liberal

So I stumbled across this headline on Twitter on Tuesday: “Viet Cong Show Canceled Due to ‘Offensive’ Band Name.”

Pitchfork reports that an Oberlin College promoter has publicly flogged himself for hiring a band with a name some found offensive for The Dionysus Disco, a student-run nightclub on campus.

The venue vows to bring “the highest quality musical acts to campus as well as showcasing the musical talents of Oberlin students.” But for one band that got a gig there – Canadian indie rock band Viet Cong – it doesn’t matter if they’re good or not, apparently.

“I acknowledge the problematic nature of a band naming themselves ‘Viet Cong’ and extend my apology to anyone hurt or made uncomfortable by the name and its connotations,” the guy who hired the band said in an excessively long letter of apology. It went on:

“[A band member explained that name] comes from our drummer, and from us being teenagers and watching movies. The Viet Cong were always the bad asses in movies.” The fact that the band openly acknowledges their problematic name, yet vcfails to change it or do anything about it, highlights this blatantly appropriative move, reinforcing a tradition of American (and Western) orientalism and appropriation.

What the Vietnamese student community helped me understand is that I cannot claim to fully comprehend the implications of a band (consisting of four white Canadian men) naming themselves “Viet Cong.” I can call out this name for being grossly ignorant and deeply offensive, but I also understand that even if I knew all the historical context, I am not someone whose personal and historical history is directly tied to and affected by the consequences of U.S. imperialist actions in Southeast Asia. This is precisely why I believe it is important for me to listen to the concerns raised by those who do understand and are affected on a deep emotional level. I cannot with good conscience put on this show knowing that it hurts others, and the onus should absolutely not be on those who are hurt to educate the rest of the community on why this name is offensive.

If I am reading this correctly, he is not upset because the name “Viet Cong” might be offensive to the relatives of American servicemen who died fighting the communist Viet Cong, he is upset because the band is culturally appropriating the guys who killed our guys.

You would think the folks at Oberlin would like a band named after commies. It is one of the most liberal colleges in the nation, hands down.

Don’t believe me? Ask the students themselves. I stumbled on this gem of an op-ed in the campus newspaper. Headlined “Fervent Progressivism Blocks Other Views,” student Chloe Vassot says in her Feb. 20 piece that she grew up in a conservative region and came to Oberlin for its liberal and open-minded reputation.

But get this – it’s so liberal that it’s oppressively so, and she said she is sick of being spoonfed her own ideology. Some students are even thinking of transferring to another school it’s so bad:

As a self-professed liberal-minded first-year, I love the mainstream Oberlin culture and the continual validation of my own opinions and beliefs. But other first-years who have more moderate or less fervently progressive views can feel that their ideas are excluded and dismissed.

This is one of a few reasons some are choosing to transfer to another school or strongly considering that possibility for the coming year. It is sadly ironic that a community that professes to value freedom of thought and expression can concurrently shut out moderate (and especially conservative) thoughts and ways of thinking.

To take an extreme example, the general perception on campus of people who are anti-abortion is that they are ignorant, misogynistic and do not respect the fundamental rights of women. Since being at Oberlin, the intense rhetoric and mindset against people with such conservative views has begun to strike me as too simplistic and naïve, and very unfair toward people who actually hold these views.

Keep in mind, Oberlin is the college that:

Hosted its grad ceremony on Memorial Day

Advised professors to avoid triggering topics such as racism, colonialism and sexism

Cancelled classes over a fake hate crime

And educated Lena Dunham

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix (@JenniferKabbany)

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Lauren Cooley, 22, is a recent grad of Furman College who managed to keep her conservative beliefs intact despite many of her professors’ best efforts. Now she’s dedicated to helping her peers do the same.

Cooley is co-author and editor of a new booklet “Indoctrination Prevention” that highlights 10 topics professors often mislead students about. It offers concise reasons why not to fall for the liberal claptrap.

The information is vital, because leftist arguments sound great and have a strong emotional appeal, and when they come from professors – educators in positions of power who have been pushing their propaganda for decades – it’s easy to fall prey, Cooley said.LaurenCooley

That’s where “Indoctrination Prevention” comes in.

“It’s by young people for young people,” Cooley said in an interview with The College Fix. “We have experienced this first hand and have rationalized our arguments with ways that can connect with young people.”

“It basically says, here is the most common themes your liberal professor will teach, and here is how to refute it.”

(Pictured: Lauren Cooley)

For example, it takes on “white privilege” by noting that “white privilege is a presumptuous premise that broadly judges people based solely on their skin color. Accusing someone of having ‘white privilege’ undermines personal struggles and suggests that achievements are only due to race, not individual work ethic.”

It tackles social justice warriors by highlighting their hypocrisy, noting the recent case of how many freaked out when NASA scientist Dr. Matt Taylor wore a shirt with provocative images of women on it, but meanwhile ignored real atrocities.

“While social justice warriors were up in arms over a bowling shirt, women in the Middle East were being brutalized by ISIS and the Taliban,” the booklet notes. “These women are denied access to education, are forced into marriages, have their genitals mutilated, and are threatened with death if they don’t convert to Islam. Nothing is done by ‘social justice warriors’ to help these women.”

On capitalism, the booklet explores the three main ways professors attack it, and explains why they’re off the mark. It also delves into American exceptionalism.

“Your liberal professor … will try to tell you that America is an evil nation – that it has blood on its hands and that it is no greater than anywhere else,” it notes. “While all human life should be held at same value, the success and opportunity that America has created as a country far outweighs any other nation. … Our ability to right our wrongs and heal our wounds is one thing that makes America great.”

Other topics touched on include the war on women, tolerance and environmentalism.

Cooley said the booklet isn’t meant to convince professors, it’s meant to embolden students.

“It’s more about the show you are putting on for the other students,” she said. “They are going to see a different point of view and realize it’s not just black and white.”

The booklet was published by Turning Point USA, a 2-year-old nonprofit that encourages and arms conservative college students with the knowledge and tools needed to battle leftist ideologies. Cooley is a field coordinator for the group, and co-wrote the book along with her fellow campus crusaders. The booklet is free for students, and the organization will pass it out at high schools and colleges nationwide.

“This book was written so that college students can take charge of their education and remain steadfast in their beliefs of free markets, capitalism, and the American dream,” it notes.

The booklet can also be downloaded for free here.

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IMAGE: Turning Point USA

The Washington Times reports:

This year’s Democratic commencement speakers outnumber their Republicans counterparts by more than 2 to 1, according to a survey by Campus Reform.

In what critics describe as another example of liberal bias on campus, 56 Democratic officeholders, appointees and operatives are slated to speak this spring at university graduation ceremonies.

White liberals looooooove diversity. We all know that because they tell us all the time. They are 100% dedicated to defeating racial inequality–they tell us that all the time too.

Therefore one assumes that when a highly accomplished black woman is invited to address students, the white liberals’ dedication to racial justice would cause them to rejoice.

Therefore when an extremely intelligent black woman with a PhD, who speaks Russian, is a professor at Stanford, and has held one of the highest political offices in the nation is invited to be a guest speaker on campus, one would assume that all of the white liberals on campus would be lining up on the front row to hear her speak.

Therefore when Condoleezza Rice visits the university, one assumes the white liberals would welcome her warmly and respectfully, despite the fact that she is a Republican.

Well, that’s a lot of assumptions we just made. Let’s take a look at what really happened. Eric Owens of the Daily Caller reports a few details:

A small group of angry white liberals is trying to force the administration at the University of Minnesota to revoke a speaking invitation extended to Condoleezza Rice because she played a role in the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan…

She is slated to deliver a speech on April 17 on civil rights as part of the “Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series” at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

The two white people attempting to block Rice’s appearance at the University of Minnesota are math professor William Messing and undergraduate student Nick Theis.

Read more.

Ah, yes. Diversity.

Do you believe for a second that this has to do with Rice’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan? After all, as you may recall, former Senator Hillary Clinton and just about every other Democrat in Congress voted to authorize those wars. Do you believe that professor William Messing would be running around trying to boot Hillary off campus because of her vote if it had been her who was invited to give a speech?

No, no. This is about one thing–Rice’s affiliation with the Republican party.

You see, liberals hate Republicans, especially black Republicans. And black people who dare to venture away from the Democratic party are targets for liberals’ most bitter political vitriol. (See Clarence Thomas, Allen West, Ben Carson, Janice Rogers Brown, etc.)

In a a reversal of literal meaning reminiscent of the worst Soviet agitprop, the word “diversity” on the left today means precisely the opposite. If you are a black person, they consider you diverse only if you hold political views in line with the liberal/Democratic masses. You cannot think differently, or else they cast you aside or, as is happening up at the University of Minnesota, they try to demonize you and silence you.

Thankfully, the University of Minnesota rejected the effort to block Condi Rice’s speech, and she is expected to appear as scheduled later this week.

Unfortunately, the damage is done at UM. Outpourings of liberal bias against black conservatives such as this latest example do have a stiffing effect on political speech. And, perhaps worst of all, it reveals just how shallow the left’s commitment to “diversity” really is–since that commitment only seems to remain in effect so long as black people agree to loyally support the Democratic party.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden

(Image: USEmbassyNewDehli.Flickr)

Estimates have it that over one thousand people came from multiple continents to attend this year’s International Students For Liberty Conference at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington, D.C. on Valentine’s Day weekend.

This year’s gathering was the largest yet for the student-based libertarian organization. Growth has continued since the first conference, which had 100 attendees in 2008.

Alexander McCobin, an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of Students For Liberty, announced in closing remarks that his organization would establish two new regional executive boards in the coming year, one for Africa and the other in India-Nepal. “We are not done growing,” he said.

Indeed, panel lineups for this and last year’s conferences reflect an effort to expand in reach with demographic minorities within — and not within — the libertarian movement. A panel on national security policy, held midday Saturday, featured journalist Jeremy Scahill, director Oliver Stone, and Peter Kuznick. Discussion between the left-leaning speakers and their audience grew tense when students from Latin American SFL chapters criticized Stone for praising Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. One of last year’s most popular panels, meanwhile, focused exclusively on women’s rights and strategies for drawing women into the liberty movement.

Students For Liberty advertises its annual conference as the largest gathering of pro-liberty students in the world, and it certainly must rank high among the most diverse of such gatherings. Café conversation among attendees this weekend focused on the varied ideologies within the movement, quibbling at times over the differences among anarcho-capitalism, left libertarianism, and the like.

Quantitatively, the nuances were there, too: in this year’s round of the straw poll held at every conference, 52 percent of participants described themselves as libertarian; 17 percent as classical liberal, 15 percent anarchist, 10 percent pro-liberty, and a spattering called themselves progressives, tea party conservatives, and other. A bewildering 11 percent of respondents said they preferred total government control of markets and civil life in a society, but SFL pollster Kyle Hartz said playfully that he attributed the prevalence of this very un-libertarian view to survey error. “Trolling,” some in attendance said.

When the straw poll asked respondents about their choices in the 2016 presidential primary, the ‘no vote’ won in the Democratic category with 57 percent of the vote, beating out Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and others. Meanwhile, Gary Johnson won the Libertarian ticket and Rand Paul won the Republican race, though the ‘no vote’ option came in high in these categories as well.

Megan Wood, a 19-year-old sophomore at Salem College in North Carolina, said the conference afforded her the chance to build her interest in becoming even more active in the libertarian movement, including reaching out to its rivals among conservatives. “Granted, we may not be able to get the older generation to agree with us,” she said. “But once they’re out doing their own thing, we have the power to make a difference.”

Julie Ershadi is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College.

For years, academic liberals have had a favorite “D” word–diversity. They’ve used it to justify a wide range of political projects on campus, from racial quotas to porn-fueled sex education.

But there’s a new favorite buzzword on campus–dignity. Peter Wood writes for Minding the Campus, about the academic left’s new weapon of verbal warfare:

The latest entry in the topsy-turvy world of inverse semantics is the benign-sounding word, “dignity.”  Attorney General Eric Holder took the new buzzword out for a spin in a speech to the Swedish Parliament on February 4, in which he touted the United States’ commitment to the “dignity” of “every human being.”

The speech was in fact an enunciation of the Obama administration’s evolving position on the rights of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender–LGBT–citizens.”  “Dignity” has been a key word in the gay rights movement, as in Dignity USA, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Catholic organization.  But I’d like to follow a different thread in the Attorney General’s emphatic use of the term. Holder told the Swedes, “We share a belief in the dignity and equality of every human being.”  He said that the “values that define our nations–values that give rise to dignity, equal opportunity, and justice for every segment of our people–are anything but a novel concept.”

There are, to be sure, theological and philosophical arguments for the dignity of mankind.  The topic comes up in some debates about the foundations of morality.  If we are created in the image of God, human beings have inherent dignity.  Our capacity for rational thought also sets us apart as having dignity.  And among the philosophers, Kant made special use of the idea of dignity, arguing that it is our ability to choose between right and wrong that raises us above the animals.

But the word “dignity” is essentially foreign to the American legal and Constitution system.  And not just the word, but the underlying idea. The Declaration of Independence enunciates our values as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights mentions “dignity,” and it remained virtually unmentioned in U.S. Constitutional law down to 1944, when it appeared as part of a concurring opinion by Justice Frankfurter, and thereafter in a handful of other opinions, such as Justice Murphy’s 1946 dissenting opinion in which he opposed the execution of a Japanese war criminal.  An interesting summary of this history can be found in a Montana Law Review article in 2004 by a Georgetown professor of law, Vicki Jackson.

The main point that Professor Jackson argued ten years ago was that, precisely because the claims of “human dignity” were so small a part of our legal heritage that  U.S. courts would have to look abroad for precedents.  “Human dignity” is not our way of talking about fundamental rights, but it is very much “part of the transnational vocabulary of constitutionalism.”  The UN Charter upholds it and various European nations make much of it in their post-World War II constitutions.  In the U.S. “the concept of ‘human dignity’ in the Court’s jurisprudence is episodic and underdeveloped,” but that need not hold us back.  Jackson called on Americans to look to “international, transnational and national sources” for the idea, as well as “subnational entities that function with sufficient independence to develop their own lines of authority and reasoning.”

“Subnational entities”?  A footnote makes clear that Jackson meant state courts, which she imagined could import foreign legal principles even if our higher courts declined to go shopping in more enlightened places.

Those arguing the case for LGBT rights, including gay marriage, have picked up this theme of “dignity” as a fundamental right and run with it.  I don’t know that this tactic was necessary to their campaign but it has produced some unsettling results.  Among other things, we are seeing the Attorney General of the United States declare before the parliament of another country that we have elevated the transnational norm of “dignity” over our own Constitution.

Read Wood’s full essay at Minding the Campus.

(Image: WehoCity.Flickr)