Capitalism Review

The New Critical Race Orthodoxy on College Campuses

Bari Weiss writes on the saga of Jodi Shaw in “Whistleblower at Smith College Resigns Over Racism.”

Here is Shaw’s resignation letter to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, originally published on journalist Bari Weiss’ Substack blog, available at bariweiss.substack.com:

Dear President McCartney:

I am writing to notify you that effective today, I am resigning from my position as Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life at Smith College. This has not been an easy decision, as I now face a deeply uncertain future. As a divorced mother of two, the economic uncertainty brought about by this resignation will impact my children as well. But I have no choice. The racially hostile environment that the college has subjected me to for the past 2¹/₂ years has left me physically and mentally debilitated. I can no longer work in this environment, nor can I remain silent about a matter so central to basic human dignity and freedom.

I graduated from Smith College in 1993. Those four years were among the best in my life. Naturally, I was over the moon when, years later, I had the opportunity to join Smith as a staff member. I loved my job and I loved being back at Smith.

But the climate — and my place at the college — changed dramatically when, in July 2018, the culture war arrived at our campus when a student accused a white staff member of calling campus security on her because of racial bias. The student, who is black, shared her account of this incident widely on social media, drawing a lot of attention to the college.

Before even investigating the facts of the incident, the college immediately issued a public apology to the student, placed the employee on leave, and announced its intention to create new initiatives, committees, workshops, trainings and policies aimed at combating “systemic racism” on campus.

In spite of an independent investigation into the incident that found no evidence of racial bias, the college ramped up its initiatives aimed at dismantling the supposed racism that pervades the campus. This only served to support the now prevailing narrative that the incident had been racially motivated and that Smith staff are racist.

Allowing this narrative to dominate has had a profound impact on the Smith community and on me personally. For example, in August 2018, just days before I was to present a library orientation program into which I had poured a tremendous amount of time and effort, and which had previously been approved by my supervisors, I was told that I could not proceed with the planned program. Because it was going to be done in rap form and “because you are white,” as my supervisor told me, that could be viewed as “cultural appropriation.” My supervisor made clear he did not object to a rap in general, nor to the idea of using music to convey orientation information to students. The problem was my skin color.

I was up for a full-time position in the library at that time, and I was essentially informed that my candidacy for that position was dependent upon my ability, in a matter of days, to reinvent a program to which I had devoted months of time.

Humiliated, and knowing my candidacy for the full-time position was now dead in the water, I moved into my current, lower-paying position as Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life.

As it turned out, my experience in the library was just the beginning. In my new position, I was told on multiple occasions that discussing my personal thoughts and feelings about my skin color is a requirement of my job. I endured racially hostile comments, and was expected to participate in racially prejudicial behavior as a continued condition of my employment. I endured meetings in which another staff member violently banged his fist on the table, chanting, “Rich, white women! Rich, white women!” in reference to Smith alumnae.

I listened to my supervisor openly name preferred racial quotas for job openings in our department. I was given supplemental literature in which the world’s population was reduced to two categories — “dominant group members” and “subordinated group members” — based solely on characteristics like race.

Every day, I watch my colleagues manage student conflict through the lens of race, projecting rigid assumptions and stereotypes on students, thereby reducing them to the color of their skin. I am asked to do the same, as well as to support a curriculum for students that teaches them to project those same stereotypes and assumptions onto themselves and others. I believe such a curriculum is dehumanizing, prevents authentic connection and undermines the moral agency of young people who are just beginning to find their way in the world.

Although I have spoken to many staff and faculty at the college who are deeply troubled by all of this, they are too terrified to speak out about it. This illustrates the deeply hostile and fearful culture that pervades Smith College.

The last straw came in January 2020, when I attended a mandatory Residence Life staff retreat focused on racial issues. The hired facilitators asked each member of the department to respond to various personal questions about race and racial identity. When it was my turn to respond, I said, “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.” I was the only person in the room to abstain.

Later, the facilitators told everyone present that a white person’s discomfort at discussing their race is a symptom of “white fragility.” They said that the white person may seem like they are in distress, but that it is actually a “power play.” In other words, because I am white, my genuine discomfort was framed as an act of aggression. I was shamed and humiliated in front of all of my colleagues.

I filed an internal complaint about the hostile environment, but throughout that process, over the course of almost six months, I felt like my complaint was taken less seriously because of my race. I was told that the civil-rights law protections were not created to help people like me. And after I filed my complaint, I started to experience retaliatory behavior, like having important aspects of my job taken away without explanation.

Under the guise of racial progress, Smith College has created a racially hostile environment in which individual acts of discrimination and hostility flourish. In this environment, people’s worth as human beings, and the degree to which they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, is determined by the color of their skin. It is an environment in which dissenting from the new critical race orthodoxy — or even failing to swear fealty to it like some kind of McCarthy-era loyalty oath — is grounds for public humiliation and professional retaliation.

I can no longer continue to work in an environment where I am constantly subjected to additional scrutiny because of my skin color. I can no longer work in an environment where I am told, publicly, that my personal feelings of discomfort under such scrutiny are not legitimate but instead are a manifestation of white supremacy. Perhaps most importantly, I can no longer work in an environment where I am expected to apply similar race-based stereotypes and assumptions to others, and where I am told — when I complain about having to engage in what I believe to be discriminatory practices — that there are “legitimate reasons for asking employees to consider race” in order to achieve the college’s “social justice objectives.”

What passes for “progressive” today at Smith and at so many other institutions is regressive. It taps into humanity’s worst instincts to break down into warring factions, and I fear this is rapidly leading us to a very twisted place. It terrifies me that others don’t seem to see that racial segregation and demonization are wrong and dangerous no matter what its victims look like. Being told that any disagreement or feelings of discomfort somehow upholds “white supremacy” is not just morally wrong. It is psychologically abusive.

Equally troubling are the many others who understand and know full well how damaging this is, but do not speak out due to fear of professional retaliation, social censure and loss of their livelihood and reputation. I fear that by the time people see it, or those who see it manage to screw up the moral courage to speak out, it will be too late.

I wanted to change things at Smith. I hoped that by bringing an internal complaint, I could somehow get the administration to see that their capitulation to critical race orthodoxy was causing real, measurable harm. When that failed, I hoped that drawing public attention to these problems at Smith would finally awaken the administration to this reality. I have come to conclude, however, that the college is so deeply committed to this toxic ideology that the only way for me to escape the racially hostile climate is to resign. It is completely unacceptable that we are now living in a culture in which one must choose between remaining in a racially hostile, psychologically abusive environment or giving up their income.

Enlarge Image Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts where a student accused a security guard of racial profiling her in 2018.Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
As a proud Smith alum, I know what a critical role this institution has played in shaping my life and the lives of so many women for 150 years. I want to see this institution be the force for good I know it can be. I will not give up fighting against the dangerous pall of orthodoxy that has descended over Smith and so many of our educational institutions.

This was an extremely difficult decision for me and comes at a deep personal cost. I make $45,000 a year; less than a year’s tuition for a Smith student. I was offered a settlement in exchange for my silence, but I turned it down. My need to tell the truth — and to be the kind of woman Smith taught me to be — makes it impossible for me to accept financial security at the expense of remaining silent about something I know is wrong. My children’s future, and indeed, our collective future as a free nation, depends on people having the courage to stand up to this dangerous and divisive ideology, no matter the cost.

Sincerely,

Jodi Shaw

Comments Weiss:

What is happening is wrong. Any ideology that asks people to judge others based on their skin color is wrong. Any ideology that asks us to reduce ourselves and others to racial stereotypes is wrong. Any ideology that treats dissent as evidence of bigotry is wrong. Any ideology that denies our common humanity is wrong. You should say so. Just like Jodi Shaw has.

If you would like to help support Jodi with her legal fees, visit her GoFundMe page.

Governor Andrew Cuomo Deserves Emmy But Not Governorship

Writes Henry Olsen in an opinion column in the Washington Post on Andrew Cuomo’s reign as governor of New York:

“Cuomo, a Democrat, did not incite an insurrection, but his decision to send hospitalized covid-positive seniors back to their nursing homes and assisted-living facilities likely led to the deaths of thousands of people. More than 9,000 people who had tested positive for the coronavirus were sent back to these facilities under Cuomo’s orders. Given what was known even in the early days of the pandemic about covid-19’s transmissibility and the lethal threat it posed to the aged, this was a horrific decision. The state has said that more than 8,600 people died from the virus in nursing homes, many surely infected because of Cuomo’s order. New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a report last month that the true total is thousands higher. That alone should be grounds for his removal from office.”

“But it gets worse. The New York Post reported on Thursday that a top aide for the governor, Melissa DeRosa, said while speaking to a group of New York Democratic lawmakers that the Cuomo administration rebuffed earlier requests from the Justice Department and state legislature for updated figures for deaths in nursing homes because of fear of a potential federal investigation. If true, the Cuomo administration authorized a coverup of his activities to avoid potential political, and even legal, exposure.”

Mandalorian’s Gina Carano: Inside Disney/Lucasfilm’s Culture of “Bullying” of an Independent Thinking Woman

Gina Carano was fired from the Disney+ series, The Mandalorian, after she posted messages on social media that the company claimed were “denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities.” In reality, Lucasfilm according to the Daily Caller, had reportedly looking to fire Carano for some time, due to her refusal to intellectual kneel and bow in obeisance and pay homage to left-wing views. Says Carano:

“My actions towards other human beings have spoken for themselves … I am the one that, on sets, people come and cry to. I’m the one that sticks up for someone … like, ‘Hey, this is enough, this person needs out of this, like, they can’t breathe.’”

“And I’ve always been like that. I’ve stuck up for, like, minorities everywhere. I’ve gotten in fistfights. I’ve been in actual fights growing up in Las Vegas because I cannot stand bullying.”

“I was prepared at any point to be let go because I’ve seen this happen to so many people…I’ve seen the looks on their faces. I’ve seen the bullying that takes place, and so when this started, they point their guns at you, and you know it’s only a matter of time. I’ve seen it happen to so many people, and I just thought to myself … you’re coming for me, I know you are.’”

“They’re making it very obvious through their employees who were coming for me, and so I was like, ‘I’m going to go down swinging and I’m going to stay true to myself.’ ”

“My body still is shaking, you know? It’s still devastating.”

“But the thought of this happening to anybody else, especially, like, somebody who could not handle this the way I can? No.”

“They don’t get to do that. They don’t get to make people feel like that. And if I buckle, then little girls and little boys, who are not getting … a good fair shake at growing up right now, if I buckle, it’s going to make it okay for these companies who have a history of lying to be lying, and to do this to other people. And they’ve done it to other people and —”

“And I’m not going down without a fight.”

Though I do not agree with all her posts and views, from the interview, Gina Carano is clearly a genuinely good and thoughtful person. Disney’s portrayal of her in the press and “excommunication” of her from the Star Wars universe on the other hand is disgusting, dishonest, and immoral.

God and Ayn Rand: A Dialogue Between Dennis Prager and Craig Biddle

This looks really interesting. “Atheist and founder of The Objective Standard Institute Craig Biddle joins Dennis [Prager] this week to discuss Objectivism, Ayn Rand, God, and where they disagree.”

Twitter Suspends The Account for Leonard Peikoff’s Book, “The Cause of Hitler’s Germany”

Twitter has suspended the account for Leonard Peikoff’s The Cause of Hitler’s Germany because of its book cover now violates Twitter rules.

The Cause of Hitler’s Germany—previously published as part of his 1982 book The Ominous Parallels—Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand’s long-time associate, demonstrates how unreason and collectivism led the seemingly civilized German society to become a Nazi regime.

 

Two appeals have been made since the suspension with no response from Twitter.

Apparently these two tweets are Twitter approved:

Amy Peikoff has made this suggestion:

Further reaction can be found on the Twitter account for Capitalism Magazine.

Alex Epstein: Texas Blackouts Caused By Focus on Green Energy at Expense of Maintaining Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

According to Alex Epstein “the root cause of the TX blackouts is a national and state policy that has prioritized the adoption of unreliable wind/solar energy over reliable energy.” Writes Epstein, Texas “is having an electricity crisis during bad winter weather because it did not focus enough on building reliable power plants and infrastructure–because it was obsessed with getting as much unreliable wind/solar electricity as possible” and “the expense and distraction of accommodating “unreliables” takes away money and focus from resiliency. In CA this meant not maintaining power lines. In TX it may have meant not focusing enough on making the reliable power plants resilient enough to winter weather.”

Read the rest.

Epstein also appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio program:

Volokh: Not Parler’s Job To Block Bad People and Police Viewpoints

Eugene Volokh on why it’s not Parler’s job to block bad people and police viewpoints :

“Some people complain that Parler doesn’t do enough to block bad people who use their service, whether to spread falsehoods or evil ideas or plans for criminal conduct. But I’m skeptical that this should be Parler’s job.

“The post office doesn’t stop mailings by print magazine publishers because their magazines contain evil ideas or fake news. (They do investigate some mail frauds, but that’s a fairly narrow category, and in any event they do this using governmental law enforcement procedures.)

“Telephone companies (landline or cellular) don’t cancel the KKK’s phone number, or shut down phone service or text messaging service to people whom someone accuses of planning riots. And that’s not just a matter of privacy: They don’t do this even when the contents of the magazine are well known, or the KKK publicly announces that some phone number is its recruitment line. I think on balance we’re better off when the post office and phone companies aren’t policing the viewpoints or factual assertions their customers express.

“Now the post office is generally under a First Amendment obligation not to restrict our mailings (unless our speech has been found to be constitutionally unprotected, generally in some governmental proceeding). Telephone companies are likewise common carriers, who generally are legally barred from canceling service because they don’t like what their customers are saying. Parler does have the legal right to police the content of speech that uses their services, just as Twitter has that right.

“But I don’t think it has a moral obligation to do so (just as I don’t think Google has a moral obligation to cut off Gmail accounts of people who send messages to friends that someone reports as “misleading” or “defaming,” which technically violates Google Terms of Service, or Microsoft has a moral obligation to cut off Outlook accounts of people who “communicat[e] hate speech” or “advocat[e] violence against others”). I think it can reasonably choose to generally leave most content judgments to their users, and enforcement of most laws to law enforcement—just as the legal system has chosen to impose that approach on the post office and phone companies.” [Why I’m Happy That We’re on Parler” at Reason’s The Volokh Conspiracy]

Related:

Was Facebook, Not Parler, The Capitol Rioters Favorite Platform?

Writes, Thomas Brewster, the associate editor of cybersecurity at Forbes:

“Just after the Capitol Hill riots on January 6, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer admitted the company’s ability to enforce its own rules was “never perfect.” About the shocking events of the day, she added: “I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate and don’t have our standards and don’t have our transparency,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, shortly after the Capitol Hill riots on January 6.

“Sandberg was later criticized for downplaying her employer’s role as a platform for the organizers of the siege. But Facebook was far and away the most cited social media site in charging documents the Justice Department filed against members of the Capitol Hill mob, providing further evidence that Sandberg was, perhaps, mistaken in her claim. Facebook, however, claims that the documents show the social media company has been especially forthcoming in assisting law enforcement in investigating users who breached the Capitol.

“Forbes reviewed data from the Program on Extremism at the George Washington University, which has collated a list of more than 200 charging documents filed in relation to the siege. In total, the charging documents refer to 223 individuals in the Capitol Hill riot investigation. Of those documents, 73 reference Facebook. That’s far more references than other social networks. YouTube was the second most-referenced on 24. Instagram, a Facebook-owned company, was next on 20. Parler, the app that pledged protection for free speech rights and garnered a large far-right userbase, was mentioned in just eight.

[…]

“Whilst the data doesn’t show definitively what app was the most popular amongst rioters, it does strongly indicate Facebook was rioters’ the preferred platform.”[“Sheryl Sandberg Downplayed Facebook’s Role In The Capitol Hill Siege—Justice Department Files Tell A Very Different Story“, Forbes, 2020 Feb 7]

Yet, it was the #1 most downloaded app at the time, Twitter competitor Parler, that was banned from Amazon Web Services, Apple, and Google.

Related Links:

Dave Rubin Should Read Ayn Rand

According to media personality, Dave Rubin, “Our Founders understood this which is why the Constitution didn’t grant us rights, it protected them. Rights are God-given, not man-given. Logic needs something eternal beneath it as [a] foundation.”

The idea that individual rights are either god-given or man-given is a false alternative.

Individual rights are neither mystic revelations (god-given) nor subjective creations (man-given). Rights, like the law of gravity, are objective principles identified by reason based on the facts of reality.

The “foundation” of logic is reality – that we perceive via our senses and identify and conceptually integrate by a process of logic.

For someone who claims to admire and have read Ayn Rand this should be obvious. Reading does not always equate with understanding or comprehension.

We recommend Mr. Rubin pick up a copy of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, and turn to the chapters on reason (one’s only means of grasping reality), objectivity (the proper method of doing so-logic), and individual rights (principles required for a rational individual to live in a social context).

Rational Optimism: Jordan Peterson Interviews Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley and Jordan Peterson discuss “economic optimism, trade through the reciprocity of nations, enlightened self-interest, virtues relation to trade, feeding nine billion people, the triumphs of cities, escape of Malthusian population trap, and more.”

Rethinking “Black History” Month

An interesting discussion by Higher Ground’s advisory group on Montessori and Identity on the purpose and value of African American history and closely connected questions of identity and humanism.  Topics covered include” the original purpose of Black History Month (and why we might want to rethink it), the complexity of the learning process around the history of slavery and race, and what, exactly, we want for our kids with respect to race in education.