Displaying posts published in

February 2017

A Pleasant Day Protesting All Things Trump by Charles Lipson

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. That’s unusual for Presidents’ Day in Chicago, where the weather is typically a mournful dirge for Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, with blowing snow and biting wind. But in 2017, it was a gentle, sunny day that felt like mid-May.

A good day for a protest, and one had gathered on the riverbank opposite Trump Tower. There were lots of police nearby, but they were relaxed, without much to do. The demonstration was clearly peaceful, so I decided to walk over and see what it was about.

It was about President Donald Trump, and the demonstrators did not care for him one bit. What was interesting, though, was the cheerful, benign feel of the crowd, juxtaposed to signs saying they were victims of fascist oppression and to speakers egging them on. No one seemed to notice the inconsistency or care about it.

There were about 1,000 people, standing on the sidewalk, courteously making way for pedestrians, chatting with friends, and occasionally repeating slogans tossed out by various speakers. One was talking about transgender people, another about home foreclosures, and concluded with an attack on the new Treasury secretary and a brief chant, “Lock him up.” No one seemed to know who he was, and none had signs about housing, but everyone enjoyed a chance to repeat the line once directed at Hillary Clinton.

Another speaker tried a different tack, “The people, united, will never be divided.” Hearing that old protest bromide, I mumbled to myself, “I think that’s true by definition.” A woman standing nearby started laughing and her boyfriend said, “That’s just what I was saying.”
I asked some police, leaning against their cars or traffic barricades, if everything had been this calm before I arrived. “Oh, yes,” was the common reply, leading some older ones to tell their younger colleagues about less happy occasions. I asked the same question to several people in yellow T-shirts, representing the National Lawyers Guild. They gave the same answer. When I asked them why they were there, they said they were “looking for misconduct by state agents.” The phrased sounded like Sgt. Joe Friday, funneled through Inspector Clouseau. No matter. The yellow T-shirts hadn’t found any bad “state actors” and seemed content to enjoy the sunshine.

No one was looking for a fight. No militant communists or anarchists in the crowd, no Trump supporters there to taunt them. They just wanted to share their view that the president was a fascist, a tyrant, a dictator, and a hater of immigrants, gays, or transgender people, depending on who was speaking.

The crowd was mostly white, some who had been doing this since the 1960s, some of more recent vintages. There were singles in their 20s on lunch break, and moms and dads in their 30s, with kids tagging along for the holiday. There were surprisingly few Hispanics and even fewer African-Americans. It looked like the crowd at a Bernie Sanders rally.

I asked a couple of blacks why they thought so few were involved. “We got enough going on in our own community,” one told me. I asked if that meant there were anti-Trump demonstrations in other Chicago neighborhoods. “No,” she said, “It just means we have different problems.” Hardly a random sample but surely accurate.

Trump, Milo, and the War on Cops We can expect more riots like those in Berkeley unless police show unwavering determination to restore order. Heather Mac Donald

On February 1, rioting broke out in Berkeley to prevent a flamboyantly provocative Donald Trump supporter from speaking on the University of California campus. Black-masked anarchists beat and pepper-sprayed supposed attendees of the event and hurled explosive devices at police officers; the vandals ransacked and torched banks, retail businesses, and campus facilities. University and city police did nothing to quell the mayhem.

The Berkeley riot is a wakeup call, representing several converging trends in American culture: the virulent anti-cop hatred spread by the Black Lives Matter movement; police departments’ withdrawal from proactive policing in response to that hatred; academic victim culture; and anti-Trump hysteria. Such political violence is likely to spread if law enforcement does not resolve to suppress it at its first outbreak.

The roots of the police inaction during the recent anarchy can be traced back to a vicious, four-day anti-police riot in Berkeley in December 2014, in which Black Lives Matter and other radical groups participated. City police had used tear gas on the first night of violence to stop rioters from throwing bricks, rocks, metal pipes, glass bottles, and other dangerous objects at them. Nearly a dozen officers were injured; one officer, hit with a bag of gravel, sustained a dislocated shoulder. The next day, local leaders sharply criticized the police for what activists termed a “police riot.” So on the second night of anarchy, the department refrained from any crowd-control tactics, such as skirmish lines, that allegedly rile up protesters. The violence against civilians worsened, including multiple assaults, a robbery at gunpoint in the name of “No Justice, No Peace,” and shots fired at a homeowner trying to prevent damage to his backyard. Nevertheless, the second night of riots was deemed a relative success from the police perspective because officers had not had to use force to protect themselves. The official takeaway from the four-day breakdown of law and order was that it is better to allow widespread property damage than to use preventive tactics that risk confrontations with rioters and that might require officers to forcefully (and untelegenically) defend themselves. The department would only intervene in group lawlessness to protect life.

This distinction between preventing property damage and preventing personal assaults is of course specious. Rioters do not compartmentalize their behavior; allowing attacks on property will regularly lead to attacks on persons, in a literal demonstration of Broken Windows theory.

Fast forward to 2017 and the planned speech at Berkeley of Milo Yiannapoulos, an in-your-face provocateur who revels in violating politically correct taboos. (Scandal engulfed the Yiannapoulos brand this week, with the revelation of an interview in which he coyly jokes about adult sex with minors, including his own underage experience with a priest. The Conservative Political Action Conference disinvited Yiannapoulos from its annual event—he had been slated to speak—and he resigned his position at Breitbart News.) On February 1, both campus and city police were woefully understaffed in preparation for Milo’s speech, undoubtedly due to the prevailing law enforcement philosophy of not looking “confrontational.” Bay Area activists had complained during the 2014 “F—k the Police protests,” as such anti-cop riots are locally known, that seeing police in riot gear made them feel anxious. But serious conflict at the Milo event was a certainty, and the appearance of dozens of so-called “black bloc” anarchists should not have been a surprise; these lawless assailants have been a regular feature of Bay Area protests since the early 2000s.

When flaming rockets started flying at the student union where Yiannapoulos was scheduled to speak, the University of California campus police retreated to the inside of the building and never reemerged. When the rioters fanned out to city streets (even though Milo’s speech had already been cancelled), police commanders had neither the tactical tools nor the manpower to crack down on the chaos. Only one arrest was made the entire night, by school police, for failing to disperse. The rioters most certainly took notice of their unimpeded reign. The violence continued the next day, with physical assaults against Berkeley student Republicans, both on and off campus.

The next week, the Berkeley student newspaper invited several current and former columnists to justify the anti-Milo violence. It was an easy assignment. The writers needed merely to recycle the maudlin victimology rhetoric that university administrators and faculty had fed them for years. It is a given on college campuses that an ever-expanding congeries of victim groups is under virtually lethal assault from all-encompassing racism. Allegedly “marginalized” students need “allies” in order to survive their college experience, as if they are attending classes in a war zone. Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion has erected banners on campus that urge students to “create an environment where people other than yourself can exist,” as if anyone is at risk of not being allowed to “exist” on Berkeley’s welcoming campus.

Israel Prepares As Iran and Hezbollah Ratchet Up the Rhetoric Israel’s genocidal enemies beat the drums of war. Ari Lieberman

According to Arab media sources, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of strikes against military targets within Syria in the early morning hours of Wednesday. The attacks, which reportedly targeted a Hezbollah weapons convoy, occurred near Damascus. According to at least one report, a busload of Hezbollah terrorists was hit, though this was not confirmed.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement. The muted Israeli response is consistent with Israel’s policy of acting resolutely to preserve its interests while keeping unnecessary rhetoric and gratuitous bravado under wraps. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Israel’s enemies who have struck an extremely belligerent tone in recent weeks, even more so than usual.

On Tuesday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei referred to Israel as a “cancerous tumor” and encouraged Palestinians to revolt until achieving the goal of “complete liberation of Palestine.” Earlier in the week, an unnamed but high-level Syrian official told a Kuwaiti media outlet that Syria “will be partners with Hezbollah in any future war against Israel.”

Not to be outdone, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, a corrupt political lackey who is almost certainly on Hezbollah’s (or the Islamic Republic’s) payroll voiced strong support for Hezbollah and its acquisition of sophisticated weapons in violation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701. He also threatened Israel with an “appropriate response” if Israel violated Lebanese sovereignty.

Of course, the notion of Lebanese sovereignty in any form is laughable since Lebanon is a failed state that is under the full influence and control of the Islamic Republic. In many respects, the state of Lebanon today parallels that of Vichy France. The Lebanese army – a fractured microcosm of a dysfunctional and divided Lebanese society – has taken a subordinate role to Hezbollah and has often acted as an auxiliary force for Hezbollah, coordinating military activities with the terror group. It is thus partly responsible for the degradation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and complicit in violating UNSCR 1701.

But the most cantankerous rhetoric in recent days is emanating from Iran’s premier proxy mercenary force, Hezbollah. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who’s been in hiding since 2006, announced this week that in the next war with Israel, his organization would not be constrained by red lines and would fire missiles at Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility and at the ammonia storage facilities in Haifa. A direct hit on the ammonia storage facilities could cause widespread injuries on a scale not seen since the Bhopal industrial disaster.

Real Anti-Semites Against Fake Anti-Semitism The left opposes bombing synagogues except when it supports it. Daniel Greenfield

Keith Ellison is suddenly very concerned about anti-Semitism.

The former Nation of Islam member who appeared on stage with Khalid Abdul Muhammad (“that old no-good Jew, that old imposter Jew, that old hooked-nose, bagel-eating, lox-eating… just crawled out of the caves and hills of Europe, so-called damn Jew”) and defended the anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan (“Do you know some of these satanic Jews have taken over BET?”) is worried about the hatred of Jews.

The leading candidate to head the DNC who used to rant about, “European white Jews… trying to oppress minorities all over the world” denounced President Trump for having, “taken… so long to even say the word ‘anti-Semitism.’”

How long did it take Ellison to stop defending the anti-Semitism of Farrakhan or of Joanne Jackson?

And Ellison isn’t through yet. He associates with CAIR, a hate group that has defended terrorists who target synagogues, and touts an endorsement from Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson.

Keith Ellison put out a press release after the bomb threats to Jewish centers declaring, “To all those who have felt threatened: I stand with you.”

Speaking of threats, the Minnesota Daily opinion editor, Michael Olenick, had described Ellison’s writing as “a genuine threat to the long-term safety and well-being of the Jewish people, a threat that history dictates must not be ignored.”

Except it was ignored.

Ellison is currently opposed to bomb threats to Jewish centers. That’s progress. But he’s closely allied with CAIR and other Islamist groups that have defended actual synagogue bomb plotters. CAIR has spread claims that the Muslim terrorists who plotted to bomb the Riverdale Jewish Center and Temple were really the victims of government entrapment.

When Ahmed Ferhani was arrested for a plot to attack a synagogue, CAIR held a rally to support him.

Linda Sarsour, who had described throwing stones at Jews as “the definition of courage”, accused the Trump administration of anti-Semitism. Sarsour claims to be raising money to repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery. While the campaign was touted by the media, it is unclear who the actual donors are.

What is clear is that Linda Sarsour supported Ahmed Ferhani. Sarsour insisted on calling the anti-Semitic terrorist a “boy” or a “kid”. She also defended the Riverdale Jewish Center bomb plotters.

At his trial, Ahmed Ferhani had boasted, “I intended to create chaos and send a message of intimidation and coercion to the Jewish population of New York City.”

What’s Behind the Rash of Anti-Semitic Incidents? The apparent increase in anti-Semitic incidents is troubling, but responsible commentators would do well to wait for hard evidence before assigning blame. By Ian Tuttle

On Monday, for the fourth time since the beginning of the year, bomb threats shut down multiple Jewish Community Centers across the country. The calls are the latest in a series: Sixty-nine threats have been called into 54 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and a Canadian province since January 1, according to the JCC Association of North America. Meanwhile, also on Monday, vandals toppled nearly 200 tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Europe for several years. In April 2015, Jeffrey Goldberg penned a long essay for The Atlantic entitled “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?” In the final paragraph, he wrote: “I am predisposed to believe that there is no great future for the Jews in Europe, because evidence to support this belief is accumulating so quickly.” But the prospect of rising anti-Semitism in the United States, which does not share Europe’s tragic history, seems different — and perhaps, for that reason, even more troubling.

Taking that increase for granted, commentators have been quick to pin the blame on Donald Trump. After a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday, Trump said in prepared remarks: “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” This, according to Vox’s Dara Lind, is not nearly enough. “It was a fairly rote condemnation of an attack on a minority group, the sort of thing that presidents do all the time,” Lind wrote. “But despite his claim that he denounces anti-Semitism ‘whenever I get a chance,’ until this point, Trump simply hasn’t.” Lind points to Trump’s dalliance with the alt-right, his initial refusal to disavow former KKK leader David Duke, and his White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement (which made no mention of Jews) to suggest a pattern of silence that has encouraged anti-Semitic violence.

But the extent of the increase — let alone Donald Trump’s role in it — remains unclear. The most reliable data on hate crimes comes from the FBI, which shows that the number of people victimized for their religion declined dramatically from 2010 to 2014: from 1,552 victims to 1,140 victims, or by 36 percent. The number of victims of anti-Jewish bias declined similarly: from 1,039 to 648 victims, or by 38 percent. The FBI then records an uptick in 2015, to 1,402 total victims and 730 victims of anti-Jewish bias.

Toward a true US-Israel partnership Caroline Glick

In his speech before the members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations in Jerusalem this week, President Reuven Rivlin said that Israel has three overriding foreign policy concerns: “Number 1: Relations with America. Number 2: Relations with America. Number 3: Relations with America.”

There is a lot of truth in Rivlin’s hyperbolic statement.

Israel’s security depends on its relationship with the US. After all, the Russians and the Chinese won’t sell Israel fighter planes. Russia couldn’t develop strategic ties with Israel even if it wanted to. Its Iranian ally wouldn’t let it. As for China, its mercantilist view of the Middle East makes it indifferent to the power balances in the region. Beijing may not harbor hostile intentions toward Israel, but it will act in a hostile fashion if it views China’s interests as advanced by such hostility.

While Israel rightly is working to diversify its foreign ties to move beyond the narrow scope of its alliance with the US, the fact is that with or without Australia and sub-Saharan Africa, the US remains Israel’s irreplaceable ally.

Unfortunately, today even the friendliest US administration cannot be relied on to secure Israel’s long-term capacity to defend itself. Israel faces enemy forces equipped with Russian and Chinese technologies – including Russian forces in Syria – that are rapidly challenging American systems in key areas. So long as the US remains behind the technological eight ball, Israel’s long-term reliance on its military ties to the US is a dangerous proposition.

Things didn’t use to be this way. At the start of the 21st century, America’s military power was unrivaled. From the end of the Cold War until the turn of the century, neither Russia nor China could challenge the US and its status as the sole global superpower. That is no longer the case.

In a distressing article published this week in the American Affairs Journal, David Goldman details the technological crisis the US is steeped in today.

Goldman notes that the US is lagging behind the Russians and the Chinese in air defense systems and technologies, missile technology, particularly hypersonic missile technologies, submarine warfare, cyber warfare technologies and satellite interdiction capabilities.

To bridge the gap and outpace the Chinese and the Russians, Goldman argues that the US needs to initiate massive government-funded research and development programs.

In the post-Cold War era, Goldman notes ruefully, Americans have forgotten that they were ever vulnerable, that their victory against the USSR was anything but preordained.

The actual history, Goldman reminds us, was quite different. The US victory in the Cold War was the result of conscious decisions by US leaders to outstrip Soviet technology after American technology was shown to be lagging behind.

In 1957, the Americans reacted to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik with a crash program in space exploration. That program, which benefited from lavish federal funding, ended the Soviets’ advantage in aerospace technology inside of a decade.

During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Americans realized that the Egyptian success in downing Israeli jets over Sinai in the early days of the war meant that the Soviet surface-to-air missiles Egypt fielded had neutralized US air superiority. The Americans realized that the Soviets’ technological advantage meant that they would win a land war in Europe.

Syrian ‘Moderate’ Rebels Flocking to Al-Qaeda After CIA Halts Weapons Pipeline By Patrick Poole

A few of us have been predicting for several years now that the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria backed by the CIA would inevitably collapse into the surging camp of Sunni extremists.

And now that is exactly what has happened, thus signaling the beginning of the end of any pretension of a “moderate opposition” to back in Syria.

In September 2013, the belief that the “moderates” vastly outnumbered the extremists of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra was taken as gospel by the Obama administration, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and the D.C. foreign policy establishment. Those of us challenging that conventional wisdom were a pretty small circle.

Now, the so-called “vetted moderates” are flocking to the banner of the rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, as the CIA halts their weapons pipeline while the smaller “moderate” groups fall willingly or unwillingly into the extremist camp.

So much for all that “vetting” by the CIA.

Reuters reported earlier this week:

CIA-coordinated military aid for rebels in northwest Syria has been frozen since they came under major Islamist attack last month, rebel sources said, raising doubts about foreign support key to their war against President Bashar al-Assad.

Rebel officials said that no official explanation had been given for the move this month following the jihadist assault, though several said they believed the main objective was to prevent arms and cash falling into Islamist militant hands. But they said they expected the aid freeze to be temporary.

The halt in assistance, which has included salaries, training, ammunition and in some cases guided anti-tank missiles, is a response to jihadist attacks and has nothing to do with U.S. President Donald Trump replacing Barack Obama in January, two U.S. officials familiar with the CIA-led program said.

As I have reported extensively here at PJ Media for several years, the “vetted moderates” have always played a double-game with jihadists groups. And now the Washington Post reports today that it has finally caught up with them. CONTINUE AT SITE

Walker Compares Today’s ‘Angry Mobs’ to 2011 Wisconsin Protesters By Bridget Johnson

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker compared the 2011 protests against his government to the protesters at town hall meetings and “angry mobs” blocking campus speakers, calling them “defenders of the status quo” trying to stop elected leaders from implementing their agenda.

Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, Walker did not mention his former challenger in the GOP primary — President Trump — and focused heavily on his record in Wisconsin.

Walker said the current wave of protests across the country is “exactly” like what happened when thousands protested at the state capitol in Madison and elsewhere against the governor’s plan to limit collective bargaining. They culminated in a failed recall effort against Walker in 2012.

Walker said he called Education Secretary Betsy DeVos after she was recently blocked by protesters from entering a D.C. school. “You know what?” he said he told her. “Been there, done that.”

He recalled protesters gluing the doors to an elementary school shut when he was heading there to read to children. He entered the school after the door hinges were removed.

Walker said his programs in Wisconsin prove “common sense conservative reforms work.”

In a nod to the progressive platform of free college, Walker noted he has frozen tuition fours years in a row and guarantees “actual free speech for everyone” including conservative students, teachers and speakers at state colleges.

While slamming his 2011 protesters and drawing parallels to today’s demonstrations, Walker emphasized, “This is America; anyone can say what they want about the government.”

“I wasn’t going to let the noise of the protests drown out the voices of the majority who elected us to do the things we were going to do,” he said.

Truth, Terror and Nikki Haley’s Challenge at the UN By Claudia Rosett

Bravo yet again to Nikki Haley, America’s new ambassador to the United Nations. Speaking at an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Haley called out Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, saying:

The United States will not hesitate to stand against the forces of terrorism, and that includes standing against the states that sponsor it, in particular the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This follows Haley’s refreshingly direct comments last week to the press — aptly praised by the New York Sun under the headline “Haley’s Comet” — in which Haley denounced the UN’s obsessive attacks on the democratic state of Israel. In those remarks, Haley lambasted the UN’s “double standards” as “breathtaking,” and threw in a mention of Iran as “the world’s number-one state sponsor of terror.” Here’s an excerpt:

Incredibly, the UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches from North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state-sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favors. And it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us.

With such remarks, Haley is bringing to the UN a voice of truth, decency, and plain old common sense that is a desperately needed departure from the usual diplomatic doubletalk. Credit her also for blocking the ploy by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to name as his special envoy to Libya a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which is not a UN member state. The PA has been maneuvering for decades to obtain that status without keeping its promises to negotiate in good faith a lasting peace with Israel.

Haley is salvaging for the U.S. a role of integrity that, under President Barack Obama and his successive UN ambassadors, was all too often lamentably absent (recall Ambassador Susan Rice leading from behind on Libya, and Ambassador Samantha Power, who this past December abstained from vetoing Resolution 2334, with which the Security Council savaged Israel).

Both Haley and President Trump — who chose her — deserve credit for Haley’s stellar performance so far at the UN. On a number of vital issues not only has Haley hit the ground running, but in contrast to her predecessors of the past eight years, she has been heading in the right direction.

All that said, a warning is in order. This is the UN we are talking about — a mountain of unaccountable bureaucracy and moral sludge, where even for the best and brightest the job of trying to bring about any kind of genuine reform is like trying to clear a mudslide with a teaspoon.

Haley’s latest denunciation of Iran’s terror-sponsoring ways came in the context of a proposal by Guterres to create within the UN secretariat a new office devoted to combating terrorism. Like most reform proposals that originate within the UN itself, the thrust here — unfortunately — is to try to improve a rotten UN system by creating yet more of it.

Guterres is urging that to head this proposed new counterterrorism office, the UN — which is already rife with scores of senior officials — should create a post for yet another under-secretary-general. The idea, basically, is to consolidate an array of UN counterterrorism initiatives under a counterterrorism czar. In theory (I stress, in theory, not necessarily in practice), this would consolidate and streamline UN counterterrorism efforts, leading to better results.

Haley, amid her otherwise sterling remarks at Wednesday’s informal consultations of the General Assembly, was endorsing this proposal, urging that the UN expand its counterterrorism assistance to member states, and saying:

The United States supports the Secretary-General’s proposals to reform the UN’s counterterrorism architecture. These changes can start with the appointment of an Under-Secretary-General to oversee and coordinate the numerous entities whose work with the UN relates to counterterrorism. This new Under-Secretary-General will need to set clear priorities to implement the UN’s Global Counterterrorism Strategy.

That sounds good, but it almost certainly won’t work.

The basic flaw in the UN’s counterterrorism “architecture” is not lack of a yet another office, headed by yet another under-secretary-general. We’ve been here before, with proposals to streamline, consolidate, fortify, mobilize, and better manage UN counterterrorism efforts. Please see, for instance (if you can make any sense out of it), the UN web page on the CTITF 2005 coordination framework, which was supposed to solve the problems that the proposed new architecture is now supposed to solve. (The record suggests that terrorists, worldwide, are unimpressed.)

The basic failing here is built into the design of the UN itself, which welcomes as members not only freedom-loving democratic states, but also states that sponsor terrorism, or at least don’t mind terrorism as long as it is directed at others (especially if they can profit by abetting such activities as sanctions-violating arms smuggling). Typically, such UN member states strive to stymie or subvert UN offices and initiatives that are meant to help clean up the world. Thus does the UN Human Rights Council end up stacked with human-rights violators. Thus does the misogynist regime of Iran secure for itself a seat on the governing board of the UN’s agency for Women.

Bad grammar? It’s all good! By Henry Percy

Correct grammar is apparently just a social construct, much like gender, to judge from the sage commentary of the vice chancellor at the University of Washington Tacoma:

The university’s Vice Chancellor, Jill Purdy, claimed that the Writing Center’s new statement is a great example of how academia can fight back against racism. “Language is the bridge between ideas and action,” she claimed. “So how we use words has a lot of influence on what we think and do.”

Ms. Purdy was praising the leadership of Asao B. Inoue, Ph.D., Director, Writing Center, UW Tacoma: “I do research that investigates racism in writing assessments.” The title of one of the professor’s books indicates the scrupulously fair and even-handed approach he brings to the subject: Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future. The blurb is instructive:

To explain how and why antiracist work in the writing classroom is vital to literacy learning, Inoue incorporates ideas about the white racial habitus that informs dominant discourses in the academy and other contexts. Inoue helps teachers understand the unintended racism that often occurs when teachers do not have explicit antiracist agendas in their assessments. Drawing on his own teaching and classroom inquiry, Inoue offers a heuristic …

“White racial habitus… dominant discourses… heuristic” — if that isn’t enough to put you off your feed you have a stronger stomach than I.

The mission statement for the writing centers sounds noble enough: “The University of Washington’s writing centers are staffed by knowledgeable tutors who provide students with customized guidance on writing projects.”

For those unfamiliar with academicese, writing centers are for those “students” (“enrollees” would be more apt) who cannot even perform in freshman English. I’m not certain about the UW, but at a certain Big 10 campus it works like this, or it did several years ago.

High school seniors test out of freshman English if they can. Those who cannot must take freshman English. Those who cannot even perform at that level must take up to three quarters of remedial English without credit. But even that is not sufficient, so writing centers provide tutors to meet one-on-one with the students. Students who complete the remedial, noncredit classes must then take freshman English.

I know this because I taught freshman English. One of my students was writing at the level of a sixth grader, at best. It was not just the broken grammar, missing punctuation, and mangled spelling, there was no logic whatsoever, not even a wisp of an argument. After I got back his second writing assignment I took his paper to the director of writing, who suggested we look up the student’s records. He had taken two quarters of remedial English, receiving Ds. The director remarked that those were probably social passes. He then looked up the man’s ACT scores: fours and sixes. “My God! An ape could have done better!” I burst out laughing. “It’s true,” he said seriously. “You would get higher scores by guessing randomly. I think this person should not be at university.” I asked what I should do. “Give the paper the grade it deserves.”

I assigned an F, and the man dropped out a few weeks later. Was he well served by a chance to go to a large public university and collect another failure?