Friday, February 27, 2009

Bazaar man trades in politically-correct apartheid

Update to our last post. Mike reports that York [University] President Shoukri releases a long overdue public statement.

As Mike notes, there is a lot wrong with this statement. For starters, it is not enough to make statements decrying your school's antisemitic riot without making clear indications of how you will take actions to protect Jewish students and insure all students can freely express their support for unfashionable but nonetheless intelligent and ethical causes like that which holds Israel as a model nation for the economic and social development of the Middle East.

Shoukri writes, in between comments on the woeful economic news:
We have just endured the longest university strike in the history of English-speaking Canada. Our students have returned to class and to examinations, only to be faced with a barrage of disruption, hostility and even intimidation from their fellow students. This state of affairs is unacceptable to me, and it should be unacceptable to you. Intimidation, bullying, and discrimination will not be tolerated here, and we are taking action to protect the rights and the safety of all students and staff.
at a time when our community should be pulling together, we turn on each other instead — academic disruption, intimidation, sit-ins, name-calling, shouting people down, banging on the doors and windows of Senate or the Board of Governors or student clubs. Then we run to the media and tell anyone who will listen how bad York is.

Is it any wonder our own students are disconnected? Or that turnout at our student elections is so low? Or that our students and their families are voting with their feet? Our public face is not demonstrating the core values a university should stand for:

* Freedom of speech – especially for those with whom we disagree
* Mutual Respect
* Reason
* Discourse
* Objectivity
* Being able to teach — and learn — without disruption
* Being open to other ideas and other people.
* And yes, social justice.

But we cannot demand social justice only for ourselves and for those who think like us. Social justice is for everyone, or it is for no one. York has a history of social activism, but the events of the past weeks — intimidation and shouting each other down — have nothing to do with social activism.

That is why I am asking you today, as Senators and key representatives of the academy, to make your voices heard and say, “enough is enough.”

I want to give a couple of examples of how the academy can contribute to open dialogue on tough issues. At other universities in this province, faculty members participate as guest speakers at lecture series organized by student clubs. These events tackle the very same issues we are struggling with:

* Islamophobia
* Anti-Semitism
* Racial profiling
* Overcoming stereotypes

The goal is not agreement or endorsement of each others’ ideas, it is to create safe spaces where people can come together to articulate their views — without fear and without being shouted down.

I’ll give you another example happening right here at York. Next week, the York Centre for International and Security Studies is hosting an event that will examine the idea of academic boycotts. Speakers will explore the topic in a reasoned way in an academic forum. These two examples share one common element: faculty involvement.

Our faculty needs to become more involved in leading these conversations. Students look up to their professors. They look to you for direction. You are in a position to mentor and guide them and to teach them how to talk with passion about things that anger us, but without anger, without hate, without fear. I am asking you to help us fix our community, because this truly is our problem.

We talk a lot about diversity here at York, but somehow we have allowed that diversity to divide us. We need to focus now on unity, on our common values and on what makes us a community. We must identify the challenges and work as a community to address them.
"But somehow we have allowed that diversity to divide us"? Of course it is a bit jarring to see academics invest in the Utopian lie that humanity can ever exist without conflicts and divisions that need to be mediated intelligently, but not denied. Does he mean to suggest that his idea of "diversity" is one where everyone signs off on some code of politically-correct thought where nothing can really be advanced that is not in the name of some already-sanctioned terms of peace, with due recognition of the officially-sanctioned victim groups? He probably does. The central facet of postmodern man is her recognition that every action and every thought entails a process of figuring a centre of sacred attention and hence a marginalized or alienated periphery of the sacred. Since every thought and statement creates a margin, only actions and thoughts that are "correct" can be contemplated by people obsessed with redeeming alleged victimhood. The centre is always under suspicion and one is not focussed on upholding the norms of those centres that, notwithstanding their limits in building Utopia, nevertheless allow for a maximum freedom of exchange on the periphery.

So, in practise what does this mean? It means, for example, that postmodern ideologues pay respect to the idea of "Islamophobia" without allowing serious discussion (maximum exchange) on the reasons "the kafir" might fear Islam. It means a university president who thinks he can calm tensions on campus by pointing to some professorial pretension to be having a serious academic discussion on the "Boycott Divest Sanctions" movement vis a vis Israel. Mike points us to this little write up of the coming event, whose only listed speaker is the Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti. This does not look like it's going to be a balanced or sober discussion. The write up makes the ridiculous comparison of Israel to South African apartheid and ends:
Is this a sustainable movement that can build on the successes of the similarly inspired movement against South African apartheid or is it engaging in counter-productive actions that threaten to undermine delicate peace efforts in the region as its critics claim? Furthermore, how are those who reside in Canada, seemingly removed from this conflict, most constructively able contribute to the establishment of a lasting peace in the region?
So, for example, anyone with the idea that it is the entire value system that is behind the BDS movement that is the greatest source of violence in the Middle East cannot, one imagines, seriously engage in the "reciprocity" this event pretends to advance. In other words, because the "Palestinians" are the duly sanctioned, unquestionable, victim group, the most realistic ideas about how to maximize reciprocity in the Middle East cannot be mentioned. There can be no mention of the real Apartheid states: the Islamic ones that have effectively cleansed themselves of all non-Muslims; the Arab states that want nothing to do with adopting the Arab "Palestinian" refugees other than to leave them as a festering wound and to point the finger at an American-Jew scapegoat, so as to re-focus their own oppressive societies' many internal resentments; the Muslim countries in which a class of dhimmis still exist as a lower caste relegated to jobs like garbage collecting and recycling. There can be no mention of Jordanian or Syrian or Lebanese massacres of Palestinians, a death toll far greater than that suffered in the Israel-Palestine conflict. There can be no mention of the fact that it is only in Israel that Jews and Arabs may or may not choose to live side by side in the same neighborhoods, as they variously do. There can be no discussion of the fact that only in Israel do Arabs freely make their own politics and elect their own representatives, even including parties that call for an end to the Israeli state. There can be no discussion of why Islam cannot recognize the existence of any kind of Jewish politics in lands it claims for Islam. There can be no discussion that maybe it is the failure of Palestinian politics that threatens to "undermine delicate peace efforts". There can be no discussion of what to do with the Hamas cult of martyrdom that actively promotes the deaths of Palestinians that they may be used as victims to throw before the antisemitic world's attention to fuel more insane hatred of Israel, a state that has been under attack and defending itself from Arabs since before it even came into existence. There can be no discussion of the Hamas butchery of Fatah opponents. There can be no discussion of the international left's role in fostering and encouraging the unproductive Palestinian cult of victimhood. There can be no discussion of those who would protect an unfree society because it is romantically traditional, and hence bound in by all kinds of socioreligious limits, rather than call for a universal modernity bound by constitutional democracies interacting a global free market. In short, the idea that "social justice" is not at all what is on offer in the diatribes privileged by the politically-correct at York cannot be seriously questioned. Nope, instead "Israeli Apartheid" Week will go on as planned, antisemitic riots be ignored.

Respect for reality at York University is at best optional. In President Shoukri's bazaar you can hope to trade peacefully only in that which the cult of "diversity" recognizes as legitimate goods. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Teaching Assistant who unilaterally declared to a student that he is banned from wearing his IDF t-shirt.

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