The Property Market

May 26, 2009

This is one of the better analysis of the housing situation in the US and why it is not going to get magically better soon.

Signs of more trouble ahead for housing market

Carolyn Said, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Warren Buffett and Alan Greenspan say the housing market is near bottom.

Peppy real estate agents and gloomy stock-market traders alike eagerly embrace that supposition. Wall Street is so hungry for good news that stocks rallied at the barest hint of upbeat indicators several times this month.

But an array of serious pending issues undercuts the turnaround theorists.

To be sure, an end to the precipitous collapse that triggered a foreclosure avalanche and wiped out more than $6 trillion of home equity nationwide, not to mention setting off a worldwide economic collapse, would be something to celebrate. And several recent market barometers – diminishing inventory, increasing buyer competition, slowing price depreciation, rising builder confidence – lend credence to the idea that real estate could soon rebound.

A healthy housing market has a decent balance between supply and demand. While at a quick glance those components appear to be stabilizing, on closer look there are numerous factors that are likely to weaken demand and deluge the market with supply in coming months.

On the demand side, the surge in joblessness, still-high home prices, the credit crunch and a dearth of move-up buyers cut into the pool of potential home buyers.

On the supply side, an assortment of factors seems poised to trigger new waves of foreclosures that will continue to bloat inventory. They include the expiration of foreclosure moratoriums, more underwater “walk-away” homeowners, pending recasts of option ARM loans, rising delinquencies in prime and Alt-A loans, and soft sales of high-end homes.

Here is a rundown of key problems that could continue to undercut real estate.

Demand still softens

Rising unemployment. It doesn’t take an economist to realize people will not buy homes if they’re worried they might lose their jobs.

“Employment is crucially important,” said Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland business school. “We lost more than 600,000 private-sector jobs last month. That means the housing market is not going to turn up yet for a while.”

Unemployment also will spur supply. While the first wave of foreclosed-upon homeowners comprised people who could not afford their homes from the get-go, as more people lose their jobs, they are likely to lose their homes because they no longer have enough income to make the payments.

No “move-up” buyers. In a normal real estate market, about 80 percent of buyers are “moving up” or “moving across” – people who sell one home before buying another, said Mark Hanson, principal of Walnut Creek’s the Field Check Group, a mortgage consultant. Remaining purchasers are split between first-time buyers and investors.

In today’s market, about half of buyers are first-timers and a third are investors, leaving just 15 percent of what he calls “organic” buyers. Those first-timers and investors all troll for bargain-basement foreclosures – leaving few buyers who are interested in the homes being sold by “Ma and Pa Homeowner.” That, in turn, leaves Ma and Pa unable to move up to a nicer home. “The organic seller is left out in the cold,” he said.

It also could impact supply down the road, when all those pent-up sellers finally decide to put their homes on the market.

Tight credit. Even people who do want to buy a home can’t necessarily find someone willing to give them a mortgage. The standards of 20 percent down payment; solid, provable income; and good credit are back in force. While that more-stringent underwriting represents a return to classic values that should avoid future delinquencies, it leaves quite a few potential borrowers out in the cold. Most notably, self-employed workers – even ones with high income, such as doctors – are finding a less-cordial reception from lenders.

Homes still overpriced. Home values have plunged nationwide. The authoritative Case-Shiller index shows prices nationwide at 158, down from a spring 2006 peak of 226. (That compares to a base value of 100 in January 2000.)

So that means homes are now affordable, right? Not so, say many analysts who believe prices are still wildly inflated compared to historic appreciation rates. From 1950 to 2000, home prices grew 4.4 percent a year, modestly outpacing inflation, said Andrew Schiff, a spokesman for Euro Pacific Capital in Connecticut. Following that metric, the Case-Shiller index should be at 132. “We’re still way above where we should be in a normal market,” he said.

Supply likely to surge

Foreclosure moratoriums end. Major lenders temporarily halted foreclosures late last year and early this year in anticipation of President Obama’s housing rescue plan. In addition, California enacted a new law this fall that slowed down foreclosures. That means the foreclosure rate was artificially depressed over the past several months. The moratoriums have now expired.

The net result is likely to be fresh batches of foreclosures from all those deferred troubled loans. California statistics illustrate the problem. According to research firm MDA DataQuick, mortgage default notices – the first step in the foreclosure process – hit record highs in the first quarter, implying that, within months, foreclosures will resurge.

Shadow inventory. Banks appear to be sitting on a vast inventory of homes that they have repossessed but not yet listed for sale. As previously reported in The Chronicle, this shadow foreclosure inventory could number in the hundreds of thousands nationwide. In addition, observers say banks appear to be deliberately delaying foreclosures, for example, not yet sending notices of default to homeowners who are months behind on their mortgages. All those properties eventually will have to hit the market, and, like all foreclosures, are likely to sell at cut-rate prices, driving down home values.

Walk-away underwater homeowners. The number of people who owe more than their home is worth continues to rise. Almost 22 percent of all mortgage holders were underwater by March, according to real estate site Zillow.com. That’s spurring a phenomenon of “walk-away” homeowners – people who choose foreclosure because they don’t want to pay off an upside-down asset.

Matt Bording and Mangala Abeysinghe are an example. They have poured love and energy into their three-bedroom Richmond home; the garden alone is a work of art. Bording has a steady job as an ICU nurse, Abeysinghe, a nurse in her native Sri Lanka, should readily find work once she passes the U.S. licensing exam. They made a down payment and can afford their monthly payments.

On paper, they sound like ideal borrowers. But as their home value plummeted, leaving them underwater by more than $200,000, they decided to walk away. They stopped paying their mortgage in October, and are still living in the home, although the lender sold it at a foreclosure auction last week.

Bording described the decision as “a bit of brinkmanship and bravado, along with fear of being financially trapped. I’m wondering about the possibility of many more prime borrowers doing the same thing, causing some kind of ripple in the economy.”

Loan modification shortfalls. Modifying borrower’s mortgages to make them more affordable is a cornerstone of foreclosure prevention. But to date, most such efforts have simply deferred foreclosure, rather than providing a permanent fix. An authoritative study by the Comptroller of the Currency found that more than half of modified loans end up delinquent again within months. However, the study was done before the Obama administration’s mortgage mod plan came into play. The jury is still out on how effective it will be at preventing foreclosures.

Option ARM, Alt-A time bombs. Two categories of loans used for higher-end homes are emerging as the next trouble spots, as foreclosure contagion spreads beyond subprime. Delinquencies are rising for Alt-A loans given to people with good credit who could not document their income. Meanwhile, millions of option ARMs, or adjustable rate mortgages in which borrowers can choose to start off making minimum payments that don’t even cover the interest, are expected to start resetting next summer. At reset, borrowers suddenly must make sharply higher payments, which can trigger foreclosures.

The underwater issue comes into play here, too: People who owe more than their home is worth find the door slammed shut on refinancing their way out of trouble.

“Option ARM and Alt-A products will be the next big wave of foreclosures,” said Jeffrey Taylor, a forensic accountant with Digital Risk LLC, which provides risk mitigation services for financial firms. “Many of those (borrowers) reached a little further than they should have. With the economy deteriorating, will those people be able to afford those houses?”

High end taking a hit. Until recently, most of the market activity and price drops have been among lower-cost homes. Homes under $350,000 have had the most severe price drops, while those above $750,000 have remained relatively stable. That appears to be changing, as foreclosure woes spread to the upper end. The difficulty of getting “jumbo” loans to buy pricey houses has exacerbated the situation to the point where unsold inventories of high-end homes are swelling.

“The mid- to upper-end housing market is sitting on the exact precipice that the lower-end market was sitting on in early 2008,” Hanson said.

E-mail Carolyn Said at csaid@sfchronicle.com.

—————————————————————

May 22, 2009

Housing’s Big Picture Isn’t Pretty: Peter Schiff’s Article on TheStreet.com

While economists and real estate investors “celebrate” the slight deceleration in the pace of home price declines in the recent data, a quick look at home price trajectories over the past 100 and 50 years reveals little to cheer about and much to be feared.

More significant than small month-to-month changes is the flow of home price patterns over decades. In his book Irrational Exuberance, Robert Shiller determined that in the 100 years between 1900 and 2000, home prices in the U.S. increased by an average of about 3.4% per year. These figures have not been adjusted for inflation. If they had, home prices would have outpaced inflation by only the slimmest of margins.

This 100-year period includes the Great Depression, when home prices sank significantly, and it also involves decades in which our current home mortgage infrastructure simply did not exist. The second half of the century, with its baby boom, heightened inflation, suburban expansion and institutionalized mortgage apparatus, was much kinder to home prices. Even so, in the 50 boom years between 1950 and 2000, home prices increased an average of 4.4% per year. Even this pace barely beat inflation.

By all accounts, the home price boom that began in late 1997 (when the high of the previous 1989 peak was finally eclipsed) and topped out in June 2006 was extraordinary. The Case-Shiller 10-City Index, an amalgam of the home price trends in 10 of the largest U.S. cities, gained on average 19.4% per year during that time. The movements had very little to do with market fundamentals and everything to do with distortive government policies, a national mania for real estate wealth and a torrent of temporarily easy credit.

If we assume that the bubble was artificial, we can instead imagine that home prices should have followed the more typical path during that time. When you do these extrapolations, a very sobering picture emerges.

The authors of the Case-Shiller index had assigned the index a value of 100.0 in January of 2000. This figure does not represent a dollar value for home prices but is simply a benchmarking tool. In December 2008, after a severe 28% decline from its June 2006 peak of 226.29, the Case-Shiller 10 City index stood at 162.1. However, if home prices had followed the 3.4% annual 100-year trend line from December 1997 (when the index was at 82.3), then the index would have arrived at only 118.92 in December 2008.

This would suggest that the index would need to decline an additional 27% to get back to the historical trend line. Extrapolating along the sunnier 50-year annual average increase would put the index at 132.2 by December 2008. This would still put the trend line 18.5% below current prices. A cursory look at the chart below should disabuse anyone of the notion that home prices have now hit bottom. Policymakers and economists should by no means rely upon projections that see home prices turning around in the near term.

However, the story by no means ends there. Given the current conditions in the real estate market, with bloated inventories, growing unemployment, nonexistent consumer credit and shattered illusions of real estate riches, it would be logical to assume that prices will fall below the trend line. How much is anybody’s guess, but 10% would be conservative.

Given that we are entering uncharted territory with price declines much sharper than those seen in the Great Depression, I would argue that the 100-year price trend would be the better projection to use. In such a scenario, the index would bottom out at around 108 if a 10% overshoot on the downside is seen. That leaves another 34% decline in home prices on the table.

But that doesn’t mean that I believe home prices will actually reach those levels, at least in nominal terms. Inflation will likely be the biggest difference between the current recession and what is now called the Great Depression of the 1930s, (I expect a new name will be needed in a few years, much as the Great War is now called World War I.) Throughout the Depression, prices fell for everything, not just houses. At the time, even the pump-priming policies of Roosevelt’s New Deal did not expand the money supply at anywhere near the current pace. As a result, the deflationary pressures of a recession were allowed to push prices down.

In the coming years, the opposite will happen. The government, through deficit spending, stimuli and bailouts, is literally pumping trillions and trillions of new dollars into the economy. Once the bloated inventories of the boom years are worked through, this torrent of new cash will push prices up with across the board. Inflation, more virulent than the variety seen in the 1970s, will put a nominal floor under home prices. But the benefits of seemingly stable home prices will be illusory. What good is a $200,000 house if it costs nearly that much to fill the refrigerator? However, inflation putting a floor under home prices does nothing to increase real demand for houses. With the prices for stocks, commodities and food going up faster than the prices of homes, residential real estate will remain a lousy investment. As a result, be wary of those who have called a housing bottom and now recommend beaten-down homebuilding stocks.

Despite savage pullbacks from their mid-decade highs the nation’s biggest homebuilders are still overvalued. The S&P 500 is down 4% since the last housing boom began in January 1998. But over that time, Toll Brothers(TOL Quote), Pulte Home(PHM Quote) and D.R. Horton(DRI Quote) are up 195%, 100%, and 97% respectively. The truth is, America’s current inventory of homes will last at least a generation or more. These stocks are still not priced accordingly.

For a more in depth analysis of our financial problems and the inherent dangers they pose for the U.S. economy and U.S. dollar denominated investments, read Peter Schiff’s book “Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse”.

Advertisements

Yet more Feminist Tyranny

May 25, 2009

How UW Eliminates Non Feminists

by Henry Makow Ph.D.


Why are most UW students female?

Feminists often speak of a “glass ceiling” beyond which ambitious career women cannot rise in corporations.

As a male teaching at the University of Winnipeg in 1999-2000, I ran smack into a “glass wall” of discrimination because I questioned radical feminist dogma.

I learned that academic freedom at the University of Winnipeg does not exist.

It has been hijacked by a radical minority who wish to use the university to spread an anti male agenda and take power for themselves. Their goal is to transform society from what they see as “male dominated” to something sexless or female dominated.

I was the victim of bizarre policies that belong in a totalitarian regime, not to a Canadian university dedicated to free inquiry and learning.

I taught a literature course of my own design to two freshmen classes totaling about 70 students. My problems began when about four women in one class wrote an anonymous letter, which misrepresented things I said.

For example, they said: “we have sensed your strong feeling that women should be submissive and docile.” This is from my suggestion that the traditional women we studied in some works might be worthy of respect.

They said I asked a female student about how she lost her innocence. Out of context, this is pretty damaging. In fact, a student brought up “her first night” herself in class in a discussion of innocence as a metaphysical concept. I quipped, “Tell us more” and the whole class roared with laughter. I have 30 witnesses.

They said they were “outraged” when I asked if a novel aroused them. The novel was Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the question was put in the context of “Is this pornography? which I defined as “designed to arouse.” Was it? Did it? The prudish reaction of this handful of radical students is noteworthy considering what is freely available in the media. It is typical of the radical feminist effort to portray normal heterosexual behavior as pathological.

The letter complains I said I “once had a fight with [my] girlfriend and then had some ‘great make-up sex'”. This came up in the context of whether Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire is an abusive husband. I said loving couples occasionally lose their temper, which doesn’t make them abusers. I gave my own experience 30 years ago as an example. But feminists have a vested interest in portraying all men as chronic, violent abusers. In a chance meeting, Dr. Constance Rooke asked me if I “wanted the whole world to know you beat up your girlfriend?”

The purpose of the students’ letter was to viciously smear a professor they disliked by implying that I behaved unprofessionally. As well, they complained my standards were too high and my grades too low. Other students told me that these students (two of whom had received $1750 entrance scholarships) felt they could get better marks by going to authorities.

Although the letter was addressed to me, it was given to Naomi Levine, the Harassment Officer and Neil Besner, the Chairman of the English Department, who took the matter to Constance Rooke, the President.

As Dr. Rooke explained later, she immediately decided that this was not a “malicious, frivolous or vexatious complaint.” This conclusion without even speaking to me is proof of discrimination against me. Rooke took drastic action despite the fact that:

1) The students did not have sufficient cause or conviction to make a formal complaint.

2) As a result, there was no investigation to determine whether the complaint had any merit.

3) I was ignored. When I replied that the letter misrepresented what I said and did, I didn’t even get a reply.

Naomi Levine told me it was sufficient cause for action if even one student felt “uncomfortable.” I wonder if this applies to male students who told me they have to parrot feminist dogma in order to pass their course.

Constance Rooke later told me she had struck a committee to determine what degree of “discomfort” should be allowable in the classroom.

Under the circumstances, I believe the university took unwarranted action because I was considered anti feminist.

They decided someone else would grade the final essays and exams of the letter writers. I couldn’t be “trusted” to treat them “fairly” and they were “afraid” of me. At this point, I didn’t even know who they were.

The university gave them permission to cut my classes. I wasn’t informed.

They discussed providing these students with tutors.

The disgruntled students tried to enlist the whole class in their action.

They were unsuccessful. Only four of 35 chose to have their work graded by another professor. (As well, I had no complaints from my other class of 35 students.)

In my view, the university colluded with the four students to undermine my position. First it allowed them to make a malicious personal attack without questioning its veracity. Then, it allowed them to incite a classroom revolt, by having everyone’s grades assigned by another professor.

In a meeting April 19, Constance Rooke, the President told me that I was anti feminist. To be “anti feminist is to be anti woman,” she said.

I protested that I was a “non feminist” but she persisted that I had described myself in a letter as “anti feminist”. This is not true but it reveals her state of mind. When I demanded that she produce this letter, she appeared alarmed.

I showed Niel Besner, chairman of the English department, evidence that I was giving A’s to feminists. It made no difference. I showed him scholarly texts by respected scholars, including a woman, who influenced my thinking.

“You really take this stuff seriously,” Besner marveled. I am not sure if he was referring to my ideas, or any ideas. Besner treated me like a man who was to be shot at dawn but didn’t know it.

I found plenty of support for my position in works by Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, D. H. Lawrence, and Henry James, which we studied. But, the university officials showed no respect for me, or for anyone who did not conform to their political position.

Attacked by the disgruntled students, I was now expected to meet them in “mediation” and assuage their feelings.

My attitude was that I was not answerable to a small unrepresentative minority unless they could prove I had behaved unethically or unprofessionally. They could not. Nevertheless I was ready to meet them and hear them out.

The students wanted the chairman present. I agreed. But I balked when they wanted the sexual harassment officer and a student council advocate as well. “They’re afraid of you; you intimidate them,” the chairman kept telling me. I was being treated like Hannibal Lector.

This is how radical feminists operate.

First they make false charges; then they claim to be helpless victims; then they demonize you, and finally they disempower you, (i.e. undermine your position and take it away.)

I had done nothing to inspire fear. On the contrary, I had been extremely supportive. These students were more intimidating than anyone. Their letter was a vicious smear, which traumatized me. In class, one said that my claiming men and women are different is the same as claiming all Indians are drunks. She later told the Winnipeg Sun that I went around asking many female students how they lost their virginity, and whether passages aroused them. Another told the Winnipeg Free Press that she had a nightmare that she stayed for help after class and I raped her!

Later, I learned from Constance Rooke that these students had a “right” to an advocate. No one informed me of this at the time. I was deliberately kept in the dark.

On the other hand, I was not allowed to bring students to this meeting who might testify as to the facts. Clearly the purpose of the meeting was to extract some sort of expiation from me, not to determine the truth.

In the meeting April 19, Constance Rooke told me that feminism contains a wide variety of opinions. I concluded she feels only these opinions are acceptable.

* * * *

In her book, “Who Stole Feminism?: How Women have Betrayed Women” (1994), Christina Hoff Sommers, a philosophy professor at Clark University, makes a distinction between equity feminists and gender feminists.

Equity feminists believe in equal rights, opportunity and reward for men and women. But, according to Sommers, feminism has been taken over by “gender feminists,” that wish to use the education system to transform a male culture.

Gender feminists believe women always have been persecuted and exploited by men. They believe traditional female and male sex roles are invented by men to oppress women.

They believe that the whole intellectual and spiritual inheritance of mankind –all knowledge — is a patriarchal invention that has to be “reconstructed from the standpoint of women.” Reason itself is considered a male faculty that has to be replaced.

The leitmotif of gender feminists is that men victimize women. They exaggerate and falsify domestic violence statistics to make women fear men. They characterize heterosexual sex as rape and men as predators. They promote a “unisex” mentality that is confusing young men and women. As a result, lesbianism is booming, the nuclear family is collapsing and the birthrate is falling.

I can see the effect on my female students.

They arrived in my freshman class in September desperate to get a career because they assume men are evil and can’t be trusted. They assume their marriages will fail and they will have to support a family alone.

They regard divorce, not marriage, as a woman’s defining moment. In essays, they applauded Stella Kowlalski for leaving Stanley in Streetcar Named Desire; Yvette for dumping Duddy in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

I believe the vast majority of men are honorable and seek fulfillment as lovers, husbands and fathers. I don’t believe that women have been oppressed. On the contrary, women have been supported and protected from hard labor and war. Imagine if 99% of the soldiers who died defending the country in World War Two had been women? Would men ever have heard the end of it? Do these feminists know what fate Hitler had in store for conquered Allied women? They take male sacrifice for granted.

The shibboleth of male oppression is a classic guilt tactic that has catapulted thousands of women into powerful positions. Surely, these appointments should be based on merit not guilt.

Gender feminism is a crude grab for power. Its proponents want to fill positions of power with people of their ilk.

For example, Keith Fulton, the new chairman of the English department is the former coordinator of women’s studies. At a meeting she proposed filling new teaching vacancies with feminists without even holding a competition.

After “a competition,” all three new positions in the English Department were filled by feminists.

It’s clear that unless you are a member of “the party” you can’t get a job at this university, a situation similar to Communist Russia or China.

* * * *

I am not anti-woman. On the contrary, I defend women who have become an endangered species on this continent. I believe that being a wife and mother is a most worthy career.

Women who put husband and children before themselves bring love into the world. They make families possible. They start the circuit of love, which inspires a man to return love and take on the responsibilities of family. They create the environment that restores the man and nourishes and shapes the next generation. They have made an incalculable contribution to civilization.

Love is absent from society today because women are taught to seek power for themselves. In doing so they lose their real power, the power to love. Society –men, women, and children– is suffering grievously from this loss.

This wouldn’t be an issue of academic freedom if I were allowed to teach again. But the chairman of the English department and the president of the university, made it plain that I won’t.

When I inquired if the anonymous letter would affect my employment, the chairman grimaced and referred to “budget cutbacks.” (I estimate the tuition from my two classes was more than four times my salary.)

Constance Rooke, scoffed at me, saying “stipends” (as my position is called) often are not re engaged. When I raised the issue of academic freedom, she said, “We let you finish teaching the year, didn’t we?” Considering I did nothing improper but teach a different point of view, this is an amazing statement.

Christina Hoff Sommers writes: “Gender feminists have been influential in the academy far beyond their numbers because … they treat opposition to their exotic standpoint as opposition to the cause of women.”

Rooke is right about “stipends” though. We are the “temps” of academia. I was teaching for love not money. My course was well received. Normally, I could expect to teach again, as I did before inventing the board game Scruples in 1984.

Generally, my students found my course stimulating. Many e-mailed support or spoke to me. A female student told the chairman that I was being treated unfairly. She wrote me:

“I do not agree with the measures some of my classmates are taking ..I thoroughly enjoy your class and like the heated conversation that takes place.

…. In university I would hope students would be mature enough to accept a professor expressing a controversial opinion, even if it is not ‘politically correct.’ You should have the freedom to say what you believe. If I was being forced to agree with the professor, that would be wrong. This was not the case.”

In an anonymous evaluation, another student wrote that the course “challenged me in a lot of ways where I did not usually push myself. I find the spiritual themes… helpful and motivating. Often after a lecture or discussion I spend time in self reflection.”

Another female student wrote, “I have never had a professor so thoroughly encourage EVERYONE to express their opinions, especially those that were different from your own… I am shocked, disappointed and very surprised that the university has taken this radical course of action. Do they not even care to hear the opinions of the rest of the class…?”

Other female students said I gave them intellectual support for taking a more traditional feminine role.

I mentioned this controversy to another professor in the department. He told me he teaches from a feminist perspective. I asked if he also gave a non feminist view.

“I didn’t know there was one,” he replied.

This is the way it is at the University of Winnipeg. There are dozens of professors who teach gender feminism, the oppression of women by men. The one part-timer (me) that presented an alternative is gone.

Trends in enrollment at the University of Winnipeg suggest it is dedicated to the empowerment of women at the expense of men.

Female students outnumber males by almost two to one. In 1999, there were 2701 full time female students and 1553 males. It’s approximately one to one at the University of Manitoba.

Comparing apples with apples (arts and science faculties only), the University of Winnipeg is 62% female while Manitoba is 52%.

Male enrollment at the University of Winnipeg has been dropping by an average of over 100 students every year for the last three years. It has dropped 18 per cent since 1996. Women received 80% of the 288 Entrance Scholarships awarded by the University of Winnipeg in 1999-2000.

Men cannot fulfill their role as providers without an education. The agenda of the University of Winnipeg is to make women independent, and men redundant as providers.

The university is a publicly funded body, dedicated to teaching and learning.

It should not be controlled by people who believe that all human experience is a masculine conspiracy to exploit women. Should educators be permitted to throw out the cultural heritage of mankind because it is “patriarchal”?

This is happening at the University of Winnipeg.


The Rot Spreads

May 25, 2009
The article below shows how the cancer of political correctness has not just infected our universities but also our “finest” private secondary schools.  When will this nonsense end and we can get back to some rational thought.
Heather Mac Donald
The Prep-School PC Plague
Instead of forging a colorblind elite, these privileged schools stress everything that divides their newly diverse student bodies.
Spring 2002

The diversity industry—the profession paid to harangue Americans about racism and sexism—has burrowed deep into the nation’s elite prep schools. Where private secondary schools once inculcated American citizenship and patriotism, today they employ diversity professionals to show students their complicity in an unjust society. Schools that strove to mold a homogeneous national elite now have enshrined “difference” as their organizing principle. Aping the fractured curriculum of the university, many prep schools offer courses in “gay voices,” the “construction of gender,” and “racial identity.”

This rush to import all that is divisive from the universities is a grievous missed opportunity to create an integrated, color-indifferent society. By all accounts, many students enter high school blissfully free of divisive race-consciousness. But rather than encouraging their students’ instinctive colorblindness, the private-school leadership is determined to snuff it out. Although few environments are less in need of anti-racism chest-beating than elite prep schools, directed as they are by well-meaning baby boomers deeply committed to their minority students’ success, many schools have established diversity bureaucracies for multicultural consciousness-raising. Sadly, that often means creating race-consciousness where none exists.

Bobby Edwards, the amiable dean for Community and Multicultural Development at Phillips Academy (also known as Andover) in Massachusetts, the country’s oldest boarding school and among its most prestigious, is a case in point. “I do more work than I anticipated around the race issue,” he says ruefully. Edwards teaches a tenth-grade required course called “Life Issues,” which immerses students in the holy trinity of university multiculturalism: race, class, and gender. Many pupils tell Edwards that race is simply not a salient feature in their lives. It will be once Edwards gets through with them, though. He informs his class: “Unless we work to help you have an understanding of the history around this issue, you won’t have a clear understanding of how you really do have a race issue.”

Most troubling to a diversity professional: even some “students of color” are skeptical of racism talk. “They say: ‘I don’t think there’s an issue when I go into a store,’ ” notes Edwards, incredulously. Rather than accepting the students’ reported experience, Edwards chides them: “Are you looking at the people following you around in the store?”

Other prep-school diversity bureaucrats report the same resistance to their message of “all racism, all the time.” Hugo Mahabir, head of multicultural concerns at the Fieldston Academy in the North Bronx, admits: “Students today think, ‘Adults don’t get it: we’re post–civil rights; we’re moving on to something else.’ ” They see explicit discussions of race, gender, and class as “divisive,” confesses Mahabir. Russell Willis, dean of multicultural affairs at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Andover’s younger sibling and archrival, finds it “ironic” that some black students oppose affirmative action, since they benefit from it, he bitterly points out.

In a saner world, these little shoots of colorblindness would be encouraged to spread. A privileged independent school, especially a boarding school, is an ideal hothouse for nurturing them. With their arcadian campuses, rich endowments, and freedom to reject the pedagogical garbage peddled by government, ed schools, and teachers’ unions, private schools can create whatever sort of educational utopia they choose. So why not try something really radical: stop yakking about race and gender all the time, and see what happens when gifted young people of all races are encouraged to bond together. It’s not as if, when the graduates get to college, they’ll be starved for identity politics.

Prep-school difference-mongers set about their task by questioning the mental competence of students who say race is no big deal: such students must be ignorant or duped. The other possible explanation—that the students just don’t see much racism anymore—is not within the universe of diversity-think. According to consultant Glen Singleton, when black students claim that they have not experienced racism, that shows the “bias in the education they’re getting.” “They don’t know white privilege when they see it,” he huffs. Andover’s Bobby Edwards speculates that black color-indifference results from “indoctrination or the defense of assimilating.” Students of all races possess a “combination of optimism and naiveté” that leads them—mistakenly—to “attribute the race issue to an older generation,” he says.

Diversity monitors employ more hands-on tools as well for teaching guilt and resentment. A favorite is shopping exercises. Lisa Ameisen, a social-science teacher at the Baldwin School, once the finishing school for mainline Philadelphians, sends her students to Rite Aid to see what products are available for minorities. “If whites can buy 1,200 different kinds of foundation, how does that make you feel, if you can’t find any foundation?” she asks them. Ameisen presses her students to think of other consumer experiences that reflect societal inequity. When asked, however, she acknowledges that a store’s product line might reflect local demographics, not racism.

Ameisen is a crucial link in the transmission of university-level oppression theory to the prep schools. Her specialty is “critical whiteness studies,” a thriving academic field that seeks to expose how whites are unjustly privileged. Ameisen is a board member of the Multicultural Resource Center in Philadelphia, which for the last two years has been providing whiteness studies materials to schools in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; this February, she led a seminar in critical whiteness theory at the annual conference of the National Association of Independent Schools, the private schools’ main lobbying group. Expect prep-school whiteness classes to burgeon.

Shopping is a big deal for critical whiteness theory, and even faculty members get roped in. In 1997, an Andover administrator gave a faculty presentation on how dominant standards of beauty injure black women’s self-esteem; she had assembled several boxes of makeup, pantyhose, and greeting cards targeted to black and Hispanic consumers, from which white audience members had to make selections for their personal use. “It brought up a lot of discussion of what ‘nude’ means in pantyhose,” recalls presenter Veda Robinson, now a college counselor at the Buckingham, Brown, and Nichols school in Boston.

Andover’s students, meanwhile, discuss the dilemma that minority parents face when purchasing a doll for their children. At first, according to dean Bobby Edwards, the students dismissively say, “Oh, this is really old; of course there are Asian dolls!” Edwards challengingly shoots back: “Does it resonate with you at all that if you’re black you still have to wonder [whether you’ll find a doll of your ethnicity]? So how far have we really come?”

But the racial reeducation has just begun. At this point, diversity trainers like to pull out the separatist tract “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Tatum advocates black self-segregation on campus to defend against pervasive white racism, and announces the stages of black and white “identity development.” Hint: the more racially self-conscious and a) angry or b) guilty you are, the more fully realized your identity.

Nadine Nelson, dean of multicultural affairs at the Beaver Country Day School in Boston, uses Tatum’s book in her tenth-grade class “Teaching and Learning for Diversity and Social Justice.” The goal, Nelson says, is “for students to understand their role in oppression: ‘Are you an ally, or are you someone who’s oppressing and abusing your privilege?’ ” I ask if there’s any backlash against Tatum’s message. “Of course there is,” Nelson retorts. “Tatum is provocative, you know—if you’re a tenth-grader and never thought you had privilege. Ultimately, the kids always come around,” she adds, ominously.

Like shopping exercises, Tatum’s message is not just for students. The Exeter faculty studied Cafeteria last year as part of their ongoing multiculturalism discussions. Racial-identity-development theory is starting to inform school discipline decisions. André Withers, a middle-school director at the Canterbury School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, argues that “astute schools” will recognize when discipline problems among their black students stem from one of the stages of black identity development, and will presumably adjust their discipline accordingly.

While many private-school curricula reinforce the difference ideology—the Latin School of Chicago, for example, teaches an English course called “Does Race Matter?” and a history course called “Gender at the Crossroads,” which asserts that gender is “socially constructed”—few schools mimic university theorese better than the twin colossi of Andover and Exeter. This matters, because where the top New England boarding schools lead, the rest of the country follows.

Both Andover and Exeter highlight diversity-mongering in their mission statements, with Andover’s stressing the school’s determination to create a “community sensitive to differences of gender, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation.” In this spirit, Andover’s history department has mastered the punning preciosity that marks college difference courses, offering “Masculine/Feminine/Human: Issues in Gender Relations” and “America in the 1950s: I Like Ike but I Love Lucy,” a course that studies—what else?—gender, race, and class.

Exeter has virtually dissolved the literary canon. Its required English curriculum focuses on writing skills—appropriately enough for a high school. But instead of teaching students to write by analyzing the monuments of Western literature, Exeter focuses on students’ own personal narratives—the better for analyzing one’s individual differences. Little wonder, as an English teacher volunteered to me, that most Exeter graduates have no idea whether Chaucer preceded Yeats. When an Exeter student reaches his senior year, lacking any literary compass, he may select English elective courses that fracture literary history into identity politics: “Gay Voices and Themes in Literature and Film,” “The Voices of Women Writers,” “The Zen Mind,” “African and Caribbean Writers,” as well as such crowd-pleasers as “Novels into Film.” Without coming on top of a solid grounding in literary classics, such specialized courses are mere entertainment.

Minority-only freshmen-orientation programs, as well as school assemblies favoring spokesmen for various privileged identities—gay, female, minority—reinforce the “difference” ideology. At Brearley, a Manhattan girls’ day school, every class has a student “diversity monitor” to keep attention focused on “diversity issues.” Each year, many schools pack off a delegation of minority students to the “Students of Color” conference sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools, where they can learn the newest ways to identify racism. The NAIS’s annual “People of Color” conference gives adults the same tools.

Backing up these formal supports for race- and gender-consciousness is an informal, but inescapable, ethos. “Diversity is absolutely explicit at Exeter,” enthuses Cary Einhaus, a college counselor and dorm advisor. “We talk about it at the dining-room table, at faculty meetings. It’s part of our common language here.” (Einhaus boasted to the New York Times that Exeter’s year 2000 decision to allow homosexual couples to serve as dorm masters sent the message that gay life was “normal.”)

The “common language” of diversity can seem like a Babel to students. Robert Baldi, editor of Exeter’s student newspaper, the Exonian, struggles to convey the school’s diversity-consciousness: “It’s overwhelming, sort of. I don’t know how to describe it. We’re hit with it almost every day.” John Stern, a recent Exeter graduate, reports that as a result of the obsessive focus on diversity, “there was a tremendous amount of division. Everyone [who wasn’t white and male] had some sort of ‘identity’ separate form everyone else. Black folks had one, so did females, Latinos, younger students, gays, [and] poorer students.”

Young people quickly learn that their teachers see an awareness of difference, not commonality, as the highest civic good. “I have never felt more Indian than when I came to Phillips Academy,” wrote Tara Gadgil in the Phillipian, Andover’s student newspaper, last year. Gadgil contrasted the atmosphere at Andover with her school back home in Texas. There, she says, “I was never made to feel that I was any different [from the white students] and the kids . . . never found the need or desire to speak about race relations.” At Andover, by contrast, students “tend to classify the community into its various racial groups.” “We are very aware of racial differences,” she says proudly.

Gadgil believes she is complimenting Andover by this depressing indictment, having flawlessly absorbed the school’s value system. At its most innocuous, that value system can simply look silly. At Brearley this year, when senior girls posted photos of their current heartthrobs—Brad Pitt and Britain’s Prince William—under the signs “The Wall of Brad Pitt” and “The Wall of the United Kingdom,” black seniors saw a racial subtext. They claimed a separate wall, called “The Cocoa Lounge,” for black sex symbols. When someone put a picture of a white man on The Cocoa Lounge—apparently in the spirit of “Tear down this wall”—screaming and crying matches erupted over charges of racial disrespect and separatism. The solution? Distinct ghettos for idols from different identity groups: The Jew Crew, Asian Haven, The UK, and The Cocoa Lounge. A “White Wall” has been threatened but not yet established.

The adult version of the diversity value system is merely pathetic. In 1999, an admissions officer at Oberlin College, Paul Marthers, published an account of his experience advising students in Andover’s summer minority math institute. His article is the anatomy of a nervous breakdown, the perfect expression of heightened diversity-consciousness: “There was fear of inadvertently saying something offensive. Of course I did—using the expression ‘low man on the totem pole.’ . . . There was the fear of acting too white. There was the fear that I would mistake normal adolescent opposition to authority for race-based resentment. There was the fear that colorblindness was inappropriate. There was the fear that I might seem to be favoring Latino and Native American students because they looked whiter. There was the fear of guilt-induced over-compensatory niceness to the students of color. . . . Should I address racism? Should I avoid it? What could I do to not appear defensive or insensitive? . . . I discovered that I had to confront the Caucasian tendency to stress the melting pot and assimilation into the dominant culture. For students of color, maintaining their own ethnic identities is as essential as breathing.”

Marthers’s neuroses are exactly where such diversity tutorials as “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” lead. And his students played their part to the hilt as well, treating him—a man as full of liberal good intentions as you can cram into one midwestern college administrator—with icy contempt and sensing racial subterfuges everywhere.

The epidemic of prep-school racism must be pretty serious to justify such crippling cures, right? Wrong. Even school diversity professionals can’t come up with persuasive reasons why a formal diversity program is necessary. Christine Savini, diversity director at Milton Academy outside of Boston, claims that race issues arise as the inevitable by-product of students living together; the official diversity program only formalizes what is already occurring. An example of a spontaneously occurring racial incident? “If a white student says, ‘Let’s go to the swimming pool!’ the black student may not want to go because of her hair,” Savini explains. “The white student may not know how long black hair preparation takes, and the black student doesn’t want to explain again and again.”

Not only is this example trivial; there are many ways to interpret this exchange without deeming it racial. After all, not so long ago, shamefully, a white girl might never have sought the companionship of a black girl at the swimming pool. Our racial-insensitivity alarm has become jittery indeed if an invitation to the pool now sets it off. Furthermore, black students as well as white students might commit the faux pas of asking unwilling black students to swim, and surely the unwilling student could convey the demands of her hairdo quickly, without resentment, and without encountering insurmountable incomprehension.

Further oft-cited evidence of racism is any student’s mention of racial preferences in college admissions. It turns out that students are universally aware of double standards in admissions, despite college administrators’ years-long cover-up. Now that even the proponents of preferences, such as Derek Bok and William Bowen, acknowledge their existence, only prep-school administrators seem still to be in denial about the practice. “When college admissions rolls around, you’ll hear from these very talented, PC-trained kids—to the one: ‘You probably got in because you’re black,’ ” rues the Baldwin School’s Lisa Ameisen. Does race-based admission ever happen? I inquire. “I’m not sure,” Ameisen replies. Most of the time, she believes, allegations of racial preference are an “emotional response” resulting from “white privilege.”

Russell Willis, Exeter’s multiculturalism dean, is even more adamant about the nonexistence of preferences. He says Exeter’s “students of color” get really upset when they hear the sentiment: “Oh, you don’t have to worry about college, because you’re black—even if your grades are lower.” Such an assumption is “utterly false,” Willis asserts heatedly. Exeter’s black students don’t share his certainty that preferences don’t exist, even if they resent anyone bringing up the subject. Exonian editor Robert Baldi’s black friends tell him: “It’s OK, I’ll get into MIT, because I’m black, even if my grades aren’t as good as yours.”

Undoubtedly, many high-achieving black students are unjustly suspected of benefiting from preferences. But the unjust suspicion is the result of the preference system itself, as author Shelby Steele has observed, not of racism. Preference advocates cannot set up a system where, every year, black and Hispanic pupils with lower grades and SATs are admitted to colleges that have rejected their higher-scoring white and Asian peers and expect students not to notice what is going on. To deny the obvious, as diversity deans do, and accuse students of racism for noticing the obvious, creates a totalitarian demand for bad faith.

Black prep-school students often cry racism when white students cast them as the class experts on the black experience. “I was never a slave and I didn’t live through segregation, so don’t expect me to know everything about it,” complained Angelica Alton in the Exonian recently. Fair enough. But the rationale for race-conscious “diversity” admissions is that skin color equates with point of view and life experience. Advocates of color-conscious policies in prep-school admissions shouldn’t be surprised when people respond to this argument accordingly.

The diversity industry also cites the recurring debate over voluntary segregation on campus as a further example of student insensitivity. Every year, someone publishes an op-ed in a student newspaper bemoaning the clustering together of blacks in dining halls and classrooms. A February essay in the Exonian lamenting the lack of integration on campus set off a mostly angry response. Says Exeter’s Willis: “The tone offended a lot of students, who felt as though the writer didn’t even think about how students of color feel every day when they walk into a dorm and there are no students of color.” Why is it racist when the author yearns for integration? I asked. “The issue is, why didn’t she question the other side of the coin: ‘We are black students in a white environment,’ ” Willis responded.

However ineptly phrased, the offending essay was nevertheless a cri du coeur for racial mixing. If that now constitutes racial intolerance, then the definition of racial injustice has been distorted beyond recognition. Prep-school authority figures are starting to apply a double standard for defining racial torts. In Exeter’s course “The Black Experience in White America,” students recently were debating the acceptability of interracial dating—not whether it’s okay for a white teen to date a black, of course, but whether it’s okay for blacks to date whites. When a black girl announced that blacks should only date other blacks, a white girl burst into tears and asked: “But wasn’t this part of the civil rights struggle—to get to the point where people are just people?” The teacher, Russell Weatherspoon, says it was “poignant” that the white girl was so stunned by this expression of black separatism, but he did not intervene on the side of colorblindness. Had a white student argued against diluting white racial solidarity, of course, the whole school would have risen up in protest.

Questions about hair, observations about racial preferences, pleas for racial integration—this sum of alleged student insensitivity hardly supports the need for racial reeducation in prep schools. A poll of Andover’s senior class last year found overwhelming rejection of the claim that Andover subjected students to racial or gender bias. But nothing so offends a diversity bureaucrat as the suggestion that his institution is ready for colorblindness—and asserting one’s own colorblindness is rapidly gaining status as a form of hate speech. Diversity consultant Glen Singleton warns that the “belief in being colorblind is a big negative for students of color. It means: ‘I’m not willing to notice how much white privilege there is in this environment.’ ” Lewis Bryant, the director of multicultural programs at the Buckingham, Brown, and Nichols school, objects that “you’re asking everyone to be the same; they’re not the same.” Even tolerance is getting a bad name. “I bristle at the word ‘tolerance,’ ” remarks Andover’s Bobby Edwards. “I don’t know anyone who wants to be ‘tolerated.’ ”

Without diversity programs, why, students could . . . die! Asked why their schools can’t just shut up about race, diversity bureaucrats infallibly refer to Best Intentions, the story of Exeter graduate Eddie Perry, who was fatally shot while mugging an undercover police officer in 1985. But for us, the diversocrats imply, more students could meet Perry’s fate!

But far from exposing Exeter’s “institutional racism” in the benighted days before formal multicultural programs, Best Intentions unwittingly paints a portrait of the school just as it is today: warmly welcoming to all students and determined to help everyone succeed. It was in fact Exeter’s paternalistic attitudes toward black students as the victims of racism that facilitated Eddie Perry’s crack-up, just before he was to enter Stanford on full scholarship. Perry had become consumed with racial hatred during his four years at Exeter. Rather than trying to intervene, some of his teachers defended his hostile behavior as “legitimate black rage” and part of black identity. The school was busily inflating black students’ grades, having already admitted them with far lower test scores in a quest for diversity. Work that would earn a white student an F got a black student a C minus. “My position is very simple: We brought them here, and we have an obligation to get them through here,” explained an Exeter teacher quoted in the book.

Had Exeter not viewed militancy as the normal condition for black students, it might have broken through Perry’s fury before he and his brother viciously attacked a white guy in Harlem (one who happened to be armed).

The diversity-mongers also cite Black Ice, Lorene Cary’s account of her experience at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire in the 1970s, as evidence of their own indispensability. But the best that diversity consultant Randolph Carter could come up with to show St. Paul’s racial insensitivity is a passage in which Cary complains that the bubbly white girls who gaily troop through her room didn’t feel “guilty” about the ecological and social resources that their education was “sucking up.” But surely it is ludicrous to assert that most black students would be made uncomfortable by alleged white indifference to the environment. Cary’s discomfort comes from class anxiety in the face of her classmates’ easy sense of belonging to a privileged world; nothing useful comes of racializing her insecurity.

Nor is anything to be gained by racializing another unacknowledged source of stress for minority students: academic under-preparedness. Black and Hispanic scores on the national private-school admission test run about a standard deviation below those of white and Asian students; at the most competitive schools, the spread can reach two standard deviations. A history teacher from Massachusetts’s Groton School expresses a universal fact about prep-school admissions: “To get minority representation, we need to take greater risks.” Independent schools struggle to retain under-prepared minority students and blame themselves when they lose them. More multicultural programming is not the answer: a student who is failing trigonometry will be helped by tutoring and hard work, not by reading Beverly Tatum on racial identity.

Where the race industry has been, you can usually count on the gender industry muscling in, and the prep schools are no exception. In the area of gender-consciousness-raising, Andover is miles ahead of anyone else, but the competition is desperately trying to catch up. In 1996, Andover created the Brace Center for Gender Studies, a baby sister of the college feminist research outfits. Its director, Diane Moore, speaks the melodramatic dialect of college feminists: the purpose of the center, she told the Phillipian last year, is “to create ‘gender safe’ spaces for boys and girls to flourish.” The Brace Center provides research fellowships for students and faculty to explore “gender issues” (the only campus money available for students to do historical research, notes an American history teacher wistfully). Past and present projects include a study of gender and multiculturalism in the Bible through the lens of feminist and third-world liberation theology; the triumph of women rock musicians in a man’s world; and gendered images and advertising. The center brings speakers to campus—including, recently, the author of Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sports—and it sponsors “community forums” on such topics as “the relationship between the presumption of heterosexuality and the development of gender roles.”

Women’s studies tends to welcome all sorts of victimhoods: the Brace Center sponsored a faculty research project on male “African-American identity” as defined by “confinement, bondage, and resistance,” for instance, and a student research project on the barriers faced by the disabled. The resultant message: come into the big tent to protect yourself from able-bodied, heterosexual white males.

The charming Moore epitomizes the young, theory-saturated faculty who are initiating prep-school students into the anti-Western dogmas of the academy. Her major influences, she says, are Karl Marx and Michel Foucault, a French theorist who saw Western history as one long saga of veiled repression. Moore also cites as influences Judith Butler, a queer theorist and advocate of cross-dressing, famous for her impenetrable, jargon-ridden prose; Cornel West, Harvard’s resident rapper and Al Sharpton advisor (see “The Mau-Mauing at Harvard,” page 66), and bell hooks, a black lesbian theorist of the intersections of racism and sexism.

What about the criticism that Marx has been discredited everywhere but the academy? I asked Moore. Oh, she laughed, “that whole ‘end-of-history’ analysis is challenged by Marx himself. To say ‘Marxism has been discredited’ implies its exclusive association with the Soviet Union. But as an intellectual framework, it is still a powerful critique,” Moore explained. Of what? Of the “assumptions about a global increase in democracy and capitalism,” Moore offered. “The Marxist critical studies approach gives students an alternative framework with which to consider whether our current practices are something we want to promote.”

Maybe this mindset helps explain why the Brace Center has misdiagnosed gender relations at Andover about as spectacularly as Marx misjudged Western democracies. In a 2001 poll, six times as many Andover girls “strongly disagreed” that they “have personally experienced gender bias in the classroom” as “strongly agreed”; and three times as many girls “strongly agreed” as “strongly disagreed” that “their school administration equally supports/provides for athletics for both genders.”

It is only the Andover administration and faculty, by now thoroughly “sensitized to gender-related issues,” in the words of the dean of students, who see Andover as a “gender-dangerous space.” That is why the administration, egged on by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, strong-armed the student council last spring into requiring equal gender representation on the council. Explained faculty advisor Albert Cauz: “There’s been a perception that women were not getting equal access to this part of education at the school, and [that] caused a lot of pain on campus.”

Maybe the faculty were “pained,” but the students clearly were not. Student polls showed little support for gender gerrymandering. Student editorialists pointed out that girls held some of the school’s most prestigious positions, such as the editorship of the school newspaper. Ultimately, in a resounding rejection of female victimology and a triumph for democracy, the wider student body threw out the council quota system, presumably leaving the faculty gender-mongers to gnash their teeth in frustration.

The inability of girls to “get” the gender issue is a source of despair across the private-school universe. Diversity practitioners have an explanation for it: girls’ brains aren’t sophisticated enough yet. “Feminism is hard for adolescents to grasp,” sighs Ellie Griffin, head of counseling at Milton Academy. “It doesn’t take hold till college. It may be a question of cognitive development.” Diversocrats cite the “immature brain theory” to explain students’ lack of interest in race and racism, as well.

Yet maybe adolescents’ brains have all the cognitive capacity they need to recognize inequality, but what they see around them is equality. It must be challenging to convince an intellectually honest female prep-school student, surrounded by lavish opportunities and adults cheering on her every accomplishment, that she is a victim of the patriarchy. Even assuming that gross sexual injustice infects the workplace or married life (a dubious proposition), a 14-year-old girl has experienced none of it, so why burden her prematurely? Why not fill her brain with the beauties of poetry, painting, and physics?

There is no holding back the surge of feminist theory, however, into the secondary-school arena. Even boys’ schools have been overrun. The International Boys School Coalition has invited to its annual conference in June gender psychologist Carol Gilligan, whose work fueled the spurious claim that schools were destroying girls’ self-esteem, and Anna Quindlen, former New York Times chronicler of America’s growing list of victims. Rounding out the roster of speakers are representatives of the homosexual community: the director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which works in “K-12” schools—that’s “K” as in “Kindergarten”—to “ensure equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students,” and the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, the Harvard minister who challenges fundamentalist claims that the Bible condemns homosexuality. Finally, psychologist Michael Thompson will decry the “tyranny of toughness” with which boys are socialized. TR or Boy Scout founder Lord Baden-Powell would not feel at home at the Boys School Coalition.

The one service that the women’s studies industry could provide in these schools is a strong voice for chastity. That no one wishes to do. Milton’s Ellie Griffin rightly worries that parents are not setting limits for their children, but Milton will not itself say “ ‘sexual intimacy will not be tolerated,’ ” she acknowledges. Andover teaches its girls how to perform fellatio without a condom (the key: Saran Wrap). What about telling girls not to engage in sex in high school, period? “We’re not promoting any given response to sexual activity,” explains Diane Moore. The Bronx’s

Fieldston School has distributed condoms to seventh-graders, and demonstrated how to apply spermicide before inserting the condom-sheathed relevant part into a female or male body.

This solicitude for the sexual freedoms of their students derives from the sexual revolution and the feminist rejection of “patriarchal” sexual mores. It is also consistent with the growing prominence of gay and lesbian activism on campus. Given the importance of free sex in the homosexual life-style (a salience so pronounced as to have demolished long-standing public health protocols regarding sexually transmitted diseases), advocacy of traditional sexual morality could appear anti-gay. Thus, condoms, not monogamy or chastity, have become the officially sanctioned defense against AIDS.

And with the gay issue, we round out the trilogy of “identity politics” that prep schools have absorbed from university academic culture. Homosexuality is not tolerated at prep schools today (remember, “tolerance” is not a virtue)—it is celebrated. National Coming Out Day triggers weekend festivities in some places; throughout the year, prep schools invite speakers whose primary qualification is their sexual orientation.

Independent schools rival colleges in devising new ways to weave homosexuality into the curriculum. The Concord Review, a journal of high school history essays, recently received a senior essay from the Sidwell Friends School in Washington on Walt Whitman’s warped sexuality. The problem was not that Whitman was homosexual, argued the author, but that his writing ignored lesbianism.

All schools should punish the harassment of homosexuals and demand that students treat everyone with respect. But neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality is an accomplishment. Schools should reserve their celebrations for academic achievement. If schools want to highlight homosexuality, they should at least tell the whole story about the gay life-style, including the violent, often drug-induced, promiscuity that bred the AIDS crisis.

The prep-school diversity agenda could not be more destructive. Emphasizing the alleged injustices facing blacks today is a recipe for academic failure: students who believe that external factors (like discrimination) determine academic outcomes work less hard, and are more easily discouraged, than students who believe success results from effort and ability. Achieving students, several studies have found, are optimists who subscribe to the work ethic. Those who complain loudest about inadequate multiculturalism in their classes are the underachievers.

As the diversity bureaucrats admit, many minority students reach high school believing in equal opportunity. It makes no sense to convince them otherwise. As for those students already convinced that the world is stacked against them, reinforcing that sense only provides an excuse for not trying.

The best way to prepare students for success is to fill them with real knowledge and send them forth in such a headlong trajectory of accomplishment that, should they encounter some cretin spouting racial slurs, they will merely brush it off as beneath contempt. The likelihood that minority prep-school graduates will encounter career-threatening racism in the world that lies before them is slim. Most professions today are frantically searching for well-credentialed minorities. Elite law firms in New York City, for example, annually agonize over how to recruit, retain, and promote more blacks; they are desperate for candidates for the partner track.

Besides being self-defeating, exercises in racism-spotting are a waste of time. Students from the most prestigious prep schools are far from oversaturated with European and American history, Greek tragedy, or Enlightenment philosophy, however much they may know about women’s cosmetics choices. Nor is there much chance that the graduates will make up their knowledge gaps in colleges equally stupefied by identity-based theorizing.

Such intellectual powerhouses as Andover and Exeter once saw themselves as factories for a national elite. They searched for talented “youth from every quarter”—from all classes and all parts of the nation—whom they could fashion into a cadre of informed, public-spirited leaders. Today, elite private schools face an unprecedented opportunity: to create an integrated ruling class that will carry us beyond our self-lacerating obsessions with race. To do so, they need merely remove their artificial inducements to race-consciousness, educate their students diligently, and then let them loose to unleash colorblindness onto the world.


The Catholic Church

May 25, 2009

The report below exposes much of the abuse of power by the Catholic church.  They also ran illegal slave work camps.  Makes you think a bit before accepting the unquestioned holiness of the Catholic Church.

Catholic Church shamed by Irish abuse report

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press Writer Wed May 20, 7:07 pm ET

DUBLIN – After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools for Ireland’s castaway children.

The 2,600-page report painted the most detailed and damning portrait yet of church-administered abuse in a country grown weary of revelations about child molestation by priests.

The investigation of the tax-supported schools uncovered previously secret Vatican records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks all the way back to the 1930s.

Wednesday’s five-volume report on the probe — which was resisted by Catholic religious orders — concluded that church officials shielded their orders’ pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy.

“A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from,” Ireland’s Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse concluded.

Victims of the abuse, who are now in their 50s to 80s, lobbied long and hard for an official investigation. They say that for all its incredible detail, the report doesn’t nail down what really matters — the names of their abusers.

“I do genuinely believe that it would have been a further step towards our healing if our abusers had been named and shamed,” said Christine Buckley, 62, who spent the first 18 years of her life in a Dublin orphanage where children were forced to manufacture rosaries — and were humiliated, beaten and raped whether they achieved their quota or not.

The Catholic religious orders that ran more than 50 workhouse-style reform schools from the late 19th century until the mid-1990s offered public words of apology, shame and regret Wednesday. But when questioned, their leaders indicated they would continue to protect the identities of clergy accused of abuse — men and women who were never reported to police, and were instead permitted to change jobs and keep harming children.

The Christian Brothers, which ran several boys’ institutions deemed to have harbored serial child molesters and sadists on their staff, insisted it had cooperated fully with the probe. The order successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report. No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document.

The Christian Brothers’ leader in Ireland, Brother Kevin Mullan, said the organization had been right to keep names secret because “perhaps we had doubts about some of the allegations.”

“But on the other hand, I’d have to say that at this stage, we have no interest in protecting people who were perpetrators of abuse,” Mullan said, vowing to “cooperate fully with any investigation or any civil authority seeking to explore those matters.”

Buckley, who said she was abused at an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy, which ran several refuges for girls where the report documented chronic brutality, said the religious orders for years branded the victims as money-seeking liars — and were incapable of admitting their guilt today.

She criticized Mullan for suggesting that “today, having read the report, he doesn’t mind if the abusers are named and shamed. Isn’t that a little bit late for us?”

The report found that molestation and rape were “endemic” in boys’ facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers order, and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless.

“In some schools a high level of ritualized beating was routine. … Girls were struck with implements designed to maximize pain and were struck on all parts of the body,” the report said. “Personal and family denigration was widespread.”

Ireland’s myriad religious orders, much like their mother church, have been devastated by 15 years of scandals involving past cover-ups of abusers in their ranks.

The Christian Brothers have withdrawn from running several schools that still bear their name and the order has had few recruits in Ireland in the past two decades. Other orders are down to a handful of members, and their bases are closer to nursing homes than active missions.

“Most of these orders will literally die out in Ireland within the next generation or so,” said Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper in Dublin. “Many of them are already in wind-up mode. They lack the confidence even to seek new vocations (recruits), due to the stigma associated with their members’ shocking, scandalous behavior.”

The Irish government, which in 1999 apologized for its role in permitting decades of abuse and established the commission to nail down the full truth of the matter, has tried to use money to bring closure to the victims.

A government-appointed panel has paid 12,000 survivors of the schools, orphanages and other church-run residences an average of $90,000 each — on condition they surrender their right to sue either the church or state. About 2,000 more claims are pending. Irish Catholic leaders cut a controversial deal with the government in 2001 that capped the church’s contribution at $175 million — a fraction of the final cost.

Some victims emphasized, even as they began thumbing through the report, that nothing — not even criminal convictions of their long-ago tormentors — will ever put right their psychological wounds and make their nightmares go away.

Tom Sweeney, who spent five years in two Christian Brothers-run institutions where he was placed for truancy, says he suffered sexual abuse and beatings. He also has bitter memories about more everyday humiliations — such as being forced to wrap his urine-stained sheets around his neck and parade in front of other children when he’d wet his bed.

“It’s something you’ll never forget, the way you lived in these industrial schools,” he said.


Origins of Feminism

May 23, 2009

Very interesting arguments made that today´s radical feminism is just modern updated Communism.

What has become increasingly clear to me is that Feminism in the universities is little more than a set of rationalizations to promote dogma and all dressed up in a nice suit of intellectualism.  If you have enough people with an ax to grind (academics) who come together (in universities) and then pay them to spend their days coming up with justifications for their dogmas and prejudices then a lot of intellectual theories (gender theory, etc) will be produced justifying any cause imaginable, even absurd ones.  Humans have an amazing ability to rationalize almost anything.  As a famous philosopher once said. “Today I can prove to you that God exists. And tomorrow I can prove to you that he does not.”

Just because academics have PhDs and cloak their prejudices in complex intellectual arguments full of abstract jargon, does not mean that they are right, any more than the impressively dense intellectual output by traditional Catholics, Stalinist, or traditional Muslims means that they are right.  They all produced shelves groaning with weighty intellectual tomes justifying all kinds of crazy things.

It seems to me that the core of feminism is driven by the following personality types:

-butch lesbians who are so different from the mainstream and feel out of place in the world, that their only recourse is lash out at heterosexuals, men and feminine women.

-women who have had bad experiences in their lives and then channel their hurt into a general hatred of men, western civilization, normal women, etc.  I think that there is a lot of misdirected anger going along, and a lot of people who are never able to let go of a grudge.

-those who are simply along for the ride and cynically parrot feminist themes to get ahead.

——————————————————————————————–

American Communism and the Making of Women’s Liberation

July 12, 2003

sickle.gif(Reader’s Note: This summer I am revising and reprising important articles that predate my web site.)

“Rape is an expression of … male supremacy … the age-old economic, political and cultural exploitation of women by men.”

Does this sound like a modern radical feminist? Guess again. It is from a 1948 American Communist Party pamphlet entitled “Woman Against Myth”by Mary Inman.

In a recent book, Red Feminism: American Communism and the Making of Women’s Liberation, (2002) feminist historian Kate Weigand states: “ideas, activists and traditions that emanated from the Communist movement of the forties and fifties continued to shape the direction of the new women’s movement of the 1960s and later.”(154)

In fact, Weigand, a lecturer at Smith College, shows that modern feminism is a direct outgrowth of American Communism. There is nothing that feminists said or did in the 1960’s-1980’s that wasn’t prefigured in the CPUSA of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Many second-wave feminist leaders were “red diaper babies,” the children of Communists.

Communists pioneered the political and cultural analysis of woman’s oppression. They originated women’s studies, and advocated public daycare, birth control, abortion and even children’s rights. They forged key feminist concepts such as “the personal is the political” and techniques such as “consciousness raising.”

In the late 1940’s, CPUSA leaders realized that the labor movement was becoming increasingly hostile to Communism. They began to focus on women and African Americans. They hoped “male supremacy” would “bring more women into the organization and into the fight against the domestic policies of the Cold War.” (80)

Communist women who made up 40% of the party wanted more freedom to attend party meetings. After the publication of “Women Against Myth” in 1948, the CPUSA initiated a process of “re-educating” men that we recognize only too well today.

For example, in the party newspaper “The Daily Worker” a photo caption of a man with a young child read, “Families are stronger and happier if the father knows how to fix the cereal, tie the bibs and take care of the youngsters.” (127)

The Party ordered men who didn’t take the woman question seriously to complete “control tasks involving study on the woman question.” In 1954 the Los Angeles branch disciplined men for “hogging discussion at club meetings, bypassing women comrades in leadership and making sex jokes degrading to women.” (94)

A film Salt of the Earth, which critic Pauline Kael called “Communist propaganda”, portrayed women taking a decisive role in their husbands’ labor strike. “Against her husband’s wishes, Esperanza became a leader in the strike and for the first time forged a role for herself outside of her household… [her] political successes persuaded Ramon to accept a new model of family life.” (132) Portrayals of strong assertive successful women became as common in the Communist press and schools, as they are in the mass media today.

Communist women formalized a sophisticated Marxist analysis of the “woman question.” The books In Women’s Defense (1940) by Mary Inman, Century of Struggle (1954) by Eleanor Flexner and The Unfinished Revolution (1962) by Eve Merriam recorded women’s oppression and decried sexism in mass culture and language. For example, Mary Inman argued that “manufactured femininity” and “overemphasis on beauty” keeps women in subjection (33).

The founder of modern feminism, Betty Frieden relied on these texts when she wrote The Feminine Mystique (1963). These women all hid the fact that they were long-time Communist activists. In the 1960, their daughters had everything they needed, including the example of subterfuge, to start the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Feminism’s roots in Marxist Communism explain a great deal about this curious but dangerous movement. It explains:

  • Why the ” woman’s movement” hates femininity and imposes a political-economic concept like “equality” on a personal, biological and mystical relationship.
  • Why the “women’s movement” also embraces equality of race and class.
  • Why they want revolution (“transformation”) and have a messianic vision of a gender-less utopia.
  • Why they believe human nature is infinitely malleable and can be shaped by indoctrination and coercion.
  • Why they engage in endless, mind-numbing theorizing, doctrinal disputes and factionalism.
  • Why truth for them is a “social construct” defined by whomever has power, and appearances are more important than reality.
  • Why they reject God, nature and scientific evidence in favour of their political agenda.
  • Why they refuse to debate, don’t believe in free speech, and suppress dissenting views.
  • Why they behave like a quasi-religious cult, or like the Red Guard.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that feminism is Communism by another name. Having failed to peddle class war, Communism promoted gender conflict instead. The “diversity” and “multicultural” movements represent feminism’s attempt to forge “allegiances” by empowering gays and “people of color.” Thus, the original CPUSA trio of “race, gender and class” is very much intact but class conflict was never a big seller.

The term “politically correct” originated in the Russian Communist Party in the 1920’s. It usage in America today illustrates the extent society has been subverted. Feminist activists are mostly Communist dupes. The Communist goal is to destroy Western Civilization, which is dedicated to genuine diversity (pluralism), individual liberty and equal opportunity (but not equal outcomes).

We have seen this destruction in the dismantling of the liberal arts curriculum and tradition of free speech and inquiry at our universities. We have seen this virus spread to government, business, the media and the military. This could only happen because the financial elite in fact sponsors Communism.

“Political correctness” has dulled and regimented our cultural life. Recently here in Winnipeg, Betty Granger, a conservative school trustee referred to house price increases due to “the Asian invasion.” Granger was pilloried mercilessly in the press. People sent hate letters and dumped garbage on her lawn.

At a School Board meeting, the Chairman acknowledged that she is not a racist. He acknowledged that Asians have married into her family. Nonetheless, Granger was censured because, and I quote, “appearances are more important than reality.” This slippage from the mooring of objective truth is the hallmark of Communism.

The atmosphere at the meeting was charged. Mild mannered Canadians, all champions of “tolerance” they behaved like wild dogs ready to tear apart an wounded rabbit. Betty Granger repented and voted in favour of her own censure.

These rituals of denunciation and contrition, typical of Stalinist Russia or Maoist China, are becoming commonplace in America. They are like showtrials designed to frighten everyone into conforming. We have “diversity officers” and “human rights commissions” and “sensitivity training” to uphold feminist shibboleths. They talk about “discrimination” but they freely discriminate against white heterosexual men and feminine women. They use the charge of “sexual harassment” to fetter male-female relations and purge their opponents.

In 1980, three women in Leningrad produced 10 typewritten copies of a feminist magazine called Almanac. The KGB shut down the magazine and deported the women to West Germany. In the USSR, feminism has largely been for export. According to Professor Weigand, her “book provides evidence to support the belief that at least some Communists regarded the subversion of the gender system [in America] as an integral part of the larger fight to overturn capitalism.”(6)

In conclusion, the feminist pursuit of “equal rights” is a mask for an invidious Communist agenda. The Communist MO has always been deception, infiltration and subversion. The goal is the destruction of western civilization and creation of a new world order run by monopoly capital.

Kate Weigand’s Red Feminism demonstrates that the Communist agenda is alive and well and living under an assumed name.


More Feminist Exremism

May 23, 2009

A Rash of Feminist Hate Speech
May 3, 2005 | Carey Roberts

Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 12:18:19 AM by CareyRoberts

A woman named Mary took the open microphone. “Hello, my name is Mary Man-Hating-is-Fun,” she explained. “Ever since I learned to embrace my feminist nature, I found great joy in threatening men’s lives, flicking off frat brothers and plotting the patriarchy’s death. I hate men because they are men.”

The 40 women in the audience, many wearing scissors around their necks, laughed and clapped, then broke into a light-hearted song about castration.

This event, advertised as the Patriarchy Slam, took place at the University of New Hampshire on March 10. [www.rense.com/general63/dur.htm]

Some might be tempted to explain away this event as an aberration, perhaps some strange Wiccan initiation ritual performed at the end of a long New England winter.

For years, disdain for men has been nurtured in Women’s Studies programs around the country. Required reading for these courses typically includes the works of Andrea Dworkin, author of such books as The SCUM Manifesto. SCUM is an acronym for “Society for Cutting Up Men.”

How’s this for warm-hearted commentary on gender reconciliation: Every man is “the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman” and “Hatred of women is a source of sexual pleasure for men in its own right.” Those insights earned Dworkin the status of a feminist cult-hero.

But on April 9 Andrea Dworkin unexpectedly left this earthly existence.

Five days later arch-feminist Catherine MacKinnon, grief-stricken over the passing of bosom-buddy Andrea, showed up on the Stanford University campus. There MacKinnon launched into a paranoid rant about the ever-lurking patriarchy: “Just like terrorist attacks, acts of violence against women are carefully planned, targeted at civilians, and driven by ideology.”

Under normal circumstances, anyone making such irrational claims would be quietly led away to a padded cell.

But Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan only saw fit to add to the loonier-than-thou atmosphere: “There are many other prominent feminist theorists in our times, but none of their philosophy is as sweeping and profound as MacKinnon’s.”

Then on April 16 MacKinnon published an article in the New York Times in which she extolled the mentally-deranged Dworkin as “an inspiration to so many women.” Seeking to turn her into a feminist martyr, MacKinnon argued, “How she was treated is how women are treated who tell the truth about male power.” [www.nytimes.com/2005/04/16/opinion/16mackinnon.html?ex=1271304000&en=626a94afad2e2a76&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss]

But Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young took sharp exception to MacKinnon’s fig-leaf eulogy. “To put it plainly: Dworkin was a preacher of hate,” Young countered, and “if she deserves ‘credit’ for anything, it’s helping infect feminist activism…with anti-male bigotry and paranoia.” [www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/04/18/the_misdirected_passion_of_andrea_dworkin]

Anti-male bigotry and paranoia can have harmful consequences for women, as well.

Last November 17 Desiree Nall, a student at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL was cornered in a campus bathroom and raped. The police placed the campus on “high alert,” warning female students to stay indoors. Women were in a panic. An investigation ensued, eventually costing $50,000.

But the case began to unravel when Nall, a local women’s rights activist, gave inconsistent details about the incident and refused to assist with the composite sketches. Two days later, Nall called the police and admitted the whole thing was a hoax. Police officers later speculated that Nall was trying to “make a statement” about sexual violence. [www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2005/0420.html]

Equally worrisome is how some persons dismiss feminists’ malicious antics as harmless fun.

A few days ago Jeffrey Zaslow wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal about girls who wear T-shirts with the slogan, “Boys are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them.” Festooned with the light-hearted title, “Girl Power as Boy Bashing,” the article implies that hate speech is somehow a legitimate expression of female empowerment. [http://mensnewsdaily.com/blog/nononsensedating/2005_04_21_nononsensedating_archive.html]

Sometimes I feel a little silly stating the obvious, but girls wearing clothes that preach violence and hate is not normal.

It’s no coincidence that feminist hate speech revolves around the issue of domestic violence. That’s because years ago the rad-fems highjacked the federal Violence Against Women Act, and have relentlessly milked the issue to inflame the fears of women. This, despite the fact that women are just as likely as men to commit domestic violence. [www.law.fsu.edu/journals/lawreview/downloads/304/kelly.pdf]

The Violence Against Women Act, which underwrites the radical feminist cause to the tune of $1 billion a year, is set to expire on September 30. As of this writing, no renewal legislation has been introduced, and time is running short.

Is it possible that the end of feminist hate speech is at hand?

——————————————————————————

Common Sense Uncommon at MLA

Michael Capel

SAN FRANCISCO—Lesbian detective fiction of the 1920s, California’s Proposition 209, ebonics, Victorian-era fashion, and wax figures were among the topics discussed as 11,000 academics descended upon San Francisco for the annual Modern Language Association (MLA) convention from December 27-30. The MLA, the largest scholarly organization in America, includes professors and graduate students in English language and literature, foreign languages and literatures, and linguistics.

The purpose of the convention is threefold: for professors and graduate students to present their current research projects (which in many cases become the themes for college courses), for graduate students to try to obtain employment (many job interviews occur on-site), and for scholars to socialize, “network,” and, as the San Francisco Chronicle, which adoringly covered the conference, puts it, “talk shop.”

The conference was impressive for its scale—thousands of papers were presented at the convention’s over 800 panel discussions—but not for its range of views. To be sure, attendees were presented with a mind-boggling scope of subjects. In fact, many of the lectures were about subjects so esoteric or highly specialized that one cannot help but question their academic validity.

Rather, the convention was notable for its ideological conformity, specifically to the far left. It constituted the utmost definition of “preaching to the choir”: virtually no panelists or observers ever challenged other speaker’s positions, whether academic or political. Audience members could be seen nodding their heads in passive agreement with almost everything that every speaker said, no matter how outrageous.

Many panels were convened for the purpose of outright political proselytizing. One such example was “Kalifornia über Alles”—in which the papers read were titled “‘There Are Millions More like Me’: Proposition 187 and the Reconfiguration of ‘Race,’ Nation, and Culture”; “‘Angry White Men’ and ‘Whiny White Guys’: What’s Going on with White Men and Affirmative Action?”; and “Racists and Nativists Take the Initiative; or, Three Strikes against California.” Others included were “Representing the Left,” “Complementary Theorizing: ‘Black’ and ‘White’ Women Imagining Feminist Coalitions,” and “Psychoanalysis and Queer Theory: Strategies for Social Change.”

Most of those panels that actually dealt with academic subjects did so by revisiting the subjects with new radical themes. For example, conference attendees were treated to “The Politics of Gender in Irish Writing,” “Queering Dickinson,” “Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Postwar German Literature,” and “Queer Crossroads: Intersections of Queer Studies and Religious Approaches to Literature.”

Fear of Feminism?

There was an omnipresent delusion of oppression at the conference, as evidenced by the panel “Coping with Fear of Feminism: A Roundtable Discussion.” This was comprised of six professors telling self-congratulatory tales of how they have supposedly faced resistance as “feminists.” The overriding message of the panel was that it is becoming harder, not easier, to be a feminist in academia.

The first speaker, University of Cincinnati professor Lisa Marie Hogeland, claimed that middle-class, educated, white women are complacent, and that they must “wake up” to their truly oppressed status. This is essentially an utterance of Karl Marx’s theory of “false consciousness”—that the workers in capitalism may think that they are free and prosperous, but are really subjugated to the bourgeoisie. Herbert Marcuse—who had many fans (and a disciple, Richard Delgado, who talked about “Law’s Role in the Construction of Whiteness and Race”) among MLA presenters—adopted this concept to free speech, saying that people in America may think that they have freedom of conscience, but in reality the First Amendment only perpetuates and, as it were, masks the class structure.

Similarly, Hogeland argued that white women who have putatively achieved success—a Ph.D. and a prestigious, well-paying job for life—are really living a lie. To celebrate their success is “a seduction to act in bad faith.”

The solution, echoed by the second speaker in “But Nothing, I Am a Feminist: An Argument for Separatist Pedagogy,” is for the feminist professor to aggressively politicize her classroom. “Fear of feminism, in the end, is political,” Hogeland said, “and must be battled politically.” Thus, each time she steps in the classroom, she “fights” to advance her cause.

The next speaker, a black woman, added that she echoed the comments of the two previous speakers, but that as a minority woman, things have been even harder for her. She advanced the notion of “Africana womanism,” not just a black version of feminism, but rather a whole separate identity struggle that counts as its adversaries typical “white feminist” notions.

Another paper was presented by two professors at Bowling Green State University in Ohio who wanted to be co-chairmen of the English department. They explained the resistance that they encountered from the faculty and the administration. The detraction seemed to be on the grounds that a co-chairmanship would make administration difficult, but the speakers attributed opposition to what they decried as the conservative, “individualistic,” patriarchal, hierarchical structure that is the norm.

During the question and answer session, one speaker remarked that perhaps a “fear of feminism” by mainstream undergraduates was caused by a perception that the term “feminist” connotes a man-hating, anti-marriage, anti-family, lesbian identity, and that self-identified feminists should counter that perception. Predictably, as if on cue, a member of the audience stood up and said, “But some of us are lesbians!” The audience and several panelists then applauded raucously.

‘Can We Talk?’; or ‘Can We Listen?’

The “culture war” was the subject of a panel at the conference’s final session. “Can We Talk? Is Dialogue Possible between the Cultural Left and Right?” featured conservatives Sanford Pinsker, a professor at Franklin and Marshall College and editor of the National Association of Scholars’s journal,and Robert Alter, a professor at UC- Berkeley and founder of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics; and liberals Sandra Gilbert, a professor at UC-Davis and former MLA president, and Don Lazere, a professor at California Polytechnic State University and organizer of the panel.

This panel was among the more spirited of the convention, largely because it was the only one about political issues in which opposing viewpoints were actually invited. The four speakers were relatively well-balanced. With the occasional exception of Gilbert, the panelists offered sensible and civil dialogue.

Lazere identified “preaching to the choir,” distorting others’ ideas in the course of attacking them, attacking “straw-man” opponents, and shouting others down as the main impediments to civil dialogue practiced in various combinations by both sides. Gilbert, on the other hand, was less balanced in her attacks, employing such labels of the cultural right as, among others, “right-wing” and “fundamentalist.”

Pinsker, meanwhile, told the audience that he had stopped attending MLA conventions because “the trendy and the trivial have so elbowed out traditional scholarship” and most participants’ topics of study have become bizarre and “self-indulgent.” He poignantly asked, “can anybody in this room suggest a topic so outlandish, so loopy, that the powers that be would turn it down” as the subject of a panel? He complained that any effort to discuss “standards” or “excellence” is hardly welcome in the discipline.

He also raised what he saw as a major problem that has resulted: students with politically incorrect views are intimidated or even reprised into silence in the classroom. Consequently, a chilling effect results and the politicization of academics continues.

During the question-and-answer session, an audience member challenged Pinsker’s claim. Gilbert then commented that she had never seen an incident of intimidation of students. In one of the most important moments of the panel, though, Lazere responded that the behavior cited by Pinsker happens all of the time. The audience became silent on the issue thereafter.

Indeed, the audience did not share the panelists’ good spirit. Virtually all audience responses came in the form of diatribes against Alter and Pinsker. One self-identified “feminist” rose to complain that in the course of listing four or five of his favorite authors, Alter listed only white males. As several audience members rose in a chorus to demand why Alter hadn’t included, say, Virginia Woolf or George Eliot, Alter replied that this type of question/comment was precisely the manifestation of incivility that he was talking about—he called the responses “knee-jerk feminism,” because, he said, none of them bothered to look at his career, and if they had, they would know that he frequently assigns, teaches, and writes about female authors.

Pinsker said of the theme of the panel, “‘Can we talk?’ Of course. We do it all the time. ‘Can we listen?,’ however is another, much more complicated story.”

Ebonics, KFC, and Child Beating

The convention was honored with the presence of James Kincaid, the University of Southern California professor who is one of the leading advocates of sexual relations between adults and children. In his paper, “Victorian Constructions of the Beatable Child,” he argued that child-beating is the fulfillment of adults’ erotic orientations toward children. “Drooling erotic satisfaction could be disguised as duty” for the spanker, he argued. “The connection between sexual delight and child-beating has never been hidden.” No one in the session took issue with his bizarre assertions.

Meanwhile, Purnima Bose and Laura Elizabeth Lyons, graduate students at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, decried the “multiple levels of trauma”—on poultry workers, fast-food restaurant employees, residents affected by supposedly poor environmental practices, and chickens on farms—caused by Kentucky Fried Chicken in “Reading Transnationalism: Commodities, Corporate Genealogies, and KFC.”

The company was renamed KFC in recent years to de-emphasize the “fried” element of the product. The talk provided a convenient means for the authors to attack and ridicule, among other things, corporate America; the company’s culture (they called the original Colonel Sanders character “racist”), marketing (which “manipulates [and] exploits national identity”) and entrepreneurial aggressiveness and success; and its founder’s charitable work. It discussed the company’s “commodity chain”—which became a Marxist conception of the company’s production processes—and its effects on the participants therein.

Not surprisingly, in addition, several speakers defended the notion of ebonics (black English), which has come under fire as being absurd and demeaning to blacks. Speaking at the panel “Ebonics, Bidialectalism, and Bilingualism,” Dennis Baron, a professor at the University of Illinois, reminded the audience that the American Linguistic Society (ALS) endorsed ebonics not even as a legitimate dialect of English, but as a legitimate language in and of itself. He then complained that no one in the mainstream media or society paid attention to the declaration, and lamented that no one takes the ALS seriously, even though it is composed of college professors.

————————————————————————

March 7, 2003 [feather]
Faking the hate?, contd. Last week Daisy Lundy, a sophomore candidate for student council president at UVa, was the victim of a hate crime. According to Lundy, she was attacked by a heavyset white man at 2 am while rummaging in her car for her cell phone. Lundy alleged that the man slammed her head into the steering wheel, threw her to the ground, and informed her that “No one wants a nigger to be president.” The press–and the UVa community, and even the FBI–have been all over this incident.

But as the days pass, more and more people are beginning to express doubts about Lundy’s story, and wondering out loud whether the real story is not that Lundy was the victim of a hate crime, but rather that UVa has been the victim of a hate crime hoax. John Rosenberg reports that the skepticism about Lundy’s allegations is heating up in Charlottesville. Check out this comment board and see for yourself how local residents and UVa students are identifying the holes in Lundy’s story and the tactical advantage the alleged incident gives her in her campaign.

Such concerns may seem harsh. But they aren’t far-fetched: in recent years, American campuses have become the scenes of frequent hate crime hoaxes.

In 1998, a lesbian student at St. Cloud State University faked a hate crime against herself by cutting her chest and battering her face. She claimed two men attacked her as she came out of a vigil held for Matthew Shepard.

Also in 1998, members of Duke’s Black Student Alliance faked a symbolic lynching to enhance support for their agenda. Hanging a black doll from a tree at the site of a planned protest, they had the campus in an uproar about the depth of hate that must reside there: “Maybe it won’t be a doll next time,” opined the student newspaper.

In 2001, a gay student at the College of New Jersey was arrested for sending death threats to himself and a gay student group–but not before the campus community banded together to fight homophobia on campus, devoting an entire semester to a campus-wide focus on “hate crimes” and sinking both taxpayers’ money and student fees into the cause.

In 2002, an Arizona State student was caught faking anti-Muslim hate crimes. He had the campus up in arms after reporting that he had been pelted with eggs by students shouting racial epithets. But then he was found lying on the floor of a men’s room, in the very act of faking another hate crime against himself. There was a plastic bag over his head, the word “Die” was written on his face and chest, his mouth was stuffed with paper upon which racial slurs had been written–and it had all taken place inside a stall that was locked from the inside.

There are countless similar examples. There are also countless examples of students, faculty, and administrators acting as apologists for the hoaxers.

After the New Jersey hoax was exposed, the campus remained committed to the student’s trumped-up cause. “I would not want anyone to trivialize the seriousness of harassing and threatening behavior as a result of this case,” the college’s president said. “Whatever the source, such threats undermine our sense of safety and community.” “It was a wonderfully teachable time to talk about what we face,” said a college advisor who was not at all deterred by the news that the proof of campus hate had been disproved. “I hope the student body’s attitude is a bit more enlightened than it was before.”

At St. Cloud State, the campus lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student organization was unwilling to give up the political edge they had gained in the wake of the alleged hate crime. Proudly touting the fact that the event had led to “a giant step forward” for campus awareness of homophobia, the group refused to credit the student’s confession that she had faked her own assault, and even issued a press release stating that “We believe that the homophobic hate crime that occurred Oct. 20 at St. Cloud State University did in fact take place.”

Duke’s fakers had defenders, too. “The idea behind the act,” one apologist explained, “is being overlooked (as is usually the case). The idea is that the University has not changed. Blacks are allowed to be enrolled here, but the idea is the equivalent of the transition from field slave to house slave.”

The list goes on, and the agenda is clear. Hate crimes on campus–whether real or faked–are wonderful boons. They facilitate an agenda. They prove that racism, sexism, and homophobia really are the defining issues of our moment. They justify throwing money at campus advocacy groups, hiring minority faculty, establishing ethnic studies departments and creating diversity course requirements. They are useful tools for demanding universal mandatory sensitivity training on campus; useful, too, for convincing administrators to institute speech codes and draconian harassment policies. Student activists may be misguided at times, but they are not stupid. They see very clearly that a hate crime on campus equals a powerful lever for them. They understand that it does not matter whether a given “crime” is real or imagined, actual or staged: both are rewarded equally, sometimes even after a hoax has been exposed. Campus administrators love to mouth the platitudes of tolerance; they do so cynically, often without regard to fairness or facts. And in so doing, they have created a strong motive for student activists to produce the appearance of the hate they want so badly to fight.

Daisy Lundy’s assault was either the work of a dumb bigot or a clever provocateur. The facts remain to be seen, and her story remains to be disproved: just as it would be wrong to leap to the conclusion that she is faking, so, too, is it wrong to assume automatically that her situation is simply the inevitable result of the festering racism of UVa campus culture. All that’s fair to say right now is that her case is worth watching closely. And if that seems to add insult to Lundy’s injuries, Lundy has the long list of campus hoaxers to thank for it.

posted on March 7, 2003 10:18 AM


Women´s Studies

May 22, 2009

Women´s Studies, like Black Studies departments, were set up ostensibly to promote a serious intellectual analysis of women and blacks (Men´s studies are not allowed).  But in fact, once one looks beyond the intellectual veneer of such programs and departments, it quickly becomes apparent that they have turned into centers of extreme dogma and political advocacy.  They are run by entrenched feminists who hire other feminists who all think alike.

I was reading about one such class and it occurred to me that, instead of actually trying to examine women´s issues in a mature way, that these classes were seen as feminist women´s little worlds.  Men and non feminists could join the class, but woe be to them if they tried to bring up counter arguments or inconvenient facts against the holy tenants and sacred cows.  Instead, the class was seen as a convenient place to vent about the evils of men and patriarchy. This makes it seem more like a group therapy session than a proper academic class.  Of course opportunities for people, men and women to get together, express their frustrations, and blow off steam certainly have their uses.  A lot of people have all kinds of frustrations in their lives and often find it is helpful to bitch and complain to sympathetic ears.  Still a group therapy session of like minded people who just want to emote and gripe (with no back talk allowed), is not the proper way to run an academic class.

Imagine if there was a “masculinst” class where it was expected that men would dominate, and spend much of their time venting, and lecturing about how terrible “the matriarch” and women are…and any women who dared to express a counter opinion should expect to get a tongue lashing with the nodding approval of the professor.  We would consider such a class to be sexist, intolerant, repressive, inflammatory, full of hate speech and generally unacceptable.  Such a class would provoke an immediate outcry and it would be shut down with disciplinary action taken quite possibly taken against those who participated in it.  We would never allow it, and yet we allow such women´s studies courses to go on every day.

It is all so sad because I think that women´s issues (as well as black and men´s issues) are worth exploring, but in an atmosphere of true inquiery and open debate, not censorship, intimidation and dogma.  It makes me wonder why any guy, or girl for that matter, would bother to take a women´s studies class.  It costs a huge amount of money to be subjected to narrow ideology.  The only possible reason I can see is to derive some kind of therapy at being able to gripe and complain the whole time about the evils of males and the patriarchy.