Tuesday, September 16, 2014

* Just a minute !

The year after the 1970 shootings a Kent State
 appeared with the words
 and a bull's eye  with a bullet hole in it on the BACK OF THE  SHIRT.  
The original cannot be found on Google Images
so the shirt above approximates the effect.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

* Capitalism as Worship

". . .  Pop culture was acquiring its own cultic aspect, one neatly configured for technological dissemination. Why, after all, would the need for ritual subside when the economic system remained the same? ( [Walter]Benjamin once wrote 'Capitalism is a purely cultic religion, perhaps the most extreme that ever existed') Celebrities were rising to the status of secular gods; publicity stills froze their faces in the manner of religious icons. Pop musicians elicited Dionysian screams as they danced across the altar of the stage. And their aura became, in a sense, even more magical; instead of drawing pilgrims from afar, the pop masterpiece is broadcast outward, to a captive world congregation. It radiates and saturates." (p.93)

THE NAYSAYERS: Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and the critique of pop culture

Alex Ross

The New Yorker
September 15, 2014

* You queer ... I'll sock you in the goddam face " Wm. F. Buckley, Jr., to Gore Vidal

Move cursor to 10:42 for the juicy confrontation.

If William F. Buckley, can call Gore Vidal a "queer"

threaten to "sock him in the goddam face" under

the banner
of free speech on national television

(see YouTube clip  above; articles below)

then Yale should certainly allow the
Buckley Foundation, under that same banner, to

present a
speaker who has renounced Islam.
Paul D. Keane
M. Div. '80
The Anti-Yale

Captured in a vintage black-and-white YouTube clip, the two can be seen and heard
engaging in a nasty word brawl. Mr. Vidal pins the label “crypto-Nazi” on
Buckley, who testily responds by calling Mr. Vidal a “queer.” The epithets were
ugly then, as they are today. But what is most striking to the contemporary
viewer is how much the combatants resemble each other, beginning with their
languidly patrician tones. The phrases come from the gutter, but plainly Mr.
Vidal and Buckley do not. They exude the princely confidence once associated
with well-born Americans of a certain pedigree. (Google “ Buckley Vidal Master

LIZARDO: Why Hirsi Ali should come

Just under three weeks ago, President Salovey delivered his freshman address on free expression at Yale. He quoted extensively from the Woodward Report, a document whose language he called “clear and unambiguous” in its defense of free speech, and he made the case for why “unfettered expression is so essential on a university campus.”
Our community now faces an opportunity to put these ideals into practice. The Buckley Program, an undergraduate group on campus, recently invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to give a lecture next week. An accomplished and courageous woman, Hirsi Ali has an amazing story. She suffered genital mutilation as a child and later fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage. These are beyond mere “unfortunate circumstances,” as some organizations have called it. Once in the Netherlands, she worked at a refugee center, became a politician, fought for human dignity and women’s rights and ultimately abandoned her Muslim faith. In her works since then, she has voiced strong opinions against Islam, opinions which have provoked constant threats on her life ever since.
As the president of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program, here is my understanding of the controversy that then unfolded: When news of the upcoming Sept. 15 lecture became public, a student representative of the Muslim Students Association contacted me and asked to meet. During our first conversation, she requested that the Buckley Program disinvite Hirsi Ali. I told her such an option — which she now denies to me and University administrators having presented — was a nonstarter.
I distinctly remember that this student then asked if my group would consider either prohibiting Hirsi Ali from speaking on Islam or inviting another speaker to join — someone who would supposedly be more representative and qualified to discuss the subject. She told me certain national organizations, which I expected to be opposed to Hirsi Ali’s invitation, were interested in her visit to Yale. I took this to mean these organizations might drum up a controversy about Hirsi Ali’s visit. And she expressed support for the Brandeis University administration, which revoked an honorary degree from Hirsi Ali this past spring. This, of course, was precisely one of the incidents of censorship that President Salovey alluded to in his address.
This student, the MSA, and a little over 30 other organizations signed an open letter — with its fair share of cherry-picked quotes and mischaracterizations — that was sent yesterday in a school-wide email. But these students fail to understand the purpose of the University and the meaning and necessity of free speech within it.
The idea that free speech extends to only those with whom one agrees is close-minded. The idea that inviting an additional speaker is necessary in order to supposedly advance free speech, but really just to correct our own lecturer’s views, is ridiculous. The idea that a fellow undergraduate organization can dictate to another how to run its own event is shameless. And the idea that only so-called “experts” merit invitations is absurd. (After all, I don’t remember anyone fretting over Al Sharpton’s invitation to speak on the death penalty last week despite his lack of a criminal-law degree.)
These standards and requests are unjust not simply because some students were seeking to unevenly impose them, but more importantly because they are antithetical to the pursuit of knowledge that defines a university like Yale. Such a pursuit requires a robust protection of the right to freely express one’s views, however controversial.
One need not agree with everything Ayaan Hirsi Ali says to agree that her voice makes a valuable contribution to advancing the open exchange of ideas on this campus. In his address, President Salovey declared, “We should not offend merely to offend. We should not provoke without careful forethought.” If one actually examines Hirsi Ali’s work, one sees that she does present well-reasoned arguments, even if disagreeable, and that she doesn’t provoke merely to provoke, which should be evident by the many death threats she has received throughout the years.
Her work does not qualify as “libel and slander,” as was suggested by the open letter, and it cannot be reduced to purported “hate speech,” a slur used simply to silence speech with which one disagrees. A sincere observer will readily find that Hirsi Ali is far from the inflammatory demagogue the MSA portrays her as. Instead, that observer will find that she is a brave woman deeply committed to fighting for the respect and dignity of millions of oppressed women around the world.
The MSA’s insistence throughout the past week that we cancel or change the format of our event strays far from the ideals of free expression so eloquently defended by President Salovey and so essential to our university. If the MSA or another student organization would like to invite another guest of their own, the Buckley Program will not stop them. But we hope that if anyone from the Yale community attempts to disrupt our event, the administration will stand behind its stated commitment that students be allowed, and indeed encouraged, “to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable and challenge the unchallengeable.”
Rich Lizardo is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College. He is the president of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program. Contact him at richard.lizardo@yale.edu .

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

* Moulding Minds with Money



. . .   Perhaps the largest challenge facing the Big History Project, however, is Gates himself, or at least the specter of him. To his bafflement and frustration, he has become a remarkably polarizing figure in the education world. This owes largely to the fact that Gates, through his foundation, has spent more than $200 million to advocate for the Common Core, something of a third rail in education circles. He has financed an army of policy groups, think tanks and teachers’ unions to marshal support for the new rules and performance measurements that have been adopted by 44 states. Many education experts, while generally supportive of the new goals for reading and math skills, have been critical of the seemingly unilateral way in which the policy appeared to be rolled out. The standards have engendered public anger on both the right and left, and some states, including Indiana and Oklahoma, have decided to repeal the Common Core altogether.

In March, the American Federation of Teachers announced that it would no longer accept grants from the Gates Foundation for its innovation fund, which had already received more than $5 million from the organization. As Randi Weingarten, the A.F.T. president, told Politico, “I got convinced by the level of distrust I was seeing — not simply on Twitter, but in listening to members and local leaders — that it was important to find a way to replace Gates’s funding.” When I spoke with Weingarten last month, she elaborated on her union members’ problem with Gates. “Instead of actually working with teachers and listening to what teachers needed to make public education better,” she said, Gates’s team “would work around teachers, and that created tremendous distrust.”

Teachers, she continued, feared that his foundation was merely going to reduce them to test scores. While Weingarten said that she tried to work with Gates to “pierce” the animosity, she ultimately chose to part ways because “our members perceived that we were doing things in our support of Common Core because of the Gates Foundation, as opposed to because it was the right thing to do.” It was a difficult decision, Weingarten said. “Bill Gates has more money than God. People just don’t do what we did.”. . .

Diane Ravitch, an education historian at New York University who has been a vocal critic of Gates, put even it more starkly: “When I think about history, I think about different perspectives, clashing points of view. I wonder how Bill Gates would treat the robber barons. I wonder how Bill Gates would deal with issues of extremes of wealth and poverty.” (The Big History Project doesn’t mention robber barons, but it does briefly address unequal distribution of resources.) Ravitch continued: “It begins to be a question of: Is this Bill Gates’s history? And should it be labeled ‘Bill Gates’s History’? Because Bill Gates’s history would be very different from somebody else’s who wasn’t worth $50-60 billion.” (Gates’s estimated net worth is approximately $80 billion.)

The Bill and Melinda Gradgrind Foundation