9/11

God was an “accessory” to the Sept. 11 attacks if such a deity exists at all, the head of a national anti-religion group told the University of Michigan-Flint in a lecture sponsored by an atheist-agnostic campus group.

The campus group is no stranger to provocative claims: In video posted last week from an earlier event, its president said that religious people must believe the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting to be a “good thing.”

Dan Barker, founder and co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, told the campus crowd last week that that an omnipotent and omniscient God cannot be a loving one.

Barker gave a personal testimony-style discussion of his conversion from a “fundamentalist binary-brain absolutistic [sic]” evangelical Christianity to atheism, before saying that believers pray to an unresponsive god.

“How many people were praying desperately for God to bless America on September 10, 2001?” said Barker during a question-and-answer session. “How many people had children in that building that were praying for God’s guidance and protection?”

Speaking rhetorically, Barker asked, “Would you have respected the prayers of the people in that building who loved their kids and would you have honored their faithfulness and stopped that tragedy? If you could have and didn’t, you are something of an accessory. You’re just as guilty if you could have stopped it and you didn’t.”

Barker has made similar arguments at other schools and even debated conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza about God’s existence in 2009.

Students for Free-thought, which hosted Barker’s lecture, was founded at the university in 2011 to promote a “welcoming environment” for nonreligious students and to “educate our fellow students of our viewpoints,” according to a description on the school’s student organizations page. The group’s Facebook page says it also advocates for “LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s rights, and racial equality.”

Despite the student government’s prohibition on funding activities that are not “viewpoint neutral,” Students for Free-thought petitioned and received funding for the Barker event. Approved activities get funds from student activity fees, which all enrolled students are required to pay.

Kevin Johnston, Students for Free-thought president, appeared to go even farther than Barker in a March 2013 debate.

The group only posted videos from Johnston’s debate on the “Problem of Suffering” with Elizabeth Arnold of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical student ministry, last week.

Johnston argued in that debate, three months after the Sandy Hook shooting, that a benevolent and all-powerful God should prevent people from committing atrocities like at Sandy Hook.

Believers should not appeal to free will to explain such events, Johnston said, asserting that the concept is not compatible with belief in an all-knowing God.

“How can you say that it was wrong for that maniac to kill those children if you believe it was actually a good thing in the eyes of God?” said Johnston of religious believers.

“As a believer, all of what occurs is God’s plan, and God’s plan is ultimately a good plan,” Johnston told The College Fix in a phone interview in defending his debate remarks. “If God is a good God, than massacres and everything else that occurs by falling within God’s good plan must be good things under that paradigm.”

InterVarsity’s Arnold, who graduated from UM-Flint last year and now works in Christian ministry, disagrees.

“God does indeed have a plan of redemption and restoration for all individuals and the world at large,” Arnold told The Fix. “The problem is that not everyone wants to be part of God’s plan for the world because they have their own.”

“Christian or not, we will never be able to fully understand why such tragedies … take place because to fully explain it is to justify it, and there is no justification for such senseless acts of violence,” Arnold said responding to Johnston’s claims. “No explanation will remove the sorrow that is felt by the family members, friends, and our society.”

College Fix reporter Mariana Barillas is a student at the University of Michigan-Flint.

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IMAGE: Jason Trommetter/Flickr

Young America’s Foundation went to The George Washington University campus recently to interview students about the anniversary of Sept. 11. Only six out of 30 students remembered the anniversary, but 29 out of 30 were able to identify one or more celebrities involved in the nude photo hacking scandal, the foundation reports.

 Watch the interviews:

OPINION: How Professors Indoctrinate Students: A Prime Example

How would you define al-Qaeda? Most would use the word “terrorists.”

But here is my professor’s stab at it: “The Al Qaeda movement of Osama bin Laden is one example of an attempt to free a country (in this case, Saudi Arabia) from a corrupt and repressive regime propped up by a neocolonial power (in this case, the United States).”

That’s word-for-word from his own textbook, “The Other World: Issues and Politics of the Developing World, Ninth Edition.” Here is the full quote in context:

“Much of the political instability endemic to Other World political systems stems from the fact that governments operated openly for private gain (or kleptocracies) have little legitimacy among, or acceptance by, a significant proportion of the population, in neo colonial times as in the past. The Al Qaeda movement of Osama bin Laden is one example of an attempt to free a country (in this case, Saudi Arabia) from a corrupt and repressive regime propped up by a neocolonial power (in this case, the United States).” *

There’s a lot of talk among higher education circles about how professors “indoctrinate” students with leftist, socialist viewpoints – how they take students who may not know much about a subject and teach a one-sided, biased course, creating  like-minded minions who may even take action for professors’ pet causes.

Allow me to tell you about a quintessential course I just took which proves out that generally agreed-upon understanding about the modern college experience: World Food Systems at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It’s the class in which we used “The Other World” textbook, co-authored by the same scholar who taught the course: Emmit B. Evans, Jr.

It fulfills either a political science or elective requirement, and I enrolled during the fall semester.

I can sum it up as follows: Big Oil and greedy capitalists are the reason for the war in the Middle East, the reason Global Warming is (not might be) destroying the planet, and the reason why a new world order based on equality and fairness must emerge.

It’s also the reason we, as students, must rise up and take action against these evils.

Oh yeah, and al-Qaeda is just a bunch of freedom fighters.

Think I’m exaggerating? Read on.

The official description of the course states it’s an “integrated, interdisciplinary study of the technologies of global food production, environmental and social issues related to the application of those technologies, and moral and ethical issues associated with global food production and distribution. Emphasis on the politics of change.”

With that, Cal Poly Professor Evans – a funny professor with a lot of interesting things to say – liked to talk about hot-button issues like climate change, the Iraq War, Iran and oil.

I found the course to be very thought-provoking. These issues should be discussed in a college class. But Evans only showed the liberal side of each issue. While I enjoyed the class, I would have liked to have heard counter arguments.

Climate change was a recurring theme throughout the course, but not once was the notion that climate change isn’t man-made ever raised.

Evans even showed us a lengthy clip from Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” but never mentioned it can’t be shown in the U.K. without acknowledging that 11 different scenes are factually incorrect.

He assigned us readings from the far-left environmental activist Bill McKibben to highlight what he viewed were the dangers of man-made climate change. But nary a word on how there are legitimate arguments that climate change is not man-made, including reports that say that say it is caused by sunspots rather than by CO2.

Oil was another recurring theme, and my professor left me and my peers with the impression that oil production causes nothing but pollution and wars because the planet will soon run out of the commodity.

Nevermind that studies show the U.S. has enough oil and natural gas to last more than 500 years; that wasn’t mentioned. Instead, Evans told us the Iraq war, the one launched after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, was started over oil.

C’mon. Even far-left politicians like Barbara Boxer, Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy – who were critical of the war in Iraq – never once referred to it as a war over oil.

But I recall one test question that even asked what the cause of the war was, and the correct answer was “oil.”

Evans also never brought up that Saddam Hussein violated U.N. resolutions and harbored terrorists, both among the arguments for invading Iraq.

There was no love-loss between Professor Evans and President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, two politicians he frequently threw under the bus. 

Another doozy from his textbook? Conservatives view the poor as “poor because of shortcomings within themselves, often considered to stem from race, gender, or class.”

So, no surprise: One day last fall Professor Evans let a Covered California representative talk in class for 20 minutes about the Affordable Care Act, a speaker who tried to convince us Obamacare is a great thing and we should all sign up.

(This had absolutely nothing to do with the syllabus, nor was it on the final exam, thankfully.)

At this point, are you thinking what I am thinking? The class is called “World Food Systems.” When do we talk about food? It came up here and there. We learned corn ethanol damages the environment, genetically modified food is an abomination, chemicals in food hurt humans, topics such as that.

Our professor also liked to disparage big corporations for taking government subsidies, and for poisoning the population with chemicals like BPA.

At the end of the course, we were taught how to affect change for all these alleged ills: he touted microlending and socialistic policies. He praised the occupy Wall Street movement, the Arab Spring, and protests to raise the minimum wage as examples of positive change movements.

If I were to have come into that course without any political leanings or knowledge on these issues, I would have likely walked away believing businesses are greedy and evil and people just pollute the Earth.

After my grade was recorded in my transcripts, I emailed Professor Evans to ask him about the slant in his class. He did not deny it.

“This focus drives the content of the course: from an examination of how systems work and what makes them stable, to how current food systems work, to what more sustainable systems might look like, and to how current systems might be changed to be more sustainable,” he stated. “It would seem difficult to justify teaching the other side of this focus – exploring how we might build more unsustainable food systems.”

“Course evaluations sometimes include comments similar to yours, which encourage us to make the goals and focus of the course as explicit as possible. I’m sorry if I didn’t accomplish that as well as I could have in your case, but am pleased you didn’t un-enjoy the class!”

Fair enough, but his slant does a disservice to Cal Poly students, and in my mind it rises to the level of academic malfeasance.

College Fix contributor Aaron Bandler is a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

*‘The Other World’ textbook was co-authored, but the citation comes from a section Evans penned and assigned as reading.

Meet the model/actress/student who brought patriotism to USC, and don’t miss the plot twist toward the end of the story.

 

Jennifer Ann Massey was supposed to swing through the World Trade Center subway stop en route to a modeling gig in Brooklyn right around 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001.

Instead, the Southern Texas native overslept, and watched in horror with the rest of America as two commercial jetliners flew into the twin towers.

“I could have been underneath when they came down,” the spunky, bright and beautiful University of Southern California student and actress told The College Fix in a recent interview.

In the wake of the attacks, the patriotism and camaraderie was palpable, she said.

“That week, everyone was an American,” Massey said. “In that tragedy, people came together.”

However more recently, as a college student at the University of Southern California, the lack of campus memorials or observances on the anniversary of 9/11 has bothered Massey, she said, adding it’s not just the school, sometimes it seems the entire greater Los Angeles area could care less about the day.

So Massey did something about it, what she calls her “crazy journey.” She made calls. She set up meetings. She sent flurries of emails. She gave presentations. She bugged people, then bugged them some more. She didn’t take no for an answer.

And when it was all said and done – what she called months of “sweat, tears, but no blood” – the history major secured a chunk of steel from one of the Twin Towers that will photo 3serve as the cornerstone of a future 9/11 memorial at the private university.

“It’s the top of an I-beam,” Massey said excitedly. “It weighs about 100 pounds.”

The memorial was secured thanks to the backing of University of Southern California administrators – and in particular Dr. Varun Soni, dean of religious life – who allowed Massey to lobby for the steel on the school’s behalf.

Campus officials say they are designing the memorial now, and hope to install it sometime soon near the school’s Department of Public Safety building.

“Jennifer Massey really took the lead on this project, and reached out to the 9/11 Families Association and the Fire Department of New York,” Soni said in an email to The Fix. “This would not have happened without her perseverance and hard work.”

“9/11 was not just an American tragedy, but a global one,” he added. “Indeed, more than 90 countries were represented in the deaths at the World Trade Center. Given that our campus is truly a global location, with 8,000 international students from all over the world, we feel that USC is an appropriate place for the memorial. We hope that it will be visited not just by our students, but also by our neighborhood communities and university visitors.”

For Massey, however, it’s all about America.

“It might sound cheesy, but I’m really a patriotic American,” she said. “This memorial will mean we stand in solidarity with New York, with what happened that day. We are not going to forget, either. It didn’t just happen to New York, it happened to all Americans.”

In fact, Massey is so dedicated to America, she sort of gave up her impressive acting career to pursue a larger priority – her passion to promote conservative ideals on campus. Massey – insert dramatic pause – is president of the USC College Republicans.

“I took that knowing I’d probably never get an acting job again,” she said of coming out as a Republican.

She is quick to emphasize being a Republican has nothing to do with her patriotism, or her effort to bring the World Trade Center steel to campus. In fact, she didn’t tout that connection during any of her interactions bringing the I-beam to the West Coast.

“This is not about politics, I just wanted to get this done,” she said.

Nevertheless, the journey from working in the modeling world and notoriously left-leaning Hollywood circles to touting conservative ideals to peers is a rare path, indeed. But to Massey, it’s simple.

“It’s common sense,” she said.

Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix.

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Students at the private University of Southern California spent the evening of 9/11 at an action-packed workshop held at the “Ground Zero” theater during which they talked about how oppressive and unsafe they think their campus is, called campus police officers racist and white males “privileged,” and celebrated transgenderism.

Busy night at the “Plug-In” workshop.

Accusations that the Los Angeles Police Department is filled racists who target black USC students surfaced in May, when apparently some students didn’t like that the department sent 80 cops to break up a rowdy house party. On Wednesday night, students turned their attention on USC’s campus police, the Department of Public Safety.

“I feel more safe off of campus than on campus,” said De’Ron Marques, a senior majoring in public relations, according to an article in The Daily Trojan. “Being a black student at USC, I fear DPS, I fear not being able to get onto campus at night. We are few and far between. I feel like I’m not welcome here.”

“The events were mostly white, and I didn’t see many DPS officers,” freshman Katrina Miller was quoted as saying about Welcome Week in August. “But when I went to my first black event, and I saw like five USC officers, I questioned, ‘Are you serious?’ I couldn’t believe DPS always came to black events.”

The white man, legal American residents, and people who like to work out at the gym didn’t fare so well at the workshop either.

“Leaders began by asking what traits belong to the term ‘privilege,'” the Daily Trojan reports. “Student responses included terms such as males, whites, able-bodied, educated, fit, conventionally attractive and citizens. Leaders then asked what terms were associated with the word ‘oppressed.’ Students responded with queer, black, lesbian, Muslim, incarcerated and veterans, among others.”

The campus newspaper added: “The objective of this exercise was to inform people that everyone has multiple identities and that a person can’t feel safe unless every element of one’s identity is respected.”

Right on cue, talk of transgenderism entered the mix.

“The gender workshop also focused on issues relating to gender identity, and discussed the terms of gender, cisgender, transgender and preferred gender pronoun, as well as questions of sex and sexuality,” the Daily Trojan reported. “ ‘I am cisgender and privileged: I have the ability to walk through the world and blend in without being pointed at, laughed at and stared at,’ moderator Melissa Villafranco said.”

So the average woman is also privileged. Sheesh, no one gets a break.

For those of you who have not kept up with the latest politically correct terminology, “cisgender” means “someone who identifies as they gender/sex they were assigned at birth,” according to the Queer dictionary.

The event was co-sponsored by the Political Student Assembly, the Black Student Assembly, the Latino/a Student Assembly, the Queer People of Color Club and Lambda Upsilon Lambda, Fraternity Inc., according to The Daily Trojan.

“Plug-in is meant to give USC students the tools to be activists in their everyday lives in small ways, especially in language and in conversations with other USC students, to give them the ability to stand up for themselves and for other marginalized groups effectively, and not feel silenced by comments that they hear,” co-organizer Taylor Markey told the Daily Trojan.

Just another day in the life on campus, folks.

By the way, at last year’s Plug-In, also held on 9/11, they held a moment of silence – but not to honor the fallen, or even America.

“It’s kind of about working past isolationist fears as a community and as a nation,” student organizers of last year’s event told The Daily Trojan about the moment of silence.

Wednesday’s article did not mention if another 9/11 moment of silence took place at this year’s event.

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The Cornell Review published moving photos of Wednesday’s flag memorial on campus.

Click here to view.

(Image source: The Cornell Review)