William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Page 5 of 627

Armed Students Take Over Cornell University

Bang! Bang!

Bang! Bang!

A group of militant black students at Cornell “occupied” Willard Straight Hall. They were armed with shotguns and other firearms with which they threatened violence. Why? To protest Cornell’s “racist attitudes” and “irrelevant curriculum”.

This was on 19 April 1969. The students eventually left Straight and walked away. None were shot or charged or were punished in any way. On the contrary, Cornell’s administrators chose appeasement. To increase “diversity” at the campus, the school “introduced a curriculum in Africana Studies and established the Africana Studies & Research Center.”

Incidentally, some of the courses one can take in this intellectually rigorous program are “Being and Becoming Black” which asks “What constitutes Blackness?”, “The Whites are Here to Stay”, “Women in Hip Hop”, “Performing Hip Hop”, “The Black Radical Tradition in the U.S.”, and so forth.

It wasn’t only Cornell and it wasn’t only American universities’ relations with blacks, of course. Universities were just as anxious to enroll more women and other minorities, and they were as keen on increasing the fraction of all kids attending college. But there was a problem. University courses were hard; too hard to pass for the average kid. Not everybody can understand quantum physics, or Shakespeare, or the Peace of Westphalia, or differential equations, or the lymphatic system.

So, in order to put more kids through the system, the system had to be weakened and changed in its fundamental nature. No longer the place to study “the best that has been thought and said”, or even the place to gain training in a highly specialized subject, it was now primarily the place devoted to Culture as a thing in itself. And now we not only have “degree” programs in Africana Studies, but also Women’s Studies, Communications, Education, Gender Studies, Sports Education, or others that will quickly come to mind. Even these aren’t tepid enough, though. A complaint, and a true one, given by the students at Mizzou was that about half of kids aren’t graduating.

All of this could have been avoided had Cornell and the others refused to buckle under what were, let’s face it, harmless threats. So why did universities surrender when they didn’t have to?

Looking back in Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom, who was a Cornell professor at the time, said, “universities gave way under the pressure of mass movements and did so in large measure because they thought those measures possessed a moral truth superior to any the university could provide.” It wasn’t so much cowardice—though a yellow stripe runs wide over the hierarchy at Mizzou—that led Timothy Wolfe to resign, it’s that he, or at least those around him, believed in his “white privilege” and felt guilt over it.

It was the same at Cornell in 1969. Bloom said that the then provost who appeased the armed thugs “had a mixture of cowardice and moralism not uncommon at the time. He did not want trouble…At the same time the provost thought he was engaged in a great moral work, righting the historical injustice done to blacks. He could justify the humiliation he was undergoing as a necessary sacrifice.”

Prediction: we’re going to see spectacles like the following at Mizzou, at Ithaca College, and at every other place students sense their own anti-“white privilege” power. Bloom said, “immediately after the faculty had voted overwhelmingly under the gun to capitulate to outrageous demands that it had a few days earlier rejected—the leading members of the administration and many well-known faculty members rushed over to congratulate the gathered students and tried to win their approval.”

The race problems on American campuses are iatrogenic. There is already word that Ithaca College, whose boss was under threat for allowing a “hostile learning environment”, has installed a new Chief Diversity Officer, or some such prominence. Many large schools have not one but several such official organizations, each working to (1) ensure everybody keeps race on their minds at every possible moment, and (2) to teach everybody race is not important and is a social construct. Holding two divergent thoughts simultaneously like this is bound to produce insanity.

Everything that happened before will happen again. Coursework is still too hard for a large fraction of students. This creates jealousies and animosities between those that are able and those that aren’t. These we have seen play out then at Cornell and now at Mizzou. Administrators and professors will hit upon the same solution this time as last: hard courses must become less hard, or they must disappear. Both of which, as anybody attached to a university knows, are happening.

Update Mizzou already has a “Black Studies” major. That no “White Studies” is on the books speaks volumes (get it? get it?). Some classes: BL STU 1332-Social Perspectives on Women, Race and Class (same as Women’s and Gender Studies [WGST] 1332), BL STU 1334-Women, Race and Class (same as Women’s and Gender Studies [WGST] 1334), BL STU 3850-Gender, Hip Hop and the Politics of Representation (same as Women’s and Gender Studies [WGST] 3850), BL STU 1790-History of Early Africa (blacks in the antipodes are ignored in these programs), BL STU 2150-African-American Cinema (same as Theatre [THEATR] 2150), and the grievance-reminding BL STU 2200-Social Inequalities (same as Sociology [SOCIOL] 2200).

The quip about the lack of “White Studies” or “Male Studies” is serious. Anybody taking a Black or Womyn’s Studies course or the like is purposely segregating themselves. Animosities cannot die when they are ensconced, and even encouraged, officially. Hence, iatrogenic.

Stream: The Joys of Divesting from Reality (And Not Just Oil)

Oil has many purposes.

Oil has many purposes.

Okay, sisters and brothers, only a handful of folks clicked over to the National Association of Scholars to read their must-read (but not-yet-read) report Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels, a duty on your part not the least because this important document has an essay by Yours Truly. The Stream very kindly reproduced that essay, and you must go there to read it. Must.

To Be Young (And Uneducated) Is Very Bliss

Imagine this:

Vladimir Putin sits as his desk doodling on a map of Europe. He erases Istanbul and is about to pencil in Constantinople when Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rushes in and announces, “Mr President! The Rhode Island School of Design, enrollment 2,420 students, has voted to divest from direct investments in fossil-fuel extraction companies. They will sell all 1,000 shares of Gazprom!”

Putin sits stunned. After what seems like an hour he rises slowly, snaps his pencil in two, tears his shirt, and says, “I see now that I must do my part to save the planet. Withdraw the troops. Shut down all gas production facilities. When the snow melts in Siberia, slaughter the remaining cattle and install organic solar panels. And bring in that man that does face piercings.”

Something very like this little fantasy is playing out in the minds of thousands of college students and their spiritual guides (professors) across these once United States. How thrilling to believe that the mere selling of oil and coal stocks to eager buyers can topple the mightiest and save from certain doom our dear, living, breathing planet—Gaia herself!

Go on, now. Head on over. Yes: you have to. And not only that, you have to pass this on to others so that they too might be encouraged to read the NAS report. Tell them Uncle Briggs sent you.

When Colleges Divest, Who Wins? Hint: Not The Colleges


I don’t normally do this, but it’s a special occasions. Here’s a press release from the National Association of Scholars announcing the release of their report Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels (PDF; the Divestment home page). Pay special attention to the last contributed essay in this volume (starts p. 286). The fellow that wrote it is going places. (I remind the reader the unemployment office and jail are places.)

NAS had an event yesterday in Manhattan and your roving reporter was there. Perhaps George Gilder, the Emcee, who, surveying modern university life and wondering what could possibly account for it, said it best: “Depravity”, “Dementia”, “Harvard [and others] sold out to Government”, and so on. Herb London, chair of the board at NAS, knew the one word to describe the reason college administrators don’t act when a rabble of students act criminally: “Cowardice.” And Rachelle Peterson, the author of the divestment report, summed up accurately why so many students these days belong to so many causes: they have plenty of time on their hands. Class work is now so simplified and undemanding that lots of the day is left over to raise fists and march.

Here’s the press release, which says it all. Read the report: its nails the movement as a manipulation of students (by you know whom) to vilify a certain industry (and you know what).

(Moderation is still on, incidentally. Plus, I’ll be on a flight this morning, so I thank you for your patience.)


When Colleges Divest, Who Wins?

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) released today the first comprehensive account of the campaign to get colleges to sell off their investments in coal, oil, and natural gas companies.

Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels finds that the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign undermines intellectual freedom, democratic self-government, and responsible stewardship of natural resources. The report presents a wealth of original research and concludes with new essays by writers including Bill McKibben, the national leader of the divestment campaign, and Willie Soon, the Harvard Smithsonian physicist who is a prominent critic of the global warming “consensus.”

More Political Than Practical

Issued less than a month before the Paris climate talks in which President Obama is expected to repeat his vow to move America off fossil fuels to combat global warming, the NAS report shows that divestment is more of a political rallying cry than a practical step to improve the environment.

Peter Wood, president of the NAS, explained, “Divestment divides the political left. The campus activists often criticize President Obama for not going far enough in his ‘war on coal’ and his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline. Their campaign is meant to pressure him to take even more radical steps.”

As the study details, most divestments are empty political promises with little financial effect on fossil fuel companies. The leaders of the movement see the sham divestment decisions as part of the strategy. “The divestment campaign is designed to fail,” said Rachelle Peterson, director of research projects at NAS and author of Inside Divestment. “The organizers’ goal is not to cause colleges to divest, but to anger students at the refusal of colleges to divest fully and to turn their frustration into long-term antipathy toward the modern fossil fuel-based economy.”

Wood explained, “The movement pretends to change the way we generate energy, but its actual aim is to generate resentment, which is fuel for political demagoguery. The ultimate beneficiaries are rich people whose investments in ‘green energy’ will prosper only if they can trick the public to strand our reserves of coal, oil, and gas underground. They favor high-priced, inefficient technologies that happen to require massive government subsidies coupled with sweeping new government powers. Students drawn by ‘save the world’ rhetoric and prevented from ever hearing arguments on the other side have become willing pawns for a movement that, rightly understood, is profoundly anti-democratic and that will also consign much of humanity to perpetual poverty.”

Students as Pawns

Divestment campaigns, now on more than 1,000 American colleges and universities, have adopted tactics that violate the free speech of others. The activists increasingly obstruct fair and open debate by smearing opponents and by bullying other students. The NAS study documents these tactics with case studies of several colleges, including the birthplace of the divestment movement, Swarthmore College.

Wood explained, “The divestment campaigns have been organized by professional activists. Our report peels back the image the campaign projects of an organic student-led movement. In fact, it is a nationally orchestrated campaign with top-down directives.”

350.org, the organization that brought the campaign to national prominence, pays and trains students for activism and schedules campus protests. “The divestment movement is astroturf,” said Peterson.


Peterson also shows that some of the activists’ key claims are hollow. “We found that colleges and universities that claim to divest overwhelmingly choose to retain large portions of their fossil fuel investments.” On average, divestment decisions affect only about 1 percent of the college endowment and leave approximately 50 percent of fossil fuel investments in place. The study lists four “DINOs,” or divestments in name only; these are universities, including Oxford, whose divestment decisions resulted in selling no investments at all.

Inside Divestment follows the NAS’s March 2015 report, Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism.

Universities Like Missouri & Yale? Nuke ’em From Orbit. It’s The Only Way To Be Sure.

Harvard, meeting its fate.

Harvard, meeting its fate.

A version of this post originally ran 12 November 2014, but given the events in Missouri, Yale, and elsewhere, it is time to up the payload.

What happens when you discover you have cancer? Right: you kill it. Poison it, radiate it, cut it out. Make it dead. Terminate it with extreme prejudice.

If you don’t act, what happens?

Right: the cancer grows. It crowds out healthy cells, choking the life out of them. The cancer weakens then destroys its host. But in causing the death of its host, the malignancy eventually kills itself too. If the cancer could think, which of course it cannot, it would, as it gazed contemptuously at the rotting corpse which surrounds it, take pleasure in being the last thing standing. Cancer is evil.

I of course should have checked my white privilege and led this story with a Trigger Warning in case a college professor or her student accidentally read it and became traumatized for life. Too late.

Trigger Warnings are a farce, a contemptible asinine idiotic burlesque. Anybody who is not insane knows this—and that is still most of us. But our knowing this, our laughter and our ridicule, and our exposing every form of nonsense created by universities, is not stopping the cancer from spreading.

Infected professors and students are successfully corrupting or purging healthy cells from university bodies. And the cancer is violent. Mobs of students, as their approving radical minders sit watching, charge stages or quads and chase away the uninfected in order to protect their corroded ears from Truth, which is the only medicine known to work. Professors and administrators, their minds ravaged by disease, ban Truth via speech codes and help raging students find targets.

Every cancer has a cause, and in this case the carcinogen was and is Equality. Never was there a more pernicious and malevolent idea. It was Equality that inspired the diversity quota system in hiring professors, which directly led to the creation of “Studies” departments staffed by representative members of Grievance Groups. Administrators thought this form of appeasement would isolate the cancer, keep it in plain view so that it could be controlled.

Any doctor could have told them cancers don’t work that way. It wasn’t long before the infection spread to other departments and to the creation of multifarious budget-hungry Offices of Diversity and Indignation. Then came diversity quotas for the students themselves.

Then came the rigorous enforcement of ideology.

All pretense that universities are places to study Truth, Beauty, The Good, What Is Best For Man have now been abandoned, except (partially) in so-called STEM fields, where students find false refuge in believing the answer to every question is “Science!” But we need only say “Global Warming” or “Amygdala” to know that the rot has infected these redoubts as well.

So much for the disease; the crime, really. Truth as a cure won’t work at this late stage. Something more radical is needed before the effects spread to the entire culture and destroy it.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the charge is Corrupting the Youth and I ask for a verdict of guilty.

If we are save our young from becoming temperamental sniveling thumb-sucking snot-nosed molly-coddled tantrum-throwing ignorant know-nothing cowardly narcissistic blood-lusting brats, we must eliminate their exposure to grasping avaricious hateful lazy gossiping caustic vindictive grievance-mongering race-bating sex-obsessed privileged cultural leech professors and administrators.

Since there isn’t enough hemlock to go around, nuking the cancer from orbit will have to do (though kinetic weapons would make a cheap alternative). It’s the only way to be sure.

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