Graduation this friday will be held off campus
June 13, 2017 3:17 PM   Subscribe

The timeline of events that transpired to make Evergreen State College national news recently over racially charged protests is long and possibly still ongoing with the recent announcement that graduation this year will be held off campus for the first time in the college's history. posted by whorl (104 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's going to take me a while to sort out an ASCII version of the Michael Jackson eating popcorn meme. Good luck luck in this thread. The post seems well-constructed, thanks for putting it together. I've been waiting with trepidation to see what will happen when this makes it to MeFi.
posted by Telf at 3:30 PM on June 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm really fucking tired of self-avowed "leftists" suddenly clutching pearls at the idea that they might be racist. News flash - the left has a long, ignoble history of being way more fucking comfortable with bigotry of every stripe than it should, so no, claiming your "left wing" bonafides is not a "get out of racism free" card.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:39 PM on June 13, 2017 [49 favorites]


It's one thing to protest by removing yourself from campus- it's another to demand another group leave. What about students who would pass as white but aren't? They would probably feel pressured to leave campus despite not actually being white. What about ethnic Jews who don't identify as white, would they be shunned for staying on campus? That's the problem I think people had with the demanding white people leave campus thing. Unfortunately other people took the reaction against that way to far, and why the fuck would you ever go to Fox News. But I think plenty of people of all races had a problem with the no-white people day, and I think that was a legitimate problem to have. But wow has it gotten out of control.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:51 PM on June 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


Let me tell you, if you are a "left" professor who is "driven" to go on Fox News, you are no goddamn left professor at all; ditto for, like, calling the cops on Black students. Or indeed, any students who are not a very clear threat. If you are a left professor or activist, you think first of the immediate needs of the people around you - not their need to be "enlightened" through your talk on Fox News or an encounter with the cops. Fucking them over to prove a point is garbage behavior.

I mean, disagree and be a campus pariah, sure, but if you're a principled campus pariah, you still put the students first.

A local (and to no one's surprise white-led) radical org that allegedly serves communities of color here in MPLS called the cops on a woman of color who was in a meeting pressing them to respond to allegations about racism and sexual assault in the org. Now, I'm not saying that to be anti-racist means never, ever getting upset or saying or doing a dumb thing in the heat of the moment, and in the face of angry complaints, sometimes it's tough to know what to do. But there's one thing it's not good to do, and that's calling the cops.

It really is true that the minute you put pressure on white-led orgs about race, the reality of the organizations shines through.
posted by Frowner at 3:53 PM on June 13, 2017 [52 favorites]


And here's the thing - Weinstein has every right to speak his mind. What he doesn't have a right to is being able to tell others how to view what he says. When you come out and try to claim that how people view you is a form of coercion, I daresay you lost the plot.

And given that "go somewhere else" has been a message that minorities have heard over and over again, I don't see how, exactly, it's so horrible for the shoe to be on the opposite foot for once.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:55 PM on June 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Not to blame Homo neanderthalensis, but their comment reflects an inaccurate depiction of the Day of Absence event at Evergreen that, unfortunately, has completely dominated media coverage of the whole situation.

Historically, Day of Absence has been an annual event wherein faculty, students, and staff of color who chose to participate would hold a retreat off campus to discuss issues related to race, equity, and so on, from their perspective. At the same time, white faculty, students, and staff had the option of participating in on-campus workshops and seminars on similar topics from their perspective.

Then two days later the college would hold "Day of Presence" in which the whole community had the opportunity to come together for a follow-up sequence of workshops, seminars, etc. involving both white people and people of color.

This year, it was decided to hold the Day of Absence events for POC on campus, and those for white people off-campus.

At no point has participation in any of these events ever been mandated, nor has anyone been told they have to be off- or on-campus on any of these days. Apart from anything else, such a mandate would have been silly, because (a) the off-campus venue for this year's Day of Absence only had 200 seats, while Evergreen has around 3,200 white students, and (b) anyone who knows Evergreen knows better than to think anyone would have much luck mandating anything.

Two additional op-ed pieces from the Olympian might help people get a sense of the complexity of the current situation.
posted by Kat Allison at 4:20 PM on June 13, 2017 [69 favorites]


So it sounds like the soundbite is that Weinstein is being vilified for opposing the Day of Absence, but he's actually being vilified for being a vocal opponent of all sorts of programs and plans aimed at increasing racial equity on campus. For instance, he doesn't like attempts to hire more faculty of color, because he says that would reduce the quality of teaching, which is an idea that has all sorts of fascinating biases built right in.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:24 PM on June 13, 2017 [43 favorites]


Let me tell you, if you are a "left" professor who is "driven" to go on Fox News, you are no goddamn left professor at all; ditto for, like, calling the cops on Black students.

I agree, but unless I'm mistaken (very possible) the professor in this case didn't call the cops.
posted by edeezy at 4:25 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's one thing to protest by removing yourself from campus- it's another to demand another group leave.

After reading this email exchange between Rashida Love and Weinstein, my understanding of the Day of Absence is that it's not a protest, but a chance for POC to get together off-campus and talk about race issues, while allies stay on campus and talk about race issues. Except this year, they just switched the places where POC and allies would meet. Like, if this event is being boiled down to "no-whites day", does that mean that in past years when POC left campus for Day of Absence, that those days were "no-POCs days"?
posted by 23skidoo at 4:26 PM on June 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


Those emails are something... not only do they affirm that Day of Absence/Day of Presence is voluntary, but they also invite students and faculty to participate "wherever they feel comfortable" in acknowledgement that some have mixed experiences with race.

Weinstein's protest email seems pretty unnecessary in that light...

On the other hand, "On May 23, Mr. Weinstein’s class was interrupted by more than 50 students who took issue with an email he wrote refusing to participate in a “Day of Absence,” in which white students, faculty and staff were asked to leave campus for a day."

...is giving off some serious Cultural Revolution vibes.
posted by subdee at 4:40 PM on June 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


Ok wow. That is totally different, and you guys are right. Yeah the reporting on this seems to be really off base. Damn.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:43 PM on June 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


but he's actually being vilified for being a vocal opponent of all sorts of programs and plans aimed at increasing racial equity on campus.

As you noted, this seems to have started a few months earlier:

Weinstein took particular issue with one policy, put in place to encourage equity at Evergreen “faculty voted to require official, yearly reflections on our individual progress relative to racial diversity.” He appears to conflate this attempt to mend historical inequality and combat racism at Evergreen, with discrimination against white people, writing, “It is hard to imagine a person of color being flagged by a conversion panel, or as an internal hiring candidate, due to their yearly reflections revealing cryptic bias, or insufficient progress with respect to race. But it is all too easy to imagine a white person (whatever that is taken to mean) being challenged on this basis.” He continues that as a result of these and other diversity policies, “We have now imposed on ourselves a de facto hierarchy based on skin color, and hooked it directly to mechanisms of hiring, promotion and dismissal–empowering some, and disempowering others.”
posted by Brian B. at 4:45 PM on June 13, 2017


I'm in a weird place on this: I think the initial professor's email was super eyerolly, but I also think it's incredibly problematic to suggest he should be punished for speaking to news media about a situation so intense that school faculty felt they could not guarantee his safety if he remained on campus.
posted by corb at 4:50 PM on June 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


Oh yeah, Priviledged White Guy Tears Argument #147. One of those "liberals whose Ideal of equality is a world where People of Color don't say anthropological that bothers him.

Marching into this asswipe's classroom sounds fine to me.
posted by happyroach at 4:53 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


After reading this email exchange between Rashida Love and Weinstein

Two things jump out at me:

1. Love's response to Weinstein positively screams "motherfucker, you tried it." She is so clearly over this dude that I get the feeling this is pretty far from their first interaction on the topic.

2. In an attempt to distill this complex issue down to peak pettiness, I will suggest that no one should be on the side of a professor who uses the word "irrespective".

On the other hand, "On May 23, Mr. Weinstein’s class was interrupted by more than 50 students who took issue with an email he wrote refusing to participate in a “Day of Absence,” in which white students, faculty and staff were asked to leave campus for a day."

...is giving off some serious Cultural Revolution vibes.


Yeah, it's certainly written to give you that impression, isn't it? Except it's bullshit. White students, faculty, and staff were not asked to leave campus for a day. They were invited to an off-campus event for people in the majority, limited to 200 people. Evergreen has way, way more than 200 white people in it. Ergo, white people were not asked to leave campus for a day, any more than collegians of color have been asked to leave campus for a day in the past, any more than your department is asked to leave work for a day when an off-site conference issues it a few passes to attend.

Further, considering that this guy had absolutely no problem when it was people of color going off-campus for a day, it's clear that he views the entire process as people of color vs. white people, rather than as an integrated and inclusive attempt to build awareness and knowledge. He's entitled to have that opinion, of course, but if that's his working premise, flawed as it is, it's going to lead to some fucked-up conclusions.

Now, do I think protesting one teacher en masse is an effective tactic? Not really, no. But I'm willing to grant students more benefit of leeway than their educators and mentors, who are literally supposed to know better. College kids are supposed to get exercised about shit, that's kind of the whole point.
posted by Errant at 4:56 PM on June 13, 2017 [20 favorites]


Playlist of unedited footage of the protests.
posted by whorl at 4:57 PM on June 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm really fucking tired of self-avowed "leftists"

Most leftists, rightists and centrists are self-avowed, I think. Why shouldn't they claim their political preference?
posted by QuietDesperation at 5:09 PM on June 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


The country's first ethnic studies department was established as one of the demands of a radical student movement that shut down UC Berkeley by, among other things, raiding classes that met in defiance of the student strike and setting the classroom trash cans on fire. This guy should be grateful that the protests at his classroom were just about chanting.
Lets-all-get-along liberals are quickly learning that the decades-long hiatus is coming to an end; exploited people in the United States have been told to ask nicely and they tried it. It got them nowhere. Now they're going back to the only strategy that has ever resulted in meaningful gains for the oppressed: taking what they have labored to build and damn those who would stop them, on the right or the liberal "left".
posted by Krawczak at 5:18 PM on June 13, 2017 [31 favorites]


The article doesn't mention this, but even though Evergreen has never before held commencement off campus, they've had a backup plan in place to hold it at Cheney Stadium since at least 2001.

If they're still using the same rented robes, the packet will also tell the graduating students to make sure to not wear clothes that they love. Because if the robes get wet, the green dye runs and totally stains. Surprising how often it rains in mid-June here.
posted by monopas at 5:19 PM on June 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm really fucking tired of self-avowed "leftists" suddenly clutching pearls at the idea that they might be racist. News flash - the left has a long, ignoble history of being way more fucking comfortable with bigotry of every stripe than it should, so no, claiming your "left wing" bonafides is not a "get out of racism free" card.

Yup. Joan Walsh would be a particularly relevant example today.
posted by indubitable at 5:24 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Most leftists, rightists and centrists are self-avowed, I think. Why shouldn't they claim their political preference?

Oh come on, don't be disingenuous. It's the guys who do this:

"Well, as a Leftist...*says something egregiously racist*"

"As a true Progressive...*says something insufferably sexist*"

You know, the white guys who talk loudly about Capitalism, but whose sympathies obviously extend only to white guys like themselves. Self identification only goes so far.
posted by happyroach at 5:27 PM on June 13, 2017 [15 favorites]


Further, considering that this guy had absolutely no problem when it was people of color going off-campus for a day, it's clear that he views the entire process as people of color vs. white people, rather than as an integrated and inclusive attempt to build awareness and knowledge. He's entitled to have that opinion, of course, but if that's his working premise, flawed as it is, it's going to lead to some fucked-up conclusions.

Or, more plausibly, just finds the whole thing silly, and doesn't have an issue with other people wanting to participate. But okay.
posted by so fucking future at 6:13 PM on June 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


Or, more plausibly, just finds the whole thing silly, and doesn't have an issue with other people wanting to participate. But okay.

Except...then he wouldn't have made a huge public stink about other people participating in it this year, either, would he?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:28 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


IIRC someone leaked that e-mail to the public, then the stinking began.
posted by whorl at 6:32 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


From the second professor, Mike Paros, defending Weinstein:
This morning was the first time that I was actually nervous coming to campus. Not because of threats of white supremacists, but because I was worried that someone on campus would think that I might be one of them.
Horrors! To not be seen as an individual, but as a faceless representative of an entire class of people who inspire irrational fear! This is a terrifying state of affairs, an intolerable injustice, one which must be addressed immediately! What is the world coming to?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:32 PM on June 13, 2017 [35 favorites]


Or, more plausibly, just finds the whole thing silly, and doesn't have an issue with other people wanting to participate. But okay.
That doesn't make a ton of sense to me. The thing is completely voluntary, and the overwhelming majority of white students don't participate. But he says that it's not really voluntary, because white students will feel coerced by the call to participate. So wouldn't students of color have felt equally coerced to participate in past Days of Absence? Why does this insidious coercion only become significant when he thinks it's applied to white people?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:33 PM on June 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


Or, more plausibly, just finds the whole thing silly, and doesn't have an issue with other people wanting to participate. But okay.

We don't have to rely on what's plausible, dude wrote down his thoughts in an email. Here's a direct quote from the email he sent:

"I would encourage others to put phenotype aside and reject this new formulation, whether they have "registered" for it already or not."

If he didn't have an issue with with other people attending, I don't know why he would be encouraging others to not attend. Encouraging people to not participate pretty much means he has an issue with other people wanting to participate. But okay.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:34 PM on June 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


Ok then, not a public stink but a "formal protest of this year’s structure". The guy very much has an issue with it and it is implausible to pretend he might not.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:37 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


(Also quoting from his letter, in case you haven't read it and don't recognize the phrasing)
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:37 PM on June 13, 2017


Here is a long discussion w/ Weinstein, outside of the high-pressure spin factory of TV news.

I read a good long comment about this on leftbook but I'm not sure I will be able to secure permission to repost it.
posted by grobstein at 6:41 PM on June 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


I've heard from former non-white Evergreen students going back about... 20 years? that racism has LONG been an issue at the school, specifically within the administration.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:00 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


This again.

Evergreen is a bubble. A place of extremes, and often very little perspective.

Unless you have been a student or faculty member there, you can't understand. It isn't anything like other colleges. Students of different academic areas don't really mix very much. The way the programs (classes) work, as a student you may be with the same 25 other students and one faculty member for an entire academic year. It is more common to have two faculty members and 50 students, but that doesn't change things much. Faculty members only have one class at a time. It is both intimate and alienating.

I was there when W Bush was elected. I was literally studying political campaigns and media relations that fall. The student body lost their damn minds. They did not, however, realize that perhaps voting for the Green party or writing in Mickey Mouse may have made them part of the problem. Because when you spend all of your time steeped in your area of focus, with like-minded people who also don't get outside of the bubble much, you lose your perspective. You lose your sense of reality and forget how the rest of the world works and that maybe they aren't as perfect as you are. You take everything way too seriously.

You may even get to a point when reason becomes offensive and you bend reality, becoming the thing you hate.

This stuff happens at Evergreen. Usually it happens quietly, and gets resolved quietly. This time, an unfortunate perfect storm of outer political and cultural strife, internal issues (clashing departments, student problems, bad choice of college administrative hires), and the American public's ravenous hunger for ultimately unimportant stuff to get in a froth over. And then it escalated.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure we had this Day of Absence/Day of Presence back in the old days when I was there. Unless you had faculty who were really into the idea of it, it was just another day and you went to your lecture or seminar because you had classwork to do and you wanted to graduate eventually. My POC dorm and classmates didn't go out of their ways to participate. Maybe it caught on after I left. Maybe I was just waltzing though in my cloud of whiteness and untreated mental illness.

I'm going to go catch up with the Political threads. Way less complicated.
posted by monopas at 7:14 PM on June 13, 2017 [21 favorites]


Yeah, to be clear, I think that it's perfectly reasonable to expect professors to have to put up with students protesting and chanting: however, the students surrounding people and not letting them pass, or the ones with bats and 10,000$ of property damage falls into the category of "stuff people should not have to have happen even if they're wrong as a wrong thing."

Because when this stuff escalates like this, all it does is two things:

1) make the alt-right people we are ALREADY dealing with in the PNW feel like /they/ are the protectors, the heroes, instead of the scummy scum making everything worse. And it acts like a recruitment poster, in a place where white supremacists are already putting up flyers.

2) It says the way you win is by violent tactics, that institutions just need to look at who is going to be more violent if they don't get their way and give in to that, and that is just not a thing that I am comfortable with, because terrible people are also going to be good at violence and will also get their way and /fuck that/. That is not a way to win.

I think it's important that at least when we all agree with the general goals, we can say "but maybe next time don't try to take people hostage."
posted by corb at 8:36 PM on June 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ok was just going through the timeline and noticed an error of sorts.

In the morning of May 23, students disrupt Weinstein’s class to discuss emails, with some individual students declaring that they believed that Weinstein should be fired. The campus police were called, and they in turn called the County Sheriff’s office for backup. When the cops arrived, student protesters formed a protective ring around the students of color conversing with Weinstein. This ring of students was ripped apart by Officer Timothy O’Dell when he shoved through protesters, injuring two students.

"Ripped apart" seems excessive, this video's not the greatest as the sound seems to not be in sync but the officer can only be seen flailing at the very front line of this group of students then immediately backing off. This video has more of the audio in sync but has an obvious slant / has been edited.
posted by whorl at 9:29 PM on June 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


It looks like two community rallies are planned, one being in support of the student protestors actions and the other a "free speech" one.
posted by whorl at 9:50 PM on June 13, 2017


This morning was the first time that I was actually nervous coming to campus. Not because of threats of white supremacists, but because I was worried that someone on campus would think that I might be one of them.

Horrors! To not be seen as an individual, but as a faceless representative of an entire class of people who inspire irrational fear! This is a terrifying state of affairs, an intolerable injustice, one which must be addressed immediately! What is the world coming to?



Ivan Fyodorovich, you just nailed something that absolutely maddens me. This person has just had the kind of experience that, for a lot of folks, would be an incredible, empathy-arousing wake-up call-- but instead of answering the call, he's chosen to slam down the metaphorical receiver and start yowling about phone etiquette.

Bleh.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:07 PM on June 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


As an Evergreen alumnus (2010), and someone who still collaborates closely with science faculty there, was involved in student government back in the day, and knows most of the grownups involved personally, I've been wondering when this would get here. It has been really poorly described basically everywhere on the internet with even places that should know better missing key things or getting them wrong.
Bret Weinstien is, almost accidentally, on the right side here
For some time, there has been a consistent pattern to how the Evergreen administration bullies faculty into compliance with the things they want to do, often involving more power and funding for the administration, by exploiting Evergreen's anti-racist infrastructure. Both faculty and students have the potential to be disruptive when the administration is dead set on doing the foolish things it often wants to, but the threat of the dynamic we're seeing here has long been a way to neutralize both that they've used sparingly but somewhat regularly. All they need to do to force the implementation of whatever is give the anti-racist infrastructure on campus title bumps, as well as the salary increases they come with, and more staff in combination with the thing. Faculty then know that opposition to the whatever will carry the wrath of students who are well organized by staff with little better to do, while the administration knows that students will not pay attention to the thing so long as they have anti-racism to talk in circles about and agitate over.

While the hostage dynamic underlying much of this whole mess has indeed gotten us anti-racist infrastructure on campus that has clearly done a lot of good, gotten us some pretty amazing staff we wouldn't have had otherwise, and been a generally productive force on campus allowing us to better serve a population of students no other University in the State is even trying to understand. However, we just as clearly reached the diminishing returns on productive anti-racism that more executive level salaries can give us more than a decade ago, and it is long since time Evergreen dismantled the dynamic before it gets any more out of hand. Bret's part in this started with him LEEEEROY JENKINSSSSed into a pitched battle over this dynamic and the current important issue on campus in the faculty listserve that he clearly couldn't even see, much less refrain from making out to be about him.

That current serious issue on campus was pretty well described by Bret in the WSJ article. The Equity plan that the administration is pushing has a lot of serious problems that will cause significant damage to the student-faculty relationship, interdisciplinary programs, travel abroad, staffing for both the sciences and humanities, and balloons the budget as well as power of the administration at the expense of faculty and students. I have also yet to see a plan for paying for the pretty fantastically expensive title bumps, staffing, and infrastructure that has already been committed to in response to the protests.

It is important to note however, that this is a dynamic that doesn't need and wouldn't benefit from outside intervention. Greeners tend to figure shit out pretty well, and this will be no different.
Bret Weinstien is unambiguously in the wrong here
However, particularly as someone who shares some of his concerns with the Equity Plan, I think its important to remember that Bret's original argument for why the Day of Presence is problematic that then exploded rests on a lie that he is persisting with telling. Even now in his WSJ article he describes the utterly banal changes to the Day of Absence/Day of Presence as "coercive segregation by race." In that second Tucker Carlson interview he doesn't just fail to correct Carlson's assertion that the goal of the event was to force whites off campus, but spreads it himself. It is a profoundly dishonest description of a change that simply switches the locations of the events that have been held in this way for decades. Tailoring the workshops involved to the different needs of white students and students of color has indeed involved self-segregation for decades. However, calling the invitation to the off-campus event "coercive" betrayed an inexcusable ignorance then as well as his intellectual dishonesty and his bad faith now.

Only a tiny fraction of campus, both white and of color, attend the event every year much less give a damn about it, even with free food on offer. Even the most absurd radicals on campus, and they can get pretty damn nuts, couldn't care less about anyone deciding it just wasn't for them this year or at all. Bret caused a stir, not because he didn't like the event or because he didn't plan to attend, but because his white fragility was so damn brittle he invented this whole ridiculous persecution narrative of white students being somehow coerced off campus and then imposed it on these students and staff doing something utterly boring. Even then no one would really care so much if, when he was gently corrected by other faculty on the list serve, he apologized and moved on.

Faculty were initially justifiably upset that, being so eager to invent a scenario in which he could consider himself a victim, he invented this ridiculous narrative of people wanting to 'coerce' white students off-campus. Then students were justifiably upset that he wouldn't back down from his persecution complex once it was made abundantly clear to him that he was full of shit. The dynamic that led to his white fragility being so damn pathetically brittle, as well as the impacts of his bullshit, are indeed both pretty racist. A lot of the problem is certainly that students tend to be terrible at explaining themselves, and that those organizing the mess have an interest in everyone talking about Bret instead of the direction the College is going in as Bret accurately points out, but he is unambiguously in the wrong here.

The protests that were cynically held a month later were indeed centrally organized by staff looking for advantage in a intra-faculty/staff dispute, and that whole dynamic is indeed fucked up in a lot of profound and important ways. Those staff aren't radicals fighting the man anymore, they are the man, and they still need to adjust to the responsibility and healthy dynamics that requires - or they need to be made to adjust. However, this still doesn't change the fact that Bret is in the wrong here, or that his whole victim parade that he is organizing here is fundamentally based on a lie he told then and continues to tell now. Which brings us to the next important question:
Who is this douchebag anyway?
Particularly in the sciences, Evergreen has some amazing world class faculty who were attracted by the way Evergreen gives them incredible flexibility and freedom in how they teach, small class sizes, other world class faculty, just enough lab space to guide students through doing some amazing stuff (I published twice as an undergrad before leaving), and a uniquely collaborative dynamic to how teaching works. However, the collaborative way in which Evergreen professors work with each other and support each other means that when faculty are fuckups, even the most banal fuck ups invisibly become the problem of the professors assigned to mentor the fuckup. In the science faculty we have a small number of profoundly dysfunctional professors that the university ends up in some pretty fucked up co-dependent relationships with.*

When Bret was first hired as adjunct faculty he still had no PhD having fucked his up, a tiny fraction of the teaching experience that Evergreen demands from candidates, and a huge chip on his shoulder from his ...far-fetched... claim to have been robbed of the Nobel Prize for the discovery of telomeres. This caused some significant eye-rolling across campus but happened anyway so as to attract his amazing wife who was generally considered to be worth it. He was then lovingly babysat by the female faculty who always seem to be assigned these fuckups through finishing a different PhD, starting a lab, and getting used to the teaching he should have already had experience with - all while he rapidly burned basically all of his bridges with the rest of the science faculty not coerced into a co-dependent relationship with him by acting like a colossal ass.

This all last came to a head in my era when the powers that be, presumably wishing to retain his amazing wife, made him full time faculty, which comes with our equivalent to tenure. The science faculty was, quietly and to themselves but profoundly, split between the mostly men who saw his wife as being so awesome as to be worth it and the mostly women who saw nothing as being worth this. To this day almost no professors, aside from his wife and the occasional new rube, will teach with him in the collaborative courses Evergreen is designed to provide - forcing him to teach alone most of the time. This not only doesn't really work in the context of Evergreen, but has turned the cult of personality that basically all Evergreen professors attract inward and insular in a profoundly unhealthy way. The alumni of that cult of personality are now pretty evenly split between true believers and being profoundly horrified by him.
"1. Love's response to Weinstein positively screams "motherfucker, you tried it." She is so clearly over this dude that I get the feeling this is pretty far from their first interaction on the topic."
Oh you have no idea.

He has been trolling Inclusion staff, and Rashida Love in particular, with asinine bullshit on and off the faculty list serve for almost a decade now.

One of the most frustrating things about all of this for me and a few others has been watching the misogynistic dynamic that basically defines Bret's adult life play out on a yet grander scale. Where he fucks up and then the women feel obligated to come in and attempt to rescue him with yet more emotional labor, only it never works because no one can really save him from the thing that is actually wrong - which is him. Its really unfortunate that nothing he has done is really quite actionable yet, aside from perhaps some facebook bullshit from him that could be productively construed as harassing students. His wife is awesome, but the women were right all along, nothing is worth this.

*Bret is still not even close to the worst, that would be the organic chemist who tests the mind altering drugs he designs on the students that he also grooms for sexual exploitation. He also conspicuously grades female students according to his sense of how likely they are to sleep with him while grading male students according to how likely they are to get in his way, and has at least once produced a large portion of the nation's LSD supply. He is indeed a profoundly brilliant synthetic chemist, but being an Evergreen professor is essentially his alternative to the institutionalization he would otherwise require, and it turns out ...poorly... for students. The administration is convinced it can manage him too, but this motherfucker will also blow up in their faces when he eventually kills a student or one of them finally goes to the police. Hell, he is arguably not even the second worst, that would be the Faculty member who got a felony conviction for masturbating at students in the gym in my era, but who somehow is back to teaching math on campus.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:46 PM on June 13, 2017 [75 favorites]


Blasdelb,

Wow. I wasn't planning on jumping in on this thread, but wow. You win metafilter for the day. Why didn't you end that with a mic drop?

Thanks for the insight.
posted by Telf at 1:13 AM on June 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Blasedelb--I am going to take your word--simply because you took the time and effort to post a thoughtful response and explanation. The complexity of this is beyond me--and I am not that interested--but kudos for taking the time and avoiding cliches. Thanks Again
posted by rmhsinc at 1:19 AM on June 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic. Wow, Blasdelb, thanks for laying all that out for us.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:51 AM on June 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


In regards to Weinstein, the latest is that the spokesperson from the college said he was back to teaching in his classroom as of a week ago however Weinstein says he hasn't been there since June 1st.


“I understand faculty member Bret Weinstein returned to campus just over a week ago to teach in his normally assigned classroom,” Powers told The Olympian on Tuesday afternoon. “He has been notified by Evergreen Police Services of additional law enforcement present on campus.”

Weinstein said Tuesday that is not true.

“If college administrators say I was on campus last week, they are lying,” he told The Olympian. “I left campus when it was evacuated on the morning of June 1. I held my afternoon class in a downtown park that day, and left the state with my family that evening. We have not been in Washington since, and some administrators know that.”


via
posted by whorl at 3:07 AM on June 14, 2017


corb: "Yeah, to be clear, I think that it's perfectly reasonable to expect professors to have to put up with students protesting and chanting: however, the students surrounding people and not letting them pass, or the ones with bats and 10,000$ of property damage falls into the category of "stuff people should not have to have happen even if they're wrong as a wrong thing.""
I'm totally with you here. Its pretty clear that all the officer involved wanted to do was de-escalate by checking in with Weinstein to make sure he was having as much fun as the protesters, and would have left as soon as Weinstein communicated that. I've heard credible reports that the police were only called to begin with by a disabled student who felt trapped in a nearby bathroom, and it clearly wasn't Weinstein. They fucked up by not just pausing the fun to let him through, quickly chat with Weinstein, and then just as quickly go away. However, anyone familiar with campus culture watching the video could tell you that the wellness check wasn't really necessary, and Weinstein was hilariously far from being in any real danger. Its a profoundly benign fuckup that lessons have no doubt been learned from.

Greeners can occasionally get vaguely scary, there is always a sizable population of students who are vulnerable to various flavors of culty shit that ranges from Jill Stein support* to mostly benign-ish pyramid worship to heavily armed Trotskyists in the hills, but that is only when they get quiet. These students are loud, learning how to organize, and conspicuously having fun doing so. To actually physically attack Weinstein, not only would they have to be angry at him rather than all the shit he represents in abstract to them, but they would have to stop berating him. In the same way, if you know campus culture, it would be hard to take a less intimidating photo of a bunch of young people carrying bats outside of a baseball context than the one that is currently circulating on right-wing blogs. For better or worse, those bats are no more actually threatening than a cardbord sword at an anime convention, and serve a very similar purpose.

Two years ago, after the notoriously racist and escalation-happy Olympia police shot two men and paralyzing one, the backlash against them attracted local fascists to make a stink in town that prompted a confrontation between them and the local anti-fa. While the ever shifting fascist groups around Olympia are mostly unemployed and pathetically cowardly old white men, they do have some genuinely scary and armed elements to them, however the anti-fa who confronted them were clearly only just scary enough to stand their ground and shoo them off though force of numbers. There really isn't any need to worry about unprovoked violence against people from students.

*I kid because I love
posted by Blasdelb at 3:11 AM on June 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


the worst part of hearing all this for me is that the people at evergreen seem to think that the government that funds them isn't ever going to pull the rug out from under them by either pulling funding or changing the nature of the school entirely

i hope they don't have this happen to them, but they should look into the history of alternative colleges and learn that a thomas jefferson college that was a part of grand valley state colleges and actually had informal associations, such as exchanging faculty and students with evergreen, was shut down in 1979 because the local power structure didn't like the liberal things going on there

it's time to look at context and perspective and see what could be at stake

speaking from personal experience, it sucks to have your college shut down by the power structure
posted by pyramid termite at 4:59 AM on June 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Let me tell you, if you are a "left" professor who is "driven" to go on Fox News, you are no goddamn left professor at all;

No True Lefty. Seriously, this is just the they're-racist-so-they-can't-be-left flip side of the I'm-left-so-I-can't-be-racist coin. The othering and disavowment are not helpful for figuring out the structural problems that persist even among us bleeding hearts.
posted by solotoro at 5:58 AM on June 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


No True Lefty. Seriously, this is just the they're-racist-so-they-can't-be-left flip side of the I'm-left-so-I-can't-be-racist coin. The othering and disavowment are not helpful for figuring out the structural problems that persist even among us bleeding hearts.

No, it's pointing out that someone who says they support left leaning causes yet has no compunctions about going on a network founded on destroying those very causes isn't really allied with the left.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:36 AM on June 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


I agree that it's Not Good to assert such litmus tests. That said, given the subject matter and given how Fox News functions in our society, and how absolutely no one would fail to be aware of how this interview would be presented, then going to Fox News to present this grievance is, at best, something very counterproductive for someone on the left to do.

I don't know if I'm older than this guy -- I probably am. One of the things that I've learned, with much difficulty, is that the context in which one acts politically in public is as important as what one has substantially to say. It matters very much who one is seen to be "in bed with". And, over the years, I've learned to absolutely despise inadvertently giving my political enemies credibility merely because I felt it was important to speak up because of principle. I imagine that many people would consider this to be me becoming cynical and sly. But what I care about more than anything is actual results, actual change. And being in bed with my enemies almost without fail enables, not hinders, them.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:53 AM on June 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Sorry, you don't go on Fox News to denounce a bunch of college students at the college at which you have tenure if your leftism is anything but self-serving nonsense. You don't go on a right wing news station to denounce a bunch of college students of color by telling what are apparently total lies about how things work on campus if your leftism is anything but self-serving nonsense.

We can argue all day about what "left" means, but there are some things that it doesn't mean, or it ceases to mean anything at all - and one of them is going on the nation's premier right-wing media entity to denounce a bunch of college students as an intellectual danger to the republic. Particularly at a point where there have been a bunch of actual, violent physical attacks on left wing college students and college-age people by the armed right.

One can "no true Scotsman" all day, but if my family came from Sweden, my partner is from Peru and I've lived all my life in Arizona, I'm not Scottish, no matter how much I assert that I am.
posted by Frowner at 7:35 AM on June 14, 2017 [11 favorites]



*Bret is still not even close to the worst, that would be the organic chemist who tests the mind altering drugs he designs on the students that he also grooms for sexual exploitation.


wat
posted by lalochezia at 7:45 AM on June 14, 2017


For the record and FWIW, that person is no longer at Evergreen, if I understand the reference correctly.
posted by Kat Allison at 8:39 AM on June 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


LOL, who else could it be? That said, if he ever looked you in the eye its probably not the same dude. I was just looking through the faculty directory, didn't find him there, and was hoping we were finally rid of him somehow. I'm glad we are, and I'm really glad that however it went down the FBI appears to have not been involved.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:58 AM on June 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I've been glossing over this story for WEEKS, and only clicked into this thread with some trepidation, so I cannot begin to explain how delighted I am to have Blasdelb's summary, above. You rule, dude.
posted by uberchet at 1:09 PM on June 14, 2017


> I'm pretty sure we had this Day of Absence/Day of Presence back in the old days when I was there

Yes, because it existed when I was there and I predate you. I don't remember it being a big deal, but I'm white and can be clueless.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:34 AM on June 15, 2017


I also graduated from Evergreen in 2010, but never met Prof. Weinstein. I agree with what others already said: the Day of Absence/Presence events are voluntary. I never felt pressure to participate. I do not recall many students choosing to leave my classes (art and math).

The contents of Prof. Weinstein's email:

> There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space... and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness... The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.

> You may take this letter as a formal protest of this year’s structure, and you may assume I will be on campus on the Day of Absence.
almost seem like they were designed to create an exaggerated perception of the amount of force behind Day of Absence. Students, faculty, and staff of Evergreen know how optional the event is. But a person who only learns of the event via Prof. Weinstein's email will think that people who don't participate are vilified.

I cannot imagine how an empathetic, anti-racist, social justice oriented person could arrive at Prof. Weinstein's views. It is just one more instance of the pattern: a white person claims to care about disadvantaged POC but balks at the slightest request of personal sacrifice. The same pattern shows up in people who oppose affirmative action in college admissions because they think equality of opportunity is enough. It's so obvious that these people don't actually care about POC, because if you start with the framework of "we need to improve quality of life for POC in the United States", it only takes common sense to understand why we need sacrifices from white people to escape the self-perpetuating institutionalized racism we have today. It takes willful ignorance not to see that.

In this case, the sacrifice isn't even a real sacrifice, it's symbolic.

It sucks it had to go down this way, but I don't see a whole lot of other options. If you try to speak out against these people with calm, measured words, the response is always disingenuous lip service with no real action.
posted by scose at 1:05 PM on June 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


I cannot imagine how an empathetic, anti-racist, social justice oriented person could arrive at Prof. Weinstein's views.

Probably similar to another professor, Jordan Peterson, who also had a long talk with Joe Rogan. Twice.
posted by whorl at 4:03 PM on June 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Jordan Peterson is also a transphobic, anti-feminist, bigot who is an enthusiastic supporter of bigoted harassment and rape/death threat movements like Gamergate. Joe Rogan has repeatedly made racist, transphobic, and homophobic remarks. Implying that either of them are empathetic or anti-racist or social-justice oriented is an insult to people that actually are those things.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:18 PM on June 15, 2017


It sounds like we must have different dictionaries. That's fine.
posted by whorl at 4:36 PM on June 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but ours wasn't written in black crayon.
posted by happyroach at 4:40 PM on June 15, 2017


That sounds expensive and incredibly time consuming.
posted by whorl at 4:43 PM on June 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think the difficulty breaks down into that age-old "what constitutes the Left?" And unfortunately, people keep trying to redraw definitions so they exclude the people they think are bad, such that the word loses all meaning.

Like, can anyone really say that the, say, RCP or the ISO isn't part of the left, even though their members often hold some misogynist or bigoted views?

There are some really great books out there by women who have been part of leftist movements for the last forty years who talk about how terrible many of them have been and still are over women's issues. Does that retroactively mean those movements weren't part of the Left? No.

Likewise, this guy can be part of the economic left while still being bad on other issues. If words are to have meaning, you can't just say "he was never one of us" to avoid having to deal with difficult complexities of definition and coalitions.
posted by corb at 4:56 PM on June 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm actually not all that interested in the question of whether this dude is or isn't a true leftsman. He's being super intellectually dishonest at the expense of students, his colleagues, and the institution, in order to score points with people who don't have any investment Evergreen or its mission. He's appealing to the prejudices of people who are actively hostile to Evergreen and its mission. It's shitty behavior regardless of where he falls on the political spectrum. It would be shitty behavior even if I thought he were right.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:09 PM on June 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


It sounds like we must have different dictionaries.

My definitions of their words actions being transphobic, homophobic, racist, etc match those listed in Merriam-Webster. That they don't match ones that the Richard Spencers of the world may have put together on the chans is, in fact, super fine with me.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:31 PM on June 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Oh, well in that case I'd suggest listening to him instead of reading about him if you haven't already. If you have then I guess we'll just agree to disagree, no need to get into a big thing about it here. I suppose if you want to go to PM's that'd be fine, don't want to give the mods a hard time. Also I don't claim to know everything about everyone in question, but I think I've listened to enough.
posted by whorl at 5:47 PM on June 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Dr Peterson says he does not object to trans people or to choosing which traditional pronoun they prefer.

"If the standard transsexual person wants to be regarded as he or she, my sense is I'll address you according to the part that you appear to be playing," he said.

But he argues terms like "gender identity' and "gender expression" are too broad, are the "propositions of radical social constructionists," and are being used to bully opponents into submission.

"There's only two alternatives to that," he said.

"One is silent slavery with all the repression and resentment that that will generate, and the other is outright conflict. Free speech is not just another value. It's the foundation of Western civilization."

----

"Silent slavery"? Yeah, no. I think I have also listened enough. To him.
posted by rtha at 7:19 PM on June 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Thanks for looking into that.

As for "silent slavery" that's strong language, and I think he's being over the top in an attempt to drive home his point that the more or less benign legislation he's against in this instance is just one of the first stops on a road that would lead to proper silent slavery (he has said he's studied history extensively to arrive to his conclusion on this matter). There's more to it of course but I don't know if it's cool to go on a tangent in a thread about Evergreen.
posted by whorl at 7:33 PM on June 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Should have included this, here he shows up in the senate hearing as a witness on that piece of legislation along with a lawyer who also has issues with the legislation. Oh and looks like it passed, today actually.
posted by whorl at 8:13 PM on June 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised he was hired by, and wanted to work at, Evergreen in the first place.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:15 PM on June 15, 2017


Who, Peterson? He's at UToronto (since 97), previously Harvard (93-97).

BA poli sci (82), BA psychology (84) University of Alberta
PhD in CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY (91) McGill

I can't even.

But he's kind of a derail from the Evergreen issue so I'm going to can't even somewhere else.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:51 PM on June 15, 2017


VICE News fucks this up too.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:40 AM on June 16, 2017


Here is a harsh take on events at Evergreen by a former student and critic/blogger, who either was or is a Christian missionary of liberation theology. He is also an apparent apologist for anti-environmentalism, by using the same methods of linking these movements to a proto-Nazi ideology via post-modernism, or "post-Marxism."
posted by Brian B. at 8:57 AM on June 17, 2017


This dude's thesis is that the "Jewess" Hannah Arendt was a secret and semi-witting Nazi apologist. Hannah fucking Arendt. What's next, Elie Wiesel's compassion doctrine helped Nazis flee to Argentina after the war? Simon Wiesenthal secretly concealed war criminals by shifting attention to a very few public effigies? As long as we're talking absolute shit, let's just go hog wild.
posted by Errant at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2017


Looks like Vice did a mini-doc on this which has interviews with Weinstein, George Bridges, and a couple students.

2013 version Evergreen's disorientation manual via previously on mefi. And some other person who says they are a former graduate did a write up on the manual in relation to recent events at the college.
posted by whorl at 8:10 PM on June 17, 2017


The Media Brought the Alt-Right to My Campus in The New York Times
posted by Blasdelb at 3:18 AM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Media Brought the Alt-Right to My Campus in The New York Times

And it is for this reason that I think Weinstein is not a leftist but a chancer out for his own interests. You could argue that if there were a very, very grave matter at issue it might be worth going on conservative media to denounce some students - if it were truly, truly urgent and there were no other method of resolution available. It's difficult for me to think of something like this, because it seems like it would have to be immediate, credible, substantial physical threat to people on campus. (Not just "students were yelling at me in a manner that made me uncomfortable", either.)

Otherwise you're saying "I'm doing something that will probably provoke immediate, credible, substantial threat to people on campus which may possibly escalate to murder of students or staff, and which will definitely create problems for campus climate and hence for enrollment and the financial health of the school... over a political conflict which may be unpleasant and frustrating but which is not threatening to anyone". Pretending that you're in danger from a bunch of students yelling at you - however unpleasant that may be, and however aggressive the students - is self-serving garbage. Whereas we have ample evidence of real, scary violence and credible threats against leftists by the right.
posted by Frowner at 7:25 AM on June 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


Pretending that you're in danger from a bunch of students yelling at you - however unpleasant that may be, and however aggressive the students - is self-serving garbage.

The thing is...there really is no clear way, no set of signs, to tell the difference between an aggressive protest that will end in riot and an aggressive protest that will not end in any violence at all. I know this in part because many of my friends were trained by the best minds in crowd control, and the advice basically boiled down to: "be ready for shit to cook off anytime, and try to keep a distance". I've also been a part of crowds that ended up rioting, and the thing is, it really only takes one moment, one flashpoint, one person to call for it in a way that seems compelling. Was Weinstein in danger? The answer can't be, "no, because he wasn't hurt", because that ignores the many possibilities of things going the other way. When the protest has no clear leaders and is marked by anger and aggression, the chances are much larger of things not going well.

It's worth noting also that Weinstein is old enough to remember when leftist violence was a real thing. He graduated college in 1993, which puts his birthdate probably around 1970-1971. And the 1970s were the major moment when leftist armed struggle in the United States was at its height. The Symbionese Liberation Army murdered leftist Marcus Foster because of confusion over school identity cards and had the biggest shootout in American history. You also had the Pine Ridge shootout and the murder of bad-jacketed Anna Mae Aquash. Per Bryan Burrough in Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence, you have,
"Radical violence was so deeply woven into the fabric of 1970s America that many citizens, especially in New York and other hard-hit cities, accepted it as part of daily life"
You can't say "this violence is real, but Weinstein is just pretending he's scared by this other potential violence." You can say he's overreacting, you can say we are not yet to a place where things are going to erupt into violence, or that he should have known that going on conservative media would introduce the alt right and bring a higher likelihood of violence, but to say that he isn't genuinely in fear and is just pretending is I think flat out wrong.
posted by corb at 8:23 AM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


> It's worth noting also that Weinstein is old enough to remember when leftist violence was a real thing. He graduated college in 1993, which puts his birthdate probably around 1970-1971. And the 1970s were the major moment when leftist armed struggle in the United States was at its height. The Symbionese Liberation Army murdered leftist Marcus Foster because of confusion over school identity cards and had the biggest shootout in American history. You also had the Pine Ridge shootout and the murder of bad-jacketed Anna Mae Aquash.

This is a real stretch. I'm a good five years older than this guy, so I was actually a talking, going-to-school person in the early 70s and these incidents made no impression on me at the time. Things that had a much larger effect: The Vietnam war, which was on the news every night. My mom and her friends talking about Watergate (not that I understood any of it). Some years (like, a decade) later, thinking I was going to die in a nuclear holocaust because we had a president who thought it was funny to joke about pushing the button. Like that. But the SLA? Maybe later, when he was studying history in school, these kinds of incidents might have informed his world view. I do not buy for one second that they had an effect on him when he was three years old.
posted by rtha at 9:18 AM on June 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think we have a responsibility to distinguish unalike things from each other.

I was born in the mid-seventies and went through a "read up on radical seventies groups" phase, so I'm actually pretty familiar with those rapist nutters, the SLA. And the RAF, and the Japanese Red Army, etc etc. It simply isn't intellectually acceptable to say "I am plausibly afraid of a group of angry college students because I read up on the SLA". The SLA, the RAF, etc, had a lot of group identification and commitment to urban guerrilla attacks - they weren't just affinity groups that got out of hand, but were highly ideologized people who came out of extremely militant activist milieux. Those groups arose in a time of left ascendancy in a broadly sympathetic culture. What's more, for the most part they didn't arise directly out of student organizing. At least with the RAF and the SLA, there were also older people with dodgy quasi criminal histories involved.

Saying "I am justified in seeking the attention of the far right to address my grievances because these angry students might just blow me up like the RAF or the SLA" is...it's the equivalent of saying that no one should be allowed to have a protest permit because you remember how back in 1968 there was a riot.

If someone who is otherwise of good will is sitting around saying "gee, angry college students at a small liberal arts school could go RAF any minute, we'd better stop them right now", that person needs therapy to address their anxiety. I mean, I totally sympathize on this level, because I too tend to catastrophize, but conflating today's student protest with the SLA is a greater stretch even than conflating, eg, the alt-right with the Freikorps.

It's extremely important to look at what actually happened in political situations, not reduce things into fungible pieces like "left violence". If you can't do that, you certainly have no business bloviating on Fox News.
posted by Frowner at 9:47 AM on June 19, 2017 [6 favorites]


It simply isn't intellectually acceptable to say "I am plausibly afraid of a group of angry college students because I read up on the SLA"

I actually truly and genuinely do not understand your point here - it seems like there are some steps in your logic chain that you're assuming are pretty obvious, but I'm honestly not seeing them and could use some explanation - I generally really appreciate what you're saying and think you're always trying to engage in good faith, which is why this is so confusing.

The detour into the left-wing violence was at its peak in the 70s, I was mostly bringing up to counter the idea that people can always be sure that only right-wing violence is real - that is not, historically, the case even for the extreme ends, and it's definitely not the case for the low level stuff. We see left-wing violence here, now, over the last decade, to the extent that I think someone could plausibly be afraid - not necessarily that they are going to be murdered, but to the extent that they will be the target of violence. Like, the smashy-smashy anarchists have been doing this for years, and while the big incidents making the news are usually broken windows/property damage, because those are obvious and quantifiable, I have been inside protests where bottles started getting hurled, fightfights were ongoing, etc. One of the earliest protests I attended as an adult, in 2007, involved a brawl when some pro-war people stole an American flag from the anti-war side. It didn't make the news, but these things were definitely happening. I don't think that a teacher at Evergreen, of all places, would be unaware that this kind of low-level violence is ongoing.

The question for me is not, "Did Weinstein have a reasonable fear that college students would attack and he would get killed" but rather, "Did Weinstein have a reasonable fear that college students would behave violently and he would get hit or his property would be broken?" And I think he absolutely did. We have seen video after video of college professors or lecturers who are identified as too conservative for the place they are speaking and being chased out or attacked by antifa or protesters. Remember that FPP a while back, where a relatively left-leaning professor was escorting a "racial realist" off campus and got her hair pulled and was legitimately terrified? I don't think I would feel comfortable, in the environment that Weinstein was dealing with, guaranteeing that he would not face any physical assault, even a mild one.

And then we're facing the question of: what is reasonable to do when you fear a low level amount of violence that probably isn't going to kill you? Is it not acceptable to be plausibly afraid of low level violence?
posted by corb at 11:24 AM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


the idea that people can always be sure that only right-wing violence is real

Talk about imagination.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:25 PM on June 19, 2017


> "Did Weinstein have a reasonable fear that college students would behave violently and he would get hit or his property would be broken?"

Let's say his fear was reasonable. Is a reasonable response to go on the premier right-wing media giant, one that has hosted and hired white supremacist apologists, to talk about how awful Kids Today are?
posted by rtha at 4:09 PM on June 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


> It's worth noting also that Weinstein is old enough to remember when leftist violence was a real thing. He graduated college in 1993, which puts his birthdate probably around 1970-1971. And the 1970s were the major moment when leftist armed struggle in the United States was at its height.

That makes him my age -- I graduated from college (Evergreen, in fact) in 1992. In my experience, the connection you're making between being a child in the 1970s and fearing American leftist political violence today is not a valid one.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:10 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


And not even really for someone ten years older, like myself. For Americans, I think you'd need to have come of age right at the end of the sixties and early seventies to have strong enough memories of groups like the Weathermen for left-wing violence to be a significant part of your milieu and worldview.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:40 PM on June 19, 2017


Let's say he didn't go on Tucker because that was the only option immediately available to him because no major liberal outlets were interested (who knows), did he say anything there that he wouldn't have said / been able to say to a liberal outlet? Would this other interview have had an entirely different result other than more liberals not railing on Weinstein simply because of where he was interviewed?

I'm not sure I'm questioning this logic properly, but I really just don't get it.
posted by whorl at 4:44 PM on June 19, 2017


The liberal media is a fantasy, and the idea that he wouldn't get attention from the same people who hired Corey Lewandowski and Megyn Kelly is a fantasy, so I'm not sure where these hypotheticals are supposed to be going. And really, the idea that these lines of argument have to depend pretty much entirely on hypotheticals (and misreadings/removal of context in history) when there's so much actual information available from a variety of sources--including other MeFites--that matches up far better is itself questionable.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:54 PM on June 19, 2017


Where did I say "liberal media"? I was asking questions because I don't understand things, and you have been unhelpful. The question is basically: why does where that interview took place seem so much more important than what was actually said in the interview? It seems to be taken as a given that there's a valid reason any sensible person would agree with but I don't see it.
posted by whorl at 5:18 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Where did I say "liberal media"?
Here:
Let's say he didn't go on Tucker because that was the only option immediately available to him because no major liberal outlets were interested (who knows)
Emphasis mine.

What he said was fundamentally dishonest. It would have been bad to go on any channel and tell lies about his students and colleagues. However, other channels would have been more likely to do their due diligence and investigate enough to find out that he was not telling the truth. Fox News didn't do that because his lies played into their audience's preconceptions and prejudices, and their business model involves playing into their audience's prejudices. Going to the right wing media also makes it likely that the story will be picked up by people who like to harass women and people of color, which he had to have known.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:28 PM on June 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


So there is not one major outlet that would be considered to be liberal while there are conservative outlets that would? Because I'm not saying the media is liberal, I'm saying there are outlets that would be considered liberal.

Let's say he did say something fundamentally dishonest, did other channels chose to do their due diligence and investigate it and if so did they come to the conclusion that he was lying? I don't think him appearing on Fox means other networks can't report on it and explain how the professor lied point by point.

It was only about five minutes. I could maybe see all this if it was a half hour - hour exclusive scoop, but eh. I don't recall any lies from when I saw it, tried to find a transcript quick but no go.
posted by whorl at 5:41 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't think him appearing on Fox means other networks can't report on it and explain how the professor lied point by point.
Back here in reality, there are really significant things going on in the world. Fox News is in the business of confirming their viewers' prejudices, and this is an awesome and important story if that's what drives your news judgement. For news channels that are in the business of reporting the news, this is not a story that merits airtime.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:19 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


So then the argument would go to this being the only major outlet that would take him. Also maybe not directly related but as far as I know he is still in hiding with his family - whether or not that's necessary I'm not going to be quick to judge.
posted by whorl at 6:25 PM on June 19, 2017


[Whorl, you are dominating the thread, commenting waaay more than anyone else, and demanding that everyone debate your conclusions. This is way out of bounds. The point of making a post is that it may be something other members may enjoy discussing, not to provide a handy space for the OP to grind a personal axe and argue with everyone else. You need to step back, and avoid this sort of thing entirely in the future.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:58 PM on June 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


corb: "The thing is...there really is no clear way, no set of signs, to tell the difference between an aggressive protest that will end in riot and an aggressive protest that will not end in any violence at all. I know this in part because many of my friends were trained by the best minds in crowd control, and the advice basically boiled down to: "be ready for shit to cook off anytime, and try to keep a distance". I've also been a part of crowds that ended up rioting, and the thing is, it really only takes one moment, one flashpoint, one person to call for it in a way that seems compelling. Was Weinstein in danger? The answer can't be, "no, because he wasn't hurt", because that ignores the many possibilities of things going the other way. When the protest has no clear leaders and is marked by anger and aggression, the chances are much larger of things not going well."
While I can see its appeal, this is just a truism masquerading as educated opinion that here is serving as a way to replace critical thinking with naked fear.

That protest, as ridiculous and hilariously counter-productive as it was, was clearly organized and planned with lecturing Bret in this fashion as its singular purpose, had clear leadership making sure everyone got a chance to lecture him, and was even able to organize itself to react coherently, if over-dramatically, to the later police intervention. If these students really meant him or his any kind of physical harm, a protest like this with so much momentum rolling down such clear tracks would be a hilariously ineffective way to accomplish it.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:30 AM on June 20, 2017


Whether they were organized with a goal or not, they succeeded at intimidation without violence, which is effective at getting a target to retreat in fear of losing something of value. It also sends a chilling message to anyone that will take their side. Although they may have figured that live recordings were important for their community to see, they probably didn't imagine that it would go national and receive so much condemnation.
posted by Brian B. at 2:11 PM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Whether they were organized with a goal or not, they succeeded at intimidation without violence, which is effective at getting a target to retreat in fear of losing something of value. It also sends a chilling message to anyone that will take their side.

You mean that they showed that freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from the consequences of said speech? It's funny how the speech of one side is "speech", but the speech of the other is "intimidation".
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:44 PM on June 21, 2017


You mean that they showed that freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from the consequences of said speech? It's funny how the speech of one side is "speech", but the speech of the other is "intimidation".

Freedom of speech generally means free from negative or legal consequences. And it is not unusual to have two-way speech be asymmetrical, one being intimidation, the other not.
posted by Brian B. at 2:45 PM on June 21, 2017


Freedom of speech generally means free from negative or legal consequences

Freedom of speech most definitely does not mean freedom from consequences. That kind of absolutist position from alleged proponents of freedom of speech should be seen as a perversion of the concept, and (to varying effectiveness) has been rejected by justice systems in many cases. That so many people in positions of power, including not a few in those same justice systems, have abused that freedom in that vein and gotten away with it is a large part of pretty much every societal problem facing us today.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:51 PM on June 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Freedom of speech generally means free from negative or legal consequences
That's literally not even possible. Someone could pass a law that said "all speech should be free from negative consequences," and it wouldn't matter, because no law in the world could stop people from hearing your speech and deciding that you were a dingbat or a bigot or that your position was incoherent. There is no such thing as speech without possible consequences. The idea that you can do pretty much anything without facing *any* possible consequences is a childish fantasy.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:16 PM on June 21, 2017


You can argue with Wikipedia on the matter of free speech.
posted by Brian B. at 10:37 PM on June 21, 2017


Oh well if Wikipedia is citing John Stuart Mill then I guess that wins the argument.
posted by rtha at 10:44 PM on June 21, 2017


Feel free to edit the entry at Wikipedia.
posted by Brian B. at 10:46 PM on June 21, 2017


I don't think freedom of speech means freedom from consequences, but I do think that causing people to fear violence to themselves or their property is not a reasonable consequence that should result from said speech, and is definitely not one anyone should institutionally support. This is doubly true for academics, who receive things like tenure specifically to avoid having to be afraid as a result of their speech, because students benefit from having professors willing to be controversial.
posted by corb at 11:33 PM on June 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


It really sounds like some people think that freedom of speech means that conservatives get to say whatever they want, and they can't suffer any consequences, but people who disagree with them can't hold a demonstration, because conservatives might fear for their safety. If conservatives say things that cause other people to fear for their safety (for instance, if they go on news channels that are watched by violent fanatics and lie in ways that cause the violent fanatics to threaten people), then the other people should suck it up, buttercup. But when conservatives fear for their safety, that's reasonable and sacred, and the other people's speech should be prevented.

Is that about the size of it?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:41 AM on June 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


Here is an article about how anti-racist professors have received death threats and pressure on their universities to fire them, based on such things as linking to an angry and somewhat controversial "Son of Baldwin" essay or pointing out in class that white supremacists have pointed to the "whiteness" of Greek and Roman statuary as showing the beauty/value of whiteness without paying attention to the fact that the statues were, like, painted.

What I'm saying here is that when a white professor at a liberal college is a total asshole and lies about his employer on national right-wing media, generating enough terrorist threats against students that the college has to be shut down several times, the focus is on his free speech, did he feel afraid, is this fair to him, etc. When anti-racist professors do much less controversial things and do not seek to provoke far right attention, the legislature and the administration turn on them and they get death threats.

This is the very essence of both white fragility and the cold, cruel, deadly indifference to people of color that constitutes whiteness.

White professor: I am a tenured professor who can set my own teaching and research agenda; also, I will not be shot by the police and left to bleed out. Here is a lie about how white students are forced - forced!!! - off campus for a mandatory Cultural Revolution-like indoctrination session!!!
Everyone: Did some students yell at you? You poor baby!!!

Black professor: During a time when the killing of an innocent Black lunch guy by a police officer was totally dismissed by the legal system and in the recognition that I too, as a Black man, could be murdered with impunity, I linked to an article on Facebook that linked to a controversial article written by someone else in which, in the wake of the Castile verdict, a Black writer suggested that perhaps compassion for white racist victims of violence was misplaced.
Everyone: You reverse-racist! You should get death threats! Or at least be fired!!!
posted by Frowner at 6:36 AM on June 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


When anti-racist professors do much less controversial things and do not seek to provoke far right attention, the legislature and the administration turn on them and they get death threats.

Those professors are within their legal rights, and have protected free speech as you describe. Others here seem to have a built a clear and unambiguous case justifying the backlash against your anti-racist classroom examples. If so, they may be in fact be justifying the two wrongs fallacy, or suggesting that the ends justify the means.
posted by Brian B. at 8:14 AM on June 22, 2017


I think it's more about the principle of immediacy and the direction that violence is likely to come from.

For example: I am afraid when I hear people talking about more aggressive policing, because I suspect that those policies are likely to be enshrined into law and that aggressive policing is likely to fall hard on people who don't deserve it. But I'm not immediately afraid until it is implemented and I actually have to be afraid of the police. In the former case, I'm afraid of the policy implications of that speech rather than the immediate result to my safety.

Likewise, this guy going on Fox News also has frightening implications for a lot of people - they know, correctly, it's a magnet for the alt-right LARPers, who have indeed dutifully showed up. But the immediacy of the fear is on the alt-right LARPers who showed up trying to intimidate.

I think you have to allow the former - speech that is civil but with troubling policy implications- for the marketplace of ideas and our democracy to be at all meaningful. The latter - people deliberately trying to intimidate- is not something that should be supported in our democracy.

And it is unequivocally never, ever, okay when anyone receives death threats for their speech, whoever they are. I hadn't said anything in this thread about it because afaik no one on Evergreen has received them - but I do condemn them, wherever they rise and whoever they rise against.
posted by corb at 8:31 AM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


The VP of Academic Affairs at Evergreen (until yesterday) chimes in. A little late, but offers a very comprehensive view of his perspective.
posted by whorl at 7:25 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


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