Patterico's Pontifications

4/13/2014

Having An Honest Conversation Requires Being Honest

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:14 am

[guest post by Dana]

Today, Ross Douthat addresses the lack of honesty that permeates the cloudy justifications from both Mozilla and Brandeis University.

What’s particularly interesting about this column are the comments generated. A great number of them exemplify, without the slightest hint of self-awareness, the point Douthat closes with: I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

EARLIER this year, a column by a Harvard undergraduate named Sandra Y. L. Korn briefly achieved escape velocity from the Ivy League bubble, thanks to its daring view of how universities should approach academic freedom.

Korn proposed that such freedom was dated and destructive, and that a doctrine of “academic justice” should prevail instead. No more, she wrote, should Harvard permit its faculty to engage in “research promoting or justifying oppression” or produce work tainted by “racism, sexism, and heterosexism.” Instead, academic culture should conform to left-wing ideas of the good, beautiful and true, and decline as a matter of principle “to put up with research that counters our goals.”

No higher-up at Harvard endorsed her argument, of course. But its honesty of purpose made an instructive contrast to the institutional statements put out in the immediate aftermath of two recent controversies — the resignation of the Mozilla Foundation’s C.E.O., Brendan Eich, and the withdrawal, by Brandeis University, of the honorary degree it had promised to the human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In both cases, Mozilla and Brandeis, there was a striking difference between the clarity of what had actually happened and the evasiveness of the official responses to the events. Eich stepped down rather than recant his past support for the view that one man and one woman makes a marriage; Hirsi Ali’s invitation was withdrawn because of her sweeping criticisms of Islamic culture. But neither the phrase “marriage” nor the word “Islam” appeared in the initial statements Mozilla and Brandeis released.

Instead, the Mozilla statement rambled in the language of inclusion: “Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. … Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions. …”

The statement on Hirsi Ali was slightly more direct, saying that “her past statements … are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” But it never specified what those statements or those values might be — and then it fell back, too, on pieties about diversity: “In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.”

What both cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.

The defect, crucially, is not this culture’s bias against social conservatives, or its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions. Rather, it’s the refusal to admit — to others, and to itself — that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to “free expression” or “diversity” affirmed in mission statements and news releases.

This refusal, this self-deception, means that we have far too many powerful communities (corporate, academic, journalistic) that are simultaneously dogmatic and dishonest about it — that promise diversity but only as the left defines it, that fill their ranks with ideologues and then claim to stand athwart bias and misinformation, that speak the language of pluralism while presiding over communities that resemble the beau ideal of Sandra Y. L. Korn.

Harvard itself is a perfect example of this pattern: As Patrick Deneen of Notre Dame pointed out when the column was making waves, Korn could only come up with one contemporary example of a Harvardian voice that ought to be silenced — “a single conservative octogenarian,” the political philosophy professor Harvey Mansfield. Her call for censorship, Deneen concluded, “is at this point almost wholly unnecessary, since there are nearly no conservatives to be found at Harvard.”

I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism, which requires respecting Mozilla’s right to have a C.E.O. whose politics fit the climate of Silicon Valley, and Brandeis’s right to rescind degrees as it sees fit, and Harvard’s freedom to be essentially a two-worldview community, with a campus shared uneasily by progressives and corporate neoliberals, and a small corner reserved for token reactionary cranks.

But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.

And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions — mostly religious — that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.

It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.

I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

–Dana

39 Responses to “Having An Honest Conversation Requires Being Honest”

  1. Mozilla is proving that it is dedicated to pluralism and tolerance by excluding people with different views.
    Or something.
    Likewise, Brandeis is proving its institutional commitment to women’s rights by excluding a woman from publicly speaking about women being mistreated at the hands of the Religion of Peace.
    Keep in mind, these are the same people who think we have to spend more money in order to get out of debt, as well as that global warming causes more cold weather.

    My calendar says “2014,” but I’m pretty certain it is 1984.

    Elephant Stone (8a7f08)

  2. Well it’s not that surprising in light of this;

    http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/3050

    she actually teaches at the school.

    narciso (3fec35)

  3. I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

    What lying? The progressives don’t perceive any lying. They rationalize or believe their own BS.

    Multiculti participation and diversity ribbons for everybody in rainbow hues!!!!11ty!!!!!!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  4. Except for those godbothering, christofascist, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, heteronormative, teaklanners.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  5. The comments there are hysterical.

    JD (5c1832)

  6. narciso #2 – that is, indeed, DeLong and de short (of honesty and commonsense) of it …

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  7. They know their views have no logical, ethical or moral foundation, so they must silence those who disagree with them. This bespeaks the inherent weakness found therein.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  8. They have to lie, because part of the justification is that they are noit dfoing what they are doing.

    Or:

    They are being inclusive by excluding people who , by their definition, are not inclusive.

    Sammy Finkelman (c33275)

  9. Boycotts: It starts off by going after the anti-semites, and it finishes by going after the Jews.

    This is true as long as the motivation is not internal, and genuine, but motivated by fear of what other people will do.

    Sammy Finkelman (c33275)

  10. Sammy #9,

    No, you can’t exclude people you disagree with, then claim that you’re being “inclusive.”
    By definition, it isn’t necessary to announce an inclusive outreach to people whom you already agree with !

    Elephant Stone (8a7f08)

  11. Raaaaacists!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  12. we can’t all be like that one guy what stood up in Congress and called your whore president a liar

    cause of there would be consequences

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  13. I believe that what Brandeis was getting at, when they stated that Hirsi Ali’s “past statements were inconsistent with Brandeis’ core values”, was this. She has stated repeatedly that she objected to having her genitals mutilated without her consent. I have to assume that Brandeis considers involuntary mutilation of a child’s genitals to be a core value. Good to have that clarified.

    The Other Andrew B (3dd9cc)

  14. Sharyl Atkisson attempted to speak truth to power, and then her bosses said, “Hey, lady, no more speaking for you !”

    Elephant Stone (8a7f08)

  15. Comment by Elephant Stone (8a7f08) — 4/13/2014 @ 12:44 pm

    No, you can’t exclude people you disagree with, then claim that you’re being “inclusive.”

    Thats what they are doing. Now we all would do some of this maybe – to take an extreme example, somebody supporting the murder of Americans and westerners as part of jihad. But they’ve greatly extended what is exluded, excluded some things or tried to, that are NOT wrong, not just excluded a subject of debate but people, basically finding them morally unfit. Not because anybody thinks so, but because people ahev become afraid to disagree that signing on to, or saying X, Y or Z makes somebody morally unfit. It is precisely those things that people do not naturally find people saying them to be morally unfit that the “outrage” is targeting at.

    By definition, it isn’t necessary to announce an inclusive outreach to people whom you already agree with !

    What’s happened certain things are being placed beond the pale. What things? Not things that people actually think are not just wrong but places a person who utters them beyond the pale, but things that people can be intimidated into acting like it was that way.

    The whole point is, that people do not deserve to be put beyond the pale, or treated as if they were beyond for the things that are causing them to be placed beyond the pale. This is just intimidation.

    Sammy Finkelman (c33275)

  16. Comment by The Other Andrew B (3dd9cc) — 4/13/2014 @ 1:54 pm

    She has stated repeatedly that she objected to having her genitals mutilated without her consent. I have to assume that Brandeis considers involuntary mutilation of a child’s genitals to be a core value. Good to have that clarified.

    Their attention was proba;y called to things she has said condemning Islam in general, saying maybe all these wrong are inextricable from Islam. But there are people that attack C hristianity or organized religion in general and this doesn’t happen to them.

    Sammy Finkelman (c33275)

  17. I think it’s simpler than that. The cultural “defect” is cowardice.

    melanerpes (6d31ac)

  18. What both cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.

    If they cared about anything other than making certain the hand on the lever of power is theirs, pointing out the moral defect might matter.

    Ken (92f263)

  19. I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

    In a way Douthat takes a page straight out of the playbook of the “progressives” — particularly the ones who like to proclaim (be they in academia or the media), “no, we’re not biased!” — when he uses the word “progressivism” instead of the equally accurate but less namby-pamby “leftism.”

    “Progressive” has such a euphemistic, sugar-coated ring to it since, after all, the antonym to “progressive” is “regressive,” and who wants to be (because it’s evocative of something archaic and backwards) regressive?

    Mark (14c5d3)

  20. She has stated repeatedly that she objected to having her genitals mutilated without her consent.

    That’s a perfect example of how idiotic left-leaning emotions are in quite a few of those people most beholden to such a bias. Merely because Islam is non-Western, or semi-Third-Worldish, various liberals find their hearts going pitter-patter, pitter-patter towards it, regardless of how reactionary it is, by any standard.

    A similar lunacy was apparent during the Cold War (or even today) when Communists running the former Soviet Union or today’s Cuba, much less Venezuela, have been treated with kid gloves by the left because, well, ultra-liberal governments care about the common man. However, in a way, that foolishness at least aligns more closely with liberal bias than the way it tries to approach Islamism.

    There’s a saying that liberalism is a mental illness. I don’t think that a case of sarcasm. I think that’s a matter of fact.

    Mark (14c5d3)

  21. If you’ve read AHA’s autobiography and the sequel you are surely amazed at her courage and the risks she’s taken for her beliefs. Brandeis has disgraced itself in this episode and AHA has surely won, if it gets a few more people to read her books. You can’t separate her case against Islam from her own history.

    East Bay Jay (a5dac7)

  22. The comments there are hysterical.

    JD, I found them horrifying. And inexplicable.

    Pious Agnostic (ac89e5)

  23. Infidel (published in 2008) currently sits at #15 on Amazon’s Bestseller Kindle list of Biographies and Memoirs – Political, while the paperback version sits at #20.

    Dana (9a8f57)

  24. Pious – that too. I laugh at inappropriate times.

    JD (39c3a5)

  25. OT, but I thought I could sneak it in here on the “honesty” thread. John Coleman was a founder of the Weather Channel and before that he was a grad of the U of I who became the premier weathercaster on Chicago TV for years. I literally grew up watching him. Later he was the original weatherman on ABC’s Good Morning America.

    Well, this week at age 79 he made a surprise announcement of his retirement– from a beach. No maudlin grand farewell tour or soppy goodbyes. He did it his way. He was also brave and honest.

    In recent years Coleman has been an outspoken opponent of man-made global warming. He called it a “scam” and said it was “a threat to our economy and our civilization.”

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Apr/10/john-coleman-weatherman-retires/

    elissa (807b11)

  26. To the powers-that-be:

    Can we kill the spam that’s at #7

    “It offends me; make it go away”….

    A_Nonny_Mouse (6fba28)

  27. A_nonny – done

    JD (5c1832)

  28. I’ve been musing for some weeks now given the rather sweeping generalizations about Republicans all being racists. Is it time to consider that our personal reputations and because of that our earnings may have suffered. If so is a really massive class action suit called for here?

    I am getting seriously annoyed about this rampant libel and slander from the Democratic Party, their minions, and their adherents.

    I dream about somebody working up like this concept and sticking it to them.

    {o.o}

    JDow (c4e4c5)

  29. The prettier Dana quoted:

    It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic

    That wouldn’t be saying much, because Notre Dame — at least, the University of Notre Dame — doesn’t seem to be particularly Catholic to me. They go through the motions, and some of the forms, but there is little evidence that they are ideologically or theologically Catholic.

    The Catholic Dana (3e4784)

  30. So Ron Radosh reports, that the slug behind the Kansas City shooting was inspired by the rantings of Max Blumenthal

    narciso (342f74)

  31. People, stop and think for just a minute – if progressives deny that there is any absolute truth, than lying means nothing to them.

    Let me say this a different way – they don’t ever tell the truth, because doing so is pointless to them. They only speak as though they care about truth when they are trying to manipulate old-fashioned people who care about such things.

    Look, I’m serious here. There is no basis of understanding, no common ground, with people who simply don’t accept any moral standard. None at all ever. Yet we are played over and over again, being fooled into trusting them. They argue to get their way, when that fails they move on to other methods. They don’t want to understand you. They want to destroy you.

    Their value system begins and ends with power. Truth is just not something they are in any way committed to.

    Amphipolis (d3e04f)

  32. 17. I think it’s simpler than that. The cultural “defect” is cowardice.

    Comment by melanerpes (6d31ac) — 4/13/2014 @ 4:55 pm

    True dat.

    I recall reading a treatise on Bushido and coming across the saying, “One can not expect to be brave on the battlefield unless one is brave on the tatami mat.”

    Meaning of course that courage is an acquired skill. It needs to be practiced. All the time, everywhere. The tatami mat being one’s own home.

    From the Deckplates – Do Not Use on the Job

    …The chapter emphasizes how “power and privilege can sometimes create exclusive work environments at the expense of others” and introduces students to the concept of white privilege. Two themes of that chapter deserve scrutiny. The first is that white males gain privileges and success through “unearned advantage.” The second is the assumption that “racism is everywhere.”

    I realize I run the risk of being perceived as an idle braggart. Maybe I’ve already crossed that line. But an observation based upon having dealt with them for 25 years of my adult life.

    These people are typically not prepared for pushback. They work entirely inside their bubble. They don’t think there’s counter argument. Bring up a concept like “due process” and scramble their brain matter.

    Steve57 (078ed2)

  33. Liberal Mark Green on Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo and Rev. Al Sharpton

    He might be a little be kinder to them, if he hadn’t been undercut by Governor Andrew Cuomo (although the people really undercut were the people on the second Moreland Commission, and he hadn’t been personally lied about by Al Sharpton.

    He also mentions a dishonest episode by de Blasio, so maybe his growing wisdom extends beyond personal experience.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  34. Actually de Blasio is doing rather well. He has pulled back on almost all his bad campaign promises, or hints – even the horses!

    The one campaign promise he seems to be keeping is to move the July 4 fireworks from the Hudson Rover back to the East River.

    He may be very worried about crime going back up and he seems to be trying to arrange that whatever he is doing will do no real harm. That still could cause trouble for the next mayor who may not be aware of the landmines that have bene placed in his path.

    He has somewhat pulled back from his war on charter schools – at least anyway vowing to find a place for the school(s) he kicked out.

    He had to abandon his effort to impose a tax to “pay for” pre-K since Governor Cuomo arranged to pay it for it statewide, anyway. Of course this is little more than glorified day care – by itself this does nothing for education.

    Labor contracts will be negotiated by people who worked for Ed Koch.

    The horse issue had been put on the side for the rest of the year.

    Only the movement of the July 4 fireworks back to the East River seems to be happening – he probably was for that because of his base.

    There is danger ahead: a proposed 10 cent tax on plastic bags.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  35. There have been some front page stories about Al Sharpton over the weekend, starting with the New York Post on Saturday, but even the Daily News ran a story Sunday.

    The problem for Al Sharpton isn’t that he was an informer on the Mafia- it is that he was in a position to be an informer

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  36. Pious – that too. I laugh at inappropriate times.

    It’s hard to believe they’re serious with their remarks. I’m thinking of marketing a Moral Compass for Progressives—doesn’t require a pointer, just a mirror to smile into.

    Amalgamated Cliff Divers, Local 157 (379e8e)

  37. “It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic…”

    If Harvard and Brandeis were as progressive as Notre Dame is “Catholic”, they would be a lot more diverse than they are.

    Notre Dame invited Obama (an enthusiastic advocate of abortion) as a commencement speaker, but Ann Coulter was nearly howled off the campus. A search of the FEC’s list of political donations by employees of Notre Dame finds 33 to Republicans, 228 to Democrats, and 8 to other leftists. (Note: this includes donations to groups, and counts multiple donations from one person to one target only once.)

    Rich Rostrom (055fd3)

  38. Brandeis invited Bill Ayers to speak in 2009.

    Unrepentant communist terrorist: Okay

    Critic of Islam: Beyond the Pale

    pst314 (ae6bd1)


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