One of the themes I’ve been pushing in this blog is that, since academia is dominated by liberals and leftists, therefore how they run it ought to reflect on them and their political and economic philosophies. If they run it well, then that is to their credit, and if they run it poorly, then that is to their discredit. Certainly, if conservatives were in charge, and if they were running it poorly, then those who are left-of-center would be furious and would blame conservatives for not running it better.
Now my main gripe about academia as it currently exists is the poor way that liberals and leftists have handled the jobs crisis (the huge oversupply of Ph.D.s). They have handled it mostly by not handling it; that is, in spite of their rhetoric against free-market solutions, a free-market solution is in effect what they have chosen. Naturally, I think this is to their discredit.
But academia generally isn’t run very well. What should be an egalitarian utopia – at least among those who have jobs – is anything but. For example, I know of two feminist academics who once got into a screaming match. To be sure, there are plenty of departments that seem to be run well, but there are also ones that are quite dysfunctional.
Tonight, we helped a friend celebrate because he was in one of the dysfunctional departments, but today the provost of his college spun him and his friends off into their own new department. The dysfunctional department, which consisted entirely of liberals and leftists, was split into two groups of unequal size. The larger group of professors was always dominating the smaller group and imposing their decisions onto it. For example, the chair always seemed to come from the larger group, which of course was convenient for bullying and getting one's way. Recently, the department has been running two searches, one to replace someone in the larger group, and one to replace someone in the smaller group. The professors in the larger group believed they should have the final say on not just their own search, but on the other group’s search as well.
Is this fairness? Is this power-sharing? Is this avoiding a situation of hegemony? Isn’t this just being greedy?
Anyway, the provost finally settled all the squabbling once and for all by spinning off the smaller group. It’s too bad it wasn’t done ages ago.
Here’s another story. At a certain big university, some of the professors in the art history department decided that they should slant the whole department towards modern and contemporary art. They brooked no dissent on this policy, so over the course of the last few years, new hires have been in those areas. Meanwhile, the few remaining professors who didn’t teach modern and contemporary art decided that there was no point in accepting new grad students, so all of the new grad students are in modern and contemporary. Suddenly, the author of this plan realized a big disadvantage of it: “Hey, now we have to do all the work.”
This article from the Daily Mail tells about how a black woman in Britain gave a speech at a Labour Party conference in which she claimed that eight members of her family had been murdered. It now turns out that several of them weren’t murdered at all and are still alive. As the article puts it, “Labour officials were criticised for not checking her story before she was presented to the conference.”
Exactly. These are the people who claim to be in favor of critical thinking, the ones who like investigative reporting and not just straight reporting, and so on. But it turns out that all of this is really partisan in nature, that they are critical of claims made by their political opponents, but not of those made by one of their own, that they like investigative reporting when it investigates their political opponents, but not when it investigates one of their own. And so they frequently end up in the situation in which one of them has exaggerated or outright lied and they have taken it at face value instead of being skeptical. It never looks good.
If the Arab Spring in Egypt represented the failure of American foreign policy, then its manifestation in Syria represents the failure of liberal leftist foreign policy. This is true in several different ways. First, that policy demanded that we engage in talks with its leader (and Iran's leader, also), because they felt that we shouldn’t be tied to a policy that treated Syria as an enemy. After all, their leader wasn’t an American puppet, as Mubarak was, so he must be an authentic voice of the people (and of course that showed that the Syrians hated America).
Next, liberal left policy has no answer regarding what to do when foreigners are being massacred by other foreigners, except when the U.S. is to blame. But in this case we aren’t to blame, and they have no solution (just as with Darfur, except that their lack of a solution in that case was easily hidden because our involvement in Iraq overshadowed everything else). We are now looking at a world in which the U.S. is absent, and it is of course no prettier than the one in which we have a looming presence.
Even worse, it’s hard to take the narrative of Palestinian oppression seriously after this. Of course, anyone familiar with the Syrian massacre back in the early 1980s would have known that, but this is an important reminder, especially to young people.
Finally, it’s a failure since they should have advocated what I did a few months back (here), namely that we should urge these dictators to urge their people to moderate their demands. The Middle East is a region that easily becomes inflamed over the tiniest of things (such as the burning of a Qur’an), and giving a population like that democracy means they will soon tear themselves apart.
I was reminded of this today when looking at a photo at this link. The young woman in the photo is voting in the Syrian referendum, which means she’s probably a supporter of Assad. Since she has no headscarf on, even though the two other women near her do, she is probably a Christian (though she could be Alawi). I’m not a fan of the Syrian regime, but it has managed to create a safe space for its Christians, just as Mubarak’s regime did in Egypt. (See here and here for the views of Christians in Syria.) And just as Mubarak’s fall has made it more dangerous to be Christian in Egypt, so the fall of Assad would have the same consequence for them in Syria.
Unfortunately, the failure to urge the peoples of the Middle East to be more moderate means that changes in that region are usually for the worse. Meanwhile, perhaps the best policy is just to let events take their course.
See here. The suggestion is to put Qur’an’s all over the place because obviously destroying them can’t be allowed. Then when terrorists come along, they will see them and refrain from perpetrating a terrorist act because it would destroy a Qur'an.
I have a feeling, though, that some imam would declare that destroying them under those circumstances (that is, the Qur’an is owned by an infidel who is using it solely as protection against terrorism) is perfectly fine.
Reader Mark Spahn has linked to a Jihad Watch post (here) on a case in Pennsylvania where an atheist in a Halloween parade was attacked by a Muslim because the atheist was wearing a costume of Muhammed as a zombie. The judge, himself a Muslim, dismissed the case and lectured the victim, telling him what free speech is all about:
Our forefathers intended that we use the first amendment so that we could speak what's on our mind, not piss off other cultures.
Really? Then during the 1960s when Northern liberals would speak out against racism in the South, they weren’t allowed to do that? How about liberals and leftists condemning apartheid?
Anyway, I got curious about how atheists would treat this case. And here is their response.
I’m impressed. For too long, the people who I thought would be up in arms about stealth jihad in the West have been so quiet, or even actually siding with the jihadists, that I had given up on them. Maybe there’s hope for them after all.
Hamas has decided to abandon its support for the Syrian regime and to support the rebels instead. (I first heard this yesterday, but only Reuters was reporting it, so I waited until others were reporting it before mentioning it.) See this link. Note the reference to marchers shouting, “No Hezbollah and no Iran.” Those were probably Egyptians saying that, but still, this is a big shift and is no doubt partly the result of not wanting to support what Assad is doing to his own people as well as the rising power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (which may supplant Iran as Hamas’ primary backer).
In this link a 19-year-old woman tells about how her family relocated to Palestine from Chicago. She writes that her life is miserable (she used a different word) and that her parents want to marry her off to someone (most of whom don't speak English) and have her spend the rest of her life there. She seems to think she will be safe enough till she graduates at 22, but if I were here, I’d get out of there fast.
An article in Britain’s Daily Mail shows why everyone needs to be educated in finance. See here. The family in question lived in a nice house, but kept refinancing in order to pay bills. They weren’t worried because house prices kept going up, until of course they started coming down. Now they are living in an apartment and can’t afford the down payment for another house.
These people made lots of mistakes. The first was assuming that house prices would always rise, and the second was doing all this refinancing in order to get money. The writer points out that they didn’t use the money from refinancing to buy luxuries, that instead it was used for “school fees and upkeep of the house.” But these are things that a homeowner should be able to pay without refinancing. The writer also talks of their interest-only mortgage payments, which meant they were not actually building up equity. So, when she talks about how they “spent years climbing the property ladder,” she is deluding herself. They were basically renting the house from the bank.
People like her are why I insist that our schools need to spend more time on basic personal finance (and less time on the postmodern goop and self-esteem nonsense that they seem to be so good at purveying). These people bought an expensive house, and I assume they are well-educated, yet they didn’t understand some basic things. Even reading this book would have helped since it would have discouraged her and her family from thinking of her house as an asset. Too late now.
A few days ago four young women from the Minneapolis area were killed when they were returning to college. Their car slid off the road in a rural area and ended up in the oncoming lane, where it was struck by another vehicle. Having read Warren Farrell’s books, I knew what was coming. Instead of doing an intensive investigation into why the accident took place with large doses of blame heaped onto the driver, which is what would have happened if a man had been driving, there would be a public outcry about what hadn’t been done to prevent that sort of thing. Sure enough, in today’s Star-Tribune there is a big article on how the absence of guard rails on that particular stretch of road was the problem. (See here.) And the absence of guard rails was due to the cheapness of the state, which of course means that Republicans are to blame because they are the ones who are too stingy to want this sort of thing.
I’ll admit that if the young women had been black, this public outcry wouldn’t have been so great, either. But certainly if the driver had been male, they would have talked about how he was probably going too fast for the conditions or else that he was on his cell phone. No one would be talking about the absence of guard rails.