UC Berkeley

In a shocking YouTube video released Wednesday, a satirist filmmaker waves an ISIS flag on UC Berkeley’s campus shouting that America is an imperialist nation responsible for deaths across the globe.

Students barely bat an eyelash.

“ISIS is misunderstood,” yells Ami Horowitz in the video as he waves an ISIS flag on campus. “We just want our own state. … America is causing the deaths in Iraq and Syria – not ISIS, not the Islamic state.”

One man who looks like a professor tells Horowitz “good luck,” another who looks like a student gives him a fist pump. Not one student challenged him. Some gave him some weird looks, but that was the worst of it.

Then he pulled out an Israeli flag, and all hell broke loose.

“Hamas is the greatest,” shouted one onlooker. “F*ck Israel,” said another.

Several students openly disagreed with him, told him he was wrong, yelled at him, told him Israel kills kids and is responsible for genocide.

“The shocking video … unfortunately proves once and for all that there is in fact no connection between intellect and wisdom,” Horowitz wrote on YouTube.

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Today UC Berkeley will mark its third annual “Indigenous People’s Day Celebration” – the same day as the federal Columbus Day observance.

The university has for years shunned Columbus Day celebrations, and in the past the campus community has openly protested the holiday and helped take part in the city of Berkeley’s annual Indigenous Peoples Day activities.

More recently, the university has put on its own festivities to mark the occasion, and today will offer performances, lectures and other activities. The effort is a collaboration between several campus groups, including the UC Berkeley department of theater, dance and performance studies, the American Indian Graduate Student Association, and the equality and inclusion department.

But it was not a hatred for Columbus that served as the impetus for the annual campus observance.

The university observance was prompted, interestingly enough, by a controversial Native American-themed play at the campus in the spring of 2012 that some students felt offered an “inaccurate and harmful depiction of Native American culture,” The Daily Californian student newspaper reported.

That historical-fiction play, “Ishi: The Last of the Yahi,” was put on by the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.

The Yahi band had lived near Gold Rush territory, and prospectors and settlers killed many, and seized their land and rivers, where they fished for salmon to survive on, according to We Are California.

“In 1871 the handful of surviving Yahi fled to the Sierra foothills, where they lived hidden in the mountain wilderness for 40 years,” the website states. “The last known member of the Yahi walked out of the hills in August 1911. He became known as ‘Ishi’ (meaning ‘man’), the ‘last of the Yahi.’ Ishi lived for five more years and died in 1916.”

Ishi has often been referred to as “the last wild Indian,” and when he stumbled out of the wilderness those decades ago he immediately became the center of attention and study.

“The play, according to the department’s website, explores the life of Ishi, the last remaining member of the Yahi tribe, and his time as an object of study at the campus Hearst Museum of Anthropology with anthropologist Alfred Kroeber beginning in 1911,” the Daily Cal reports.

Berkeleyside.com described the play like this:

It is an entertaining, although deeply disturbing, play, filled with scenes of prejudiced white men massacring Indians for a $5-a-head state bounty, gunfire, rape, murder, cannibalism, and even academic jealousy. But if you are shocked and disturbed after seeing it, (and at three Ishihours long, you see a lot) then … the artistic director of Theater Rhinoceros in San Francisco and a frequent lecturer in the theater department, will have attained his goal. He clearly wants to tell people about this unknown chapter of California history: that the slaughter of Native Americans also happened here, not just at Wounded Knee or on the Trail of Tears.

But the play was met with harsh criticism, including a review described on NativeAppropriations.com as follows:

… Ishi: The Last of the Yahi … attempts to justify the gross violences committed against Native peoples through its portrayal of Ishi as a batterer, murderer, and rapist. While arguably the production evidences some meager attempts to provide a more nuanced version of history, ultimately, the play endeavors to erase not only Ishi, but also all Native peoples, who through the production’s monolithic representation of Native Americans are conflated with the Yahi. When the play is not depicting Native peoples as extinct, it suggests that Native Americans are not “survivors” or “victims,” but instead, were asking for it: “Maybe Manifest Destiny was a two-way street.”

A petition tried to get the show cancelled, and it was signed by 393 people, but ultimately failed to shut it down, according to iPetitions.com.

The department chair of the theater, dance and performance studies quickly retreated from the play’s subject matter after the blow back.

“I don’t think we expected the reaction that we got,” he told The Daily Cal. “We consider that an oversight on our part. We should have been more sensitive and vigilant about the subject matter.”

After that, UC Berkeley’s annual “Indigenous People’s Day Celebration” was created. It’s held inside a dance studio on campus. This year it will feature a hoop dance, cultural presentation, language and story telling, and other discussions.

“Rather than Columbus Day, this is a movement to recognize indigenous people,” a grad student told The Daily Cal in 2013 about the annual tradition. “It’s about recognizing these cultures rather than the defeat of these cultures.”

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IMAGES: Internet screenshots

OPINION: On the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, its hypocrisy is exposed

November 2013: Berkeley student government unanimously passes a bill to ban the term “illegal alien” from campus discourse.

September 2013: After several Mexican-American members of the campus fraternity Delta Chi suggest hosting a quinceanera-themed party, the student government condemns the frat for “appropriating the culture” of Mexican-Americans.

December 2012: Citing their “disapproval” of the viewpoints espoused by the second largest charity in the Unites States, the Berkeley student government passes a bill to boot Salvation Army donation boxes from campus, arguing the charity’s presence on campus creates a hostile and uncomfortable environment. Berkeleyflier

September 2011: Berkeley’s student government unanimously passes a bill condemning disrespectful speech.

And on Friday, as UC Berkeley students and faculty wrapped up a week-long celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of its Free Speech Movement, the UC Berkeley College Republicans illustrated to our peers how the university has actually turned its back on the First Amendment.

To that end, club members stood in front of Sproul Hall holding a large banner that read “Free Speech [does not equal] Comfortable Speech” – and it got students’ attention, as the positive platitudes they’d heard all week about the movement were vehemently challenged.

According to the Berkeley College Republicans, the true essence of the Free Speech Movement has been lost in recent decades. The ideals of the movement have been discarded, replaced with notions such as tolerance and civility.

In the 1960s, students broke out from within the constraints of the status quo. They said the things parents and professors and peers were telling them not to. Today, and especially on the Berkeley campus, conservative students are the ones taking a stand, and yet we’re maligned and ostracized for it.

In the aftermath of the Berkeley College Republicans’ 2011 “Diversity Bake Sale,” the student government attempted to have the club defunded due to the argument that the speech the club engaged in was disrespectful and uncomfortable.

Free speech, huh?

Our display on Friday intended to bring to light the many breaches of free speech that have taken place on campus, sponsored by organizations such as the student-body government at UC Berkeley.

Alongside the banner, club members passed out fliers containing a list of incidents in which campus leaders limited various students’ right to exercise their personal liberties.

BerkeleySliderThe flier also attacked the campus for its recent movement to discontinue the exchange of academe between the UC system and Israeli universities, another example of UC Berkeley silencing any communication and discourse that may offend or upset some individuals.

There is a strange perversion of free speech taking place on this campus. It’s perfectly acceptable to occupy campus buildings and create pinatas out of the UC president’s image, but that’s only because the individuals in question fall under one school of thought. As soon as someone different comes along, and stirs the pot, they’re pointedly silenced.

Throughout the day, our club passed out hundreds of fliers and displayed our sign from the morning until late into the afternoon. Students came up and asked questions, and many seemed interested in the cause. Others were shocked to learn about the many times their campus – the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement – had overtly suppressed open dialogue.

“The people I talked to seemed to agree with the point our message was trying to get across,” said Edward Saenz, a member of the Berkeley College Republicans. “No one I talked to believed that free speech should have stipulations tied to it.”

College Fix contributor Claire Chiara is a student at UC Berkeley and president of the Berkeley College Republicans.

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IMAGES: Courtesy of Berkeley College Republicans


In the latest campus free-speech showdown, Yale’s Muslim Student Association, along with other campus groups, pressured the William F. Buckley Jr. Program to alter a speaking event featuring Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, asking to limit what she could talk about, or at the very least have a pro-Muslim speaker on hand who could offer counterpoints.

Many at Yale, including a university chaplain, stated their support for the Muslim Student Association’s request, which was ultimately denied.

Now that the mid-September event is over, and went off without a hitch, it’s time to reflect: Was that really so bad after all?

As calls for civility echo across college campuses, from Yale to UC Berkeley, students could use a little perspective.

Sometimes people say truly nasty things. But it must be asked whether being offended, uncomfortable, or disagreed with is the worst thing that could happen to a college student? Especially given that, in pursuing protection from offense, they’re undermining their own right to be offensive when the tables are inevitably turned.

Let’s take a look at just how bad it’s gotten:

It’s gotten so bad that many students – and their administrators – think it’s appropriate to “disinvite” or even shout down controversial speakers.

It’s gotten so bad that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education saw the need to launch a campaign aiming to sue every single school with a speech code.

It’s gotten so bad that Berkeley’s student government—perhaps taking a page from their chancellor’s book—last year banned the term “illegal immigrant” from campus discourse.

It’s even gotten so bad that a full 23 percent of University of Colorado students reported that they felt “intimidated to share their ideas, opinions, and beliefs in class” because of their political philosophy.

Too many students would like to change the rules to create a kinder, gentler democracy, shutting out any idea that could lead to raised voices or hurt feelings. In the process they are destroying the freedoms that make democracy worthwhile. They’ve forgotten that a tolerant, open society isn’t something we’re simply gifted with. An open and free society has to be maintained. Sometimes, this means we’ve got to weather a little offensiveness.

Campus civility standards and free speech can’t, after all, coexist. Here’s the C. Vann Woodward Report, one of the most thoughtful defenses of free expression on campus, on the issue of civility:

We have considered the opposing argument that behavior which violates these social and ethical considerations should be made subject to formal sanctions, and the argument that such behavior entitles others to prevent speech they might regard as offensive. Our conviction that the central purpose of the university is to foster the free access of knowledge compels us to reject both of these arguments…They make the majority, or any willful minority, the arbiters of truth for all. If expression may be prevented, censored or punished, because of its content or because of the motives attributed to those who promote it, then it is no longer free.

To put it another way: every individual has a different idea of what is civil and what is not. Attempting to separate legitimate (protected) speech from unprotected speech on this basis won’t work because it requires a subjective judgment by whoever is enforcing the rule.

For example: administrators might decide that using graphic images on the quad is appropriate when dealing with issues they care about (“it speaks to the gravity of the situation!”), but wholly unnecessary (and therefore uncivil) when used to promote a perspective they find off-putting. For example, some colleges allow graphic Sex Week events while they shudder at prolife protests that use graphic images.

This is not a standard that allows for creative dialogue and the exchange of new ideas.

If students and administrators are concerned about civility, if they are concerned about solving these problems and overcoming these differences, they need to preserve a space for impassioned debate on campus. The controversial issues being debated will continue to matter, whether discussed on campus or not, and I think most would find it preferable that scholars and students take part in such debates.

If you are a university student, alumnus, or faculty member, and you would prefer that the most important issues facing our nation continue to be discussed among communities of scholars, you must take it upon yourself to advocate for free speech on campus. You can start by encouraging your classmates or students to grow a thicker skin.

College Fix contributor Alex McHugh is a recent graduate of American University.

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Daniel Mael of Truth Revolt reports:

A group of students and other community members on the campus of University of California at Berkeley confirmed their support for violence against innocent civilians during a protest on Tuesday afternoon. Protestors can be seen chanting “long live the intifada” and “we support the intifada.” …

During Palestinian intifadas, attacks have included Islamist suicide bombers detonating themselves in public areas within Israel and have led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent men, women and children of all faiths.

…Protestors can also be heard screaming the genocidal chant, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which calls for the elimination of the Jewish state to be replaced with “Palestine.”

Mael quotes one UC Berkeley student who said the protest was anti-Semitic and made her feel very uncomfortable.

Click here to read the full article and watch a short video of the protest.

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The former Michigan governor whose leadership oversaw a severe economic downturn, skyrocketing unemployment, Detroit’s emerging bankruptcy, and the meltdown of the automotive industry, is now a professor specializing in job growth.

This fall, Michigan’s former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm is teaching a graduate course focused on “creating jobs through better government policies,” the class description states, adding “it is designed to help to launch the American Jobs Project at UC Berkeley.”

Yet as governor from 2003 to 2011, Michigan’s unemployment rate soared from 6.6 percent at the beginning of Granholm’s term up to 14.2 percent in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When she left office, the unemployment rate languished at 11 percent. The national average at the time was 9 percent.GranholmInside

Michael LaFaive, director of Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative and economist at the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told The College Fix that “creating American jobs is not what she did during her tenure.”

“In fact, she presided over one of the largest economic declines in Michigan history and herself fled the state in search of employment,” LaFaive said. “Michigan, during her tenure, had the distinction of one of the highest unemployment ratings in the nation, one of the highest population declines, and being the only state in the union with negative economic growth.”

Granholm did not respond to requests by The College Fix on Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment.

The course description states “the American Jobs Project will focus on a bottom-up strategy of stoking jobs policy in the states, designing the road-map for each state to create innovative energy job clusters in the advanced energy and manufacturing job sectors.”

LaFaive said he questions her ability to teach successful job growth strategies.

“I wonder if she will be able to get up and talk about her tenure as governor and support her assertions with anything approaching empirical evidence,” LaFaive said in an interview with The College Fix. “In fact, you could argue that her participation in this class would be as the counter-example of what not to do.”

In addition to job growth, the course aims to assist politicians with the rollout of new environmental protection rules.

“The class will coincide with the rollout of EPA rules regarding CO2 emissions, wherein states must formulate state-specific plans for cutting carbon pollution,” the guide states. “The final state-based reports will be delivered to candidates and office-holders of both political parties in each of the states.”

“Customized innovative policy recommendations” based on “state-specific research” will be outlined for 10 states, possibly including Michigan. Other potential states include Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia or Illinois.

In her keynote speech at the 2013 Ted Conference, Granholm outlined her plan of a “Clean Energy Jobs Race to the Top” through investing in alternative energy, similar to the course description of the “American Jobs Project.”

Granholm served as Michigan’s 47th governor prior to joining UC Berkeley as a professor. She also held a role advising the soon-to-be President Obama’s transition team in 2008-09. She studied political science at UC Berkeley before going to Harvard Law School.

At the Goldman School of Public Policy, Granholm is listed as “Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy” and will make $84,300 for teaching the “American Jobs Project,” the only course she is scheduled to teach in the fall semester, according to an online database of public salaries. The two previous years she earned about $150,000 per year, the database shows.

In spring 2014, Granholm co-taught a similar course that focused on “creating jobs through better government policies for innovation and education.” Previously, Granholm taught a course titled “Governing during Tough Times” in fall 2013.

In fall of 2012, Granholm also taught a special topics course titled “The Legal Journalism Practice Project,” while at the same time her husband, Dan Mulhern, taught a course called “Holistic Leadership,” which he also taught in spring 2014.

College Fix reporter Derek Draplin is a student at the University of Michigan.

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