grants them the gift of his or her wisdom: Freedom is for me, not you.
At the Village Voice this week, Nat Hentoff examines this dynamic in the Middle Eastern studies program at Columbia University, where students say that professors have responded to classroom questions with exceptional hostility and dismissiveness. Hentoff argues for a vision of the university as a place of free exchange, rather than free dictation from the front of the room:
Free speech, free inquiry, and academic freedom are linked together, and all of these First Amendment protections work in two ways. Professors are entitled to their interpretations, however dogmatic. And students have the right to question professors' evidence or proof of their doctrines—and the right to make counter-assertions without being bullied and treated as if their only function as students is to be dutifully indoctrinated. Academic freedom in, of all places, a university based on free inquiry belongs to both professors and students.
(By way of Cliopatria.)