Wednesday, June 07, 2017

New York Times interview with New Ithaca College President, Shirley Collado

New York Times publishes good article about our (Ithaca College) incoming president: At Ithaca College, a President Focused on Diversity.
Students at Ithaca College who sign up for intergroup dialogues in the coming semesters may have some interesting classmates: their professors. 
The discussion groups, where students, and now faculty and staff, come together to talk through challenging issues are among the many changes, big and small, that Shirley M. Collado, the incoming president of Ithaca College, has in mind as she sets out to usher in a new era at the institution. 
“Imagine an entire first-year class participating in an intergroup dialogue right as they come into town,” she said. “They’re living in the same residence hall, and they’re going to the first-year seminar, and they’re talking about religion and politics not just intellectually, but also in terms of their own lived experience, with people across roles.”
I like this idea. I teach a first year seminar, and last year, as a way for students to get to know each other better at the beginning of the semester, we did just this by exploring what "home" meant to all of the students. Home not just in the sense of the comfortable place they had all just come from to college, but also the conflicts between groups in their towns/cities and their high schools.
But as much as she leans on her studies to help her draft a new course for Ithaca College, the heart of Ms. Collado’s relationship with diversity lies in her life experience.
She is a first-generation college student, from Dominican parents, and grew up in a decidedly working-class home in Brooklyn. Her dad drove a yellow cab, her mom worked in a factory. College was never the assumed next step in life, like it is for so many who attend Ithaca College, but she was able to chart a path that began at Vanderbilt University as part of the inaugural class of the Posse Foundation. 
The pilot program grouped five students from mixed backgrounds in New York City together into a “posse,” offering them scholarships and introducing them even before their orientation, to help forge a sense of community from the start. Ms. Collado attributes a lot of her success to that experience, and she said it is a key element in how she personally looks at addressing diversity. 
Central to her diversity plan is just that: making diversity a core principle of how the college operates at every level, not just set apart into task forces and studies.
I also like this idea, and I'm very tired of task forces and studies on the topic. In two of my courses I have foregrounded "diversity" (I'm not so happy with the word - I'd rather say that I've foregrounded critical ways of thinking about race [as a constructed reality], religion, and political conflict].
A college cannot truly diversify until it has fully embraced all the aspects of diversity into its bloodstream, she said. Simply trying to recruit a diverse student body without centralizing the issue would just lead to the same diminishing returns many colleges have faced as they look for a more diverse student body. The faculty, staff and curriculum need to represent a diverse institution in order to bring about a truly diverse class. 
“You can’t change who’s coming in if you’re not willing to shift who you are,” Ms. Collado said.
I think she's right, and this was one of our problems - the college worked hard on diversifying the student body without thinking and doing very much about recruiting more diverse faculty and staff (although there were some initiatives in this direction).
She also sees a vast resource in partnerships with local community colleges to help usher in students with a wider array of life experiences. And right in downtown Ithaca is a branch of Tompkins Cortland Community College. “Community college students add a really interesting intergenerational component because they live different lives than the first-year students,” she said.
I've only had a few older students in my classes, and they have always added to the classroom experience. I hope that we will recruit more graduates of TC3 as well as other older students. I know that some college have special programs to bring in veterans - I think we should initiate a veterans' program at Ithaca College too. Perhaps it might also be a good idea to have IC becoming involved in the Posse program that our incoming president took part in. Another form of diversity that we have also really ignored is economic diversity - we need to recruit more working class and lower middle class students, and give them the opportunity to study at a great college. We shouldn't just be a college for 18-21 year olds from largely upper middle class families.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Jewish Voice for Peace Disrupt LGBT marchers in the New York Israel Parade

LGBT contingent at the New York Israel parade June 4

LGBT contingent at the New York Israel parade June 4

This year, Jewish Voice for Peace disrupted the Israel Parade in New York City. One of the groups they infiltrated and prevented from marching (temporarily) was Jewish Queer Youth - "a New York organization devoted to the health and well-being of at-risk LGBTQ Jewish youth. JQY runs a weekly Drop-in Center for LGBTQ teens from predominantly Orthodox and rejecting families. As our focus is the emotional and physical welfare of all LGBTQ young people in the Jewish community, we believe it is important that no one feels excluded from care because of their political, ideological, or denominational stance. Our membership reflects the full spectrum of Jewish feelings about Israel, and we support our youth on all sides of this important debate."

JVP disrupting the march.

JVP trying to block the LGBT banner.
This is a statement from JQY about the parade:
“Jewish Voice For Peace” infiltrators sabotage at-risk LGBTQ Jewish youth at the Celebrate Israel Parade 
What really happened this year in the LGBTQ Jewish marching group: 
This past Sunday, over 80 people courageously marched in the LGBTQ cluster of the New York Celebrate Israel Parade. JQY believes it is an incredible act of bravery for LGBTQ youth to proudly and openly march through an audience of over 40,000 predominantly religious Jews. Marchers included teens who were kicked out of their homes, schools, and synagogues just for being who they are. These are teens who often struggle with self-harm, suicidal ideation, and internalized shame. Yet almost miraculously, they muster up the courage to face the communities that rejected them. Their message to the Jewish community is very simple: "We all belong." As far as JQY is concerned, these youth are heroes.

However, in their moment of courage and pride, this most vulnerable cohort of the Celebrate Israel Parade was targeted for sabotage, bullying, and harassment by an organization called Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Seven JVP "disrupters" secretly infiltrated the LGBTQ marching cluster. They pretended to be part of our group, marching side by side with our teens. As our contingent approached 72nd Street, one of the JVP disrupters lunged toward our speaker system, pulling out as many wires as she could until our music went silent. At that moment, five other disrupters removed their shirts to reveal red shirts brandished with the words “DEADLY EXCHANGE” in black. In the absence of our music, they began yelling to cause a disturbance. They proceeded to block our marching banners with their own anti-Israel signs. The disrupters had formed a human chain, aimed at preventing our group from moving forward. Efforts to move forward were met with physical resistance, intimidation, and screaming. Finally, police and security swarmed into our group creating more disarray and fear. People were pushed, trampled, and shoved. Our marchers were terrified and shocked. In this confusion, some in our cluster thought it was a terror attempt and immediately fled the parade route. Ultimately, five JVP members were arrested. Despite this sabotage attempt, our group managed to turn the music back on and completed the march with our heads held high.
Such a brave group of people, JVP, picking on at-risk LGBT Jewish youth. The infiltrators wore t-shirts reading "Deadly Exchange" and held signs reading "Queer Jews for Palestine." How they thought that pushing and shoving fellow queer Jews would help the Palestinians is beyond me.

The Tablet article on the disruption reported on the words of Rebecca Vilkomerson:
Rebecca Vilkomerson, the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said the LGBT marching contingent was “a carefully chosen target.” She explained that the protest was organized by “a group of queer Jews who feel strongly about gay rights not being used to pinkwash the occupation.” ....
“[The protest] was a hate crime,” said Mordechai Levovitz, the founding director of JQY. “The reason this happened is because we were lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender and queer. They targeted us. They didn’t target another high school; they targeted us, the queer kids.” 
When asked whether or not it would have made a difference if the organization knew the number of minors that were in the group, and the extent of the vulnerability of the population, JVP’s Vilkomerson said, “No, we were just targeting the LGBT contingent [in general].”

Monday, June 05, 2017

More on Deir Yassin Remembered in Ann Arbor

The Michigan Daily, a student newspaper, also reported on the SPLC designation for DYR.
Deir Yassin Remembered, a local group famous for its weekly protests outside Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, has been placed on a list of hate groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center under the subcategory of Holocaust denial. According to the Washtenaw Jewish News, Deir Yassin Remembered is "the only sustained action targeting a Jewish house of worship anywhere in the United States.” 
Mark Potok, editor-in-chief of the SPLC's quarterly journal, explained the addition in a recent interview on Michigan Radio, stating the group defended Nazism. "We list them because over the years they have come to more and more explicitly embrace real-life Holocaust denial," he said. "The kind of Holocaust denial that these people practice is essentially a defense of Germany and National Socialism.”....
Henry Herskovitz, a member of the board of directors for Deir Yassin Remembered and later, a self-described “former Jew,” stirred controversy in 2014 when he campaigned for the release of Ernst Zundel from prison, who was sentenced by a German court to five years in prison for inciting racial hatred through literature he published....
A member of the Beth Israel congregation, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of harassment by Deir Yassin Remembered, said the group's apparent concern with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli apartheid were superficial. 
“That is the nominal organization to which they are affiliated, but that is ancillary to their primary motivation,” the member said. “Their primary motivation is a deep anti-Semitism, in the same way as the Ku Klux Klan claims to be defending white rights.”
This is part of the article from the Washtenaw Jewish News (also published in the Michigan Review):
So far as is known, the picket of Beth Israel by Deir Yassin Remembered is the only sustained action targeting a Jewish house of worship anywhere in the United States. The picket has been condemned by members of the Palestinian-American community, by a great number of local clergymen of all faiths, by the mayor of Ann Arbor, the city council, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, and The Ann Arbor News. On learning of Deir Yassin’s anti-Semitic views, The Ann Arbor Observer and several billboard companies have refused to accept ads from the group. 

Deir Yassin Remembered in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Victor Lieberman, the Raul Wallenberg Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, has just published an article about the activities of DYR in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One of the leaders of DYR, Henry Herskovitz, lives in Ann Arbor, and has picketed a synagogue there for the last thirteen years, together with a small group of other like-minded haters of Israel and of Jews.

Professor Lieberman reports:
In person outside the synagogue and on their website, DYR activists promote an array of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories: Jews built gas ovens in the death camps after World War Two to frame the Germans. Jews created and now control ISIS. Jews destroyed the Twin Trade Towers in New York City on 9/11. 
Jews have organized all the chief terrorist attacks in Europe and America. According to a report in the Washtenaw Jewish News, while standing outside Beth Israel in 2012 a leader of the weekly picket summarized his views in these exact words: "I hate Jews. Whatever happened to them in World War II, they brought on themselves. They deserved everything they got."
He reports about another DYR leader, Paul Eisen, whom I have written about before, "DYR Director Paul Eisen appeared on the radio show of David Duke, the Louisiana anti-Semite, white supremacist, and former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan."

And he also documents DYR's support of Ernst Zundel, a well-known Holocaust denier, who has been jailed in Germany (his native land) for "inciting racial hatred."
DYR leaders campaigned for the release from prison and the rehabilitation of Ernst Zundel, an ani-Semite jailed in his native Germany for "inciting racial hatred." 
During his trial, Zundel's lawyer signed court motions with the words "Heil Hitler." Zundel co-authored a book "The Hitler We Loved and Why," published by White Power Publications, which explained "It was never Hitler's Germany. It shall always be Germany's Hitler....Today, [Hitler's] spirit soars beyond the shores of the White Man's home in Europe. Wherever we are, he is with us. WE LOVE YOU, ADOLF HITLER." 
To express their admiration for Zundel, Henry Herskovitz, who is a member of the Board of Advisors and Directors of DYR, together with Daniel McGowan, Executive Director of DYR, visited Zundel in Mannheim Prison in Germany. In 2014, Herskovitz also posted a picture of himself greeting Holocaust survivors at a memorial ceremony organized for their murdered families with a sign reading "Free Ernst Zundel."

Sunday, June 04, 2017

SPLC lists Deir Yassin Remembered as a hate group (Holocaust Denial)

I just saw news about Daniel A. McGowan and Deir Yassin Remembered that appeared a couple of months ago. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which keeps track of hate groups in the United States, has just listed DYR as a hate group (in the most recent issue of its Intelligence Report, published in February of this year). It's in the category of Holocaust denial groups, where it certainly belongs (although that's not the only problem with the group, by any means). 

The Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, in Rochester, New York, reported on the new listing for DYR:
A third area group, new to the list, is Deir Yassin Remembered. That Geneva-based group was created to memorialize a bloody attack by Jewish forces on a Palestinian Arab village in April 1948, shortly before the foundation of the modern state of Israel. More than 100 villagers were killed. Though some Jewish historians view the incident as a two-sided battle, many Palestinians consider it a massacre. 
More broadly, Deir Yassin Remembered is a Palestinian human-rights organization, said McGowan, a retired economics professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. McGowan said his group, whose board is by design half-Jewish, is far from anti-Semitic.

But some members of the group’s board, and McGowan himself, have spoken or written about the Holocaust — the mass slaughter of Jews and others by the Nazis in World War II. They do not deny the horror of the Holocaust but at times have questioned elements of the commonly accepted account, such as the number of Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis. McGowan said that constitutes Holocaust revisionism, not denial. 
But the law center defines "Holocaust denial" more broadly to include outright denial or efforts to minimize the extent of the Nazis' genocide. They consider revisionists to be deniers, according to the center's website. [RL: I couldn't find the link on the website, and the term "Holocaust revisionist" is equivalent to Holocaust denial. McGowan is engaged in sophistry].
More significantly, they [DYR] question what they see as the use of the Holocaust by Israel to justify its actions. “The Holocaust is used to keep people from advocating for Palestinians, because people who question its use are immediately accused of being anti-Semitic,” McGowan said. “The minute you express any skepticism of the Holocaust … then you are labeled not a skeptic but a denier, and you are held up for condemnation.” 
The group has been around for years though it apparently made its first appearance on the SPLC map only this year — a circumstance McGowan attributes to controversy that erupted in Detroit last year and again this year when the group erected a billboard reading "America First / Not Israel." Public complaints forced the removal of the billboards, he said. 
McGowan also said the inclusion of groups like Deir Yassir Remembered on the law center’s hate map is a marketing ploy. “They gain more money by saying ‘There’s a den of Holocaust haters in Geneva, New York and you’d better send us more money.’ It’s total nonsense,” he said.
What McGowan does is not historical revisionism in the sense that credible historians use the term. McGowan engages in Holocaust denial. "Skepticism" about the Holocaust means questioning whether it occurred, which is nonsensical, since there is ample evidence for the events of the Holocaust in the historical record. Of course when he expresses "skepticism" about the Holocaust he is labeled as a denier, because that is what he is.

Keeping an eye on a tornado

From the Times Colonist (Canadian Press photo, by Cecilia Wessels)

Man who mowed lawn with tornado behind him says he 'was keeping an eye on it.'


I could not resist the photo (nor could many people on Twitter, which is where I found it).
THREE HILLS, Alta. — A photo of a man in Alberta mowing a lawn with a tornado swirling behind him has been causing a storm on social media.  Cecilia Wessels snapped the picture of her husband, Theunis, on Friday evening as the twister passed near their home in Three Hills. 
She said cutting the grass was on her husband's to-do list, and as he started the task, she went for a nap. 
Wessels said she was woken by her nine-year-old daughter who was upset that there was something like a tornado in the sky, but her father wouldn't come inside.  Theunis Wessels said the tornado was actually much further away than it appears in the photo, and that it was moving away from them. 
There have been no reports of injuries from the tornado, although some other photos show downed trees and a barn with its roof ripped off... 
Theunis Wessels said he was keeping watch of his surroundings and saw the twister form as the swirling connected from the sky and the ground to form the funnel.... "It looks much closer if you look in the photo, but it was really far away. Well, not really far, far away, but it was far away from us," he said. "I was keeping an eye on it.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Education, Free Speech, and Bret Weinstein at Evergreen State College

On the unbelievable events this week at Evergreen State College: When the Left Turns on Its Own (New York Times).
Bret Weinstein is a biology professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., who supported Bernie Sanders, admiringly retweets Glenn Greenwald and was an outspoken supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement. 
You could be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Weinstein, who identifies himself as “deeply progressive,” is just the kind of teacher that students at one of the most left-wing colleges in the country would admire. Instead, he has become a victim of an increasingly widespread campaign by leftist students against anyone who dares challenge ideological orthodoxy on campus. 
This professor’s crime? He had the gall to challenge a day of racial segregation. 
A bit of background: The “Day of Absence” is an Evergreen tradition that stretches back to the 1970s. As Mr. Weinstein explained on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, “in previous years students and faculty of color organized a day on which they met off campus — a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning.” This year, the script was flipped: “White students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave campus for the day’s activities,” reported the student newspaper on the change. The decision was made after students of color “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.” 
Mr. Weinstein thought this was wrong. The biology professor said as much in a letter to Rashida Love, the school’s Director of First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services. “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 under-appreciated roles,” he wrote, “and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away.” The first instance, he argued, “is a forceful call to consciousness.” The second “is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.” In other words, what purported to be a request for white students and professors to leave campus was something more than that. It was an act of moral bullying — to stay on campus as a white person would mean to be tarred as a racist....
For expressing his view, Mr. Weinstein was confronted outside his classroom last week by a group of some 50 students insisting he was a racist. The video of that exchange [now removed from Youtube] — “You’re supporting white supremacy” is one of the more milquetoast quotes — must be seen to be believed. It will make anyone who believes in the liberalizing promise of higher education quickly lose heart. When a calm Mr. Weinstein tries to explain that his only agenda is “the truth,” the students chortle.
The letter that Professor Weinstein sent to Rashida Love (via email):


A video of the exchange with the students can be found here:



Professor Weinstein tries to have a rational discussion with the students, who curse him and refuse to listen to him. They demand that he resign. "Hey hey, ho ho, Bret Weinstein has got to go!"

Interview with Professor Weinstein on the Tucker Carlson show (Fox News):



A much longer interview with him on the Rubin Report (May 30, 2017):



Professor Weinstein's twitter account: https://twitter.com/BretWeinstein.

More information and a somewhat different point of view can be found in an article by Jonathan Haidt at Heterodox Academy: "The blasphemy case Against Bret Weinstein, and its four lessons for professors."

Professor Weinstein's account of what happened can be found in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) - The Campus Mob Came for Me—and You, Professor, Could Be Next.


Evergreen State College Continues Descent Into Madness (June 2, 2017): "The student takeover at Evergreen State College has gotten so out of control that lawmakers in Washington State are now talking about defunding the school."

The article from Campus Reform linked by Legal Insurrection:
State lawmakers in Washington are fed up with the antics of Evergreen State College, and plan to introduce legislation Thursday to privatize the left-leaning institution. 
As Campus Reform initially reported, hundreds of students marched through campus last week demanding the resignation of Professor Bret Weinstein, who had questioned the school’s decision to ask white people to leave campus for a day of diversity programming in an all-staff email. 
In previous years, non-white students and faculty members voluntarily left campus to attend diversity workshops while their white counterparts conducted their own programming on-campus, but this year the format was flipped in response to complaints that non-white students feel unwelcome on campus in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. 
Despite the protesters’ profanity-laced denunciations of him, school President George Bridges praised their “passion and courage” while capitulating to demands that they be excused from homework assignments for the duration of their demonstration. 
The bill, spearheaded by Republican State Representative Matt Manweller, will be introduced alongside a letter to the state Human Rights Commission requesting an investigation into potential civil rights violations on campus surrounding the incident. 
Manweller and his colleagues are also discussing the possibility of revoking $24,000,000 in annual funding to Evergreen State College, but pledge that all students on campus will remain eligible for full financial aid from the state, should the bill become law. 
"These students and their administration are trying to undo the Civil Rights Movement. They are trying to re-institute a Jim Crow approach to education that Americans rejected over 50 years ago,” Manweller said in an exclusive interview with Campus Reform. “We must never go back to a segregated society—whether it be drinking fountains, buses, or school buildings." 
Manweller made clear that he places the blame for Evergreen’s current situation squarely on the shoulders of administrators, arguing that they created the conditions for controversy through their unquestioning embrace of social justice and failure to condemn the excesses of student protesters. 
“It is incredibly frightening that the administration at Evergreen would tacitly support Brown-shirt tactics we have not seen since 1930s Germany. That they would allow students to threaten professors and other students based on their race is simply horrifying,” Manweller continued. “The administration bears direct responsibility for this situation. They hired the professors who have elevated the pseudo-science of ‘social justice’ to a religious movement. Now all dissent is crushed by threats of violence or actual violence." 
Manweller told Campus Reform that he is optimistic about the bill’s prospects, asserting that the internal contradictions of the leftist movement on campus will be its eventual undoing.

“Like all radical movements in history, this movement is also starting to turn on itself and eat its own,” he said. “Professor Weinstein is a liberal professor who teaches liberal values. Now those students have turned on him like they have on so many other professors around the country.”