Tag Archives: progressive

Pomona Progressives Create Whites-Only Club To Fight Racism

On Monday evening, a number of White Pomona College students formed a new club called “We’ve Got Work To Do: White People for Deconstructing Whiteness.” The club, open to students from all five of the Claremont Colleges, aims to “work on owning our racism, deconstructing our Whiteness, and to engage in movement & action toward dismantling White Supremacy.”

“White people at the 5C’s: we’re all racist. we’re all microaggressive. [W]e are all not only complicit in, but actively perpetuating white supremacy,” states an advertisement for the group. “Pretending that we are not racist and hoping that no one will discover our racism really doesn’t cut it. [W]e need to ACTIVELY be doing work to deconstruct our whiteness (and holding our peers accountable in doing the same).”

“Recognizing that White identity is a self-fashioned, hierarchical fantasy, Whites should attempt to dismantle Whiteness as it currently exists,” explains the group’s Facebook page, quoting Ian Haney López, a leading racial justice scholar. “Whites should renounce their privileged racial character, though not simply out of guilt or any sense of self-deprecation. Rather, they should dismantle the edifice of Whiteness because this mythological construct stands at the vortex of racial inequality in America.”

Though the community is meant to be an open space for the discussion of students’ Whiteness and its negative impacts on people of color, students within the group must be “white people who believe white supremacy exists, whether [they] have owned that [they themselves] are racist or not.” The founder of the group clarified that mixed-race students with a White parent would be able to attend, but only if they had the end goal of deconstructing their learned Whiteness. Additionally, White students who do not believe in White supremacy are not welcome.

“The group is trying to address racism in the white community. We’re not racist and we don’t hate white people,” wrote Kate Dolgenos, a senior at Pomona who joined the organization, in an email to the Independent. “I’m really happy this group has formed and I’m excited to see what we’ll do throughout the semester.”

Not all students are as enthusiastic, however. “While I cannot comment on how the group intends to define and ‘deconstruct’ a white identity, as a cisgendered, politically liberal white male,” Dalton Martin, a junior at Pomona, said, “I feel this group may do less for persons of color rather than more. I feel that trying to codify and effectively martyr an image of white culture detracts from attempts to engage and stand in solidarity with marginalized identities.”

International students, too, found the group to potentially be harmful. “Outside of the United States, being ‘white’ is not a unified and malignant identity,” wrote one international student in an email to the Independent. “I think their brash generalization invalidates the experiences of many people who would be considered White by their standards, which does not harmonize well with embracing one’s own identity and self-love.”

“We’ve Got Work To Do” will soon be meeting to discuss their short- and long-term objectives as a community as to how to approach and handle their Whiteness, as well as how their Whiteness affects communities of color both on- and off-campus.

_________________

Image: Flickr

How Campus Progressives Ruined Liberalism for the Rest of Us

I have some confessions to make: I am a liberal. I am pro-choice. I favor the legalization of gay marriage and marijuana. Given supreme authority, I would drastically cut our military budget and use the money to institute a single-payer healthcare system (certainly not something many of my colleagues at the Independent would agree with). I even voted for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, in the last presidential election. However, despite my overwhelmingly liberal political leanings, the progressive movement – particularly as I’ve seen it manifested on college campuses – has made me embarrassed to identify myself as a liberal.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that Fox News spends only 45 percent of its airtime on factual reporting, while it spends 55 percent of its airtime on opinion pieces and commentary. It was unsurprising that a news source frequently lampooned as opinion-driven and biased spends the majority of its time reporting opinion pieces. But why is Fox News considered such a horrible and untrustworthy network when the same study showed that the liberal MSNBC network spends a whopping 85 percent of its airtime on opinion segments and only 15 percent on factual reporting? If Fox’s penchant for focusing on opinion is worthy of criticism, doesn’t MSNBC’s more egregious example of the same sin merit even more? The contempt for Fox I hear coming from liberals coupled with a lack of criticism towards MSNBC suggests that many within the liberal movement don’t want factual journalism at all, but rather opinionated journalism with a liberal bent. In fact, though they would have you believe they merely support truth in journalism, many liberals openly disregard the truth – and criticize those who don’t – when it conflicts with their worldview.

The most recent example that comes to mind is the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. My fellow liberals decided from day one that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown, was in the wrong. Before autopsy results were released, without reading the eyewitness testimony, and with no regard for forensic evidence, the left prejudged Wilson as guilty. Although I personally prefer to hear evidence before forming an opinion, I can understand why –especially in light of the slanted media reporting on the case – many people would leap to the conclusion that Wilson was guilty. What was appalling to me, however, was that when the evidence that was released proved far from sufficient to suggest Wilson’s guilt, the vast majority of the left was still calling for Wilson to be punished. Protests predicated on the assumption of Wilson’s guilt, like the march to Claremont City Hall, were held nationwide after a grand jury failed to indict Wilson, seemingly unconcerned with the fact that the evidence against him was inconclusive at best.

Campus liberals acted similarly in the case of Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who has vowed to carry a mattress around campus with her until her alleged rapist leaves the school. Rallies in support of Sulkowicz were held at college campuses across the nation, including here in Claremont. Despite the fact that criminal charges were never filed and the man who ostensibly assaulted her was found not responsible by Columbia, supporters of Sulkowicz have continued to refer to him as her “rapist” and harass him on and off campus (have they never heard of the Scottsboro Boys?). The Columbia Spectator decided to print the name of the accused despite the fact that the university had not found him responsible for any wrongdoing (did the Spectator learn nothing from the media’s handling of the Duke Lacrosse case?). This uproar will affect the man for the remainder of his time at Columbia and will continue to follow him for the rest of his life. Because the alleged assault fit into campus liberals’ dominant narrative on sexual assault, the overwhelmingly liberal students of Columbia, the Claremont Colleges, and other elite institutions were eager to risk ruining a potentially innocent man’s life by naming him a rapist, even as new evidence emerges, all of which seems to support the alleged attacker’s innocence.

To question the guilt of Darren Wilson was to be a racist, and to question the veracity of Sulkowicz’s story was to be a sexist rape apologist. Doing either of these things would almost certainly get you branded as a conservative. As a liberal who did both of these things, I have been appalled by the irrational mob mentality displayed by my fellow liberal students at events like the Ferguson protest and the “Carry That Weight” march in support of Sulkowicz. I am struggling to come to terms with this new reality wherein sticking to an objective view of the facts is considered a conservative trait. The campus left’s complete unwillingness to adjust their opinions of these cases to fit with the facts shows a thought process completely devoid of reason. Facts are apolitical. To question prevailing liberal thought on Ferguson and Columbia because of the evidence (or lack thereof) is not a conservative position. It is a realistic one. To question prevailing liberal thought on Ferguson and Columbia is not to deny the existence of racism in law enforcement or sexual assault on college campuses, but to acknowledge that not every individual case fits those patterns.

Ferguson and Columbia are unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to college liberals privileging (if I may appropriate one of their favorite words) narrative over evidence: As it turns out, trigger warnings (well-intentioned though they may be) actually do more harm than good, and controlled exposure to trauma can lead to a quicker recovery from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder than complete avoidance. According to the founder of the Trauma Studies program at King’s College, London: “You cannot get a person to avoid triggers in their day-to-day lives. It would be impossible…Instead of encouraging a culture of avoidance, [the media] should be encouraging exposure…Most trauma survivors avoid situations that remind them of the experience. Avoidance means helplessness and helplessness means depression. That’s not good.”

Women do not make $0.77 for every dollar men earn for the same work. When controlling relevant variables such as profession and hours worked (seemingly obvious measures conspicuously missing from the original $0.77 study), the wage gap almost completely disappears. Childless women in their 20s actually make as much as 8 percent more than their male counterparts.

President Obama hesitates to refer to the Islamic State as an Islamic extremist group and makes an effort to downplay what are actually alarmingly high levels of sympathy for extremist movements in Muslim communities worldwide.

It is most likely untrue that 1 in 5 female college students is sexually assaulted. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number may be closer to 6 in 1000 . This data, collected over the course of 18 years and with a response rate of 74 percent, is much more reliable than the 1 in 5 study, which sourced its data only from two large schools, had a response rate of 43 percent, and did not even take into account whether or not the people being surveyed felt that they had been assaulted (a similar study found that 49 percent of women classified as having been raped did not think they had been, while only 47 percent did). The author of the 1 in 5 study himself said “We don’t think one in five is a nationally representative statistic.” The list goes on and on.

The fact that my fellow liberals seem so unconcerned with evidence makes it hard for me to sympathize with their cause. Although I may agree with them on many issues, the way in which we arrive at those conclusions differs drastically. I thoroughly believe that most of the liberals here at the Claremont Colleges do what they do with good intentions; as liberals we should help the disadvantaged and strive to create positive social and political change. However, what is stereotypically “liberal” is not always right, and what fits most cleanly into our belief systems is not always true. Unwillingness to listen to opinions differing from the mainstream and attempting to silence opposing viewpoints (including the destruction of print issues of the Independent around campus) is completely illiberal and is an insult to the campus Free Speech Movement that liberal students championed 50 years ago. Silencing minority viewpoints does not prove them wrong and says more about those doing the silencing than those being silenced.

The only rational way to approach divisive political issues is to base your opinions off of the facts that are available to you. Liberals and conservatives have always disagreed on how those facts are to be interpreted, and we should be glad for it. Neither conservatives nor liberals are correct 100 percent of the time. However, it seems lately that evidence has become a nonissue for many on the left.

Unless my fellow liberals learn to stop shoehorning every situation to fit the narrative they are trying to construct, the left of tomorrow will be made up of individuals who are unable to distinguish their beliefs from reality. Those of us who can make this distinction will not want to associate with the liberal movement any longer. Where will we go?

Why Malott Matters

Since 2005, a committee composed of several faculty members, alumnae, and students has met every spring to begin work on selecting a conservative speaker to invite to Scripps for the following year. All of this is made possible by the generosity and drive of Elizabeth Hubert Malott (Class of 1953 and Trustee from 1996-2003). Mrs. Hubert Malott cherished her time at Scripps and valued above all else the new ideas, philosophies, and horizons that she was exposed to during her four years at the college. According to her daughter, Liza Malott Pohle, Mrs. Malott’s vision for the conservative speaker series was, “facilitating informed debate, inspiring curiosity and intellectual inquiry, and offering students opportunities to explore topics of national and international interest with visiting speakers offering conservative points of view.”

The committee meticulously plans a rigorous schedule of events for each guest to participate in while spending time at Scripps and the other 5Cs. The Malott series is unique among college speaker programs because it engages each guest in a full day of activities and functions: the honored speaker takes a full tour of the campus and engages in a small group discussion with hand-selected students who are familiar with the speaker’s work. Additionally, the speaker gives a public address in the evening and then attends a reception dinner with student leaders. Previous speakers in the series have included political strategist Mary Matalin (2006), New York Times columnist David Brooks (2011), actor, writer, and conservative pundit Ben Stein (2012), and world-renowned syndicated columnist and author Charles Krauthammer (2013). Peggy Noonan, a conservative speechwriter under the Reagan administration, spoke last year. The speakers consistently walk away from their experiences on campus impressed and hopeful for the future of our undergraduates. For the past few years, the Malott Public Affairs Program has focused on bringing young women to campus in an effort to further inspire the Scripps community from a conservative perspective.

The importance of such a campus speaker series as the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program has never been clearer. As student bodies across the United States become progressively more liberal with every passing admissions cycle, it is crucial that active conservative pundits, be they journalists, politicians, authors, or strategists, continue to make appearances on campuses. They offer a perspective and experience that differs dramatically from the ubiquitous liberal dialogue of the American higher education system. A 2012 poll showed that only 10 percent of college professors identified as conservative (and this number is dropping) and 0.4 percent identified as “far right.” By contrast, 50 percent of college professors identified as liberal and 15 percent identified as “far left.” With a clear lack of conservative thought taught at colleges today—let alone small liberal arts colleges in Southern California—there has never been a more important time for students to be educated across party lines. Even if the students in question ultimately decide to disagree with the opinions of the speakers, it is important that students have an opportunity to hear all sides of the story directly from the source—which too often they do not.

During my time at Scripps so far, I have been exposed almost exclusively to points of view that range from leftist to so leftist that they make Southern California look conservative. I have only been assigned readings by Ward Churchill, Amy Hollywood, Angela Davis, Howard Zinn, and others like them. There is hardly room for Alexis de Tocqueville, let alone Russell Kirk and Ayn Rand. In my introductory classes, I am not only expected to align with the extremely liberal views of all of my Professors, but also to go about defending these views furiously in written assignments, lest I be graded down for complacency. My experience with Core I is a good example of a course where the extremely linear dialogue taught by my professor offered no space for disagreement from students. I maintain that, though it masquerades in the course catalogue as a class that teaches “critical thinking,” in reality it is anything but that. This semester, I am having a somewhat similar experience in my seminar class on Gender and Religion at Pomona. The extremely ‘academic’ dialogue I’ve been offered provides notions about gender as we know it being entirely molded by society, and the ‘West’ acting as the ultimate evil colonizer of the world. There is no room for disagreement with the likes of the renowned Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies scholars within the world of modern day academia.

Although at times the institution-wide attack on conservatism (in class, in guest-lectures, in the divestment movements across all the campuses) that I have experienced since beginning college has been hostile and disheartening, in reality it has encouraged me to strengthen my own depth of knowledge with regard to my personal beliefs. For all of my beliefs that fall toward a more centrist, or leftist political stance, I am applauded and encouraged. For my other opinions, I have been given the really unique opportunity to think about them more critically than I ever have before. As someone who has lived her entire life aware of the conservative political perspective and some of what it might entail, when I walk out of classes I know that there is always another side of the story worth pursuing. Only after hearing every available perspective do I feel informed enough to formulate an opinion of my own—surprise, most days I am still a conservative. My point, however, is that as young minds we are entitled to the autonomy that is required to decipher for ourselves our own opinions—something that Claremont takes away from us by presenting only one half of the available dialogue.

Ultimately, the problem with having such a one-sided academic environment on our campuses is that students, whether liberal, conservative, or anywhere in the middle are simply not being given the full story on any political matter. I implore liberal-minded students to attend Mrs. Bush’s talk to listen to opinions that differ from their own. Political discussion and debate are an integral part of any classroom environment. But first, students must be at least somewhat informed about both perspectives. By way of the Malott Speaker Series, Scripps presents the conservative side of the debate to the public. It is undoubtedly a valuable experience—every now and again—to hear an eloquently articulated opinion that is not your own, in an effort to stay as fully informed and cognizant as possible.

We Who Must Not Be Named

In a recent issue of The Student Life, we came across a funny little name for CI articles that ruffle campus progressives’ feathers: “That One Article.”

Some would see a problem. We see an opportunity. As a long-ignored voice on campus, it is great to see others acknowledging our efforts to challenge progressives’ control of the campus debate this year.

But, why, some might ask, is it even beneficial that we exist and grow as a publication? Simply put, we are showing a different way forward for those who are unhappy with the mainstream campus debate on both on- and off-campus issues. Instead of basing ourselves on intolerant “inclusiveness” and censorious “safety,” we believe in the fundamental importance of individual rights, and the principles that are the basis of Western civilization.

One of these rights is due process, including the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty.” Sadly, such a right does not mix well with the impulses of campus activists. In the case of the Ferguson shooting of last year, students marched out against what they assumed was the racist murder of an innocent man before the facts were out. While some might argue that the justice system is inherently racist, the Justice Department’s recent report supporting the decision of the grand jury should at least give activists pause.

America is still infected with racism, but that fact should, if anything, make us want to strengthen individual rights, rather than abrogate or infringe on them. Instead of immediately resorting to ill-founded assumptions and angry rhetoric, we urge students across the political spectrum to take a step back. Listen to and understand your fellow Americans. Get to know your fellow human beings as individuals with hopes, dreams, and fears, not as caricatures that are labelled by any number of hateful adjectives. This goes for both conservatives and progressives.

We believe that you have the right to speak your piece whether or not we agree with you, regardless of what some students might say. Case in point, over the past year, a number of centrist and self-identified liberal students have joined our staff because they felt there was not enough room for their views in the mainstream campus debate.

In a campus that is so obsessed with tearing down the “establishment,” we will continue to build up those who do not conform to the established view on campus. The CI is at its strongest in years, and we are eager to grow further and challenge more of the comfortable conformity that attracts well-intentioned progressives. While it is central to our conservative principles that everyone be safe from physical harm, no idea should be safe or privileged from discussion and debate.

We are the publication that must not be named, and we are here to stay.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons