One would think that the political focus of a university in the Appalachians, insofar as it is concerned about privileges, would be class privilege. And one would assume that most students there, being poor whites, were victims of that privilege. Finally, one would assume that the main goal of the university would be to help guide their students out of poverty and into the middle class by informing them of jobs to steer clear of because there is no point in even trying – like, for example, elite law firms in New York City or Boston – and telling them which majors are most likely to help them get out of poverty.
But no. Instead, the talk is of white privilege. See here.
Let’s say you are from the bottom half economically, and you live in the region of Appalachian State, and you end up going there because for people in your economic bracket, getting into a classier place is unlikely to happen. What sort of campus will you find? Will you find one that is kind to people of your class, or is it indifferent to your concerns? The latter, definitely.
Let’s take a look at the specialties of some of the professors in the liberals arts. In philosophy, there are six professors. Three have specialties in non-political areas, a fourth includes philosophy of race along with the others, a fifth includes environmental ethics, while the sixth’s specialties are “Feminist Theory, Ethics, Continental Philosophy, Critical Race Theory, Environmental Philosophy, Disability Studies, and Queer Theory.” If you are lower class or lower-middle class, it is hard to see why any of that is appealing.
In Religious Studies, which is paired with philosophy, there is nothing on class. One actually wouldn’t expect them to do anything on class because their focus isn’t even on politics, but in fact one faculty member lists these as her areas of expertise: “History of Christianity, Women in Religion, Religion and Colonialism, Post-Colonial Theory, Religion in Latin America.” Of her five areas, at least three are political, and one isn’t even specifically about religion.
The political scientists are part of a Government and Justice Studies department, but again there is nothing about class. Or let me correct that: if you were a student looking for someone whose specialty was class issues, you probably wouldn’t find them because their interest is described as “critical theory.” Another does “urban politics.” Really? In Appalachia there is a professor whose specialty is urban politics? Why?
In history there is no one whose specialty is labor or class conflicts, though a few deal with gender or environmental issues. In sociology, there is someone who does labor movements, and maybe one or two others who could be counted on to talk about class issues.
There is also a Department of Cultural, Gender, and Global Studies. Obviously, no one there would be interested in class issues.
One might expect more from the Appalachian Studies department, but it seems to be more interested in sustainability than in the poverty of people in the region. Here is the first sentence of their welcome page:
Offering a Master of Arts in Appalachian Studies with concentrations in Sustainability since 1997, Culture since 1978, and Music since 2006 and a Bachelor of Arts since 2008, the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University continues to grow and build its longstanding commitments to social justice, regional sustainability, and cultural heritage.
Why is sustainability so important to these people, while class issues seem to have no importance whatsoever? And are we supposed to infer that what they mean by “social justice” will include class and not just race, gender, and sexual orientation?
What is pathetic about these professors is that some of them probably come from the bottom half economically, yet they tolerate an intellectual atmosphere that pays no attention to their class background.
What about student services? Does it do a better job than the professors do of helping those from modest backgrounds? Not as far as I can see. There is something called the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Compliance, but there is nothing in the description of what they do that specifically says they deal with class issues.
In short, if you are a lower-class or lower-middle-class white person who is interested in your class situation, there is very little in the way of resources that will help you. There are no organizations to join for solidarity. The research interests of the faculty are generally not going to help you understand your situation, and even if they are interested in class issues, they probably have a perspective that is wildly wrong. If you are a white male, you will be told endlessly how privileged you are for being white or male, but no one will acknowledge that you are underprivileged economically.
The first thing the poorer students there should do is to demand that tuition be lowered, even if it means ditching some of the administrators. Next, they should demand that affirmative action include class background. Another thing is that the white males who are from modest backgrounds should start an organization for themselves. Once they do that, then they can start making demands on others, the first of which is that the university as well as other students need to stop ignoring their class background. The second is to insist that their lack of class privilege outweighs whatever other privileges they do have.
Well, it is not very likely that this will happen. But it is astounding and bewildering and angering that a university that probably caters mostly to people in the bottom half economically should be so indifferent to what their lives are like. I blame the left.
After the 1960s, in Mr. Steele’s reading, authority was undermined and “authenticity” put in its place. Authenticity, he writes, “meant the embrace of new idealisms and new identities that explicitly untethered you from America’s notorious hypocrisies.” Through rebellion, antiwar activity, dissent, civil and uncivil disobedience, and dropping out before selling out, authenticity rendered one innocent of all the old evils associated with American power, domestic and international; authenticity also gave one the right to view “traditional America as a fundamentally hypocritical society.”
From the review of a travel book by Albert Podell:
Elsewhere he writes about how the do-gooder staffers of humanitarian non-governmental organizations who swarm developing countries like Macedonia, Kosovo and East Timor convulse the local economies. They can spend $60 for dinner in a land where most people don’t earn that much in a month, he reports, pushing prices out of reach of the poor they are supposedly there to help.
Ouch. Let me add that if they can afford $60 dinners, they probably come from a wealthy background. Their joining such organizations is probably, then, the result of guilt, and since they are hurting rather than helping poor people, we can say it is nothing but Rich People’s Leftism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Essay on Islam
Ali, the colleague of murdered Theo van Gogh, observes in a long essay on the front page of the Review section that she was brought up as what she calls a Mecca Muslim, referring to the fairly peaceful stage of Muhammad’s life when he lived in Mecca. The people who are causing so many problems in the world are Medina Muslims, because they prefer to model themselves on Muhammad’s violent Medina phase. Then there are the heretics or dissidents. Ali wants a reformation of Islam, and thinks that the dissidents will help lead such reform with help from the West. She lays out several things that must be reformed, but alas, she never gets into how difficult it will be to get support from the West, given that our elites seem to side with the Medinan Muslims. It doesn’t matter how often one tells them that the Muslims they are supporting are dangerous and anti-leftist, the information just doesn’t penetrate.
This article from Soccer America suggests that opposition to a publicly-financed Minnesota soccer stadium is not really public opposition. I can’t speak about that, but Mark Dayton’s opposition to public funding, after supporting many other sporting venues that were publicly funded, is a familiar story to me. He is yet another liberal politician in Minnesota who doesn’t give a lick about soccer.
It is true that I have been away for a number of years, and maybe I missed something, but as far as I know, the Minnesota politician who has been the strongest supporter of the sport of soccer was Charles Stenvig, a very right-wing mayor of Minneapolis in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1972, when a massive demonstration at the University of Minnesota got out of hand, or maybe someone thought it was going to get out of hand, the administrators called for the Minneapolis police to intervene, and Stenvig (himself a former policeman) was happy to oblige. I was there and had a tear-gas cannister land at my feet. And what was I to think when a mere four years later, Stenvig often showed up at Minnesota Kicks soccer games while the liberal politicians I preferred stayed away?
Let me be clear, though, that I think teams are better off when they pay for their own stadiums. The Columbus Crew saved itself a lot of grief by doing just that.
And the left is to blame since they have more control over it than anyone else. The proof is in the number of people running off to join ISIS. No one in the West should be running off to join such a barbaric group, and the fact that large numbers of people are doing so – large, that is, in comparison with the numbers running off to help ISIS’s victims – is proof that something is dreadfully wrong.
This column (hat tip: Mark Spahn) talks about a young Australian, Jake Bilardi, who ran off to join ISIS, even though he was raised in a “high-achieving atheist household.” Think about that. He came from a background of atheism. When I was young, atheists didn't join religious cults. There were other young people who were susceptible to joining some religious cult, but as far as I know, they had been raised in households that belonged to mainline Protestant denominations. I never heard of any atheists who wanted to join Christian cults, and they would sneer at those who did. (It is possible that some joined cults associated with eastern religions, of course.) When atheists take up a barbaric religious cult, something is wrong.
So, blame the left. The cultural atmosphere these people grow up in is a poisonous brew of Islamophilia, cultural relativism, and multiculturalism. They hear little or nothing about how much more progressive the West is than Islam, and so they see no reason to perpetuate that progressiveness.
This article in the Financial Post gives us a different perspective on Israel and its relations with the rest of the world:
The Western press, operating as it does from its echo chamber, likes to describe Israel as increasingly isolated in the world due to its supposed failure to make peace with the Palestinians. Israel has never been less isolated, never been more embraced. In its immediate neighbourhood, Israel for the first time has de facto allies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the leaders of the Arab Sunni world.
In black Africa, Israel now is tight with countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda. In Asia, Israel is becoming tight with India, the world’s largest democracy, and with China, the world’s second largest economy, both of which are establishing free trade deals with Israel. Israel has been expanding trade with Japan, the world’s third largest economy. And Israel has close relations with countries of the former East Bloc, including Russia, once a Cold War adversary, now a partner in countering Islamic terrorism....
Israel, once the darling of the Socialist Internationale, is fast becoming the darling of all but Socialist-leaning Europe, Iran and the ISIS wannabe set. Australia is stalwartly in Israel’s corner; Canada’s commitment to Israel is at an all-time high; America’s remains as strong as ever, President Obama and the American left notwithstanding.
This is because of all the start-ups in Israel, which has the highest density of start-ups in the world. “High tech companies now beat a path to this Start-Up Nation’s door — an astonishing 250 from the U.S. alone have made Israel home to their R&D centres.”
Despite the left’s claim that Muslim violence is all about grievances they have against others, particularly America, the fact is that the violence is so widespread and is directed against so many targets that now many non-Muslims have grievances against Muslims. These grievances, of course, mean nothing to leftists.
Here is a column by Daniel Pipes that begins by recounting the destruction by Muslims of a number of non-Muslim religious shrines:
Some attacks target the works of other, rival religions, such as Orthodox churches in northern Cyprus (since 1974), the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan (in 2001), the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia (2002), an historic Hindu temple in Malaysia (2006), and the Assyrian antiquities ("idols") in Mosul (2015). On a personal level, a Saudi national smashed historic statues at the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple in Tokyo in 2014. Nor is this danger over: Islamic leaders have bruited plans to destroy Persepolis in Iran, St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai, and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
Notice that the religions on the receiving end of these attacks are not limited to “Western” religions like Christianity and Judaism, but also include non-Western religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.
Hey, leftists, dump the grievance theory. This is our era’s war against fascism, and you have been AWOL for too long.
Teachers of English composition seem forever stuck in the rut of believing that their students must be given something to write about other than things they are interested in writing about in order to learn how to write, and these days that something inevitably turns out to be leftist political themes. As this article shows, it is all about race, gender, and the usual identity theory trumpery. In this climate, even having students write about how the Great Recession was all the Republican’s fault would be a breath of fresh air.
Back in my day, the topics chosen weren’t so much political as literary, but I have to say that I learned nothing about writing from having to figure out what to say about the obscure poetry about which they wanted me to write. Nor did shoving Shakespeare down my throat help. To this day, I doubt if I could say much of anything meaningful or intelligent about either Shakespeare or poetry.
Why not have them write on topics they already know and understand? If you give them literature or, even worse, political topics, then you are demanding that they do two things: master the material and learn how to write. Why make this more complicated than it should be? If they can’t write intelligibly on topics they already know, what makes anyone think they will learn to write when they are also trying to master something they don’t know about and may even be repulsed by? I learned how to write despite having terrible English comp classes.
Kenyon College has the somewhat more sensible policy of teaching composition across the curriculum so that every discipline teaches it. For example, when I taught pre-calculus a decade ago, I had the students write about home mortgages (and I hope as a result they managed to avoid being saddled with a bad mortgage). It helped that I could say I had written book reviews for the Columbus Dispatch and so was not only competent to teach math, but also had experience writing professionally. Anyway, the advantage with this way of teaching composition is that the students won't always be stuck with having professors who want them to write about white privilege or some other topic that they might be sick of hearing about. They will find themselves writing about home mortgages or the French Revolution or the pyramids of Egypt instead.
For the benefit of English comp instructors everywhere, here are some topics for teaching composition:
1. Write an essay on your favorite hobby. Write it as though the reader knows nothing about it.
2. Write an essay on your favorite book, tv show, or movie.
3. Write about an interesting experience you had or an adventure.
4. Write a letter to a large corporation applying for a job.
5. Write a technical manual describing how tools or machinery are to be used.
6. Write a short biography of someone you admire.
7. Write an essay in which you pick one of the arts – music, art, literature, drama, etc. – and explain why you prefer it to all the others. Or pick one of the genres of one of these arts and explain why you prefer that.
8. Describe the world that one of your great-grandparents lived in when they were young: the types of transportation and communication available, the big events of the day, what their hopes and dreams were likely to be, etc.
There are plenty of other possibilities that don’t involve politics being rammed down students’ throats. The idea is simply to get them to learn how to express themselves using complete sentences in standard English so that others can understand what they mean, and having them write on something they are comfortable with is a means to that end.
Britain’s Telegraph newspaper has this column about some hard truths that a former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission insists on speaking aloud. Basically, the anti-racism campaign became just as bad as the racism it tried to replace.