The Power of Speech

Student Protest
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Student ProtestBy Susan N. Herman

Lloyd Gaines was denied admission to the University of Missouri in 1935 because of the color of his skin. Mizzou did not admit its first African-American student until 1950.

Sixty-five years later, a Facebook post by Payton Head, President of the Missouri Students Association, described how he and other students of color were subjected to racial slurs on campus. “If this post makes you feel uncomfortable, GOOD!” he said. “That means I’m doing my job. It’s time to wake up Mizzou.” African-American students at Missouri and other campuses responded by telling their own stories: racist epithets (including the “n-word”) directed at them, security personnel persistently demanding that they prove they were not trespassing on campus, being the object of “jokes,” like the African-American student who found a photo of a lynching on her door.

Individual expression crystallized into organized protests as Missouri students expressed their pain and anger by holding demonstrations, organizing boycotts, and questioning the leadership of college officials who boasted of student diversity yet did not work for true inclusion. The protests reverberated on campuses across the country, some school officials resigned, and the media picked up the story, enabling all of us to understand more about the vexing role that race continues to play on college campuses.

Speech is powerful.

It is striking that college administrators at Missouri and elsewhere have reacted to this torrent of speech and activism with offers of discussion, negotiation or even resignations—and not with the assumption that those in authority could simply shut down the protests and ignore the message. It was not always so. In the fall of 1964, for example, student activists at the University of California at Berkeley, who had been involved in the Mississippi Freedom Summer registering African-American voters, were stymied in their fundraising efforts by university regulations prohibiting on-campus political advocacy and fundraising by student organizations. When the students protested, the dean initially responded by peremptorily announcing that the regulations would be strictly enforced.

Today we assume that the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly will protect even unpopular speech and demonstrations against such claims of governmental prerogative. But it was not always so. When the ACLU was founded in 1920, protestors were being criminally prosecuted for saying unpopular things—like criticizing the draft during World War I. ACLU founder Roger Baldwin was arrested for illegal assembly for reciting the text of the First Amendment in a public setting.

Over the course of the 20th century, the ACLU and others enlisted the courts to guarantee marginalized people (conscientious objectors, labor organizers, anti-war protestors) the freedom to say things that make others uncomfortable. The fight to ensure that these First Amendment protections reach the world of digital speech has supported the instant communications essential to contemporary movements of all sorts. The Facebook community page for Black Lives Matter, for example, is more than 100,000 strong; the end of a political hunger strike was announced via Twitter.

The ACLU is a multi-issue organization because we believe that freedom, equality, and justice—for all—are interconnected. Although some contend that free speech is in tension with equality, we believe that free speech—for all—is the cornerstone of today’s fight for racial equality.

We have made a great deal of progress on both the free speech and equality fronts in the last century. But we still cannot be complacent about our First Amendment rights. Unpopular speech still draws censorious reactions—sometimes from private individuals (protesting students at Missouri have received death threats), and sometimes from the state actors who are actually bound by the First Amendment. The ACLU has recently challenged an attempt to shut down protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and an attempted prosecution of organizers of a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America. We won both cases, but we did have to go to court to force the issue.

And the point of the current campus protests is that even a diverse society is not equal when some of its members are excluded and burdened by persistent taunts and demeaning treatment.

Freedom of speech is our right. But to achieve freedom and equality, we also need to listen.

Susan N. Herman was elected President of the American Civil Liberties Union in October 2008

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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60 thoughts on “The Power of Speech”

  1. Barack Palin

    Quenette “actively violated policies” during the discussion, hurt students’ feelings

    Kansas University professor uses “n” word during a discussion about race and is now on leave waiting an investigation.  She should’ve known that college students have easily hurt feelings.  Maybe she made them feel ‘unsafe’ which now seems to be the new fallback complaint.  There’s not much one can do to disprove someone when they say they feel unsafe or their feelings were hurt.

    http://news.yahoo.com/kansas-professor-leave-using-racial-slur-class-192705229.html

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I guess it’s easy for a white man to draw conclusions on this incident. Maybe a black person in a class of nine whites and one blacks was not comfortable with the use of the racial epithet or the discussion.

      1. Barack Palin

        I guess it’s easy for entitled student cry bullies and race baiters to draw conclusions that a teacher must be racist because she used a word during a race discussion.  Too bad her career is now tarnished because someone felt they had hurt feelings.

  2. Tia Will

    With free speech, like much of life, context is critical. We do not have the exact quote of this professor, however, in the context of a graduate classroom, I would probably defend her right to have used this particular word. What BP’s comment did cause me to do is to go back and view the Lenny Bruce comedy act from 1966, ….”are there any “niggers” here tonight? ” I highly recommend listening to it. Some of you, like me, will be old enough to remember Lenny Bruce. I suspect that those protesting language alone on our college campuses will not have had this experience, but would benefit from a completely different view of “political correctness”.

    Having said that, I believe that clearly offensive speech such as calling out as immoral a particular group who do not share one’s religious beliefs probably is best excluded from events that mark a major life transition for many such as graduation ceremonies.

    1. Barack Palin

       

      Tia Will, as far as the classroom where the teacher used the “n” word in a political discussion, I’m sure many of these same college students listen to rap songs where the “n” word is often used.  I don’t hear them demanding that rap artists be censored.  When they’re listening to these songs (“n” words) on their iPhones do they feel unsafe?  Are their feelings hurt?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        There is also context for appropriate usage. However, many in the black community don’t think the n-word is ever acceptable and believe that black people calling other black people the n-word is actually harmful and accepting of a second class status.

  3. Tia Will

    BP

    That was pretty much my point about context. You also bring up the point about “in group” vs “out group” appropriateness of usage. Being honest, I frequently take a joke about women’s idiosyncrasies better coming from a woman than I do from a man depending upon our degree of closeness. My partner ( a man) can get away with making “female” jokes better than I would take the same comment from a male stranger. This, I think is just being human, and not a condemnation of these students since I believe it to be nearly universal human behavior. Do you disagree on this point ?

    1. Barack Palin

      I agree with what you’re saying.  It’s like I can call my brother a name but if you call him that those are fighting words.  But if people are going to be put through an investigation over using a word during a political discussion that’s considered okay for others to say then we have a real problem.  For instance, if a professor that these students happened to like used that word as she did would that person have been reported?  It’s okay for Mr. Jones to say that, we like him.  It can really turn into a witch hunt.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        Part of the problem here is the lack of understanding of the dynamics of the etymology of word usage. Words that were offensive by outgroups as Tia was pointing out, have been appropriated by ingroups as a defense mechanism. Take the word “queer” as a prime example. Queer is an old word dating back the 16th century for “strange, peculiar, eccentric,” it became an epithet for those with same sex desires beginning in the late 19th century. However, in the late 1980s, many gays began to reclaim the word as a way to assert their distinctiveness in the gay community. In some circles, queer has become the preferred term, certainly in the more radical sectors. As was explained to me, the appropriation of the former epithet is a means of empowerment and conquering the world that put them down – it’s a kind of reverse (or even perverse) empowerment. The use of the n-word is more complex and the black community is divided over its usage.

        1. Barack Palin

          Okay, I can see your point.  Where are we going to draw the line?  You admit that the black community is divided in its usage.  Are we going to tar and feather anyone using it in a lesson, not in a derisive name calling way, because someone says they had hurt feelings?

  4. Frankly

    Speech is powerful.

    BS

    We have just raised to many “everyone gets a trophy” entitled spoiled brats that have not had to face real adversity and so they lack that ability to cope with even the slightest criticism.

    We have raised a generation of crybullies.

    1. Tia Will

      Frankly

      Speech is powerful.”

      “BS”
      “I figured out long ago that lacking the ability to control my own emotional sensitivities over perceived slights was going to hamper my ability to perform and hence compete”

      Now wait a minute Frankly. Within the past week I have posted a number of comments that you have said irritated you, or made you angry. If speech is not powerful, then how could my comments arouse these feelings in you ? You seem to believe that it is legitimate to feel frustration, or irritation, or anger ( all of which are emotions) but not hurt or compassion ( “bleeding hearts”).  I respect people’s emotions for what they are. A feeling that we can act own and act on for good or evil, or we can blame it on someone else and name call and complain. The choice is ours, no matter where we are on the political spectrum.

      1. Frankly

        Within the past week I have posted a number of comments that you have said irritated you, or made you angry. If speech is not powerful, then how could my comments arouse these feelings in you ?

        The issues isn’t that the speech causes emotions to stir, it is the response.

        The issue isn’t irritation over something said, it is the crybully demands punish those that say things they consider “hurtful”… and it is their demands to stifle speech that they don’t like.  I absolutely want you to keep spouting everything you want to say because it creates for me a fantastic  rich field to illustrate what is wrong with it.

         

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

           I absolutely want you to keep spouting everything you want to say because it creates for me a fantastic  rich field to illustrate what is wrong with it.”

          Yet another example of what Biddlin said. You rarely state what is actually wrong with what I have said unless you include calling names, stating that ideas are crazy, utopian, or unicorn chasing as legitimate and thoughtful comments. Your preferred tactic is usually to denigrate without stating actual cause, or to make up some extreme version or straw man argument to knock down. Sometimes, to your credit, you do cite references, articles or news to support your argument….but that is not your most common posting strategy.

        2. Alan Miller

          Sometimes, to your credit, you do cite references, articles or news to support your argument….

          And sometimes, to their credit, spouse-beaters give flowers to those they strike.

  5. Frankly

    I figured out long ago that lacking the ability to control my own emotional sensitivities over perceived slights was going to hamper my ability to perform and hence compete.  And when those competing against me figured out that I lacked the ability to control my emotional sensitivities, they would exploit my weakness to win over me.  So I learned to fight the burn of things said at my expense and to channel it into personal strength.

    Let’s use athletics as an example.  I played baseball, football, basketball and also used compete in track.

    In all of these it was very common to have opponents and even teammates delivering trash talk that included personal insults and racial slurs.   It was all part of the game of getting in the head of the other guy… getting his emotions all stirred up so he could not focus on his game, and then take advantage of his temper tantrum-enabled missteps to win the position or the game.

    The people that could not learn how to deal with this we often unable to play the game.  But those that remained grew strong and more competitive.  They figured out how to channel their strong emotional impulses into performance.  And this in-turn resulted in higher praise and respect from both their teammates and their opponents.

    You can see this in professional sports.  For example, in the NBA, the Sacramento Kings have what is arguably one the best centers in the league, Damarcus Cousins.    Cousins has led the league in technical fouls.  He ceaselessly complains about the penalty calls against him and the lack of calls in his favor.  He easily develops resentment and loses his temper and his cool.  He seems to have a perpetual scowl and a chip on his shoulder.  If not for his abundance of raw talent, he would have long ago been jettisoned by the Kings and other teams.

    Part of this is just age.  DC is only 25 years old.

    But then look at Labron James.  James is 30 now, but he came to the league right at out high school as the number one draft pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Immediately Jame became a leader.  Not only did he demonstrate that he was highly developed being able to control his emotions and channel them into peak performance; he started coaching and mentoring team mates to do the same.

    The ability to control emotional responses is derived from emotional intelligence.  Just like cognitive intelligence, individuals are born with varying levels of capability and then much work hard to overcome deficits.

    Emotional intelligence is very important… in fact there are many studies that connect it to being more important than cognitive intelligence as a measure of economic success.

    And competitive team sports is one of the most effective facilities to teach emotional intelligence.

    Now, understanding this point will help you understand the current climate for political correctness and hate speech codes.

    The intelligentsia have long resented the fact that the captain of the Lacross team with the B average and CSU degree went on to be more economically successful than they even with their 4.2 GPA and their UC degree.

    For these people, for whatever reason (including the coddling they received from their helicopter parent or parents), they have not been able to accommodate and channel even perceived slights against them.  In fact, they sometimes cannot even accept constructive criticism.

    And there have been growing numbers of them.

    And so using their abundant cognitive processing capability they came up with a strategy to help them better compete with those stronger and more capable players.  They would push for laws and codes and rules that prevent them from using any words that they have trouble coping with.

    This would be their utopia.

    But it is really not utopia.

    It is hell.

    Welcome to the beginning of our decline into hell.

    Where speech is regulated to ensure nobody might feel bad.

    Read the book “The Giver”… it is where the intelligentsia want to take us.  They are the crybullies.

    1. Biddlin

      Free speech has little or no value in a culture that cannot or will not listen.  The will or the ability, I’m really not sure which, to simply take statements at face value, without inferring alternative meanings and ulterior motives no longer exists.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Can you provide an example?”

          This may not be what Biddlin had in mind, but I can offer a lot of examples. For starters, almost any post that I have written which you have followed with a post telling me and others what I “really think” instead of responding to what I have actually said.

          An example earlier in this thread when you say “the intelligentsia this….and the intelligentsia that…without citing any specific source or quote to back up your claim. You often are so busy telling us what “liberals” must think, that you fail to respond at all to what we have actually said.

           

    2. wdf1

      Frankly:  Read the book “The Giver”… it is where the intelligentsia want to take us.  They are the crybullies.

      All of my kids have read this book.  It was a required reading for their school English class.  Because, you know, our intellegentsia community is all about engineering sameness by having everyone read it.  Just like you.  Welcome to the tribe.  😉

      1. Frankly

        The plot and point of the book might have been lost on kids that read it because I am sure the education establishment didn’t allow that level of discussion.

        I love that line in the movie by Meryl Streep when she laments over the prodding by Jeff Bridges that they their utopian society was void of the color of life… she said “when you give people the power to choose, they choose wrong every time.”   Of course this isn’t really accurate because people do not choose wrong every time.

        But this line was very illustrative of the the liberal mind, IMO.  It is a mind that seeks definitive organization and set outcomes.  It is a mind that can handle only so much dynamism and frets about a future where so many people can make mistakes.  It is a mind that seems to have little confidence in people to control themselves and make good life decisions… and that simply cannot accept it that someone does not step in to save these people from themselves.  Ironically, it is also a mind that more often is prone to secular thinking… being out of touch with its spiritual side and attempting to solve all life puzzles with logical thinking… that ironically leads to many irrational conclusions.

        Liberals that are also progressives are also relativists.  And this can be a strength; but is often more a societal danger when it is only opportunistic relativism.

        For example if we make progress, a liberal progressive will only move the goal posts in denial that progress has been made… only if it helps support a liberal worldview.  The real state of racism is a clear example here.  The goalpost will always be moved, because racial injustice is a tenant in the religion of liberalism.

        And hate speech is another.  Real hate speech is already covered in our legal system.  But since the religion on liberalism relies on this social justice category, we see the goal posts constantly moved.  Eventually all whites will have to keep their eyes down so as to not cause any minority discomfort from their look.

        The point of the book that should resonate is that freedom is not free.  The beauty of living a free life that is full of color comes with a cost.  We can whitewash it to make everything more equal and less painful, but only if we want to see the color bleached from our existence.

        Here is the problem in a nutshell.  You cannot force one person to like and respect another person.  You will only drive the wedges deeper and wider and underground.  The key is to perform well so you earn the respect of others.  If you want to be a rebel and do things differently your must thick skin because the critics are numerous….  and then establish the new trends.

        The crybullies just want a shortcut to doing this hard work.  But that is understood given that their parents, and liberals in power, poisoned them to think they are entitled to a trophy every time they sneeze.

        1. wdf1

          Frankly:  The plot and point of the book might have been lost on kids that read it because I am sure the education establishment didn’t allow that level of discussion.

          You’re a piece of work.  First touting that everyone should read the book, then criticizing the schools that are actually encouraging everyone to read the book, and yes, to watch the movie, too — they’ve all seen the movie — because you’re almost certain they’re not getting your “orthodox” interpretation of the book.  I rather thought you’d be celebrating that Davis students were actually reading a book that you recommend so highly.

          If a book stands up as a truly great piece of literature, then you can read it and re-read it, and re-reference it at different points in one’s life and the meanings will evolve.

           

        2. Frankly

          Good points wdf1.  I have the flu so am probably a bit more combative.  I get grumpy when sick.

          I did know that The Giver was included as a book often assigned in grade school.  I think that is a good thing.  I hope there is good discussion about it in the classroom.  I hope it is open discussion and not over-directed.

    3. Tia Will

      The intelligentsia have long resented the fact that the captain of the Lacross team with the B average and CSU degree went on to be more economically successful than they even with their 4.2 GPA and their UC degree.”

      Who in the world are you talking about here ?  Who are you calling “the intelligentsia” ?

      You have frequently cited “The Giver” which is certainly one version of a dystopian future. There are many others. Virtually all dystopian writing takes a concept which it then spins out to the extreme. I do not know anyone who is advocating the kind of society described in “The Giver”. If you do know anyone who holds this position, please name names and cite their statements that would give you this idea.

      Frankly ( because I am too ), it seems to me that it is you who are one of the most active proponents on this blog of sameness with your claim that everyone should assimilate into “American culture” which you imply means acting like a middle class or higher, Christian, flag waving American, and that anything less than this is highly suspect.

       

       

      1. Frankly

        I do not know anyone who is advocating the kind of society described in “The Giver”.

        Go back in a time machine just 40 years ago and describe to the people of this country what is going on at Mizzou and they would probably think you were nuts.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          That’s probably true, but also rather meaningless. My mother went to Mizzou and I have gone there a number of times to watch football games. I follow the program closely. Recently the football coach who rebuilt the program announced his retirement. What’s interesting is one of his biggest challenges was get kids from urban St. Louis to go there. You see Boone County was not notorious for being unaccepting of black students and so rival programs even now have landed many of the top guys from St. Louis. This is not a new problem. Norm Stewart, the legendary basketball coach had similar problems.

        2. hpierce

          “… Boone County was not notorious for being unaccepting of black students…” Huh?  Double negatives have always gotten me scratching my head as to the intent…  your “intent”?

  6. Barack Palin

    Who are the real bigots?  Here we go again, creating “safe” space because how dare any student ever have to feel uncomfortable.  POC stands for People of Color

    Additionally, a “Hurting and Healing” event, described as “a *for POC, by POC* art show,” is scheduled to take place at Pomona College on December 5. “This show’s intent is to create a space that is pro-POC, pro-black, and anti-white supremacist,” states the event’s website. “While you may want to invite a white friend or ally, to make this a safe and comfortable space for other POC, we ask that you do not.”

    http://claremontindependent.com/safe-spaces-segregate-the-claremont-colleges/

     

  7. Tia Will

    BP

    While you may want to invite a white friend or ally, to make this a safe and comfortable space for other POC, we ask that you do not.””

    Racism is racism regardless of the color of the skin.

    I honestly do not see what point you are making. Do you honestly deny that the majority of the oppression in this country over time ( and yes, Frankly, I do feel that I can  invoke history as well as present, since you chose to open that door rather than responding to the point I was making) has been by whites against minorities ?

    So despite the treatment of the native Americans, despite slavery and Jim Crow, , despite the treatment of the Chinese building the railroads, despite the internment of the Japanese, you are now whining about the exclusion of whites from an art show !!!

    What a great example of that term that you and Frankly seem enamored of…”crybully” !

    1. Barack Palin

      What a great example of that term that you and Frankly seem enamored of…”crybully” !

      Yes, it is an example of the crybullies in this event crying that they need a safe space and bullying that no whites are to be allowed.

      Tia Will, I can’t believe you’re defending this.

    2. hpierce

      Tia… you need to brush up on your social studies and history…  racial majorities (no matter what race) are the ones who generally “discriminate” and/or “oppress”… it is true tho’ that when whites were in the minority, and when they had the better weapons, they were in a position of power to actually dominate the majority.  Power (perceived or actual) is to oppression, as power is to rape.  Sex has little to do with rape… except for “power”.  Being white has little to do with oppression… except for “power”.

       

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        While it is true that I have not brushed up on either social studies or history since my undergraduate days, I do not see anything that you said that contradicts anything that I said. You will note that I did not make any mention at all of what mechanism was used to enforce the oppression, only that it occurred.

  8. Tia Will

    BP

    Tia Will, I can’t believe you’re defending this.”

    Well that is good, because I wasn’t “defending it”. In no way did I defend their obvious racism as I said when I wrote,”Racism is racism regardless of the skin color”. This you chose to totally ignore. I was placing your example in the larger cultural context. Which do you believe has caused the most harm overall, exclusion from a single art show ( de minims as Frankly would say) , or the examples of racism I cited ? No answer expected. I am quite sure you will “cricket up” at this point.

    And it was your whining about this single art show that I consider the best example yet of “cry bullying” just in case you also missed that point.

     

     

    1. Barack Palin

      Well that is good, because I wasn’t “defending it”.

      Well that’s not what I took out of your post.  What I took is we somehow shouldn’t be pointing out the bigotry of this event because of past atrocities of racism and that somehow because these things happened many years ago, not to these students by the way, we shouldn’t point out the fact that these POC students are putting forward blatant racism today at this event.

      BTW, I pointed this out because these students are part of the new “power of speech” movement and are students at Claremont Mckenna College who recently forced their dean to resign over her supposedly not being sympathetic to their cause.  So if they feel they’re experiencing racism at a college where yearly fees are in the $60 thousands all in why are they now acting like racists themselves?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        “forced their dean to resign over her supposedly not being sympathetic to their cause.”

        Once again, I think you mischaracterize what happened at Claremont McKenna. The proximate event was her comment to a Latina student “saying she would work to serve those who “don’t fit our CMC mold.”” It’s an awkward comment, but out of context perhaps less than fatal. The problem is that students had been pressing the campus for months “for greater diversity among faculty and staff and more funding for multicultural services.” This proximate event was merely the tipping point.

        1. Barack Palin

          The proximate event was her comment to a Latina student “saying she would work to serve those who “don’t fit our CMC mold.”” It’s an awkward comment, but out of context perhaps less than fatal. 

          Yes, if you read her full email she was more than sympathetic to any cause the student  felt she had either real in their minds or made up.  That was an awkward comment, but as you say out of context, and if you read the full email you can tell that it was just a bad use of words.

          Here’s the dean’s email:

          http://claremontindependent.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/12238130_972503272791670_491597233384897364_o.jpg

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation, but the bigger issue seems to be the campus atmosphere and again an administration that dragged its heals in addressing that issue, that made the clumsy comment more prescient than it would have been.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I don’t know if she or didn’t. In my view there was a clear problem there and she ended up getting caught in the middle of it. I don’t have enough context to know whether she deserved to lose her job over it, but then again, she chose to resign. I wouldn’t have.

        2. Davis Progressive

          bp it is striking that in other contexts you would be throwing the dean under the bus as overpaid and the precise problem of higher education.  given that – how do you know she doesn’t suck at her job?

  9. Tia Will

    BP

    why are they now acting like racists themselves?”

    I do not attempt to answer the question of why someone else acts as they do. I think that is a futile and often mistaken effort which I will leave to others.

    Once again, you have failed to acknowledge or address what I clearly stated, ( whether you “took” it or not) that I believe that racism is racism regardless of the skin color of the perpetrator. And you still have not addressed my central question. Whether you do or do not believe that the racism manifested here has or will have as great an impact as the white on minority racism that has been a facet of our country from its beginning.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I’m not sure that they are acting as racists. I think they are acting to protect themselves in a vulnerable situation. Racism is not just about separatism its about power differential and maintaining that power. What seems to be happening here is less about maintenance of power and more about vulnerability. BTW, I’m not saying that they are acting wisely by cutting off potential allies. I think that’s actually a huge mistake. But I think you’re misinterpreting the mistake.

  10. Davis Progressive

    part of the problem here is that the actions of 21 year old kids is bein scrutinized – did they make the right decision?  react to the right problem?  but there is no attempt to place yourselves in their shoes because they end up vulnerable and in a place most of you will never be. i know a lot of people of color in davis that avoid these discussions because frankly and dp are so insensitive to their experiences (and yes, they name you by name).

    1. Barack Palin

       i know a lot of people of color in davis that avoid these discussions because frankly and dp are so insensitive to their experiences (and yes, they name you by name).

      “dp”?  LOL, that’s you.

    2. Barack Palin

      part of the problem here is that the actions of 21 year old kids is bein scrutinized 

      Those 21 year old kid’s, as you say, actions have already ruined a few careers.  Are the people who lost their jobs just fodder for their cause?

  11. Tia Will

    BP

    Those 21 year old kid’s, as you say, actions have already ruined a few careers.  Are the people who lost their jobs just fodder for their cause?”

    For the sake of accuracy, I do not believe that we know whether or not this is true. We have no idea whether those who have resigned, been reassigned or fired were competent in their jobs or not. Of course the kind of sound bite reporting that we usually get will tell what ever tale the author wants us to hear. The HR will either remain silent or respond so as to protect the institution and the bottom line is that we hear what someone wants us to hear filtered through our own biases. This is as true on the right as it is on the left.

  12. tribeUSA

    I find it interesting that these types of protests and the whole resurrection of black identity politics has occurred in the last year. Who is behind initiating protests such as this, and what new networks have been established over the last few years? Are some campus humanities professors involved in an informal advisory capacity (e.g. for contact info. & leads on activist activity organizing)–are there organizations outside the college campus that interact with certain campus groups (such as black student or latino student clubs) to get the ball rolling? Who funds these off-campus influencing groups?

    My response here is based on intuition–something just doesn’t ‘feel’ right about the ‘spontaneity’ of this movement; I get the sense it is being in large part being orchestrated from behind the scenes, with players (many of the students) having been pre-conditioned (think modern sociology, ethnic & gender  study, and history courses; and the general campus climate on pc-acceptable attitude) and thus poised to participate in such protests. I acknowledge this may only be partially accurate, or I might be just plain wrong here.

    It also seems to me that such protests serve as a diversion–the students correctly intuit that there are major problems in society, that adult life isn’t necessarily going to be fair, and that their own prospects for a good quality of life in the future are not as assured as were their parents lives–and so if students can be encouraged to be on the alert to perceive certain behaviors and actions as slights or evidence of major universal bigotry, then the different categorical divisions in which people are encouraged to identify themselves–whether racial, ethnic, sexual, sexual preference, etc.–can be set to bicker with each other, diverting energy and attention away from the larger social injustices that may bloom soon to mammoth proportions–the students can have high confidence, given the continuing state of affairs, that the rich will continue to get richer, the middle class will continue to shrink, and the numbers of the poor will continue to grow, as the 0.01% continue to consolidate an ever-increasing percentage of the wealth of the nation, which has continued at much the same pace under the Obama administrations as it did during Bushes.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “Who is behind initiating protests such as this”

      I know a lot of the local kids who are behind these protests, they are kids concerned with the system and wanting to make a change. Whether you think they are heroes or simply naive, I think most come about their protests honestly.

  13. Tia Will

    hpierce

    You did imply that whites were uniquely responsible.

    My points were to say that just isn’t true, world-wide.

    No. you inferred that i was saying that whites were uniquely responsible. I was speaking in terms of American history which I thought was clear from the specific examples I chose. You chose to extend my comments world-wide.And like BP it would appear that you chose to ignore my previous statement that racism is racism regardless of skin color.

    I would pose the same question to you that I posed to BP. Within the context of American history, do you not believe that the majority of oppressive acts have been perpetrated by whites on “people of color” ? ( in quotes because that is another phrase I dislike).

     

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