cc: email@example.com Bryan Caplan has tenure at George Mason, fortunately. Because he writes stuff like this. Teaching Paranoia: An Open Letter to Every University President.
We all know that higher education falls far short of its promise. I’ve spent a large part of my twenty five years as a research professor documenting the shortcomings of our system. Perhaps you’re even familiar with my The Case Against Education (Princeton University Press, 2018). In recent years, however, we’ve begun failing our students in new and improved ways. In the past, we failed to transform our students into thoughtful and knowledgeable adults, but at least most of them had a great four-year party (or often a five- or six-year party). Now we’re making the college experience itself actively dehumanizing.
This is most obvious when we look at our forever war on Covid. Virtually every college in America has a vaccine mandate – a wise move, in my view. Yet instead of using these amazing vaccines to return to normalcy, virtually every college in America continues to aggressively “fight Covid.” Our policies would have been unthinkable two years ago: Indoor mask mandates. 50% seating in dining halls. Excluding guests from live performances. Social distancing. All combined with sporadic yet self-righteous enforcement.
These policies aren’t merely “inconvenient.” They are dehumanizing. Showing other people how we feel – and seeing how they feel in turn – is a basic part of being a human being. A basic part of making friends. A basic part of connecting with a community. True, most students in the Covid era continue to make friends – and even smile on occasion. As Jurassic Park teaches us, “Life finds a way.” But this is still a stunted and twisted way for young people to live.
OK, one more gem of a paragraph:
We have a word for extreme fear of ultra-low risks. The word is “paranoia.” Paranoia is what you are teaching students. The good news is that, based on past educational experience, most students will eventually forget the lesson. Yet in the meanwhile, you are sickening many students with childish anxieties.
Let me make it explicit, especially if you (are|were|will be) associated with an institution of higher education: read the whole thing.
Thought experiment: what if Jack Ruby had stayed home on November 24, 1963? Kevin D. Williamson (in his Tuesday column) looks at Lessons of the Assassins.
It has been a while since the last assassination, or near-assassination, of a major political figure made headlines in the United States. But we have some assassins and would-be assassins in the news. One of them is 77-year-old Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian who is serving a life sentence in California, having been incarcerated since 1968, when he assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in retaliation for his support of Israel.
Sirhan is up for parole, having been declared a “suitable” candidate with the support of both Douglas Kennedy and his crackpot brother, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Other members of the family and many in law enforcement oppose releasing Sirhan on any grounds. If he is paroled, he should be put on the first plane to the Palestinian statelet to live out his days there. Forgiveness is difficult, but forgetting would be somewhat easier with him 7,600 miles away. If the experience of terrorists paroled from Israel prisons is any indicator, he’ll be petitioning to remain under the loving care of his imperialist oppressors, where the standard of living is considerably higher.
A similar figure of more recent infamy is now entirely at large: On Monday, a federal judge approved the unconditional release of 66-year-old John Hinckley Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981.
Hinckley was, thankfully, a terrible shot with a relatively low-powered weapon, a .22-caliber revolver. (Sirhan Sirhan had used a .22 revolver to kill Robert Kennedy — it is a humble weapon, but still a deadly one.) Hinckley fired six shots and missed Reagan with all six. But, even so, the damage was considerable: Reagan was struck and nearly killed by a ricochet; press secretary James Brady was shot in the head, suffering a wound that left him with a permanent disability and brain damage that ultimately killed him; Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy caught a bullet in the chest that damaged a lung and his liver; D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty was shot in the neck, suffering damage to his spinal cord that forced him into retirement.
As KDW relates, it was a dangerous few decades for political/religious leaders back then. Interesting observations throughout.
He should not have slept through those Constitutional Law classes. I liked Hillbilly Elegy quite a bit, but I hope Ohio voters consider this a dealbreaker. Elizabeth Nolan Brown reports: J.D. Vance Says Government Should Seize Assets of Political Nonprofits.
This week in the Republican-descent-into-batshit-authoritarianism beat: U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance tells Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the federal government should seize money from nonprofit organizations and redistribute their wealth.
The proximate cause of these brain farts is the fact that a fellow with the Ford Foundation—a nonprofit organization dedicated to social justice—got into an argument with some of her fellow students at Arizona State University over a "Police Lives Matter" sticker. For daring to associate with someone who would commit this heinous transgression, Vance suggests that the Ford Foundation should have their assets seized and redistributed.
"Why don't we seize the assets of the Ford Foundation, tax their assets, and give it to the people who've had their lives destroyed by their radical open borders agenda?" Vance asked on Carlson's show last night.
In the past, conservatives and libertarians have freaked out—with very good reason—at the idea of the IRS or any other government agency targeting tax-exempt groups based on these groups' beliefs. To have charities, think tanks, grant-making foundations, activist groups, and other nonprofit organizations subject to the whims and will of each passing political administration would be antithetical to free speech, free markets, and the civil liberties of these groups and their donors.
How anti-liberty can Ohio GOP voters be? I guess we'll find out.
And also for your khakis. I made a rare purchase request of the Portsmouth Public Library for Kathryn Paige Harden's new book, The Genetic Lottery (Amazon link at right), suepecting that it would be out of my usual ideological comfort zone, and that was confirmed by Damien Morris's review at Quillette: The Culture War is Coming for Your Genes.
In the opening pages of The Genetic Lottery, Dr Kathryn Paige Harden sets out her mission: “What I am aiming to do in this book is re-envision the relationship between genetic science and equality. … I will argue that the science of individual differences is compatible with full-throated egalitarianism.” In this respect, Harden’s book bears a striking resemblance to last year’s The Cult of Smart, in which Freddie deBoer argued that “Hereditarianism [is] the best hope of a twenty-first century left” and proposed that recognising genetically based differences in academic ability was “simply taking left-wing thought to its logical conclusion.” The critical difference is that Harden is a tenured professor in the genetics of human behaviour and she is lending the full weight of her scientific credentials to this moral and political crusade. This makes The Genetic Lottery a dangerous book that threatens to make our genetic advantages and disadvantages a new front in the culture wars.
PPL has promised to hold this "dangerous" book for me once it's been "processed", so keep an eye on my book page.