Tag Archives: Political Correctness

After Trump’s Election, Pomona Orchestra Can Opt Out of Playing ‘Don Juan’

On Thursday, the Pomona College Orchestra informed its musicians that they could opt out of performing the song Don Juan in their upcoming concert because the piece—which centers around the libertine Don Juan character—could be insensitive to students who were upset by the election of Donald Trump.

“When I programmed Don Juan, the presidential nominees of the two major parties were known, and the smart money was on a Clinton victory…You have worked immensely hard on this piece, and it is a great musical accomplishment…I would prefer not to cancel our performances of it,” the conductor of the Pomona College Orchestra stated in an e-mail to the orchestra. “But I understand that some of you may have serious reservations, especially in the wake of Tuesday’s results, about appearing to embrace a narrative that presents women as objects to be pursued by wealthy males who can get away with it. And I need you to know that I respect those reservations…I extend to each of you the invitation to opt out of our performances of Don Juan.”

“The character of Don Juan was introduced in 1630 Spanish stage work. It was intended as a satirical morality play, the lesson being that, no matter how hedonistically one might live one’s life, sins must be atoned for at the end,” the email continues. “Don Juan is what we would charitably refer to as a ‘womanizer,’ and that with clearer vision we would identify as a sexual predator,” the e-mail states, adding that “the question of how to engage art that has a troubling backstory is always complicated.”

The e-mail added that the orchestra “will try to find guests to fill in any holes that get created…Assuming we still have enough of an orchestra to present the piece, the show will go on.”

Ultimately, no member of the orchestra chose to drop out of the performance, according to an e-mail update.  “I enjoy the music of Don Juan purely for its musical value rather than its programmatic inspiration,” stated a member of the orchestra in a message to the Independent.

The concert set featuring Don Juan will take place on Friday, November 18th and Sunday, November 20th at Pomona College’s Bridges Hall of Music. The Pomona College Orchestra consists of students and faculty of the Claremont Colleges as well as members of the community.

________________

Image: Flickr

Pomona College Poster: ‘Everyone is Problematic’

New students at Pomona College were welcomed to campus with posters all over their dorms giving instructions for “How to be a (Better) White Ally.” The signs state that white people should “acknowledge your privilege” and “apologize if you’ve offended someone,” adding that offensive language includes words like “sassy” and “riot,” which are “racially coded.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 11.31.16 AM

“Everyone is problematic and even the most educated and well-intentioned people will screw up,” the poster states. The sign then gives three steps for white allies to follow:

  1. Be prepared to make mistakes.
  2. Listen and apologize.
  3. Make sure to change.

“Remember, just because POC [person of color] #1 isn’t offended by something, does not mean that POC #2 will not be offended by it either.”

The poster goes on to states that “social justice is about BOTH elevating oppressed groups and simultaneously unpacking the privilege of dominant groups. These aspects are equally as important!” Additionally, the sign claims that all white people are racist. “Understand that you are white, so it is inevitable that you have unconsciously learned racism,” states the poster. “Your unearned advantage must be acknowledged and your racism unlearned.”

Further, the poster claims that white people should “just listen!” rather than explaining their own perspective. “Comparing a POC’s situation with some experience of your own is not helpful. You do not & can not understand our oppression!” The guide recommends that white people should “listen to a diverse selection of marginalized voices” and notes that “POC will always understand racism in a way that you cannot—you need to listen to them!”

Pomona College had several events last year that white students were not allowed to attend. Pomona College’s website states that “Pomona College seeks to maintain an environment of mutual respect among all members of its community” and that discrimination on the basis of race “destroy[s] the foundation for such respect and violate[s] the sense of community vital to the College’s education enterprise.”

Why I Can’t Vote for Hillary Clinton

 

On July 5th, F.B.I. Director James Comey announced that the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information during her time as President Obama’s secretary of state. However, he also castigated Mrs. Clinton for her “extremely careless” treatment of our nation’s secrets and, at a later congressional hearing, said that her early statements on the matter were “not true.”

But last week, in an interview on Fox News Sunday, Mrs. Clinton recalled Mr. Comey’s words rather differently. “Director Comey said that my answers were truthful,” she said, “and [that] what I’ve said is consistent with what I’ve told the American people.”

This statement is plainly false. So false, in fact, that it earned “Four Pinocchios”—a rating reserved for “whoppers”—from fact checkers at The Washington Post. But no matter: Mrs. Clinton and her various campaign surrogates continue to peddle this fiction at every turn in the apparent hope that doing so will make her misconduct disappear. In the meantime, the incredulity of those paying even the slightest attention has grown to astonishing proportions. As one television host put it, “it’s like they don’t think we have video tape.”

Mrs. Clinton’s willingness to lie with impunity—even as she faces one of the weakest general election candidates ever fielded by either party—is disturbing. Her first instinct at the onset of this email debacle should have been to take responsibility for her actions, laying out the full truth for the American people. Not only would this course of action have been the right and honest one to take, it would have been politically prudent. Mrs. Clinton could have defused this controversy at the outset and moved on, simply by being forthright.

But instead, she has deceived the American people over and over again, hiding behind complex, legalistic non-explanations of her private email server designed to thoroughly confuse those trying to make sense of her unacceptable conduct. What makes it so hard for Mrs. Clinton to tell the truth, even when the political cost of doing so would be negligible?

There are only two possible answers. Either Hillary Clinton is unable to bring herself to acknowledge publicly that she willfully mishandled classified information, or she knows that there is much more to the email story—the revelation of which would compromise her candidacy. In either case, Mrs. Clinton cannot earn my vote.

Donald Trump is odious. His irresponsible rhetoric, unconstitutional policy proposals, and his inability to handle criticism like an adult are all part of the reason why I will not cast my ballot for him this November. But just as Mr. Trump cannot help himself when he lashes out at the parents of a slain Muslim Army captain, Mrs. Clinton cannot suppress her compulsion to lie, even when doing so can only tarnish further her extensive career in public service.

That Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump are each unfit for the presidency is the main reason why both candidates have appealed to fear rather than pressing a positive case for their own selection. But I reject this notion that I must choose a liar over a blowhard, or vice versa, because one might be “worse” than the other. My vote is an affirmative endorsement of the person for whom it is cast; it must be earned.

It is for this reason that when I submit my ballot this November, I will vote for neither major party candidate. Instead, I will vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Though I do not agree with Mr. Johnson on many central issues, both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump fail to meet even the minimum standards of honesty and decency which we have come to demand from our public servants.

I’m sick and tired of the lies, gamesmanship, and crudity in politics. I can’t vote for a vulgarian, but neither can I cast my ballot for the dishonesty and dysfunction which Hillary Clinton represents.

Safe Space Shut Down After Anti-White, Anti-Male Statements Leaked

Recently, the Independent obtained screenshots from the “5C Women of Color” Facebook group. According to its description, the group—accessible only to its 1,100 approved members—is “for 5C students and alumnae who identify as women of color to reach out and serve as resources/support for one another.” Many of the page’s most popular posts mock those who do not identify as women of color.

In response to her adoptive white father making jokes at her expense, Sarah Weiyun Otterstrom (SC ‘17) posted “I just need to get this out. I hate having white parents so much.” Another student responded by instructing Otterstrom to tell her father that “his pale ass is worthless and the sun doesn’t even like him. Talk about his receding hairline, the fact that he probably looks 20 years older than he actually is, and that he probably has a small penis.”

Untitled.jpg

Additionally, Namrata Mohan (SC ‘16) stated that her family “ha[s] THE ‘white person voice’ they use when they want to make fun of white Americans.” Later, she continues to justify this “white person voice” by stating that although “it’s soooo lowkey shady,” it’s acceptable to “make fun of white Americans” because “like white people created #colonialism so i’m not mad.”

Rachel Song (PO ‘18), who posted in the group for advice on classes, stated that she was concerned about taking “PSYC141: Leading Entrepreneurial Ventures” because she is “afraid [it] is going to be a class full of white, male business bros.” Lanna Sanchez (PO ‘19) noted that she is “kinda scared to take a politics course in general since this space is typically dominated by white men.” Sanchez added that a class taught by a “conservative POC [person of color] professor” also “raised a red flag.”

Catherine Chiang (SC ‘16)—who was elected by her peers to be the senior class speaker at Scripps College’s commencement ceremony this year and who is an acting intern at the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment program—stated, “asian boys r a social issue,” to which other students responded “esp [especially] the nerdy ones who can just hide in their tech caves” and “they get all angry when it comes to how Asian men are asexualized/emasculated.” Kristine Lee (PO ‘17), a staff member of the Pomona College Asian American Resource Center who sits on the “Production” and “Mental Health” committees there added, “F*ck your masculinity whiny Asian cis bros this is why I only hang out with femmes.”

“As a feminine gay Asian woman,” Kristine Lee told the Independent, “I’m not interested in surrounding myself with the kind of possessive, toxic masculinity exhibited by the type of Asian American men we were discussing in the post.” In response to these discussions, Ji In “Kit” Lee (PO ‘17), another Pomona College Asian American Resource Center staff member, wrote “mehehehe I love this group.”

Untitled2

Not all students of color agree with the page’s sentiments. Carlos Perrett (PZ ’18), who spoke with the Independent, expressed his disapproval of the statements made on the 5C Women of Color page. “Facebook groups like the 5C Women of Color not only lack inclusion, but also fail to meet their purposes of creating a space of support. Instead these groups have become the perfect outlet for shaming, hostility, and discrimination.” Earlier this year, Claremont saw similar safe spaces intended to be “pro-POC, pro-black, and anti-white supremacist” established with clauses stating that “[w]hile you may want to invite a white friend or ally, to make this a safe and comfortable space for other POC, we ask that you do not.”

After the Independent reached out to members of the 5C Women of Color group for additional comment, the page was shut down. “We found out that screen shots of our interactions were taken by people who work for the Claremont Independent, and they’re geared to write an article,” wrote Kit Lee (PO ’17). “In order to preserve the confidentiality of past conversations and healthy discussions that have occurred in this group,” she continued, “we will shut down the group … to prevent whoever is the mole from leaking more screenshots to the CI.”

___________________________

Image Source: Facebook

Scripps “Unofficial Survival Guide” Legitimizes “A General Distaste or Hatred of White People”

Over the summer of 2015, two Scripps College students spent approximately 500 hours creating the “Unofficial Scripps Survival Guide.” The 217-page guide, intended to help new students acclimate to the college, features lengthy discussions of topics ranging from food and money management to gender identity, race, and privilege.

The authors state that the term “Preferred Gender Pronoun” (PGP) should be replaced with “Gender Pronoun” to avoid offending students whose gender identity differs from their biological sex. “While it may seem new and positive, PGP is actually not a good thing,” they write. “There’s nothing wrong with Gender Pronouns! However once we say ‘preferred’ we’re invalidating the entire idea. How people identify is how they identify; it is not a ‘preference.’” Another section dedicated to being a “Trans* Ally” prompts new Scripps students to ask for each of their peers’ gender pronouns in order to avoid unwittingly enforcing the gender binary when they interact with others. The guide also sets forth what is required to become an authentic “ally” to marginalized groups: “Enacting a life of accountability and ownership over your own domination and privileges is the only way you can exhibit allyship.”

The Scripps Survival Guide defines “White Privilege” as “the set of unearned benefits white people gain as a result of systematic racism and discrimination” that “benefits even those white people who are disadvantaged by other forms of institutionalized oppression like ableism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.” The authors add that “asking people of color to educate us about racism,” “asking people of color to absolve us of our guilt,” and “identifying the ways that we are engaging in the perpetuation of white supremacy” are all things that “we need to stop doing right now.” In a section titled “Dear white students,” the authors explain that “[r]everse racism cannot exist because white people maintain power over people of color” and “because there are no institutions that were founded with the intention of discriminating against white people on the basis of their skin [color].”

Since the guide’s publication, several student movements across the 5Cs, including a “Hurting and Healing” event held by The 5C Students of Color Alliance, have advocated for racially segregated spaces (called “Safe Spaces”) which are off-limits to white students. The Motley, a student run café on Scripps’ campus, has already held events exclusively for people of color. The guide justifies this segregation by speaking to the “political” and “harm[ful]” nature of the “space” for people of color, as well as by arguing that creating segregated spaces is simply “the least we can do” for non-white students. Throughout the sections regarding racism, the authors of the guide agree that “a general distaste or hatred of white people” is a legitimate response to “oppression.”

Sections of the Survival Guide addressing “Mindful Language” and “Inclusive Language” tell students to watch what they say inside the classroom, identifying “capitalism and consumerism” as concepts which “can lead to [the] dangerous promotion of certain ideals and widespread circulation of stigmatizing information.” The guide also castigates “those who oppose trigger warnings,” accusing these people of being uncaring and “potentially sexist, ableist, homophobic, racist, classist, etc.”

The survival guide also roundly condemns ableist language, denouncing the use of words like “insane” and “stupid” as “using disability as a metaphor to describe something negative” and “reinforcing [the idea] that mentally ill people shouldn’t be listened to, believed, or valued.” Students also are urged to use the term “differently abled” rather than “disabled” when referring to those with physical disabilities because “differently abled” represents the idea that “disabled people are just as valid as everyone else” and that “being disabled in a [sic] ableist world means lack of power and access.” The authors conclude the section by urging students to replace words such as “crazy,” “dumb,” and “stupid” with words like “unruly,” “moody,” and “dismantled.” The authors also advise against describing young people as “kids” or “teens,” observing that such terms are “patronizing” because of how they “belittle and demean young people’s power” and play into the assumption that “teens are incapable of certain leadership roles or don’t have the mental capacity/self control/understanding to articulate or make good decisions.”

Though the Survival Guide is unofficial, administrators at Scripps College have expressed support for it. “This student-conceived and student-authored publication is an excellent example of how serious Scripps students are about supporting the newest members of the Scripps community,” stated Charlotte Johnson, Scripps’ Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, who recently described the phrase “#Trump2016” as “racism” and “intimidation.”

Edit: An earlier version of this story misquoted the survival guide’s suggestions for addressing white privilege.

_________________________

Image: Scripps College

Student Senator: Picture of Gun is a Threat to “Black Mental and Emotional Health”

Early Monday morning, Gregory Ochiagha (PZ ’18), a Student Senator at Pitzer College, sent out an email to the student body criticizing a mural recently painted on campus. The mural, painted by Selena Spier (PZ ’19), depicts a handgun with flowers coming out of the end and was approved by the Pitzer College aesthetics committee.

“It’s truly in bad taste to have a large depiction of a gun in a dorm space—especially when students of color also reside there,” states Ochiagha. “Now let’s imagine there were countless videos of white teenagers, white teenagers that look like you, or your brother or your sister, get shot to death by police officers. Imagine scrolling down Facebook everyday and seeing a new video of the same thing, over and over again. Really put yourself in that headspace. Then ask yourself whether it’s the brightest idea to have white teenagers, who have a very real fear of getting shot, see a large gun every time they want to get food from the dinning [sic] hall.”

Ochiagha continues, “My Black Mental and Emotional Health Matters. I shouldn’t be reminded every time I leave my dorm room of how easy my life can be taken away, or how many Black lives have been taken away because of police brutality. This is emotionally triggering for very obvious reasons. And if you want to belittle or invalidate by [sic] black experience, I live in Atherton, come thru, let’s have that idiotic conversation.”

Jessica Folsom (PZ ‘19) responded by providing additional background on the mural. “Just to preface this, I am not trying to dismiss how you feel or belittle your experience as a student of color,” she states. “This mural is actually representative of a nonviolence movement to protest the Vietnam War in the 60s. There’s a famous photo of a protester putting flowers in the barrel of a National Guardsman’s rifle and everything.” Folsom continues, “I thought it might be an important distinction to make between what the mural actually represents and perhaps the romanticized aesthetic of a gun which someone (maybe you?) could potentially mistake this for. I hope this helps.”

Not all students felt that Ochiagha’s reaction was warranted. “I actually love the mural and thought it was obvious that it was about the flower power movement/a message of anti-violence,” wrote Jennifer McNamara (PZ ‘19). “It was approved by the aesthetics committee and the artist has freedom of speech within her design. I’m excited to see it finished.”

Alessandra Elliott (PZ ‘18) added, “I love our radical liberalism. However, I’m not in love with the trend of shutting down voices that don’t align with liberal ideologies.”

Spier plans to modify her mural. “I spoke with Gregory earlier and we agreed on a modification that preserves the integrity of the original piece while avoiding any potentially triggering content—it’s a change I was absolutely happy to make in the interest of creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone in my community,” Spier told the Claremont Independent. “I have absolutely no right to decide whether or not my artwork is offensive to marginalized communities—nor does anyone else in a position of privilege, racial or otherwise.”

 

 

___________________

Image: Facebook

Social Justice Warriors Are the Reason Donald Trump Exists

Over the past couple weeks, students at colleges across the country have retreated into their safe spaces to protest the “hate speech” that is Donald Trump’s name. Never to be left out of a big PC trend, the Claremont Colleges have seen plenty of oversensitivity to Trump as well. Students and administrators at both Scripps College and  Pitzer College have referred to the phrases “#Trump2016” and “Make America” as “harassment,” “intimidation,” and “racism,” among other things. What these students seem to be missing is that their outrage is exactly what has made Trump’s candidacy so successful.

Political correctness has reached a point where it is essentially impossible to have an honest, open conversation about sensitive issues. Trump’s rise is nothing more than a direct response to the growing trend of language policing, and nowhere has this pattern of offense-taking victim culture been more evident than right here in Claremont.

At Pomona College, students protested an America-themed party because they felt that it supported “imperialism, violence, and racist power structures.” A mad scientist-themed party was opposed because the student government felt that the party’s name—“Mudd Goes Madd”—“trivializes mental health and disability issues.”

At Pitzer College, the Student Senate rejected a proposed Yacht Club because they thought that the word “yacht” was offensive to low-income students. Just weeks later, that same Student Senate did not approve a student’s request to start a campus branch of the national DreamCatcher Foundation—an organization that helps to give happy experiences to terminally ill hospice patients—because, even though the Student Senators believed that it “seems like a worthy organization in their goals and mission,” they were concerned that the word “DreamCatcher” was a form of cultural appropriation. This despite the fact that the CEO of the national organization is Native American herself.

The administration at Scripps College rescinded its invitation to George Will to speak at the Malott Public Affairs Program, a conservative speaker series intended to provide students with an opportunity to hear viewpoints they disagree with, because they didn’t agree with the conservative views Will expressed in a column he had written for the Washington Post. A cupcake-decorating event at Scripps was criticized for being a “garbage, cis, white event” and  “incredibly violent to trans women,” and students who defended the event were called “racist.” Just a few weeks later, the same on-campus coffee shop that hosted the cupcake event allowed only “people of color and allies that they invite” inside. Minority-only “safe spaces” appeared at Pomona College as well, where students were told that the presence of white students would prevent their nonwhite peers from feeling “safe” and “comfortable.”

The political correctness movement is losing traction because students are growing tired of being told what lecturers they can listen to, what parties they can go to, what clubs they can start, what charities they can support, and how they can decorate their cupcakes.

This same principle applies to most Americans on national political issues. Any opposition to illegal immigration and any efforts to call out radical Islam have been deemed unacceptable by the PC police. Much of Trump’s appeal comes from his brash, unapologetic demeanor and ongoing crudity in the face of public resentment. He maintains his strong views on immigration despite frequently being called a racist by progressives. He is willing to speak out against radical Islamic terror even when his critics try to call him an Islamophobe. He’s the only presidential candidate in American history who can talk about the size of his penis without committing political suicide. The fact that Trump is willing to confront societal taboos and revel in other people’s shock and distaste hits home with those who are tired of rampant PC culture dictating what they can and cannot do with their lives.

Overwhelmingly, Trump is supported by those Americans that feel constantly derided by elites in academia, the media, and Washington, DC. It only confirms Trump’s narrative when students and administrators at some of the most elite, exclusive, and expensive colleges in the country describe the act of writing Trump slogans on campus as “hate crimes” and acts of “violence.” These sorts of reactions communicate to the American working class what Trump has been peddling throughout his campaign: the upper echelons of society find your very presence offensive and they will seek to exclude, or even—in their ideal world—oppress you. How do you imagine that looks to Trump supporters? Every time a social justice warrior tries to call out Donald Trump over supposed bigotry, he, she, they, or ze adds more fuel to the Trump fire. Ah, the irony.

 

_________________________________

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Political Correctness is Destroying Feminism

A few days ago, I awoke to a mass email from Minjoo Kim, the student body president at Scripps College, condemning a “racist incident” that had taken place the night before. The incident in question? A Mexican-American Scripps student had awoken to find the words “#trump2016” written on the whiteboard on her door. The email claimed that the student was targeted because of her race and described the Trump presidential slogan—nay, hashtag—as an act of violence, and a “testament that racism continues to be an undeniable problem and alarming threat on our campuses.” This email was followed shortly by a message from our Dean of Students, Charlotte Johnson, chastising those students who believed that Kim’s email had been an overreaction to the incident. Johnson pointed out that Scripps (in theory) respects the First Amendment rights of its students and community members, but that in this case, the “circumstances are unique.”

Since the same sort of thing happened a week earlier at Emory University, with great cries of racism and threats against students who advocate for particular presidential candidates, it seems that there may be a special, more flexible version of the First Amendment for college administrators.

Scripps’ need to constantly respond to hurt feelings and incidences of racism—whether real or imaginary—meant that residents of the dorm where this happened had to go to a mandatory meeting in which Resident Advisors gave out instructions on how to behave if you see something offensive written on a student’s whiteboard. We were told that if we see something “offensive,” we should not erase it; that would be like pretending it never happened. Instead, we’re supposed to take a paper towel and tape it over the offensive message so that others walking down the hall need not be affected (see: triggered) by the message, then report it. Indeed the student who experienced this “act of racism” did not simply erase the whiteboard drawing and move on with her day, she wrote a notice calling attention to her status as a victim, hung it next to the #trump2016 message and posted it on Facebook. The takeaway? At a college for independent women, victimhood bequeaths status. But that’s nothing new.

For the past few evenings I have been taking part in an immensely detailed congressional simulation, for a government class at neighboring Claremont McKenna College. For this exercise we are simulating a congressional session taking place during the first year of a Donald J. Trump presidency. The simulation has been labor intensive, extremely informative for the students participating, and lots of fun. It plagues me to think that there are students on my campus who would not only be uncomfortable with the simulation, but deeply offended. How is it possible to teach politics and government in an atmosphere like this? How will my classmates survive the upcoming California primary?

Personally, I am a Cruz supporter. I’m just as perturbed as the next person that Donald Trump is a legitimate candidate for President of the United States. But he is just that, a legitimate candidate. Seeing his name (or a dopey political slogan) should not be enough to send an intelligent college student running for her safe space in tears. Scripps, like most women’s colleges, claims to pride itself on educating and shaping women to bravely go out and face a tough world. Does administrative coddling of behavior like this not devalue the Scripps brand? Surely I cannot be alone in believing this event is an embarrassment, and hopefully not representative of the institution as a whole. I would hate to see my school become another nutty, culturally Marxist institution, pushing this bizarrely weak, fainting couch, victim-feminism. Bizarre and coddled reactions like these legitimize the campaign of someone like Donald J. Trump.

_______________________

Image Source: Flickr