URLs du Jour

2019-04-25

[Amazon Link]

  • About-to-be-ex-Professor Evan Charney writes at the James G. Martin Center on The End of Being a Duke Professor and What It Means for the Future of Higher Education.

    The end of the spring semester marks the 20th anniversary of my professorship at Duke, first as an assistant professor and then as an associate professor of the practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy. During this time, I regularly taught the required ethics class for all undergraduate public policy majors. I won multiple teaching awards, consistently received scores on student teaching evaluations above the school average and, in a Duke Chronicle poll of undergraduates, was ranked as one of the three most popular professors at Duke University for several years.

    Therefore, I was blindsided last April when informed that my contract would not be renewed, particularly given that for the past five years (I was on a five-year renewable contract) I was never informed of any problem with any aspect of my performance. Nor was I given an evaluation, despite a change to the Duke bylaws in 2017 mandating such reviews (see here).

    Charney believes that his canning was due to "the complaint of a handful of students concerning the events of a single class in which we discussed racism at Duke."

    What happened to me is being repeated at colleges and universities throughout the country. Unfortunately, a growing number of university students equate being made uncomfortable in the classroom with being “harmed.” And in this they are encouraged by a growing number of faculty and administrators who view the mission of the university as more about shielding students from such “harm” (for the sake of “inclusivity”) and less about meaningful education. In the “surveillance university,” students are encouraged to report on the transgressions of faculty, and in what has been called an impulse of “vindictive protectiveness,” faculty are judged guilty and harshly punished.

    Such protectiveness is motivated less by a reasonable concern for students’ mental health and more by political ideology. The complaint of a group of conservative students who felt singled out or disrespected or uncomfortable in class would be taken far less seriously. I have been on the receiving end of faculty emails making light of just such complaints.

    Cheney's case is examined (heavily quoting from his article) at the WSJ's Best of the Web column: How to Get Fired at Duke. Treatment of a different Duke prof is compared and contrasted:

    There’s a particular irony if Duke is sacking Mr. Charney for offending some students by addressing a topic related to race. Regular readers may recall that this is the same university that employs Nancy MacLean, who published the bogus claim that the late Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan, who contributed to an anti-segregationist newspaper, was the author of a “diabolical” plan to favor rich white people. One of her own colleagues on the Duke faculty called her book containing this smear “a work of speculative historical fiction.”

    I try to follow the Elvis Costello rule (see the Amazon Product du Jour). But this sort of thing makes it difficult.


  • The Bulwark publishes an article by William ("the Weasel") Weld: It's Time for Trump to Resign.

    If Donald Trump is an American patriot, he should resign from office.

    Well, there's your problem, right up front. (There's more to the article, of course.)


  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson writes on The Bakshish Primary.

    One of the strange tasks of conservative journalism is taking left-wing policy fantasies seriously — more seriously, in many cases, than do the Democrats and their allied party mix of salty nuts.

    In many cases, you’ll get more substantive policy specifics in conservative critiques of progressive proposals than in the progressive proposals themselves. The Democrats took the so-called Green New Deal so lightly that they didn’t even bother to proofread their marketing material and nix the cow-fart jokes before sending it out to the great wide world, and then were so embarrassed that they felt compelled to lie about it.

    The distinction between "this is a policy I think will help the country" and "this is a policy I think will help me get elected" is pretty clear.

    (Bernie is kind of a class by himself: "this is a policy that won't help me get elected, and it doesn't do anything to help the country, but my ideology demands that I advocate it.")


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for a "I think this will help me get elected" story in the Keene Sentinel: In Keene visit, Harris describes willingness to take executive action on gun control.

    In her second trip to New Hampshire since announcing her candidacy, Harris showed no hesitation in running afoul of the Live Free or Die ethos; she unveiled a new gun control policy proposal the night before her campaign stop in Keene at a CNN televised town hall in Manchester, which was then detailed in a news release from the campaign.

    Were she to be elected and Congress still found itself unwilling or unable to pass gun control legislation in her first 100 days in office, Harris said she would take executive action to mandate “near-universal background checks” for anyone selling five or more guns per year, in addition to revoking the licenses of gun manufacturers and dealers who break the law.

    Would-be dictators gotta dictate. And you can't say we weren't warned.

    See Jacob Sullum at Reason for futher analysis. His bottom line: "It is telling that Harris believes voters who are appalled by Trump's power grabs would welcome a Democratic president who thinks she can ignore the law as long as they like her policies."