Student fascism at Evergreen State College

Evergreen State College

Founded in 1971 and boasting an acceptance rate of 98.9%, Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, has welcomed fashionable radical thinking from the outset. Its official motto (we kid you not) is that tired Sixties mantra “Let it all hang out” (in Latin, Omnia Extares). It calls itself a “progressive college,” whatever that means. It prides itself on not giving out grades, on not requiring students to declare majors (it doesn’t have conventional academic departments), and on not having any required courses.

Mumia Abu-Jamal

In 1999, the commencement speaker at Evergreen’s graduation ceremony was cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose salvation from the death penalty was a trendy left-wing cause at the time. (In 2001, his death sentence was commuted to life without parole.) Among the college’s most famous alumni, meanwhile, is Rachel Corrie, the pro-Palestinian activist who, in 2003, while engaged in an aggressive International Solidarity Movement effort to prevent the Israeli Defense Forces from destroying a tunnel used by terrorists to smuggle weapons, was accidentally run over by a bulldozer. Her death under these circumstances made her an instant martyr to the anti-Israeli movement, and turned a photograph of her, screaming with rage and tearing up an American flag, into an iconic image.

Anyway, that’s the kind of student Evergreen produces.

Rachel Corrie

In recent months, U.S. campuses have been the center of a great deal of discord, with vociferous and sometimes violent groups of left-wing or anarchist students trying to shut down speakers they don’t like or have professors fired for making politically incorrect statements. In the process, these students have often caused harm to the targets of their wrath and committed acts of arson and vandalism. In late May, it was Evergreen’s turn to make national headlines. At the center of the story was biology professor Bret Weinstein. Now, one of the annual “progressive” traditions at Evergreen is something called the “Day of Absence,” when black students and professors voluntarily stay off campus and instead hold meetings and discussions elsewhere to discuss racism and tolerance.

Bret Weinstein

This year, however, the organizers of the “Day of Absence” decided to switch things around – instead of allowing blacks to skip class, they ordered whites to do so. Weinstein refused, and explained why: “There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and underappreciated roles…and a group encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness, which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.” He added that he would be on campus that day doing his job and that he would encourage other whites on campus to do the same. “On a college campus,” he wrote, “one’s right to speak – or to be – must never be based on skin color.”

Weinstein has also come under fire for opposing a recommendation by Evergreen’s Equity and Inclusion Council that all faculty hires be defended by the administration on ground of “equity,” a vague term apparently referring to racial balance or some such thing. Weinstein’s attitude toward this policy proposal was that it’s a mistake to place such emphasis on superficial attributes. “The most important thing,” he said, “is that the person in front of the room knows something about the subject and has insight in teaching.” In response to these thoroughly reasonable positions, Weinstein became the target of absolute rage on the part of a large group of Evergreen students. What exactly happened? Tune in tomorrow.

The Ivy League’s poisonous Iran apologist

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Low Library, Columbia University

Many of the useful stooges we’ve examined on this site have been university professors or – like the so-called “Cambridge spies” – have been radicalized while they were university students. As it happens, New York’s Columbia University has figured prominently in the annals of useful stoogery. And of all the departments at Columbia, the one whose faculty has, in recent times, arguably provided more instances of world-class useful stoogery than any other is the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, known familiarly as MEALAC. During the next couple of weeks we’ll meet some of the stars of that department.

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Hamid Dabashi

First up: Hamid Dabashi, now 65 years old. Born in Iraq, Dabashi was an undergraduate at the University of Tehran, earned a Ph.D. in the sociology of culture and Islamic studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. He was a protégé of Edward Said, whose blanket indictment of Western scholars of Islam, Asia, and the Middle East as “Orientalists” incapable of shaking off colonial-era attitudes toward colonized peoples became dogma for experts in those areas of study. Now 65, Dabashi been at Columbia for many years, holding the title Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature.

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Edward Said

During his tenure, he’s made more than his share of highly charged remarks and racked up more than his share of controversies. He’s called Israel a “racist Apartheid state” and equated Gaza with Auschwitz. In 2004, a Columbia graduate named Scott Schonfeld who had been a student of Dabashi’s two years earlier told the New York Sun that Dabashi had canceled a class on Israeli Independence Day “so that the students could attend an anti-Israel demonstration.”

9-11-attackIn January 2005, reacting to the American response to 9/11, Dabashi told the New York Times that “these are the dark ages….This is not the United States I moved into in 1976. I don’t recognize it. I’m in sort of moral shock.” We’ve tried without success to find any example whatsoever of Dabashi expressing shock over Islamic terrorism – for example, over the train attack in Madrid that, only a few months before his comment to the Times, took the lives of 192 people. Nor did Dabashi seem to recognize that the repulsive remarks he made about Jews in an article published later in 2005 might plunge his own readers into a “sort of moral shock.” In the article he describes a visit to Israel, which he depicted as “a military base for the rising predatory empire of the United States” and a “miasmatic mutation of human soul into a subterranean mixture of vile and violence.” He painted a nightmare picture of Israeli streets full of soldiers “with very long machine guns hanging from their necks.” Ben-Gurion Airport? It was “a fully fortified barrack” where all and sundry were “treated like hazardous chemicals.” On the flight home, he was made “nauseous” by the sight of a Jewish mother and father and their five boys in yarmulkes. Once back in New York, he concluded that

Half a century of systematic maiming and murdering of another people has left its deep marks on the faces of these people…the way they talk, walk, the way they greet each other….There is a vulgarity of character of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture. A subsumed militarism, a systemic mendacity with an ingrained violence constitutional to the very fusion of its fabric, has penetrated the deepest corners of what these people have to call their “soul.” No people can perpetrate what these people and their parents and grandparents have perpetrated on Palestinians and remain immune to the cruelty of their own deeds.

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Jonathan Rosenblum

These lines might have been writing by Hitler himself. Quoting them, Jonathan Rosenblum wondered at the fact that “no one has suggested that Debashi might be fired or even reprimanded for speaking non-scientific nonsense” – even though an Ivy League professor who had written, say, “that black teenagers have distended ears from prolonged exposure to ghetto boomboxes held close to their ears, and wide lips from eating too many watermelons,” would surely have been “summoned for a disciplinary hearing and sensitivity training,” not to mention subjected to boycotts and sit-ins.

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Victor Luria

After the publication of Dabashi’s article on Israel, he received an email from a Columbia Ph.D. student, Victor Luria, a Romanian and a former IDF member. “I have rarely seen such a revolting excerpt of anti-semitism as your article in Al-Ahram,” wrote Luria, who is now a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. Instead of replying to Luria’s email, Dabashi forwarded it to Columbia’s provost, historian Alan Brinkley, as well as to other university officials, claiming that Luria’s remarks represented a threat to his physical safety and demanding that university security officers take “appropriate measures” against this “militant slanderer.” Brinkley refused, saying that Luria had made no threats against him.

More tomorrow.

The top ten stooges of 2016

Time again, kids, for our annual top-ten list. As before, these aren’t necessarily the worst human beings we covered last year; they’re people whose deplorable activities stood out in some way or another. One more thing: this time around, we’ve decided to forego the old cranks and creeps and focus instead on relatively youthful stooges – young-to-middle-aged characters who are especially worth keeping tabs on because their most high-profile and influential stoogery probably lies ahead of them…alas. Anyway, here goes:

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Max Blumenthal

To quote Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Max Blumenthal “is quite simply one of the most biased, anti-Semitic, terrorist-defending, Israel-has-no-right-to-exist haters out there.” And here’s what fellow leftist Eric Alterman had to say about Max’s 2013 anti-Israel screed Genesis: “this book could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club.” The vile spawn of ethically bankrupt Clinton lackey Sidney Blumenthal (one of the slimiest operatives ever to set foot inside the Washington Beltway), Sonny Boy routinely equates the Jewish state with Nazi Germany; this year he praised a massacre of IDF soldiers by Hamas commanders. In short, he’s as low as they go – and a dyed-in-the-wool chip off the old block.

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Nick Dearden

In 2016, while other fans of chavismo hid in shame as the system they’d celebrated brought the Venezuelan economy to its knees, British activist Nick Dearden was actually cheering what he described as that country’s “food revolution.” What on earth was he talking about? Answer: a new law that bans genetically modified seeds and prohibit the sale to corporations of “indigenous knowledge” in the field of agriculture. The result, Dearden enthused, would be “a truly democratic food system” that made the Bolivarian Republic “a beacon of hope.” Tell that to all the people who are eating their pets and breaking into bodegas to steal bread.

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Malcolm Harris

When Occupy Wall Street went bottom-up, blame focused largely on Malcolm Harrisa founder of the movement who’s been accused by fellow left-winger Mark Ames of exploiting OWS to “build his own brand.” Meaning what? Well, when leaders of Occupy Redlands in California invited Harris to give a lecture, they heard back from a speakers’ agency: the fee would be $5,000, plus travel and hotel. This year Harris wrote a piece called “Who’s Afraid of Communism?” – a call for millennials to reject capitalism and take a fresh, “nuanced” look at Mao and Stalin. When the Revolution comes, will he still be allowed to charge five grand for a speech?

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David Sirota

In June, we met chavismo enthusiast and former Bernie Sanders flunky David Sirota. Described by Newsweek in 2003 as “well schooled in the art of Washington warfare,” by the New York Times as a guy with a “take-no-prisoners mind-set” toward Republicans and centrists, and by election expert Nate Silver as a dude who plays “fast and loose with the truth,” Sirota wrote an article after the Boston Marathon bombing expressing the hope that the perpetrator was a white American. Like Dearden, moreover, Sirota has cheered Venezuela’s “economic miracle.” Of course, the only “economic miracle” in Venezuela is that the country, despite its massive petroleum resources, now has to import oil. 

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Colin Kaepernick

On August 26, San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick protested racism in America by refusing to stand up for the National Anthem before a game. This started a trend that has spread to a variety of sports at every level. Whatever one thinks of it, one part of this episode is unambiguously contemptible: at his press conference that day, Kaepernick wore a T-shirt covered with pictures of Fidel Castro and Malcolm X. The message was clear: the U.S. is a contemptibly racist nation and Cuba a model of racial harmony. Pure Communist propaganda, of course: in reality, aside from being a totalitarian state, Cuba is a country where intense racial prejudice is still a fact of life. Too bad Kaepernick is so ill-informed – and that his ignorance has given rise to such a divisive movement.

Five more tomorrow.

 

Worse than moral equivalence

Penny Red (Penny Laurie) speaking at rally. -- Several hundred people, mainly women, came to rally outside Parliament to oppose restrictions on abortions proposed by Nadine Dorries and others, and to campaign for a woman's right to chose, both here and Northern Ireland. UK. 9th July 2011
Penny Laurie

Though she’s only 29, Laurie Penny‘s output is already depressingly large, and therefore impossible to cover adequately in just a few short pieces. Then again, a hell of a lot of it is the same thing over and over again. In other words, she’s a narrow-minded ideological scold, not an original and versatile thinker. Today we’ll conclude our week with Ms. Penny by looking at a few more bits and pieces from her oeuvre.

The first item, a July 2014 column, shows that Penny is, unsurprisingly, an eager – and vulgar – Israel-basher.  Accusing Israel of murdering hundreds of Palestinians, including children, Penny (who is herself half Jewish) claimed to be pained by anti-Semitic rhetoric on the part of Palestinians and their supporters. But she quickly added:

היום הסתיים קורס סמלים בכירים שהתקיים בבית הספר למכים וחיר של זרוע היבשה בצהל בקורס נכחו לראשונה מספר שיא של ארבע בנות שסיימו את הקורס יחדיו לראשונה ארבע הבנות יחזרו לשרת כמפקדות בכירות בפלוגות השונות בגדוד הקרקל ובחיל ההנדסה הקרבית
Bad guys?

It is not anti-Semitic to suggest that Israel doesn’t get a free pass to kill whoever it likes in order to feel “safe.” It is not anti-Semitic to point out that if what Israel needs to feel “safe” is to pen the Palestinian people in an open prison under military occupation, the state’s definition of safety might warrant some unpacking. And it is not anti-Semitic to say that this so-called war is one in which only one side actually has an army.

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Good guys?

Yesterday we noted Penny’s penchant for moral equivalence. But this was worse than moral equivalence. Penny wasn’t equating Israel’s defensive measures with the Islamic terrorism to which it’s a response; she was actually painting Israel as an armed aggressor and the Palestinians, because they don’t have an “army” in the same sense that Israel does, as helpless victims. She even managed to work in the word “genocide,” which she did in this sneaky fashion:

This is a conflict in which no one wants to edge towards saying the word “genocide,” because in this context that is a term so loaded that what’s left of reasoned debate staggers and falls to its knees.

Then why mention it? 

Among the ticklish facts that did go unmentioned in Penny’s column, of course, was that Hamas, while targeting innocent Israeli civilians for coldblooded murder, hides behind its own children and mosques and schools and hospitals, making all of them vulnerable to retaliatory Israeli fire, while the IDF, in its effort to take down these savages, does its best to avoid harming civilians on either side (even those who may be aiding and abetting the savages).

Anyway, on to a more recent article, in which our heroine shared her thoroughly predictable reaction to the Brexit vote. She began as follows:

This morning, I woke up in a country I do not recognise…

There’s not enough tea in the entire nation to help us Keep Calm and Carry On today. Not on a day when prejudice, propaganda, naked xenophobia and callous fear-mongering have won out over the common sense we British like to pride ourselves on.

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Nigel Farage

Apparently considering those nasty words insufficient, Penny went on to slur Brexit champion Nigel Farage as a “racist” and his supporters as “the frightened, parochial lizard-brain of Britain.” Then, without the slightest hint of irony or self-awareness, she said she wanted “to wake up tomorrow in a country where people are kind, and tolerant, and decent to one another.”

In any case, at no point in a very long article did Penny acknowledge that there might be any merit in the pro-Brexit argument that the EU is undemocratic – or that any of the pro-Brexit voters, far from being bigots, were simply voting for the right to choose their own rulers again.

We’ll close with a couple of YouTube videos. First, here’s one that shows her complete ignorance of – or indifference to? – the basic facts of economics (please excuse the inelegant title that the YouTube user has placed on it): 

And finally, this next one shows her talking part in a 2013 discussion on BBC’s Question Time. The issue: should Muslim women in Britain be allowed to wear the full face-covering niqab, even in jobs like schoolteacher and nurse? Other participants had nuanced views, with a couple expressing concern about women wearing veils when working in hospitals and dealing with patients. But Penny was firm: it was, she pronounced, “brutally islamophobic and deeply sexist” to even discuss the question.

Admittedly, we haven’t given this prolific young lady her due. But we hope we’ve covered enough of her work to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is, in sum, a totalitarian soul who, though she takes part in endless debates, doesn’t really believe in debate. As she sees it, the opponents who disagree with her on Twitter are trolls who should probably be banned from the Internet. And the very idea of holding TV discussions about issues on which 29-year-old Laurie Penny has come to an unequivocal conclusion are offensive in and of themselves, and should be outright verboten.

Smearing Elie Wiesel

Imagine the pride of a father who – having made a career as an unscrupulous world-class professional creep – lives to see his son, at a still relatively tender age, surpass his own monumental record for moral iniquity.

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Max and Sid

Whom else could we be talking about here but the execrable Sidney Blumenthal and his evil spawn, Max?

We’ve already looked in on Max a couple of times in the last year or so, noting the breathtaking rapidity with which he rose to the very top of the list of American Jews who make a career out of vilifying Israel (and, as a corollary, defending and justifying Islamic terror). His 2013 book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel was so repulsive that even Eric Alterman, hardly an apologist for Israel, wrote that it “could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club (if it existed).” Max supports the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement; he’s repeatedly accused Israel of apartheid and equated it with Nazi Germany; he’s even gone so far as to cheer, in a talk at the London School of Economics, a massacre of IDF soldiers in 2014 by members of Hamas.

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Elie Wiesel

No one should have been surprised, then, by Max’s disgusting response to the death, on July 2, at age 87, of Elie Wiesel – the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner who provided, in his 1960 memoir Night, an indelible account of the experience of Auschwitz, and who over the decades became an internationally respected prophet of decency and humanity, an eloquent critic of anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of prejudice who, at one moment of crisis after another, reminded the world where its moral duty lay.

All that mattered to Max, however, was that Wiesel recognized the very real difference between Israel (which Max has referred to as JSIL – the Jewish State in the Levant) and its terrorist enemies. And so, on July 2, Max tweeted out the following:

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Blumenthal and one of his most vocal critics, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach

Elie Wiesel is dead. He spent his last years inciting hatred, defending apartheid & palling around with fascists.

And:

Elie Wiesel went from a victim of war crimes to a supporter of those who commit them. He did more harm than good and should not be honored.

In a follow-up article, Max smeared Wiesel as a careerist who’d “secured his brand as the high priest of Holocaust theology, the quasi-religion he introduced.”

Joel Pollak had the perfect comment on all this: “Blumenthal’s bile,” he wrote, “is a perfect tribute to Wiesel, who was the living retort to such nonsense.”  

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Sid with Bill, back in the White House days

As it happens, Max’s dad, Sid, is a longtime Clinton functionary – confidante, adviser, fixer, bagman, snoop, go-between. Several of Hillary’s famous e-mails to Sid reference Max, praising his articles: “He’s so good.” “A very smart piece.” “[P]owerful and touching.” “Max strikes again!” Over the year, both Clintons have kept mum about Max’s vicious savaging of Israel. But his Wiesel tweets made headlines, and Hillary is running for president, and so she apparently felt compelled – finally – to distance herself from him, releasing a statement through her campaign rejecting his “offensive, hateful and patently absurd statements” about Wiesel, whom she described as a “hero.”

Better late than never. But it will take far more than this one incident, one suspects, for the Clintons to cut loose Max’s dad, whose utter lack of the kind of conscience that Wiesel embodied has made him the most useful of factotums.