We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

By punishing both the speaker and the person who remained silent, the dean of Georgetown’s law school sent a chilling message: if you are to participate in any discussion regarding grades and race, you must express the politically correct view of the matter. Silence is not an option.

But what the politically correct view actually is remains unclear. Must you say that African-American students in fact do as well in law school as their white counterparts? What if that is not, in fact, true? Can you say that African-American students don’t do as well, but that the cause for this disparity is racial prejudice? What if you don’t believe that? What is your obligation if a colleague expresses her honestly felt angst? Must you quickly interject your disagreement with her views? The message sent by Dean William Treanor is that it is best not to participate in any such conversation, and if a colleague’s comment catches you by surprise, you should walk away or turn off the Zoom call, thereby not expressing agreement or disagreement with the content.

In my view, neither professor said or did anything wrong. But even if they did, they had the academic freedom to express their heartfelt views or to remain silent in the face of a colleague expressing them.

Alan Dershowitz, referring to this incident. Dershowitz describes this as un-American, but sadly the very worst ideas spreading across the globe these days are largely American ones, being injected into other societies by large American companies and institutions that have wholly embraced them. Personally I would like to see a resurgence of older foundational American notions, but that is not the direction things are currently going.

14 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Jay Thomas

    Georgetown University boasts a very good men’s basketball program with a collegiate national championship and multiple Final Four appearances to their credit. They are currently coached by New York Knicks legend and Georgetown alum Patrick Ewing. What if Georgetown university decided that said men’s basketball team lacked diversity? What if they put policies in place to recruit less athletically accomplished high school students from backgrounds currently underrepresented in division 1 men’s basketball?

    Would the coaches of said basketball team express puzzlement and dismay that every year many of the weakest players on the team seemed to be from Asian backgrounds. Would the reason for this this also be some embarrassing mystery?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Basketball is a sport that encourages you to aim high. In Asian cultures one is encouraged to not stand out. That MUST be the right answer, Jay!

  • bobby b

    Never be the first to stop clapping.

  • Ferox

    Underpinning all of this is the implicit woke-leftist belief that education is a sort of social con game, and that if you make it to the end of the game with a sheepskin in hand you have won – actual skills and knowledge be damned.

    It’s easy for people who major in various flavors of Marxist rhetoric and deconstructive blathering to believe this – since their disciplines are essentially devoid of skills or knowledge.

    Ultimately, when a black student gets coddled through four expensive years of University and then handed a diploma without the requisite skills and knowledge that the diploma is supposed to represent, who has been cheated? Who has lost? And more importantly, who has won (i.e. who got paid all that easy money?)

  • you must express the politically correct view of the matter. Silence is not an option. … But what the politically correct view actually is remains unclear.

    It does indeed, even to the woke themselves.

    Sensitivity trainers often promote strange racial stereotypes, which can cause trouble for the schools that hire them. For example, Glenn Singleton, a wealthy “diversity” trainer, has claimed that “white talk” is “impersonal, intellectual, verbal” and “task-oriented,” while “color commentary” is “emotional.” … California Superintendent Jack O’Connell, a white liberal, was publicly embarrassed, and called racist after he repeated a belief that Singleton shared with him: that black people are loud.

    (The above paragraph is half-way through this article – h/t instapundit.) One can see the attraction of silence when on the receiving end of diversity training like that – but since silence is not an option, the OP accurately states that

    The message sent by Dean William Treanor is that it is best not to participate in any such conversation

    I entirely agree. If asked to attend diversity training, refuse on the grounds that you are only too likely to hear offensive racist views uttered by the trainers, let alone the audience.

  • John Lewis


    And which employer would dare not to employ said black student for any job he subsequently applied for irrespective of any shortcomings which would automatically exclude a non-privileged applicant?

    Coddling doesn’t stop once you get your diploma.

  • Cesare

    The politically correct view is very much worse than unclear, it is constantly changing. The only truly ‘safe’ position is silent obedience.

  • staghounds

    One thing that people who haven’t been to law school in the U. S. may not know-

    Law school grading is almost entirely anonymous and blind, and has been for longer than most current professors have been teaching. Students are assigned random numbers by which they “sign” their examinations. Teachers don’t know the names (or colours) of the students who get the As or Ds until after the test grades are assigned.

    There are only two ways in which an instructor can knowingly influence a particular student’s grade. Some classes allow a slight bump based on class participation, but that’s only given after the exam grades are assigned to the unknown numbers, and it’s only an up bump of maybe 10%.

    The other way is in seminar or practicum classes, which are only for second and third year students and make up a fairly small proportion of one’s overall schedule.

    That explains Sellers’ evident surprise at the fact that it turned out that these students clustered at the bottom, and her dismay that she couldn’t fix it.

    Maybe the solution is to assign exam numbers in a particular series to students from favoured groups. Or use a different shade of blue for their examination books.

    Or, as has already happened at some law schools, doing away with the systemic mysoginist racist white supremacist homophobic patriarchal xenophobic sexist racist concept of grades entirely.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    By punishing both the speaker and the person who remained silent

    Imo, the most terrifying part is that the person who remained silent was also punished.

    As I said last year on Samizdata comment thread:

    Remember the phrase of the Left from several months ago during the BLM protests/antifa riots??? “Silence is violence”.

    Silence Is Violence.

    This was all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. I personally know people who put this slogan on Facebook. When I asked them about it, they said they do not believe it literally but that “it’s important to show solidarity with the protests against racist police violence”. They really think that this was an important way to show their support, even though they did not believe it literally.

    That was not an empty slogan. People are terrified of saying anything that disagrees with the Left. Cancel culture, deplatforming, etc has already succeeded. People see that these things work. People also see that these things only come from the left not from the right. So they are submitting to the left.

    “Silence is violence.”

    Most people who vote Democrat do not agree with this. But the truth is that most people who allowed the Nazis to perpetrate the Holocaust did not even vote for the Nazi Party once.

    The Left is coming for us all. It may take hundreds of years, but the Left is coming for us all eventually.

  • Confucious

    In other words the modern Left has officially become more totalitarian than Communist Hungary. “Who is not against us, is with us,” János Kádár 1961.

  • David Clemo

    How long before every university waster demands to be awarded the degree that he paid £30k for?

  • Paul Marks

    Alan Dershowitz is a life long Democrat – but he is of the “New Liberal” sort who clung to the idea that there could be a Big Government taking care of education, health, old age, income support, housing (and so on) and still keep Civil Liberties such as Freedom of Speech – the modern establishment has abandoned that view and now sees Freedom of Speech as reactionary “Repressive Tolerance” – Herbert Marcuse.

    The modern establishment is, in many of its attitudes and beliefs, Frankfurt School Marxist – and that is Frankfurt Germany, not Frankfurt Kentucky, so calling these “American ideas” is not accurate. Nor is French Post Modernism “American ideas” – it comes from Paris France, not Paris Texas.

    What seems to happen is as follows – Marxist and other totalitarian ideas are invented in EUROPE (not America), but they are then eagerly taken up in America and people are not allowed to say they are Marxist – if you do, then the word “McCarthyite” is screamed.

    For example, in Germany Frankfurt School Marxist ideas are understood to be MARXIST – whereas in America they are called “liberal” ideas, which would make no sense to a German (because it makes no logical sense by any rational standard). Just as in France no one would call “Post Modernism” “liberal” (because it is not liberal) – but in America it is called “liberal” and anyone who opposes Post Modernism is called a “racist” – a position that would baffle an educated French person.

    American Corporations then take up these “liberal” (i.e. ANTI liberal – Marxist) ideas and enforce them – joined by other Corporations and other bodies.

    By the way the Soviet Union REJECTED the Frankfurt School as a perversion of Marxism (which it is) – which is why Mr Putin (who was educated in the Soviet period) understands American Frankfurt School Marxism for what it is – and REJECTS it. However, I refuse to accept that the only choices are the Frankfurt School Marxist West (the West is being destroyed by Frankfurt School ideas – for they are inherently destructive) and the corrupt dictatorship of Mr Putin.

    As for black students – the late Walter Williams said he was happy he had been educated before it was fashionable to like black people, happy because it meant people knew his academic qualifications were real (not fake – as in the case of Barack and Michelle Obama, and others). People had not given Walter Williams high marks because he was black – he had EARNED his qualifications.

    How much of the problem is environmental and how much of it (if any of it) is genetic? I have no idea as I am not a scientist – and scientists are not really allowed to research this matter. But I do know there is a cultural component – for example I have listened to Charles Payne and other black people explain how they were viciously attacked for “acting white” – even reading a book could be seen as “acting white” and lead to physical attack. Just as refusing to speak in the MADE UP “Ebonics” language that black people now use – a language that did not exist in the 1950s (no more than “Kwanzaa” existed before 1967 – it was MADE UP).

    It is hard to see how things made up within living memory can be genetic. A black person reading a book in the 1950s would not normally be beaten up by other black people, ditto no one insisted that people speak in a made up language, or celebrate recently made up “traditional events”.

  • Paul Marks

    Short version, modern Marxist and other totalitarian ideas are invented in Europe (not America), but in the United States these Marxist and other totalitarian ideas are rebranded “liberalism” (rather than anti liberalism) and anyone who rejects them is branded a “racist” (or other ist or phobe) – the totalitarian ideas are then enforced all over the Western World.

    The Russian and Chinese dictatorships think all this is amusing – in a pathetic sort of way. Which it is.

  • Of course, the dangerous ambiguity of ‘anti’-racist training that I mentioned above is not always an accident or the result of the internal contradictions of wokism. The white California liberal I mentioned in my first comment, who was called a racist for repeating what the diversity trainer had taught him, has his counterpart in ‘Papa’ John Schnatter, a CEO too sensible for wokeness who most unwisely hired a diversity company to defend against unfair woke attacks, but instead was skilfully framed by recordings of their own diversity-training phone calls with him. An instapundit link has the details.