H/T James Taranto, Opinion Journal:
At … Syracuse University, meanwhile, students Jessie Kerr-Vanderslice, a senior, and Bobby Powers, a junior, show off the value of their education in a letter to the editor of the Daily Orange
*** QUOTE ***
Sadly, we must bring to your attention yet another example of offensive and insensitive programming sponsored by our university. On March 8, Ann Coulter will be speaking at the invitation of the College Republicans. If you are not familiar with her work, a quick Google search will let you know what’s up. Ann Coulter’s openly racist, sexist and hateful remarks violate Syracuse University’s non-discrimination policy. Have we learned nothing from HillTV about respect for our fellow human beings? Evidently not.
This is not an issue of free speech and hearing “both sides” of an issue. Her remarks directly infringe upon students’ rights to feel safe and included in the campus community. At this point, we find it unlikely that this kind of oppressive “entertainment” is due to white privileged ignorance and probably has more to do with overt, unashamed racism.
*** END QUOTE ***
This is semantically identical with the language of Islamofascist protestors ranting about caricatures of Muhammed. “Our feelings are most important. The rest of you have to shut up.”
Call it Kumbaya-fasco-passive-aggressiveness. Unfortunately, the letter is intended as a caricature neither of treacly pseudo-African folksongs, nor of the more “reality based” denizens of our campuses.
They’re serious that free speech should not impinge on their privileged status as deaf students. You can just see them running around chanting “lalalalala, I can’t hear you.”
If only they would do that instead of putting it in writing.
The students position that the 1st Amendment guarantees protection from hurt feelings (and boy, is there anyone to take more seriously than Ann Coulter, so it really hurts when she says something!) reminded me of Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado. Found it interesting to imagine what the position of the students would be were he to speak on their campus. That led to discovering the following paean from a Churchill colleague in Texas:
So, I don’t hesitate to defend Churchill, his work, and the larger political movement of which he is a part. But I also want to articulate where I disagree with his analysis — not to distance myself from him but instead to demonstrate solidarity. Real colleagues do not ignore differences; they engage them. And at the same time, real political allies on the left keep their eyes on the game that right-wing forces play — divide-and-conquer strategies designed to scare people away from supporting principles of justice and each other.
So, to fellow leftists and scholars: This is the worst possible time to duck and cover. It’s an especially important moment to step up in public and engage in open and honest dialogue, to defend our intellectual and political positions and our right to speak about them.
To right-wing forces: Feel free to take passages from this essay out of context to “prove” that I am anti-American, support terrorism, and use the classroom to indoctrinate helpless students in my demonic left-wing ideology designed to destroy our country. Of course you don’t need my permission; you’ll do it anyway, as you’ve done it to Churchill and many others.
To Ward Churchill: There are points in the essay that I think missed the mark, perhaps mostly out of a lack of sufficient time and space for detail in argument. I offer this critique not in condemnation but in support, in the hope that all of us working on these issues can refine our arguments.
First, let’s go to the passage that has received the most attention, the labeling of the people described as a “technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire” as “little Eichmanns.” Churchill has said that the passage clearly wasn’t intended to include the janitors, food-service workers, children, rescue workers, or passers-by who were killed, and there’s no reason to doubt him about that, even if the construction was ambiguous enough that many read it as a broader condemnation. But even accepting that narrow construction, the statement is still problematic. Are all the stock traders in the United States really equivalent to Adolph Eichmann? It’s true that Eichmann was a technocrat who helped keep the Nazi machinery of death running, not the person pulling the trigger, so to speak. But Eichmann was a fairly high-level Gestapo bureaucrat, directly involved in the planning of that holocaust. Is it accurate to think of all stock traders — even if marked as “little” versions of Eichmann, implying a much lower scale — as being in an analogous position? Is there a difference between a run-of-the-mill stock broker who manages people’s retirement funds and high-level traders who make deals that can change the value of a nation’s currency and destroy people’s lives?
Certainly many people in this society do jobs that are disconnected from real-world suffering caused by our economic and political system, and it is easy to lose sight of one’s role in that system, and hence one’s moral responsibility. Perhaps better than labeling them Eichmanns would be to talk about the degree of Eichmann-ness in various positions.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of “Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity” from City Lights Books. He can be reached at email@example.com
So this U of T journalism professor gets to speak on campus every day and force-feed students who have no matricular escape, and moreover to get paid for it, but if I understand the Syracusers with hurt feelings, Ms. Coulter shouldn’t be permitted to speak on campus to a volunteer audience even once. Well, I guess that’s fair. . .
10:46 PM, March 08, 2006