Plurality On Campus06-11-2017
Plurality On Campus
[caption id="attachment_18798" align="alignleft" width="300"] (Source: Lisa Rathke)[/caption] Laurie L. Patton, the President of Middlebury college, reflects on the lessons learned in the wake of the violent disruption by Middlebury students of a talk by Charles Murray. We must, she writes:
"Move beyond the false dichotomy between free speech and inclusiveness. Our dual commitment to free expression and to making all students full members of our communities must be embraced fiercely and with conviction. But an educational institution does not become more inclusive by limiting freedom of expression. Nor does it achieve greater freedom by reducing its commitment to building an inclusive, robust, brave public square where all students are equally welcomed and valued.Patton both affirms a core educational and political value in the open and honest exchange of ideas and seeks to climb the empathy wall to understand why groups on campus feel excluded and alienated from the campus community. She focuses on the experience of minority groups who are alienated on campus and who are now working to shut down disagreeable talks. She also addresses conservative students who feel attacked and de-legitimated by an intolerant liberal majority. Patton writes that administrators and faculty must do a better job explaining to students "a basic understanding of the First Amendment and its history as well as of historical and current models for creating a more inclusive public square. That is right. Continue reading this piece here on Medium.Form more information visit: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-right-way-to-protect-free-speech-on-campus-1497019583
I believe that this dual commitment to free expression and inclusiveness is crucial to the well-being of our institutions of higher learning and to the health of American society as a whole. But I won’t pretend that the tension between them is easy to negotiate or resolve. If we manage it well, however, it can be a force in our public life for creativity rather than for distrust and division."
- Let students know that, when these values come into conflict, as they did at Middlebury this past spring, educational institutions have a primary obligation to foster open and civil discourse. Schools have to be prepared to enforce this commitment, as we did in this episode. Free speech lies at the heart of our purpose as an institution, and we cannot allow force or disruption to undermine it.
- Ensure that students have a basic understanding of the First Amendment and its history as well as of historical and current models for creating a more inclusive public square. It is essential to include such topics in student orientations and to ask them to reflect on them at regular intervals throughout their careers.
- Prepare students for our polarized politics by actively acknowledging and learning about the full range of perspectives on the important issues of the day. Faculty should regularly ask themselves and their students if anyone is afraid to speak about his or her views—including conservative students, who tell us that they often feel alienated in the classroom and social settings of left-leaning campuses.
- Reflect on who is and is not included in different public debates, and ask why. Many students from underrepresented groups tell us that they get the message every day that they do not belong at elite colleges. Are there ways to create new traditions of dialogue and argument that can expand the definition of who belongs? Our public square must be as energetically invitational as it is educationally rigorous.
The Lonely Man
[caption id="attachment_18952" align="alignright" width="300"] (Source: Pablo Martinez Monsivais)[/caption] Rebecca Solnit turns to Hannah Arendt to think through the loneliness of Donald Trump. Solnit picks up on Arendt's argument that loneliness leads to thoughtlessness. The lonely person, needing belongs, lives in a fictional world and will defend that world to the extreme. That is why loneliness, for Arendt, is at the root of totalitarianism. Solnit explores the different ways in which Donald Trump does and does not embody our modern loneliness.
"A man who wished to become the most powerful man in the world, and by happenstance and intervention and a series of disasters was granted his wish. Surely he must have imagined that more power meant more flattery, a grander image, a greater hall of mirrors reflecting back his magnificence. But he misunderstood power and prominence. This man had bullied friends and acquaintances, wives and servants, and he bullied facts and truths, insistent that he was more than they were, than it is, that it too must yield to his will. It did not, but the people he bullied pretended that it did. Or perhaps it was that he was a salesman, throwing out one pitch after another, abandoning each one as soon as it left his mouth. A hungry ghost always wants the next thing, not the last thing. This one imagined that the power would repose within him and make him great, a Midas touch that would turn all to gold. But the power of the presidency was what it had always been: a system of cooperative relationships, a power that rested on people’s willingness to carry out the orders the president gave, and a willingness that came from that president’s respect for rule of law, truth, and the people. A man who gives an order that is not followed has his powerlessness hung out like dirty laundry. One day earlier this year, one of this president’s minions announced that the president’s power would not be questioned. There are tyrants who might utter such a statement and strike fear into those beneath him, because they have installed enough fear. A true tyrant does not depend on cooperative power but has a true power of command, enforced by thugs, goons, Stasi, the SS, or death squads. A true tyrant has subordinated the system of government and made it loyal to himself rather than to the system of laws or the ideals of the country. This would-be tyrant didn’t understand that he was in a system where many in government, perhaps most beyond the members of his party in the legislative branch, were loyal to law and principle and not to him. His minion announced the president would not be questioned, and we laughed. He called in, like courtiers, the heads of the FBI, of the NSA, and the director of national intelligence to tell them to suppress evidence, to stop investigations and found that their loyalty was not to him. He found out to his chagrin that we were still something of a democracy, and that the free press could not be so easily stopped, and the public itself refused to be cowed and mocks him earnestly at every turn. A true tyrant sits beyond the sea in Pushkin’s country. He corrupts elections in his country, eliminates his enemies with bullets, poisons, with mysterious deaths made to look like accidents—he spread fear and bullied the truth successfully, strategically. Though he too had overreached with his intrusions into the American election, and what he had hoped would be invisible caused the whole world to scrutinize him and his actions and history and impact with concern and even fury. Russia may have ruined whatever standing and trust it has, may have exposed itself, with this intervention in the US and then European elections. The American buffoon’s commands were disobeyed, his secrets leaked at such a rate his office resembled the fountains at Versailles or maybe just a sieve (this spring there was an extraordinary piece in the Washington Post with thirty anonymous sources), his agenda was undermined even by a minority party that was not supposed to have much in the way of power, the judiciary kept suspending his executive orders, and scandals erupted like boils and sores. Instead of the dictator of the little demimondes of beauty pageants, casinos, luxury condominiums, fake universities offering fake educations with real debt, fake reality tv in which he was master of the fake fate of others, an arbiter of all worth and meaning, he became fortune’s fool.... The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image, and like Dorian Gray before him, will be devoured by his own corrosion in due time too. One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him. One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall. Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man."Form more information visit: http://lithub.com/rebecca-solnit-the-loneliness-of-donald-trump/
Looking in the Mirror
[caption id="attachment_18956" align="alignleft" width="215"] By C. G. P. Grey - , CC BY 2.0[/caption]Richard V. Reeves reflects on the hypocrisy of the elite who are not in the top 1%.
"So imagine my horror at discovering that the United States is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top. The big difference is that most of the people on the highest rung in America are in denial about their privilege. The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. At least posh people in England have the decency to feel guilty. In Britain, it is politically impossible to be prime minister and send your children to the equivalent of a private high school. Even Old Etonian David Cameron couldn’t do it. In the United States, the most liberal politician can pay for a lavish education in the private sector. Some of my most progressive friends send their children to $30,000-a-year high schools. The surprise is not that they do it. It is that they do it without so much as a murmur of moral disquiet. Beneath a veneer of classlessness, the American class reproduction machine operates with ruthless efficiency. In particular, the upper middle class is solidifying. This favored fifth at the top of the income distribution, with an average annual household income of $200,000, has been separating from the 80 percent below. Collectively, this top fifth has seen a $4 trillion-plus increase in pretax income since 1979, compared to just over $3 trillion for everyone else. Some of those gains went to the top 1 percent. But most went to the 19 percent just beneath them. The rhetoric of “We are the 99 percent” has in fact been dangerously self-serving, allowing people with healthy six-figure incomes to convince themselves that they are somehow in the same economic boat as ordinary Americans, and that it is just the so-called super rich who are to blame for inequality."Form more information visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/10/opinion/sunday/stop-pretending-youre-not-rich.html