Archive for Graves of Academe

My Alma Mater

I’m so proud:

In the hallowed halls of Columbia University, a nest of ex-cons — who have served time for murder, attempted murder, robbery and assault — hold court on their unique brand of social justice for admiring students enrolled in the school’s social work program, a investigation has found.

The ex-cons work for or with the Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI), co-founded in 2009 by former Weather Underground operative and Columbia adjunct professor Kathy Boudin, who pleaded guilty to felony murder for her role in an infamous 1981 armed robbery that left two police officers and a security guard dead. And while that case was well-publicized, the group is hardly upfront about the “practical experience” of Boudin and others associated with the CJI.

A description on the program’s website says it is “situated inside” Columbia, and a part of the school’s “Social Intervention Group,” a research center within the Columbia University School of Social Work. It lists among its goals helping to forge a solution for “a central social crisis of our time, mass incarceration.” The program holds events and conducts research as part of “an interdisciplinary project built around a model of community collaboration” that “seeks to increase the number of skilled practitioners, policy-makers and researchers who can advance the fields of re-entry and incarceration across all disciplines.”

Outside of a vague reference to Boudin and Cheryl Wilkins being “part of a community of people who have returned from prison,” there is no information about their criminal pasts. Boudin’s school directory bio, for example, makes no mention of her time in prison. Several other CJI faculty, program members and associates have similarly disturbing backgrounds.

Wilkins, co-director of the CJI, is listed in the Columbia School of Social Work adjunct faculty directory as a “research scientist” and “Associate Director for the Criminal Justice Initiative. She was convicted for her role in a 1996 gunpoint hijacking of a Federal Express truck in Harlem, in which she served as the getaway driver. Wilkins served a 12-year sentence for robbery and assault at Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan.

But Wilkins’ school biography page makes no mention of her time in jail.

Denise Blackwell, a “research assistant” under the Social Intervention Group, the parent/umbrella group of the Criminal Justice Initiative, was paroled in 2003 after serving 10 years in prison on an attempted second-degree murder conviction for her role in a Brooklyn holdup in which three drug dealers were killed. According to reports of her 1991 arrest, Blackwell knew the three men and “orchestrated” the robbery.

Blackwell’s son, Mack Moton, who was 15 at the time, was tried as an adult and convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 32 years to life, and is being held in Sing Sing Correctional Facility, in Ossining, N.Y.

Mika’il DeVeaux was one of the keynote speakers for the CJI’s “Removing the Bars” Conference in 2012. But his bio in the conference program failed to mention the 24-year stint he served in Westchester County for second-degree murder and his subsequent parole in 2003, or that he’s co-director of a non-profit with Boudin called Citizens Against Recidivism. Instead, the bio simply says DeVeaux “has more than three decades of experience working with men incarcerated in New York State maximum security prisons and many who have been released following periods of confinement.”

And of course:

Boudin was a member of radical leftist group the Weather Underground, which was responsible for numerous bombings in the 1960s and 1970s, including ones at the Pentagon, Capitol Building and New York’s police headquarters. The group was co-founded by William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, who themselves went on to long careers in academia in Chicago. The couple was appointed the legal guardians of Boudin’s son while she was in prison and has been linked to the early days of President Obama’s political career.

Give me neocons over ex-cons any day.

PS: And this doesn’t even mention the despicable antisemites lodged in Morningside Heights.

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The Last Word on Stephen Hawking

And that word is “fraud”:

After much back and forth on Wednesday, Prof. Stephen Hawking retracted his statement that he pulled out of the fifth President’s Conference in Jerusalem because of ill health and clarified that it was because he supports an academic boycott of Israel.

My post yesterday zigged and zagged as updates came in throughout the day (thanks to Jeanette!). I even declared an unqualified apology (herewith retracted).

He’s demonstrated a lot of courage in carrying on at the top of his field in spite of his disability, but here he utterly pusses out:

Presidential Conference chairman Israel Maimon responded to Hawking’s announcement on Wednesday saying that his decision was unjustifiable and wrong.

“The academic boycott against Israel is in our view outrageous and improper, certainly for someone for whom the spirit of liberty lies at the basis of his human and academic mission. Israel is a democracy in which all individuals are free to express their opinions, whatever they may be. The imposition of a boycott is incompatible with open, democratic dialogue.”

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, called Hawking’s boycott hypocritical.

“His whole computer-based communication system runs on a chip designed by Israel’s Intel team. I suggest that if he truly wants to pull out of Israel, he should also pull out his Intel Core i7 from his tablet.”

Oh now, I wouldn’t go that far. How would he ever ask forgiveness?

Perhaps the last word (words—many of them!) should go to Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League:

Dr. Hawking has bought into the anti-Israel ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ campaign, which relies on an abhorrent and false comparison of Israeli democracy to apartheid. It is sad that a man of Dr. Hawking’s immense intellect is unwilling to see the double standard and demonization which are the hallmarks of this anti-Israel movement.”

“The fact remains that the vast majority of academics and other public figures throughout the world do not succumb to the entreaties of a bigoted few.,” he said. “Hawking has joined a relatively small group of closed-minded academics, entertainers and other public figures who show their lack of respect for academic freedom and the promotion of the free exchange of ideas.”

“Had Dr. Hawking gone ahead with his trip, he likely would have met many Israelis, including leading academics, who share his political views. Instead, he has delivered a slap in the face to academic freedom, Foxman added. “We are heartened by the fact that so many other public figures continue to visit Israel and choose to engage and experience, rather than boycott, demonize and discriminate.”

In other words, Dr. Hawking, your head is up Uranus.

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Of the Transcontinental Railroad, Rural Electrification, and Sodomy

Personally, I don’t think any of the topics is suitable for a college commencement address, but then I’m not President of the United States of America:

The country’s founders, [Obama] claimed, “left us the keys to a system of self-government, the tools to do big things and important things together that we could not possibly do alone — to stretch railroads and electricity and a highway system across a sprawling continent … to gradually secure our God-given rights for all of our citizens, regardless of who they are, or what they look like, or who they love.”

“Whom they love”, not “who”, Mr. President. I think college graduates can handle proper grammar.

But what’s his point? Why is he stringing seemingly unrelated things together (Eisenhower’s highways and ugly people)?

He called on the graduates to help government revamp education programs, to “build better roads and airports and faster Internet, and to advance the kinds of basic research and technology … to confront the threat of climate change before it’s too late … [and] to protect more of our kids from the horrors of gun violence.”

Even while urging greater political activism, Obama seemed to dismiss the political activism of people who disagree with him, including the senators who delivered a critical political defeat April 17 by voting down a bill restricting gun rights.

Some “voices [are] doing their best to gum up the works … [they] warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner,” he said.

I thought dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now it just “gums up the works”? And when he says we must “confront the threat of climate change before it’s too late”, does he mean before the rest of the people figure out it’s a hoax?

“I think it’s fair to say our democracy isn’t working as well as we know it can [in Washington]. … I’m obsessed with this issue because that sense of citizenship is so sorely needed there,” he claimed.

Oh, now I get it: the permanent campaign! Gay marriage, climate change, gun control… high speed internet… they’re all the same thing. Clinging (bitterly) to the 2nd Amendment is as backward and irrational as clinging to dial-up internet.

But why is he so down on a Washington culture he has lead for four and a half years? He’s won two elections, mostly fair and square, so isn’t our malfunctioning democracy at least partly his fault?

Or, as Rush noted in his coining of his “Limbaugh Theorem”:

No matter what is said, no matter what evidence happens, no matter what’s reported, it will not be possible to connect Obama to the negativity that’s happening in the country today because he’s campaigning against it himself. That’s the reason for the perpetual, never-ending campaign. It is why, in eight years, he will never allow himself for even one day to be seen as actually governing or presiding over any of this.

Of course, Rush saw this coming three months ago. The rest of us are just figuring this out.


Discriminatory, But For the Left

Shock! Horror!! End affirmative action?!?!?

Who says so, some hooded Tea Partier with a noose slung over his shoulder? Almost.

The Economist magazine:

America is one of many countries where the state gives a leg-up to members of certain racial, ethnic, or other groups by holding them to different standards. The details vary. In some countries, the policy applies only to areas under direct state control, such as public-works contracts or admission to public universities. In others, private firms are also obliged to take account of the race of their employees, contractors and even owners. But the effects are strikingly similar around the world.

Awarding university places to black students with lower test scores than whites sounds reasonable, given the legacy of segregation. But a study found that at some American universities, black applicants who scored 450 points (out of 1,600) worse than Asians on entrance tests were equally likely to win a place. That is neither fair on Asians, nor an incentive to blacks to study in high school. In their book “Mismatch”, Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor produce evidence that suggests affirmative action reduces the number of blacks who qualify as lawyers by placing black students in law schools for which they are ill-prepared, causing many to drop out. Had they attended less demanding schools, they might have graduated.

Although the groups covered by affirmative action tend to be poorer than their neighbours, the individuals who benefit are often not. One American federal-contracting programme favours businesses owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged” people. Such people can be 87 times richer than the average American family and still be deemed “disadvantaged” if their skin is the right colour.


Although these policies tend to start with the intention of favouring narrow groups, they spread as others clamour to be included. That American federal programme began by awarding no-bid contracts to firms owned by blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans; now it covers people with ancestry from at least 33 countries.

Would Chechnya be one of them? Just askin’.

Universities that want to improve their selection procedures by identifying talented people (of any colour or creed) from disadvantaged backgrounds should be encouraged. But selection on the basis of race is neither a fair nor an efficient way of doing so. Affirmative action replaced old injustices with new ones: it divides society rather than unites it. Governments should tackle disadvantage directly, without reference to race. If a school is bad, fix it. If there are barriers to opportunity, remove them. And if Barack Obama’s daughters apply to a university, judge them on their academic prowess, not the colour of their skin.

Hey, I thought we were told to leave the girls out of it! Whether they go to Bermuda, Sun Valley, or Yale, they are taboo.

Goodness knows, these are old arguments, but maybe that’s the point. Affirmative action (aka legal discrimination for socially “beneficial” purposes) had its day once, maybe. But what are we, four decades into the experiment? Isn’t that two generations of favored, positively-discriminated status—along with almost fifty years of civil rights guarantees? What are we intervening on anymore?

Unless the unstated issue is that America is eternally racist, and that these provisions are necessary to level a permanently tilted playing field. I figure that’s what many believe, even if they don’t always come out and say it. Among ambitious politicians, calling the electorate white supremacists is a dodgy strategy.

That oft-talked about “conversation on race” may be overdue. I just hope all views will be heard.


Left-Wing Civility Watch

You say “pro choice”, I say “violent, racist hater”:

Here’s some amazing (mostly) raw video of an angry woman on the campus of Ohio State University as she destroys and stomps all over a bunch of posters displaying photographs of aborted fetuses.

Near the beginning of the video, we see the unidentified woman tearing up and stepping on triangular poster-board images of fetuses.

A graphic appears, indicating that the date of the recording is April 2, 2013. “Just after setup,” it says, suggesting that the vandalism occurred soon after the group placed its pro-life signs.

“You want an overpopulated earth?” the fuming, pro-abortion woman asks. “You want to keep paying taxes for babies that are born to crackheads?”

The enraged emphasis on the word “crackheads” is very nearly poetic.

“You really want that?” she continues, as she aggressively trounces more signage filled with unborn babies.

“You really want a population of people that were born on drugs — that are born into welfare?” she asks incredulously, as she uses her foot to crush the image of a tiny, bloody fetus — its head smaller than a quarter.

“You want to keep paying for that shit?” she asks? “Because I don’t.”

I’m not including the video for the same reason I haven’t watched it myself: I don’t want to see images of aborted fetuses. But knock yourselves out.

Now, I won’t say she’s typical of all pro-abortion people. They can’t all think that only “crackheads” abort their unborn children. But even the more civil liberals betray a certain, shall we say, racism, as when our left-wing ex-reader, Robert, saluted black women who made the courageous decision to have abortions, rather than bear children they could not afford. (Who said they couldn’t afford them, Robert? You?)

It is tempting to dismiss this dingbat as just a crazy woman, but Aggie and I could tell you that we’ve seen this sort of behavior and heard this sort of language on a broad variety of subjects, from health care to Israel. (Heck, we’re related to some of them.) We could show you the scars.


Maine Squeeze

As I’ve written ad nauseam, I support gay marriage, but I also support democracy. You know what else I support?

Freedom of speech, opinion even:

‘F**k! The Maine same-sex-marriage initiative passed!”

This is what someone who does not know me and happened to be passing my university office the day after the fall elections allegedly heard me say on the telephone.

He filed a complaint with my employer’s Equal Opportunity Office.

The complainant said that he found the allegedly overheard expression “offensive.” He said — or the director inferred — that he was gay, that the remark indicated a demeaning attitude toward his lifestyle and made him uncomfortable, and that believing that a senior professor felt vehement opposition to the passing of the Maine initiative created for him a “hostile work environment.”

Persevering, the director asked me again what I had said on the phone. I objected that she was inquiring about my political views. She denied that, saying she wanted to know what I had said only because a complainant’s knowing that a “senior faculty member” held a view different from his could make him “very uncomfortable.”

You might think, as I do, that a university should be the very place where different views are not only tolerated but welcomed, even encouraged—but you would be wrong. I’m not putting on an act when I ask what is learning without debate? What good is orthodoxy if it cannot be challenged?

Can a string theory physicist report a quantum gravity physicist for views that make him or her “very uncomfortable”?

What’s inarguable is that the threatened minority on college campuses is not homosexuals—or any other self-identified oppressed and protected group—but anyone more to the right than Michael Moore. Forget about We need

Just as Marxism lives on only in the museums that are university faculty departments, same goes for McCarthyism.

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Birkenau Hear This!

Not only does the Holocaust appear to have been far more widespread and deadly than long thought, its echoes reverberate today:

In Harvard University’s latest attempt to promote the delegitimization of the state of Israel, Jewish students in freshman and upper class dormitories received mock eviction notices in light of “Israel Apartheid Week”, which is currently being organized on college and university campuses worldwide.

The campaign, organized by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee, distributed notices at the beginning of March which read, “We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in the next three days”, a reference to the group’s views regarding Israel’s treatment of the Arab population.

The Anti Defamation League (ADL) expressed outrage over the prestigious university’s latest attempts to daunt Jewish students and demonize the state of Israel saying, “This tactic is designed to silence and intimidate pro-Israel advocates at Harvard and campuses around the country.”

“We’re taking it very seriously,” Rayna Exelbierd, a 20-year-old Jewish sophomore, said at the time. “We’re considering it a hate crime. The flier promotes hate; it doesn’t promote peace. People were scared by it. People felt threatened by it.”

No word from the administration in either this article or the Harvard Crimson account.

But the Crimson did pen this notorious editorial:

If you think Harvard is a revolutionary communist hotbed, don’t apply. If you think Harvard is full of “pinheaded” professors, don’t enroll. And if you think Harvard pollutes the minds of its students, don’t walk out of here with a degree—and certainly don’t get two.

Such episodes of treachery are apparently attempts to curry favor with the more anti-intellectual members of our body politic. Yet it is finally time that we say enough is enough. We at The Crimson urge anyone who plans on one day scoring political points by maligning Harvard to neither apply, enroll, nor graduate from this fine institution.

If we could have spoken to these three young men [Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Bill O'Reilly], we could have spared them from the fear and anguish that must come part-and-parcel with seeing oneself as instructed by insurrectionists or buffoons. If we could have spoken to these three men, we would have told them never to come to Cambridge.

Same goes for Jews, at Harvard and in Israel.

This is evidently the comfortable position of the establishment Left. If you don’t meet their criteria, don’t come. Celebrating diversity has its limits, and they happen to be the same limits as the town line of Cambridge.

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Runaway Global Warmers

The theory of runaway global warming proposed that increased levels os CO2 would heat the atmosphere, thereby cause arctic and antarctic melting, thereby releasing more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, thereby creating a feedback loop of ever hotter—and more catastrophic—consequences.

Well, that hasn’t happened yet—but the Warm-Mongers themselves are on a rampage:

This situation provides a nice illustration of what is wrong with a some aspects of climate science today — a few scientists motivated by a desire to influence political debates over climate change have embellished claims, such as related to disasters, which then risks credibility when the claims are exposed as embellishments. To make matters worse, these politically motivated scientists have fallen in with fellow travelers in the media, activist organizations and in the blogosphere who are willing not only to look past such embellishments, but to amplify them and attack those who push back. These dynamics are reinforcing and have led small but vocal parts of the climate scientific community to deviate significantly from widely-held norms of scientific practice.

Quite. Far from pushing the science, climate change Chicken Littles are perverting the scientific method.

And taking the scalps of those who dare to say so:

Five days ago I critiqued a shoddy paper by Brysse et al. 2013 which appeared in the journal Global Environmental Change. Today I received notice from the GEC editor-in chief and executive editor that I have been asked to “step down from the Editorial Board.” They say that it is to “give other scientists the chance to gain experience of editorial duties.”

Over the past 20 years I have served on the editorial boards of about a dozen or so academic journals. I have rolled off some when my term was up, and continued for many years with others. I have never received a mid-term request to step down from any journal.

While climate change nonsense broadly infects the entire political spectrum, it is especially virulent on the Left. Academia, too, is rife with Leftist/Marxist (Stalinist) ideology. Ditto the media and the environmental lobby.

What are the odds of getting a straight story, let alone some kind of objective science, out of that assemblage of asininity? Science would say slim to none.


Yale v Poor

I don’t feel sorry for the poor because Yale is coming after them for the money they owe. I feel sorry for the poor for ever going to Yale in the first place.

Tuition, fees, room and board total over $55,000 this academic year. Who among you think it’s a good idea to graduate into this economy with a $200,000 anchor around your neck? You’d have to steam a lot of milk to pay off that debt.

Needy U.S. borrowers are defaulting on almost $1 billion in federal student loans earmarked for the poor, leaving schools such as Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania with little choice except to sue their graduates.

The record defaults on federal Perkins loans may jeopardize the prospects of current students since they are part of a revolving fund that colleges give to students who show extraordinary financial hardship.

Yale, Penn and George Washington University have all sued former students over nonpayment, court records show. While no one tracks the number of lawsuits, students defaulted on $964 million in Perkins loans in the year ended June 2011, 20 percent more than five years earlier, government data show. Unlike most student loans — distributed and collected by the federal government — Perkins loans are administered by colleges, which use repayment money to lend to other poor students.

So, when some deadbeat (sorry, “needy borrower”) can’t make the payments, it’s the next generation of deadbeat who suffers. I sense a certain justice in that. As long as you and I aren’t on the hook.

Oh wait…

The increase in the amount of defaulted loans among poor students comes as President Barack Obama says he wants to expand access to college for working-class families and increase funding for the Perkins program. Under his proposal, the pot for Perkins loans would increase to $8.5 billion from about $1 billion. The Education Department would service the loans instead of colleges.

I am not here to bash the poor. Judging from his actions, however, President Obama is. His policies do nothing but cripple a robust private sector. In fact, he appears to want to do away with it entirely (as with the loans, above). Why expand a failed program—a program that punishes the poor under the guise of helping them—by 8.5 times?

Because you and I are on the hook for it, that’s why. Same rationale for ObamaCare, for tax rates, for just about everything.

EHC, as Aggie would say: Elections Have Consequences.



Asian admittance to the Ivies is capped at roughly 16%

It has been documented for some time that Asian applicants to the Ivies face a stiff test-score penalty in the admissions process—Asians have to get higher SAT scores than members of other races to have an equal chance of admission. But it’s one thing to have a higher bar for Asians. It’s still worse to have an Asian quota.

Ron Unz took the evidence of discrimination against Asians to a new level in a long article in the current issue of American Conservative, “The Myth of American Meritocracy.” As Steve Sailer has noted, Unz’s findings have received astonishingly little coverage. “Astonishingly,” because Unz has documented what looks very much like a tacitly common policy on the part of the Ivies to cap Asian admissions at about 16% of undergraduates, give or take a few percentage points, no matter what the quality of Asian applicants might be.That’s a strong statement, but consider the data that Unz has assembled.

From 1980 through the early 1990s, Asian enrollment increased at all the Ivy League colleges. It subsequently continued to rise at the schools with the lowest Asian enrollment, Dartmouth and Princeton. Elsewhere, Asian enrollment hit its peak in 1993 for Columbia and Harvard, 1995 for Cornell, 1996 for Brown and Yale, and 2001 for Penn. What’s more, Asian representation at all eight of the Ivies has converged on a narrow range. In the most recent five years, the average percentage of Asians in the eight Ivies has been 15.7%, and the difference between the highest and lowest percentage of Asians in the eight Ivies has averaged just 3.7 percentage points. Call it the 16±2% solution. The convergence of the Ivies is vividly shown in this figure, using Unz’s data.

Doesn’t it just seem like we are going out of our way to do everything backwards? I mean, wouldn’t it be better for America to encourage success, to admit them according to their achievements, to maintain a level playing field?

We can be sure that the reason for the convergence on the 16±2% solution does not reflect a plateau in Asian applications. As Unz notes, America’s Asian population has more than doubled since 1993. In The Power of Privilege, Joseph Soares documented that Asians are about twice as likely to apply to elite schools as students from other races. It is certain that the Ivies have seen skyrocketing Asian applications over the last twenty years. Not only that, they have been swamped with more and more superbly qualified Asian applicants. A sampling of the data Unz presents:

National Merit Scholarship (NMS) semifinalists represent about the top half of one percent of a given state’s scores on the PSAT, the short version of the SAT. In 2010 in Texas, Asians were 3.8% of the population but more than a quarter of all NMS semifinalists; in New York, Asians were 7.3% of the population and more than a third of NMS semifinalists; in California, Asians were 11% of the high school students and more than 60% of NMS semifinalists. Nationwide, Unz estimates that 25–30% of NMS semifinalists in 2010 were Asians, far higher than their enrollment in the Ivies.

In the US Math Olympiad, Asians have grown from 10% of the winners during the 1980s to 58% in the 2000s. In the computing Olympiad, Asians have grown from 20% of the winners in the 1990?s to 50% in 2009–2010 and 75% in 2011–2012. Among the Science Talent Search finalists, Asians were 22% of the total in the 1980?s, 29% in the 1990?s, 36% in the 2000?s, and 64% in the last two years.

There’s much more in Unz’s article (and the eight online appendixes that go with it), but consider just these two final comparisons. Caltech is acknowledged to have the most strictly meritocratic admissions criteria in the country. During the same period from the mid 1990?s when the Ivies converged on the 16±2% solution, Asians at Caltech rose from 28% to 39% of the student body. If Caltech is too narrowly science-oriented for you, consider the comparison between Stanford, which uses the same “holistic” admissions procedures as the Ivies (“holistic” means considering the whole applicant, not merely academic achievement) and Berkeley, the most elite of California’s public universities, which is required by law to have a transparent set of criteria for admission. Stanford’s Asian enrollment averaged 23% from 1995–2011. Berkeley’s Asian enrollment averaged 41% during the same period—almost double Stanford’s.

This is racism, pure and simple. I wonder if there is a way to fight it? I suppose that fighting it would mean some level of decency in the court system, and I’m not sure that that exists anymore.

- Aggie

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You Can Always Tell a Harvard Man

But you can’t tell him much.

He can’t hear you over the Wagner:

Students in all nine River Houses received sealed invitations under their doors early Friday morning professing to come from “Harvard’s Newest Final Club”—with the inflammatory statements that “Jews need not apply” and “Coloreds OK.”

The enclosed flyer, bearing a crest of a griffin encircled by a laurel wreath, invited recipients to the first introductory punch event of the purported social club “The Pigeon.”

The invitation listed three virtues, each with asterisked notes. The first principle, “Inclusion,” came with the footnote, “Jews need not apply.” The second, “Diversity,” was followed by the words, “Seriously, no fucking Jews. Coloreds OK.” And the third, “Love,” directed readers to the term “Rophynol”—a misspelled rendering of rohypnol, the date rape drug better known as roofies.

The flyer also instructed aspiring members to wear “Semi-Bro Attire” to the punch event, to be held at frozen yogurt shop Berryline at 11:02 p.m.—two minutes after closing time—on Dec. 13, or to send their regrets to a room in Mather House.

One student who lives in the five-person suite that includes the room specified in the flyer said that she and her suitemates were not involved in creating or distributing the invitations. The Matherite, who was granted anonymity by The Crimson because she said she did not want to be associated with language that she finds offensive, added that she and her suitemates have no knowledge of who was behind the flyers.

Also in the wee hours of Friday morning, two Northeastern University students vandalized a menorah on Northeastern’s campus. They were later identified in a surveillance video and will face disciplinary action at Northeastern. No evidence has been reported to suggest a link between the two incidents.

You’ll be happy to know that Harvard roundly condemned the flyers, and intends to get to the bottom of the matter. The thing about “satire”, however juvenile and offensive, is its basis, however distorted and disguised, in truth.

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The Quiet Man

It’s not like I’m an authority, but I could probably name 20 big-time faculty members out of all of Harvard University.

But I couldn’t name him:

‘We have now an American political party and a European one. Not all Americans who vote for the European party want to become Europeans. But it doesn’t matter because that’s what they’re voting for. They’re voting for dependency, for lack of ambition, and for insolvency.”

Few have thought as hard, or as much, about how democracies can preserve individual liberty and national virtue as the eminent political scientist Harvey Mansfield. When it comes to assessing the state of the American experiment in self-government today, his diagnosis is grim, and he has never been one to mince words.

Mr. Mansfield sat for an interview on Thursday at the Harvard Faculty Club. This year marks his 50th as a teacher at the university. It isn’t easy being the most visible conservative intellectual at an institution that has drifted ever further to the left for a half-century. “I live in a one-party state and very much more so a one-party university,” says the 80-year-old professor with a sigh. “It’s disgusting. I get along very well because everybody thinks the fact that I’m here means the things I say about Harvard can’t be true. I am a kind of pet—a pet dissenter.”

He had me at “disgusting”. Actually, he had me at “We have now an American political party and a European one.” But despite the fact that I’ve lived in Boston for almost 20 years and Mansfield has been at Harvard for 50, I’ve never heard of him.

Yet once one has heard of him, one begins to understand why one hasn’t:

“All modern social science deals with perceptions,” he says, “but that is a misnomer because it neglects to distinguish between perceptions and misperceptions.”

Consider voting. “You can count voters and votes,” Mr. Mansfield says. “And political science does that a lot, and that’s very useful because votes are in fact countable. One counts for one. But if we get serious about what it means to vote, we immediately go to the notion of an informed voter. And if you get serious about that, you go all the way to voting as a wise choice. That would be a true voter. The others are all lesser voters, or even not voting at all. They’re just indicating a belief, or a whim, but not making a wise choice. That’s probably because they’re not wise.”

Nothing wrong with saying that—or there shouldn’t be. Those of us who helped reelect George Bush in 2004, after voting against him in 2000 (you’re welcome), were told how unwise we were every day. Maybe we were, but I have a two-word refutation: President Kerry.

Cat got your tongue?

Back to Professor Mansfield:

Harvey Mansfield Jr. was born in 1932 in New Haven, Conn. His parents were staunch New Dealers, and while an undergraduate at Harvard Mr. Mansfield counted himself a liberal Democrat.

Next came a Fulbright year in London and a two-year stint in the Army. “I was never in combat,” he says. “In fact I ended up in France for a year, pulling what in the Army they call ‘good duty’ at Orléans, which is in easy reach of Paris. So even though I was an enlisted man I lived the life of Riley.”

A return to the academy and a Harvard doctorate were perhaps inevitable but Mr. Mansfield also underwent a decisive political transformation. “I broke with the liberals over the communist issue,” he says. “My initiating forces were anticommunism and my perception that Democrats were soft on communism, to use a rather unpleasant phrase from the time—unpleasant but true.” He also began to question the progressive project at home: “I saw the frailties of big government exposed, one after another. Everything they tried didn’t work and in fact made us worse off by making us dependent on an engine that was getting weaker and weaker.”

Hang on, that sounds like me! Only roughly 45 years later, and in reverse order. It was the failure of liberalism to produce results in keeping with its goals that first soured me on the movement—and 9/11 that finished off liberalism for me once and for all. My research into the evils of communism really only began after communism itself was dead and buried.

The political task before every generation, Mr. Mansfield understood, is to “defend the good kind of democracy. And to do that you have to be aware of human differences and inequalities, especially intellectual inequalities.”

American elites today prefer to dismiss the “unchangeable, undemocratic facts” about human inequality, he says. Progressives go further: “They think that the main use of liberty is to create more equality. They don’t see that there is such a thing as too much equality. They don’t see limits to democratic equalizing”—how, say, wealth redistribution can not only bankrupt the public fisc but corrupt the national soul.

Consider the entitlements crisis. “Entitlements are an attack on the common good,” Mr. Mansfield says. “Entitlements say that ‘I get mine no matter what the state of the country is when I get it.’ So it’s like a bond or an annuity. What the entitlement does is give the government version of a private security, which is better because the government provides a better guarantee than a private company can.”

That is, until the government goes broke, as has occurred across Europe.

He’s not always so quotable—the text of the interview isn’t as easy to understand as it might have been when spoken—but those points are indisputable.

The entitlement quote reminded me of the scene in It’s a Wonderful Life when there’s a run on the bank. Jimmy Stewart and the lovely Donna Reed have to abort their honeymoon and turn the taxicab around to stave off insolvency and ruin. Owing to a forgetful bank clerk, the bank’s available cash has been misplaced. There’s no way Stewart can satisfy everyone’s demand to cash out. There’s barely any money at all, until Donna Reed holds up their honeymoon cash to offer it to the panicked customers. Stewart pleas with each depositor to take only what they need, not every penny. But the first guy insists on closing his account. It’s his, he’s owed it, he demands it—and he gets it. The second person, a young Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton), meekly asks if ten dollars would be too much: crisis averted. Following her example, the rest of the mob settles for less than they’re owed, and the bank is saved.

Retirees believe (even if they know it’s not true) that there’s an account with their name on it, flush with cash that has been accruing over the decades they’ve worked. As far as they’re concerned, it’s theirs, they own it, and they demand it. For decades, their delusion was sustainable, especially with politicians repeating the lie year after year, decade after decade. We had a generation called the Baby Boom, working in an expanding economy, more than able to pay for retirees whose Golden Years lasted perhaps two decades or more. (Life expectancy in the early 30s, when Social Security was conceived and delivered, was either side of 60.)

But what would happen when those Boomers retired (all 3.8 per family of them), to be supported by the barely two children (or fewer) they had? Wasn’t anyone doing the math? Of course they were, but it was always someone else’s problem to solve. Social Security—just one of the entitlements—was the “third rail” of American politics, not to be touched by anyone who valued his political life.

And only one guy at Harvard had—has—the balls to say it. Just don’t tell anyone where you heard it.


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