My source in Turkey (who, for obvious reasons, does not want to be identified) writes:
We have some more horrible news. One of Boğaziçi's undergraduate philosophy students, Jülide Yazıcı, was arrested, along with 3 other students, and has apparently already been charged with the extremely serious charge of "being a member of a terrorist organisation". She had been posting in support of faculty under attack.
I'm trying to find out more about the other 2 students. One of them is from Bilgi University, the other one is from Bogazici too, named Heja Türk; nephew of Ahmet Türk, one of the most famous Kurdish politicians.
6 were detained in a police operation involving house raids in İstanbul two days ago. Out of the detainees, 4 students were arrested with charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization” and “making terrorist propaganda”. The names and affiliations of those arrested are as follows: -Jülide Yazıcı, Boğaziçi University Philosophy Undergraduate Student. She lately supported a petition in Philosophy Department to support 'Academics for Peace'. -Heja Türk, Boğaziçi University, Western Languages and Literature Graduate -Mehtap Demirci -Çağrı Kurt, Bilgi University, Political Science
I believe all 4 are still in custody.
Comments are open for more information and links.
UPDATE: More information here and commentary here.
A philosophy professor will be put on trial. Note that under Turkish law, insulting the President is an actionable offense. It is the law, and not necessarily its application in this instance, that is rotten.
UPDATE: A philosopher in Turkey writes: "I think it might be worth pointing out that Orsan is an important part of Turkish philosophical community - being the person behind 'Philosophy in Assos'": http://www.philosophyinassos.org/assos.htm. These events are an important part of Turkish philosophical calendar. Ironically he was supposed to be giving lecture in Assos on 'Freedom, Justice and Courage' and I think this falls on the day they set for his Trial."
Marvin Krislov, the president, said that while some of the demands "resonate with me and many members of our community, including our trustees," he would not respond directly to the proposals from black students, which were termed non-negotiable.
"[S]ome of the solutions it proposes are deeply troubling," Krislov wrote in a response posted on Oberlin's website. "I will not respond directly to any document that explicitly rejects the notion of collaborative engagement. Many of its demands contravene principles of shared governance. And it contains personal attacks on a number of faculty and staff members who are dedicated and valued members of this community."
The 14-page list of demands at Oberlin was detailed and contained many controversial items. Among other things, it demanded the immediate firing of some Oberlin employees, the immediate tenuring of some faculty members, specific curricular changes, a review and possible revision of the grading system (to be overseen by students), the creation of "safe spaces" for black students in at least three buildings on campus, the creation of a program to enroll recently released prisoners from a nearby prison as undergraduates, divestment from Israel, and a requirement that black student leaders be paid $8.20 an hour for their organizing efforts.
The students also demanded changes at Oberlin's noted conservatory. For instance, the list of demands said that students should not be required to take "heavily based classical courses that have minimal relevance to their jazz interests." Stating that classical music students are not required to study jazz, the list of demands says that students of jazz "should not be forced to take courses rooted in whiteness."
As we noted in December, the Oberlin student "demands" set a new low for their unreasonableness, demanding actions that were plainly illegal. It's a oood thing the President drew a firm line on this nonsense.
He's now slightly ahead of Trump among California Republican voters. I expect he will win Iowa and South Carolina, two of the first three primaries, and that will give him the momentum needed. As with Trump, Cruz is a gift to the Democrats.
It's certainly hard to disagree with this. Starting with his attempt to destroy the public school system and screw the teachers, he's been in freefall, though the coverup of police killing(s?) is what will probably finish him.
The victim is the legal philosopher Hanoch Sheinman, one of the leading scholars in the field of his generation, who is a member of the law faculty. The persecutors are the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Shahar Lifshitz, aided and abetted by the University Rector Miriam Faust. Readers may recall that when, during the assault on Gaza, Prof. Sheinman expressed sympathy for all victims of the violence, a controversy ensued and more than two hundred academics signed a petition in his support. Although the Dean purported to back down at that time, it's now clear he did nothing of the kind. As now reported in Haaretz (behind a paywall, alas) and set out in Prof. Sheinman's lawyer's letter to Dean Lifshitz ( Download Letter to Dean Bar Ilan), in the last week of November, the Dean announced a new (and retroactive) "midway review process" for Prof. Sheinman, affording him one week to produce all the necessary materials to the Appointments Committee. (The lawyer's letter sets out all the sorry details of this episode).
The continued harassment of Professor Sheinman by Bar-Ilan University is shocking and a disgrace. I and others will continue to monitor the situation. I hope it is not necessary to call for a general boycott of the university, but unless the political persecution of Prof. Sheinman stops that seems the likely next step.
...who has been doing everything possible to make sure that no one challenges Hillary Clinton. For the first time in several decades we have a serious Presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, who challenges the neoliberal, Reaganesque status quo that has ruled through both the Clinton and Obama Administrations. By holding very few debates, and scheduling them on Saturday evenings no less, the DNC is trying to make sure that the preferred candidate of the Democratic Plutocrats gets the nomination. It's an unbelievable display of contempt for democracy. (Ironically, almost all the polls on head-to-head match-ups shows Sanders leading Trump, and by a wider margin than Clinton!)
Today’s Democrats are what used to be called moderate Republicans. The Republicans have just drifted off the spectrum. They’re so committed to extreme wealth and power that they cannot get votes ... So what has happened is that they’ve mobilized sectors of the population that have been around for a long time. ... Trump may be comic relief, but it’s not that different from the mainstream, which I think is more important.
Because there are only two viable political parties in the U.S., the fact that one of them is dominated by crazies of various stripes is a serious matter, for the U.S. and the world.
It's nice to see the whole world making fun of the not-so-crypto fascist wannabe Donald Trump, but this recent poll out of Iowa is important, since it shows Senator Ted Cruz, a pure right-wing religious crazy out of Texas, leading the pack, including leading Trump by 5%. The Iowa Republican caucus is dominated by religious conservatives--in past cycles they have anointed Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, both of whom, however, went down in flames not long thereafter. Ted Cruz is the natural for them, given those precedents (and given that Ben Carson is becoming increasingly pathetic in public). So prediction: Cruz wins Iowa, Trump wins New Hampshire, and the field begins to narrow (say farewell to Carson, Fiorina, Kasich, Paul etc.), with Rubio hanging on, maybe Christie, maybe even Bush. We then head to South Carolina, where the conservative Christian vote also looms large, and Cruz is likely to do well again (but it's an "open" primary so so-called "independents" could turn out for Trump). I've no prediction on Nevada, but come March 1, we have a huge number of contests. Cruz, Rubio, Bush (if he's still standing), and Trump have the resources to compete if they want. But if Rubio hasn't won anything by March 1, he may be finished. So, too, Christie. The Republican Establishment hates Cruz almost as much as Trump, I suspect, but if forced to choose, I'm fairly confident who'd they prefer. If Cruz is the nominee, this would be yet another windfall for the Democrats.
UPDATE: This should help Senator Cruz lock up Iowa! (Thanks to Richard Galvin for the pointer.)
MEANWHILE: Two-thirds of likely Republican voters support Trump's proposal to ban Muslims--so does one-third of all voters (I guess that includes the Republican ones). This tells us what's in store if there are more incidents like San Bernadino. Those organizations defending civil rights had better be gearing up their legal strategies, because if mass hysteria sets in, the courts may be the only hope.
DECEMBER 10 UPDATE: The latest New York Times/CBS poll for the Republican nomination shows Trump first with 35% and Cruz now moving ahead to second with 16%. That leaves 49% of likely Republican voters picking others or undecided: 13% for Carson, 9% for Rubio, 4% for Rand Paul, 3% each for Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Huckabee. Cruz will get most or all of the Carson and Huckabee support (kicking him up to 32%), and should be easily competitive with Trump for much of the rest, esp. since Cruz looks fairly sane by comparison. I expect that Cruz will win both Iowa and South Carolina, which will give him the needed momentum going forward, plus he also has the financial resources to compete. Even the problematic Hillary Clinton will crush him in the general election, so says my crystal ball.
The University was informed by FBI counterterrorism officials today (Sunday) that an unknown individual posted an online threat of gun violence against the University of Chicago, specifically mentioning “the campus quad” on Monday morning at 10 a.m. Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday. All non-medical faculty, students and non-essential staff are asked not to come to the Hyde Park campus on Monday, or to remain indoors as much as possible if they are on campus. Students in College Housing are asked to stay indoors and await direct communication from College Housing Staff.
My 13-year-old broke the news to us at dinner, via parents of friends. She was excited! Ah youth!
ADDENDUM: It appears they revised #5, if anyone has a copy of the original version, send it to me. (It's still pretty bad.)
ANOTHER: Philosopher David Merli (Franklin & Marshall) kindly sends along the November 13th versions of #5 and #6:
5. President Martin must issue a statement to the Amherst College community at large that states we do not tolerate the actions of student(s) who posted the “All Lives Matter” and “Free Speech” posters. Also let the student body know that it was racially insensitive to the students of color on our college campus and beyond who are victim to racial harassment and death threats; alert them that Student Affairs may require them to go through the Disciplinary Process if a formal complaint is filed, and that they will be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.
6. President Martin must issue a statement of support for the revision of the Honor Code to reflect a zero-tolerance policy for racial insensitivity and hate speech.
I can't wait to read the definition of "racial insensitivity" for which there is zero-tolerance. This spectacle could be the end of Amherst College.
There's a lengthy account here along with three videos; the third is the most shocking. The student behaving that way should be subject to disciplinary proceedings for her abusive misconduct. The student reader who sent this to me asked not to be named (for fear of repercussions given how nuts philosophy cyberspace is), but offered the following apt commentary:
Note the typical absolutist rhetoric of "acknowledging hurt". One must simply answer the question and acknowledge that one had bad thoughts that need to be corrected. Red Herrings are offered in order to rule out the possibility that there is nothing that needs to be apologized for: "We're not saying that you're intrinsically bad for having the bad thoughts. We just want to help correct you. Even if it wasn't your intent, you still caused hurt and need to apologize." The ideology simply does not provide room in logical space for the possibility that the student was being over-sensitive. The real crux of the discussion occurs about 30 seconds into the third clip. It is the precise moment when Christakis says "I don't agree, I have a different vision than you" that the student explodes in rage. Note also how Christakis has been encircled by a couple dozen students shouting him down and demanding his resignation for not providing them a safe space. No doubt the irony is lost on them.
Here. The idea that anything Greer said is "hate speech" is preposterous, but also shows how dangerous that category can be in the hands of zealots.
The response to Greer and her alleged transphobia is just one example of a creeping trend among social justice activists of an identitarian persuasion: a tendency towards ideological totalism, the attempt to determine not only what policies and actions are acceptable, but what thoughts and beliefs are, too. Contemporary identity-based social justice activism is increasingly displaying the kinds of totalising and authoritarian tactics that we usually associate with cults or quasi-religious movements which aim to control the thoughts and inner lives of their members. The doctrine of "gender identity" – the idea that people possess an essential inner gender that is independent both of their sexed body and of the social reality of being treated as a person with such a body – has rapidly been elevated to the status of quasi-religious belief, such that those who do not subscribe to it are seen as not only mistaken and misguided, but dangerous and threatening, and must therefore be silenced.
If you haven't witnessed this first hand, this might sound a touch hyperbolic and overwrought. But in the methods and reactions of those who espouse the doctrine of gender identity, we see many, if not all, of the features of thought control identified by Robert Jay Lifton in his classic study of indoctrination in Chinese re-education camps, to varying degrees:
Milieu control - seeking to establish domain over what the individual sees, hears, reads or writes. Students at Cardiff University must not be permitted to hear Greer's views, because those views are supposedly dangerous.
Demands for purity - dividing the world sharply into pure and impure, good and evil, believer and nonbeliever. There are people who believe that trans women are women, and there are transphobic bigots who "deny trans people's right to exist". No intermediate position is possible.
A cult of confession - individuals are required to reveal their sins and transgressions in order to be redeemed. As a non-trans person, the only way to secure one's status as an ally is to confess to one's "cis privilege" and to engage in repeated, performative privilege checking. (My own personal experience of this came when I publicly stated that I do not accept the label "cisgender", which resulted in my being accused of the chillingly Orwellian-sounding crime of "privilege denial").
Loading the language - the use of thought-terminating clichés and complex and ever changing terminological rules. Just try to critically examine the soundbite "trans women are women" and see how fast the accusations of prejudice and bigotry come flying in. This is a phrase intended to stop you asking difficult questions.
As with so many of the current high-profile no-platforming cases, Greer is being ostracised and shunned, cast out of our moral community and declared beyond redemption, simply for the crime of believing the wrong things, of holding the wrong thoughts in her head, of defining concepts in ways that run counter to those of the newly-established doctrine of gender identity. It is not sufficient to behave towards trans women in a certain way, to respect their preferred pronouns and to support their right to receive the medical treatment they need. You must also really and truly believe that they are women. And if you cannot be made to hold this subjective mental state in your head, that is sufficient to justify silencing you, in the name of protecting the believers.
What all of this assumes is that we have the right to make these kinds of claims on each other's inner lives. It supposes that I can legitimately demand that you believe the things I believe in order to validate my identity, that I can demand that you share my perception of myself because it would be injurious to that perception if you do not. And from there, it's a quick step to the belief that if you do not share my perception of myself, you are committing an act of psychic violence against me. That by refusing to accept the narrative I tell myself about who I am, you harm me just as much as if you really did incite physical violence against me. Thus I become justified in using any tactics at my disposal to ensure that you see me the way I see myself, in making use authoritarian methods of thought control and indoctrination. Acceptance of the doctrine is the only path to salvation and enlightenment, and dissenting views are not only mistaken, but threatening - both to my understanding of myself, and to the ideology itself.
We're familiar with this in academic philosophy too, though mostly, so far, in the bowels of cyberspace. But if the current offenders actually get academic jobs and/or get tenure, then we will be in real trouble.
South Park makes fun of "safe spaces." (A graduate student, whom I'd best not identify given the censorious atmosphere in certain dysfunctional parts of academic philosophy.)
Reader Michael B. sends along this item from Wales and sums up the stupidity aptly:
By now you know the routine: someone says something that some students don't like, so the students quickly muster their rage and start a petition to have that invited speaker banned. Which makes sense: universities are neither the time nor the place to hear or read, much less discuss, things with which one disagrees...
I remember Bertrand Russell writing that he would get attacked by angry mobs when he tried to talk about equality between men and women. Some of the worst were women who would react dramatically to the planned release of rats by saboteurs with whom these women were in cahoots. I suppose these students are too stupid and arrogant to realise their chosen tactic of silencing unpopular (with them) opinions is exactly what kept - and helps keep - people oppressed.
This is obviously crazy, and would not happen in any civilized society, and the backlash is already in progress. But I have to say I am just really sorry for my wonderful colleagues who are being put through this. I fear it will be the end of the University of Texas as a serious university, really one of the best state universities in America. (A few years after joining the UT Austin faculty, I used to joke that this was a great university but it needed to move to a civililzed state. Things have gotten much worse since. I really fear for the future there.)
...has a "safe space policy" which, in non-Orwellian language, is actually a "policy to suppress speech in the name of equality", as its application to the lesbian feminist writer Julie Bindel plainly demonstrates. (Thanks to Phil in an earlier thread for pointing this out.) This is the road some would like American universities to head down, alas. I wonder if anyone familiar with Manchester and this policy can comment on how frequently it is invoked for the suppression of speech that is clearly not unlawful, even under English law?
UPDATE: As explained by several commenters, the Student Union (responsible for the "safe space policy") is a legally distinct entity from the University, over which the latter has, it appears, no control.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)