Monday, March 6, 2017

brouhaha by the intolerant at Middlebury

I don't want to get rid of the original post, but this is a mess and I can't get it cleaned up-- without creating a new one. If you want the new one-- which is still not perfect, but is much better, click here.

Another sad, fascist episode on a college campus-- shouting down Charles Murray at Middlebury College and then engaging in thuggery. Brutal, especially for self-styled liberals at a university. (You can see video of it here-- and you can tell by the substance and repetitive comments of those preceding Murray-- laying out sticks and carrots-- that they're really worried about the crowd. She talks about the "hard work" of good discussion and says, incorrectly, that Middlebury is moving that forward with the event.)

It's a shame since Murray has offered so much vital work to contemporary debates on public policy. I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone who rivals the quality, quantity and variety of his output. Losing Ground was pivotal to the early part of the debate on welfare policy. Check out my review of In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government (maybe the most important book on policy I've read) and my review of Coming Apart (can't think of a more important book on contemporary policy). As for what got these students going-- their sense of his book, The Bell Curve-- I haven't read that tome. But here are a few of my thoughts about Murray on race vs. class and more important, his comments 10 years after Bell Curve was published, and his recent efforts to make published summaries available.

Murray's account of and reflections on the events at Middlebury (where he spoke just a few years ago, with no incident) and Allison Stanger's who was injured by the mob (his host for the event, sponsor of the program, and a critic of his work). Here's some great commentary from Jonathan Haidt and Frank Bruni on the Charlie Rose Show. (I like Bruni's comment that this should be the century of social science, but maybe not...!)

Here's an insider's view-- Dr. Matt Dickinson, a faculty member at Middlebury who runs a popular blog. And here's a broader faculty response. Alison Stanger later wrote about Murray's visit vs. Edward Snowden. 

The WaPo, including a note about Murray's non-white wife/kids and the SPLC glossing him as a eugenicist and a white supremacist-- completely undermining their credibility. (Again, the SPLC is far more eugenicist than Murray could dream of being. Here's Murray dealing with the slanderous description of him by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
The Boston Globe (note the dude with the "eugenics" poster, even though he is far more likely to embrace eugenics policies than Murray, who would far those deeply offensive). Here it is in the NYT. Here's the PBS coverage

Van Jones on some of the larger issues, with some excellent metaphors, esp. on "safe spaces"-- well-defined and poorly-defined. Universities are supposed to be places where you build muscle in these regards, not be protected. 

Here's George Will's angle on the Middlebury fiasco... 

Other considerations:

-The Left has been far more interested in eugenics, historically and contemporary (basic history; note his references to the Leonard book on which I wrote a review for Journal of Markets and Morality)
-freedom of speech, thought, etc. vs. demeaning language (what happened to non-judgment and liberal thought?)
-civility/decency vs. thug-life (basic decency)
-actually reading what you're criticizing, and more broadly, other views (avoiding fundamentalism)
-accurately characterizing the views of another (empathy; see: Haidt for the Left's particular struggles here; see also: growth in Heterodox Academy membership has ballooned since this event!)

Here is Jerry Coyne's blog post; here's Myron Magnet with an op-ed length discussion of the moment; George Leef with concerns about civilization; Bernard Goldberg with an op-ed length and style discussion of the event; and the WSJ weighs in too (but probably behind a paywall; try to Google the title)...

And finally, here's an interesting piece on the implications of this trend for comedy. 

UPDATE: Another example, this time with Heather McDonald, accusations of white supremacy and fascism, ironic fascism in reply to her speech: her account, another piece, a piece in Reason, and video from Bill O'Reilly. Where are the liberals? Where are the professors who (courageously) live up to the values of the profession?

Another example with Rebecca Tuvel at Vandy.

Another update on Murray: The NY Times did some terrific work in sending academics what Murray planned to say at Middlebury-- and comparing the results when the work was anonymous vs. attributed to Murray.
And recently, the "tolerant" fun extended to Congress. Simply evil.


At March 14, 2017 at 11:23 PM , Blogger Matt said...

It's not Matt Dickerson - he teaches in computer science. It's Matt Dickinson.

At March 15, 2017 at 7:25 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Thanks! I had a friend in grad school named Matt Dickerson, so I think I was channeling his name! ;-)


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