Ohio State University Higher Education and Student Affairs Professor Matthew Mayhew has issued an abject apology after penning a column entitled “Why America Needs College Football.” Mayhew argued that the return of college football could get the country through “uncharacteristically difficult times of great isolation, division and uncertainty.” That did not sit well with some at the university and Mayhew published Why America Needs College Football – Part 2 to seek forgiveness for the harm that he caused. The column and its confessional follow-up are unnerving for many in academia in the current debate over free speech on campuses. It is entirely appropriate and commendable for an academic to reconsider his views and retract any statements which he now considers racist or insensitive. However, the retraction of such views as inherently harmful raises questions about the range of acceptable speech today. There are clearly good-faith reasons to favor the return of college football as well as good-faith reasons to oppose it. The question is whether expressing the former is now unacceptable at universities for a professor or student. Despite being a sports fan, I am uneasy about the return of college football during the pandemic. I welcomed the publication of the first column as the start of a possible (and needed) debate on the question and the underlying economic, social, racial and academic issues.
We have been discussing a crackdown on some campuses against conservative columnists and newspapers, including the firing of a conservative student columnist at Syracuse, the public condemnation of a student columnist at Georgetown, and a campaign against one of the oldest conservative student newspapers in the country at Dartmouth. Now, The Badger Herald, a student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin Madison, has dismissed columnist Tripp Grebe after he wrote a column opposing the defunding of police departments. What was equally disturbing was how the rationale for this raw act of viewpoint intolerance tracked the rationale used by the New York Times in a controversy over the column by Sen. Tom Cotton on the George Floyd protests.
It appears that Judge Amy Coney Barrett has gone from a “cult member” for being a devout Catholic to a possible “white colonizer” for adopting two Haitian children. Where most of us saw a loving interracial family at the White House ceremony on Saturday, Ibram X. Kendi, the new director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, saw a possible case of effective baby snatching by “White colonizers.” Continue reading “Boston University Professor Denounces Barrett As “White Colonizer” For Adopting Two Haitian Children”
A tape has surfaced of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden bizarrely claiming that he “started” at a historically black college in speaking to supporters in South Carolina during the primary. Biden has never made any mention of going to Delaware State University and it is not clear why the many reporters in attendance at the event did not ask when he attended a HBCU. Indeed, he would be the first president to claim such a distinction. He might also have been inartfully referencing his start as a politician. Alternatively, this would seem like an academic version of cultural appropriation. It would seem a valid point of clarification for the media.
We have been discussing the rising intolerance for conservative, libertarian, and Republican students and faculty on campuses across the country. Faculties rarely hire conservative or libertarian professors; journals rarely publish studies from conservative authors. As the number of conservative faculty members diminish or disappear on faculties, schools appear to be carrying out the same bias in student admissions. The Harvard Crimson has finished its annual survey of the incoming class of students and found that the already small population of conservative and Republican students has been cut by roughly half.
Last night, I was finalizing my column for USA Today when one of my editors flagged my reference to the roughly 30 election-year nominations to the Supreme Court as a possible error. The New York Times ran a story declaring that there “there have been 16 Supreme Court vacancies that occurred before Election Day.” I have previously discussed glaring misstatements of cases in major media, but this was unnerving because the New York Times was suggesting that the precedent for the current nomination was roughly half as previously thought. I decided to do another rough count and, if anything, it would seem that the 29 nomination figure is arguably too low and that there appears almost twice the number cited by the New York Times. The difference appears in part counting a calendar year rather than a year from election, but that approach causes problems in comparison given the earlier early election calendars.
This morning I have the pleasure of addressing the conference on biometrics organized by the Biometrics Institute. I will be discussing the current tension between privacy rights and this new and expanding technology.
In Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore told the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Many are learning the truth of that line written by famed author JK Rowling as self-described progressives burn her books or ban them from shelves because she personally holds an opposing view of gender. Much like the boycott movement of Chick-Fil-A over comments by its CEO, people are seeking to punish Rowling through attacks on her literature. We previously discussed the embracing of art destruction as analogous to book burning, but now actual book burning is being embraced as a weapon of the woke.
I recently testified on Antifa and the growing anti-free speech movement in the United States. I specifically disagreed with statements by Democrats denying that Antifa was playing a role in protests or, as House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler claimed, Antifa is a “myth.” This afternoon, FBI Director Chris Wray pushed back on similar claims and declared that “Antifa is a real thing” and that the FBI has various cases of self-identified Antifa members involved in criminal conduct.
Today I have the pleasure of speaking at the University of Michigan as part of a Constitution Day event. I will be joined by Professor Michael Gerhardt (UNC School of Law) in discussing the history of presidential impeachments from Johnson to Trump. Both Professor Gerhardt and I testified at both the Clinton and Trump impeachment. I also served as lead defense counsel in the last judicial impeachment of Judge Thomas Porteous. The event was switched to a virtual format and will be held from 4:10 to 5:30 pm ET today. You can join via Zoom at https://umich.zoom.us/j/97622039094
Many of us criticized statements attributed to Attorney General Bill Barr this week calling for the use of sedition laws against rioters. However, instead of raising constitutional or statutory objections, Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe instead raised Barr’s Catholic faith in a completely unwarranted and unfounded tweet. The response to the reference was total silence. Not a single professor at Harvard or elsewhere chastised the use of a person’s religion in such commentary. This is not the first profane or prejudiced statement by Tribe.
Alan Dershowitz just filed a whale of a lawsuit against CNN, though it could end up beached in short order under controlling case law. The Harvard Law professor emeritus is demanding $300,000,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from CNN for misrepresenting his legal arguments in the Trump impeachment trial. In fairness to Dershowitz, the coverage of the trial by CNN was dreadful with intentionally and consistently slanted coverage of the evidence, standards, and arguments. However, the objections raised by Dershowitz are likely to be treated as part of the peril for high-profile figures operating in the public domain. In other words, you can complain about the weather but you cannot sue the storm. Continue reading “Dershowitz Sues CNN For $300,000,000 In Defamation Action”
The Cornell Faculty Coalition has issued a letter with a long list of supporting faculty that calls for massive anti-racism measures including the elimination of “colorblind” policies in various areas. It is a reversal of decades of struggle to guarantee colorblind policies, which are now being portrayed as themselves the means of racism. The University of Chicago English Department has announced that it will not even consider applicants who have any interest other than “Black studies.”
We have been discussing the controversy after a Rhode Island Professor Eric Loomis declared that there was “nothing wrong” with the killing of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, the member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer by Michael Reinoehl, an Antifa member. He insisted that the decision of whether to take the life of a “fascist” is purely a tactical, not moral, decision. Connecticut History Professor Manisha Sinha also weighed in on the issue. She referred to the killing of Reinoehl a “hit job” by police while using the same language of the killing of Danielson as a matter of tactics. She was cited by Loomis in a post.
Most human beings were disgusted by the murder of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, the member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, in Portland. University of Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis is not among them. Loomis defended the killing by Michael Reinoehl, an Antifa member who appears to have stalked Danielson before gunning him down. Loomis insisted that any problem in gunning down right-wing counterprotesters was tactical not moral. Continue reading ““I See Nothing Wrong With It”: Rhode Island Professor Defends Murder Of Right-Wing Protester In Portland”