My Suspicions Disconfirmed

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So I looked at the headline at Persuasion: Dear Media, Stop Taking Students Too Seriously.

And I immediately thought: "This is what people say when media coverage isn't supporting their narrative."

But I was wrong. Shalom Auslander has an interesting take.

Because I am Jewish, friends send me news about Jews, even though I’ve repeatedly asked all my friends to never send me news at all, regardless of their religious or racial focus. This is for two reasons. The first reason I avoid news is because I suffer, like most people today, from Constant News Negativity, or CNN for short, coupled with debilitating FOX (Frenzy of Outright Exaggeration), both of these results of the Information Anxiety Complex (IAC). I would struggle through it, of course, because a good and concerned citizen today must follow every news story from everywhere in the world, no matter how suicidal the onslaught makes him, but my shrink says if I increase the dosages of my anxiety medication any further, they will start interfering with my depression medications. The second reason I avoid news is because of the paradox of our 24/7/365/Facebook News/Social Media/AI/Deep Fake world: news is everywhere and yet there’s no way of knowing what’s actually taking place.


As for the protests themselves, what am I to believe? Some media reports say the hate and violence at the college protests is coming from Jew-hating students, some media reports say the hate and violence is coming from outside agitators, some say the hate and violence is widespread and some say the hate and violence is being exaggerated. I saw an image of a Seder table at one of the protests that one site reported as a mockery of the Jewish holiday by anti-Semitic protestors, and another that reported it as a Seder table arranged by Jewish protestors underlining the holiday’s theme of freedom from oppression. Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL said he went to Columbia and it’s all very anti-Semitic, but the ADL makes a lot of money saying everything is anti-Semitic, and the ADL has castrated that term forever, an issue I’ve written about before and before and before. And so, putting aside for a moment the question of who is doing what to whom, the question I most found myself asking as I watched these newsclips was this:


Well, you can click over to find out the answer to that question. He's not wrong.

At the Free Press, Suzy Weiss tells A Tale of Two Columbias. And (among other things) is able to get an actual Columbia student on the record:

Meanwhile, a PhD student named Johannah King-Slutzky spoke to the press about students’ demands, which included catering. When a reporter asked her, “Why should the university be obligated to provide food to people who have taken over a building?” King-Slutzky replied, “First of all, we’re saying they are obligated to provide food to students who pay for a meal plan here.” Which is sort of like saying that if a restaurant can’t deny you service, the chef is obliged to come cook in your apartment—except you’ve stormed the chef’s apartment, and now you want him to cook you dinner there.

“I guess it’s ultimately a question of what kind of a community and obligation Columbia has to its students,” King-Slutzky reflects. “Do you want students to die of dehydration and starvation or get severely ill even if they disagree with you?” So like, is it possible that they could get just a simple glass of water? With three lemons? And a Caesar salad with dressing on the side? Thankssomuch!

King-Slutzky, whose thesis is on “theories of the imagination and poetry as interpreted through a Marxian lens” and the “fantasies of limitless energy in the transatlantic Romantic imagination from 1760–1860,” and whose fantasies are indeed limitless, goes on: “It’s crazy to say because we’re on an Ivy League campus, but this is like basic humanitarian aid we’re asking for.” In another video, she calls on members of the public to “hold Columbia accountable for any disproportionate response to students’ actions.”

Via Ann Althouse, a tweet from the irrepressible Joyce Carol Oates:

I'm thinking: sure, we take college students too seriously. But I'm also thinking that we are not taking the intellectual rot at prestigious college campuses seriously enough.

Also of note:

  • Yeah, probably. Veronique de Rugy wonders: Will California Hobble the US Railroad Industry?

    American federalism is struggling. Federal rules are an overwhelming presence in every state government, and some states, due to their size or other leverage, can impose their own policies on much or all of the country. The problem has been made clearer by an under-the-radar plan to phase out diesel locomotives in California. If the federal government provides the state with a helping hand, it would bring nationwide repercussions for a vital, overlooked industry.

    California pols love choo-choos, as long as they're carrying passengers, and are heavily taxpayer-subsidized. Ordinary freight trains carrying items people want to get from one place to another? Not so much.

  • In theory, I could afford lots of stuff I don't want. Don Boudreaux takes on a superficial economic argument: They Can Afford It!

    A few years back, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) offered, in the pages of USA Today, what they obviously believe to be an economically airtight argument in favor of the minimum wage:

    If Walmart can afford $20 billion for stock buybacks to enrich wealthy shareholders, it can afford to raise the pay of its workers to a living wage. It would cost Walmart less than $4 billion a year to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Taking this step would benefit nearly one million of its struggling workers.

    Earlier this year a spokesman for California governor Gavin Newsom offered the same argument to justify that state’s recent hike in the minimum wage for workers at fast-food restaurants. As recounted by the Wall Street Journal, this spokesman declared that “fast-food companies can afford to give their workers a deserved bump in pay.”

    The argument offered here by Sanders, Khanna, and Gov. Newsom’s office is common. Rarely does a semester pass that I’m not asked by a student – following a lecture on the economic consequences of minimum wages – why “rich” companies, such as Walmart and McDonald’s, would cut employment when minimum wages rise. “They can afford it!” my students protest. “These companies are highly profitable and have lots of assets.”

    There's a utilitarian argument, of course (which Boudreaux makes). There's also a moral argument: why should government interfere in a free-market employment transaction between consenting adults?

    But there's also the snarky argument, that I like: why don't Sanders, Khanna, and Newsom (and their ilk) simply start their own companies and see how "affordable" it is to hire lots of low-productivity people at exorbitant wages?