Monday, December 29, 2014

The Radical Left at Brandeis

People used to respect Brandeis University. No more.

When two New York City police officers were executed last week a Brandeis student named Khadijah Lynch threw a tantrum.

Taking a page out of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright playbook she spouted her hatred for America and the police on Twitter.

Unsurprisingly, Lynch’s fellow students rushed to defend her mindless invective.

The Daily Caller reports on the situation:

Students at Brandeis University spent Monday effusively supporting Khadijah Lynch, their fellow student who took to Twitter to celebrate the brutal, execution-style murder of two New York Police Department officers this weekend.

“i have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today,” Lynch had spouted on Saturday afternoon.

“lmao, all i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist fucking country,” the junior also tweeted.

It’s not the first time that Lynch offered her views of America’s race problem.  She had previous displayed her hostility to America in the student newspaper. There, she also showed that she cannot write coherent English sentences:

The very essence of the United States relies on the social implications of race in which black bodies are deemed as sub-human with little to no access of the rights that are so called applicable to every American citizen. The American police forces of today descend from a legacy of slave captives and overseers whose job was to protect the property (enslaved black bodies) of rich, slave owning capitalists. We must understand that we are not that far removed from this country’s legacy of slavery and that most of our laws are shaped to uphold a system of white supremacy. The Mike Brown case is only a reflection, a repeat and a reminder that this nation rests on the brutality and criminalization of black people and other non-whites. Once we as a nation acknowledge and understand these parallels, only then can we heal collectively from the past. 

This is what passes for serious thinking in America’s top universities today.

The story does not end with Lynch’s tweets.

After Lynch posted them, Brandeis student Daniel Mael put them up on a website called Truth Revolt.

The result: Brandeis students did not merely defend Lynch; they declared that Mael had slandered her. They called on the university administration to discipline him.

The Daily Caller explains:

Brandeis senior Michael Piccione, a member of the 2014-15 student conduct board, sent an urgent email to the president of Brandeis, senior administrators, radical leftist professors and students.

The email — entitled “VERY IMPORTANT: Holding Daniel Mael accountable, and other threats to student safety!” — claimed that “Mael has exposed Khadijah to the largely white supremacist following of the website.” (The website to which Piccione refers is Truth Revolt.)

For reporting about Khadijah’s vile tweets, Piccione declared, Mael “has potentially violated multiple parts” of a Brandeis code of student conduct including “stalking.”

“Khadijah specifically requested that her personal comments be removed from the website and the article in question taken down, but her wishes were ignored,” the student conduct board member also whined.

Piccione’s lament refers to Lynch telling Truth Revolt that her public tweets are her “own personal opinion.” Lynch had threatened that she does not want her tweets “publicized in any form and if you do not abide my wishes i constitute your disregard as slander.”

And also:

On the Brandeis Class of 2017 OFFICIAL page, a closed Facebook group, sophomore William Amara has written: “I am sorry that Khadijah has to put up with these fucking assholes publishing (and likely distorting) her private opinions to further incite racial hatred and oppression. I hope the university will stand with you if these cocksuckers cause things to escalate further.”

Amara calls the quoting of Khadijah’s tweets “slander.”

Clifton Joseph Masdea also calls the publication of Khadijah’s tweets “slanderous.” In addition, after asserting that Truth Revolt is home to “racist a-holes,” Masdea calls Mael’s publication of Lynch’s tweets “a classic case of cyberbullying.”

As one might imagine, this episode is grist for the conservative thought mill. Therefore, it is heartening to see liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz weigh in on the side of reason. Since Lynch and her supporters have threatened to sue Mael for slander, it is useful to read the views of someone who actually knows what slander is.

Dershowitz explained:

Republishing someone's own published words could not possibly constitute slander, libel or any other form of defamation, because you can't be slandered, by your own words. You can, of course, be embarrassed, condemned, ostracized or "unfriended" by your own words, as Donald Sterling, the former owner of the L.A. Clippers, was. But Sterling's bigoted words were never intended to be public, whereas Lynch's tweets were publically circulated.

People, even students, are responsible for the words they write, speak or tweet in public. They should not be able to hide behind absurd claims of slander. Mael had the right – and was right - to expose Lynch’s words for public assessment and criticism. Now hard left students at Brandeis are calling for Mael’s head – or at least his expulsion – for exercising his freedom of expression. He has been accused of "stalking," and "cyberbullying" and "inciting racial hatred and oppression" for merely republishing what Lynch published.

He adds:

So welcome to the topsy-turvy world of the academic hard left, where bigoted speech by fellow hard leftist is protected, but counter expression is labeled as "embarrassment" and "incitement" and "bullying."


Ares Olympus said...

A good summary of disasterously poor thinking. And sadly I know some not-unintelligent college-age students with similar thinking, and I've had my own dilemmas how much to challenge basically categorical "hate speech".

No mention of "shame", but reposting her words certainly seems to be an effort at shaming, but so far it seems to have failed, and her pride wouldn't allow her to second-guess the source of her own animosity, so she has nothing to apologize for.

I appreciate the quote about slander, since it is a confusing subject. I just remember Penn and Teller saying you can call people names like asshole without threat of being sued.

Anyway, it makes sense you can't expect to successfully sue someone for repeating your own words, especially ones you were foolish enough to make publicly verifiable.

The only exception I can see is context, and you should allow the person the chance to clarify their position, that your understanding was correct and they intended to say what it sounds like they said. In this case she seems confident in her opinions so looks like fair game.

But in general as a reader, I try to see if I can get context and responses if I read a claim, and if someone says "I didn't mean what I said." I don't see any purpose in further shaming.

What most convinced me towards caution is this video, talking about how written word and audio can be manipulated to make people seem to say things they didn't actually say.

It made me paranoid enough to think perhaps if I was ever interviewed, I'd better keep my own audio copy in case someone plays with the content in a deceptive way. TV tricks of the trade -- Quotes and cutaways

So if you ever want to know why you shouldn't trust everything you head and read, watch that 17 minute video.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

When "tolerance" becomes the highest value in higher education, this is what you get.

Every kind of expression is supposedly worthy of protection and celebration, meaning that nothing is. We have University of Virginia shutting down fraternity and sorority social functions on the basis of an anonymous rape accusation made to a magazine, but celebrating the assassination of two police officers needs to be defended for fear that Brandeis (and, by extension, America) will become "intolerant" of other "points of view"? Pardon me while I vomit.

In an environment where people being "mean" (bullying) are worthy of censure or expulsion, being bigoted or full of rage is a form of "expression," so long as you are expressing this invective about politically correct targets. Being a bigot is subjective, especially when the bigot is "powerless." Whatever that means.

Question: Do all points of view or expressions have value? Are they all of equal value? This is a preposterous idea. But that's what Leftism is: an assault on the concept of value. Everything is equal, everything is subjective. Idiocy.

I'm in a hospital waiting room. Ellen Degeneres just gave all her audience a Target gift card. Everyone is glued to the glowing box, wishing it were them. Yeesh.

Ares Olympus said...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD, I find your statement perplexing:
"When 'tolerance' becomes the highest value in higher education, this is what you get."

My first interpretation is you're talking about moral relativism, live-and-let-live and all that, but there's nothing tolerant about laughing over murder.

My second interpretation is you're talking about "acceptance" as free speech, like hate speech here, and perhaps suggesting the left is complacent against hate speech of certain types?

The rest of your reply seems to be suggesting the Left has no interest in the "value" of free speech, so encouraging nonsense that confuses the young, and perhaps delays moral development that is capable of discernment?

So if I take all that together, what I assume you're thinking is that the Left needs to stand up against hate speech from the left, and call it what it is, and punish this foolish student for her vile opinions? So that's what you can do when you don't tolerate hate speech, right?

I don't know about all that. I'd want this student to calmly think through her expressions of contempt towards police officers, and ask her what sort of world she wants to live in? Does she really think random assassination of a person because of the uniform they wear, will that help improve the behavior of police officers? Does she really think that? And I expect she does.

And given I know a couple 20-somethings with a similar attitude, F*ck the system, or establishment to quote the 70s version of this bizarre counter-culture.

But back to Radical Left girl. I find her tweets offensive and dangerous - basically offering her seal of approval for any other mentally deranged individuals to go on their own cop-hunting games, and her anger seems so strong that this makes sense to her.

So I wonder about that overt aggression, that overt lack of humanity, a failure to see police officers as human beings with families and morality that may be much deeper than her own crude expressions of impotent power.

I still don't have understanding, but I can compare to my brother-in-law, currently jobless, and has his little rant about illegal immigrants taking all the jobs, and pretty well nonsense, but who am I to tell him so? And does his scapegoating hurt anyone, as long as he's not advocating illegals be rounded up and shot, but I suppose he does desperately want 12 million illegals put into prison or deported, at any cost, under someone else's tax dollars.

So that level of animosity is scary to me.

Yet, a part of me says there is some good, in having outrageous ideas said aloud. I mean if my sister refused to listen to him, and everyone around him simply walked away when he started on one of his rants, would that "shame" him into shutting up about it?

And then you think, perhaps people who feel such inner hatred, we might force that person into silent resentment outside our attention, or perhaps in his anonymous online forums, and someday he'll discover his mission is to kill someone who looks foreign and probably stole someone's job.

So what is this "mental virus" of hatred, and what should we do when we see it in others? Maybe 99.9% stays as impotent stupid rage, and 90% dies off once a person finds something more positive to think about.

Who knows, maybe someday it'll be a Brave New World, and we'll have special drugs to deal with Anxiety and resentment, and people will take them voluntarily? And their newly calmed minds will think of better thoughts?

Whatever it is, it must be within all of us, so perhaps when we see it in others, we might question our own strange hatreds we stew on in our weak moments? That's the only clear hope I have now - seeing hatred on the outside makes it easier to want to heal my own.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares Olympus @December 29, 2014 at 1:49 PM:

Thank you for seeking clarification. I was sitting in that hospital waiting room going mad with Ellen in the background. Perhaps I was not lucid in my thinking.

Shortly after I graduated from college, I read a book that changed my life, explained my impatience with the academy I'd just exited, and renewed my interest in my own education. That book was "The Closing of the American Mind" by Harold Bloom. It is a devastating critique of intellectual rigor and standards at the modern American university. This rubbish from Brandeis serves as further evidence of the kind of predictable societal decay Bloom explains.

In one key passage, Bloom writes:
"The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it. ... The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all. … The purpose of their education is not to make them scholars but to provide them with a moral virtue—openness."

This is what I am trying to express in my comment. I'm not entirely sure what you are trying to express in the latter art of your own, but let's put that aside. If, in the end, you are saying "we all need each other," I can certainly agree. But integrity is a key concept we are losing sight of, and it is impacting our notions about the dignity of the human person.

Basically, I believe in standards. In your second interpretation, you've characterized it as "acceptance." Thats not what I'm trying to say at all. I'm saying that we cannot have a moral, conscientious conversation without standards. The radical Left rejects standards, save equality. Life should be a free-for-all, with no standards. It's really anarchy, but Leftism casts a wider net, because I think some of the Left's unchecked, undistinguished thinking has made gains in mainstream culture. I don't have time to cite reams of evidence, save the book I've referenced. Sure, it was published in 1987, but it reads like a prophecy of today's bloated, morally relative, utilitarian academy.

So yes, I am speaking of "moral relativism" here, which is your first interpretation. As you'll see in most of my comments, this is my main beef with... well, just about everything. If you don't see how murder has become morally relative in the example of the Brandeis student mentioned in Stuart's post, I don't know what to tell you. Radical Leftism is a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist philosophy. It is unyielding. The ends justify the means. It's all about power. Killing a couple cops is collateral damage, one step closer to the dictatorship of the proletariat (which never actually comes to pass, but that's collateral damage, too).

So you're correct: "there's nothing tolerant about laughing over murder." Or mocking murder. Or justifying murder. But none of those moral precepts matter in a morally relative world. A morally relative world matches nicely with a materialist Leftist worldview. Cop killers are a means to an end. It's dishonest, irresponsible, and totally out of integrity, but that's not what they teach at Brandeis anymore. It's a theoretical, utopian universe, just like Marx's ideas. A perfect match.

So again, when "tolerance" or "openness" becomes the highest value in higher education, this is what you get.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

FYI: If you are looking for a good smattering of quotes from "The Closing of the American Mind" by Harold Bloom, here is an excellent start:

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Correction: I have twice above erroneously referred to Harold Bloom as the author of "The Closing of the American Mind." Harold Bloom is a noted humanities professor at Yale University, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the book. Instead, this book was written by Allan Bloom, who was professor of philosophy at many prestigious universities, including the University of Chicago, where he advocated for a classicist Great Books curriculum. Allan Bloom died in 1992. In this referenced 1987 work, his most noted mainstream effort, Allan Bloom characterized the "openness" of relativism as leading paradoxically to the great "closing." My apologies for the oversight.

Ares Olympus said...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD, thanks for the heads up on Allan Bloom, I'll have to check him out.

I probably won't agree, but I like people willing to stick to a POV, while I generally prefer to seeing possible strengths and weaknesses of each.

It's amazing and embarrassing how many new names I hear about, although memory loss might account for a fraction.

Dennis said...

In the same vein as Alan Bloom:

"How I Accidentally Joined The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy and Found Inner Peace"
Harry Stein

"The New Thought Police"
Tammy Bruce

"Illiberal Education. The Politics Of Race And Sex on Campus."

Dinesh D'Souza

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...


Actually, I read "Illiberal Education" before reading Bloom. It was the first step toward my liberation.

I could go on about my contempt for the parsimonious nonsense of subjective deconstructive "analysis" in the liberal arts, but I will not bore you with this. Suffice to say it is the realization of Mr. Rogers' Land of Make-Believe, as validated by the modern academy. I wish they would just &@$#ing teach, and teach well. The academy has become a self-selective concentration camp of fringe/loony ideas about some sort of fantastic humanoid existence ("what Man could be, if only..."), rather than a study of what it means to be human. This viewpoint favors the subjective over the objective, the personal over the shared. We can't connect with each other because we all circulate in our own little phony intellectual orbits. It's a narcissistic Brown University education writ large onto a fragmented culture. What have we gained? Isolation, desolation, suspicion, pain. Oh that the Stasi could've been so clever in their methods!

Sad, but true. I fear there is a tremendous "correction" coming to the university. The WSJ had a column about it in yesterday's issue, about subjecting the academy to the kinds of performance standards other government vendors are held to. They wouldn't stand a chance. Pure bloat. That's the idea. Everyone the king (or queen) of his/her own kingdom... the kingdom of nothing, as that's all there is!

I teach at one of the top art colleges in the world... as an adjunct in Liberal Arts (I know, Ares, this probably terrifies you). The students think their liberal arts classes are meaningless. I've delved under the hood to explore their sentiments, and suspect their intuitions are correct... what they're being told does make human existence seem meaningless, unimportant, arbitrary, infantile. And this is what is being taught to students who are expected to express what is visually meaningful in explaining the point of our homo sapiens existbence! Yeesh.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares Olympus @December 30, 2014 at 1:26 PM:

Regarding your "POV" statement, I'm relieved that you like it. With regards to strengths and weaknesses, I'm satisfied... and clear.

What is an education??? The human mind must be subjected to rigorous challenge in order to grow. We want those representing our highest and fullest growth potential becoming our elites... the most wise, not the most economically specialized. Do we truky believe that Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon, Jeff Bezos, Alan Mullaley or Alex Gorsky know best how to lead our society? Really? This is where American capitalism may betray us, but American academe or the political sphere offers little consolation. Barack Obama? Drew Faust? Ugh.

This betrays my bias for a brutal classical education... so we may know how to THINK, and that this thinking connect with our universal, shared experience. So that we might not try to reinvent the wheel with each successive generation, pretending that each generation is somehow "special" or trending toward "perfection." How boring.

Never. Going. To. Happen.

Yet I acknowledge the weakness: the "risk" of the approach I advocate is conformity, in every variety of thought... that we'll all be follower automatons, fretting over whether we'll soon be overcome by the chimpanzee. Or the cockroach.

That said, a thoughtful tradeoff gives rise to the positive opportunity: a healthy culture that builds on itself... it's successes and failures. Such a culture is healthy in its introspection and perspective. It progresses. It grows. But it needs to know where it came from to show positive movement. Our current academic culture has completely detached from such admonishments. It is nihilistic, hedonistic, and self-evidently self-loathing.

Additionally, human beings -- all human beings, no exemptions! -- have a need to belong. And in order to transcend the mediocrity and pointlessness of this existence, each must strive to devote him/herself to something greater than him/herself. I can hardly think of something more indisputable, unless you question the existence of the soul, the dignity of the human person, and the purpose of human struggle/sacrifice/suffering. That's what our opponents in the materialist spectrum seek to undermine so violently in their quest to justify their own antisocial behavior. They prosyletize meaninglessness, they evangelize atheism, so as to degrade the human person, the soul, and each purpose/mission. No humility, no seeking beyond the material. Only natural absolutes.

Will we choose to believe in a secular humanist view of man as the measure of all things, or God (as best we can know God) as the measure of all things? Do we hold Jesus of Nazareth as the incarnation of the living God -- everything it means to be human and divine -- or do we settle for the pantheistic nonsense of Gaea, a mythical god-mother to assuage the fear that we may be wrecking our planetary home, while simultaneously evangelizing that the natural world will go on for millions and billions of years? As if it matters. Or a "brilliant" Dalai Lama who aligns with Marxism? The we have the environmentalist who appeals to the human need for an inheritance beyond himself, while destroying the core reason for that sacrifice... save the passing of his own deoxyribonucleic acid? Does that make sense to you? We didn't know such a thing existed until Watson and Crick let us know in 1953. Was all life meaningless before that, or did we merely delve deeper into the wonder of God's plan/design? Is the existence of water now passé, not wonderful? We use water's presence to determine whether life is possible on other planets! Is this arrogant???

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Cont'd from above...

When theology went out of the university, everything went to shit. There was nothing to balance our infantile desires to be God, as the master of our own destiny... whatever the hell that means. We have science as the new golden calf, and Nietzsche to be the incarnation of our agnostic, carnal, abstract masturbation. Nietzsche sets us free, gives us salvation, and portends that life is meaningless and God is dead, while the scientism of our age tells us "energy" is everywhere, and we're moving into a "new age of consciousness," as ISIS rampages across the Middle East... the latest vestige of the barbarian horde, excused by multiculturalists as "misunderstood."

Given the balance of strengths and weaknesses, I'll take the Christian worldview any day. Offer me an alternative. Whatever it is, as Walker Percy said, "It's not good enough." No way. Man was created to serve God, not himself or some latest bankrupt ideology. Man is not the measure of all things. Man is a created creature, with all the faults and foibles one would expect. It's folly, arrogant and silly to see it any different. We are fallen creatures, and chosen. And our only choice for redemption is to love. The trajectory of the modern academy is not toward love, it is the path to mutual misery.

Happy New Year.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Wanna hear something really nutty?

I'll bet you if the Dalai Lama wore normal Western street clothes, spoke with an American accent, had a sober tone and said the exact same things, he'd be laughed off the stage, marginalized, a crackpot.

Hell, if the Dalai Lama was a white dude speaking with a deep southern accent, drinking bourbon on stage, and smoking Marlboro Reds at an outdoor pavilion, he wouldn't get invited by Clemson, much less have his appearance paid for by the student community service fee.

"Diversity" is a joke. It's about costume, origin, exoticness, Leftism, fringeness, celebration, protest, passion, celebrity... all the emotions on parade I what's supposed to be an intellectual bastion. Aren't the daytime talk shows enough???

And don't give me any of this crap that George Will gets to speak at college graduations. My goodness, Rush Limbaugh is one of the most -- if not the most -- influential voices in American politics today, In terms of his impact. And he can't get a commencement speaking invitation to save his life. Ellen Degeneres spoke at Tulane University in 2009.

This is what today's higher education -- steeped in political correctness and sanitary speech -- stands for. Does this work for you?

Dennis said...


You would also enjoy Stein. He was about as far left as anyone could possibly be when he started to think, emphasis on think.
One of the reason I keep mentioning one has to be tough on those one cares about is that most people need to be challenged in order to develop the ability to see life as it really exists. If it sounds good as a philosophy it in most cases is NOT.
Ah to be young and keep making the same intellectual mistakes based on insufficient unchallenged reasoning.