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August 2017

Linguistic McCarthyism Most Americans recoil from the statue-smashers and name-changers. By Victor Davis Hanson

‘The Bard,” William Shakespeare, had a healthy distrust of the sort of mob hysteria typified by our current epidemics of statue-busting and name-changing.

In Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar — a story adopted from Plutarch’s Parallel Lives — a frenzied Roman mob, in furor over the assassination of Julius Caesar, encounters on the street a poet named Cinna. The innocent poet was not the conspiratorial assassin Cinna, but unfortunately shared a name with the killer.

The terrified poet points out to the mob this case of mistaken identity: “I am Cinna the poet.”

The mob answers: “Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses! . . . It is no matter, his name’s Cinna!”

Shakespeare certainly would recognize that, like the playwright’s Roman mob, we have launched a war against words in our frenzy to find targets for our politically correct madness.

Recently, there were progressive calls at the University of Southern California to rename the school’s mascot, the white Andalusian horse “Traveler.” Members of the Left thought that the mute animal’s name too closely resembled the name “Traveller,” the favorite horse of Confederate general and sudden demon of 2017 Robert E. Lee.

But the mob was not finished there. An Asian-American sportscaster named Robert Lee was recently yanked by the sports channel ESPN from broadcasting a University of Virginia football game. Apparently, Lee’s name was too close to that of Robert E. Lee.

Nearly a century and a half after his death, General Lee has gone from tragic figure to Public Enemy No. 1 of the Left.

Lee the sportscaster, like Cinna the poet, was found guilty on the basis of ignorant association with his name. If the politically correct herd could not get its hands on the long-dead Robert E. Lee, it would apparently settle for anyone in the present who shared nearly the same name.

Why would a supposedly civilized country descend into such linguistic fascism?

Part of the problem is the presumption by elites that a supposedly illiterate public must be protected from itself. But does anyone really believe that average people will confuse an Asian-American sportscaster who has the common Chinese surname “Lee” and the all-American first name “Robert” with a Confederate general — or that the sportscaster could thus be somehow tangentially connected with the recent violence in Charlottesville?

ESPN, however, does not bet on the intelligence of the average American. It prefers to virtue-signal that it is above all suspicion of sympathy for the Confederacy. In its search for cosmic justice, it cares little about the injustice it metes out to real live people.

ESPN has long politicized sports and continues to lose viewers over its adolescent political correctness. Not long ago, the network fired tennis commentator Doug Adler. He had characterized the aggressive play of tennis star Venus Williams as employing the “guerrilla effect.” (“And you’ll see Venus move in and put the guerrilla effect on, charging,” Adler had said.) Adler’s reference was drawn from the once-popular term “guerrilla tennis” that denoted a tough, brawling, take-no-prisoners style from the 1990s.

New ADL Hire Helped Obama Admin Forge Ties With Hamas-Linked Group A strange way to combat anti-Semitism. Ari Lieberman

On August 28, The Anti-Defamation League announced that it had hired Obama holdover, George Selim, as its “Senior Vice President of Programs.” According to the ADL’s press release, Selim will be the ADL’s point man on programs connected to law enforcement, education and community security. This newly created position will ostensibly help the ADL better track, monitor and thwart all forms of xenophobia and prejudice. Selim will report directly to the ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt.

On paper, Selim, an Arab-American of Egyptian and Lebanese descent, appears qualified for the role. He served in the Bush and Obama administrations in various capacities, principally in the areas of community outreach and countering violent extremism (CVE). But beneath the surface lies a more sinister side to Selim, one that renders him entirely unfit for his new position.

In a June 7, 2012 interview with the Daily Caller, Selim admitted engaging with representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and further acknowledged that there were “hundreds” of such meetings taking place with various governmental departments and agencies. Selim refused to elaborate on the content of those meetings and offered no insight on which CAIR officials he met with.

In 2007, the United States Department of Justice named CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in the infamous Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development criminal probe. Members of the HLF were charged with laundering money to Hamas, a genocidal organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department. The HLF and five of its officers were convicted of all charges.

CAIR objected to the DOJ designation but a U.S. District Court judge ruled that there was “ample evidence to establish the association.” That ruling was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. DOJ’s designation led the FBI to sever all “non-investigative cooperation with the group.”

Moreover, CAIR officials are on record spewing vicious anti-Israel and anti-Semitic vitriol. Its founder and executive director, Nihad Awad, is a poster child for conspiracy theories and medieval-style anti-Semitism. He is a Hamas supporter, has refused to condemn acts of terrorism committed against Israeli civilians, rejects Israel’s right to exist, espoused anti-Semitic canards of Jewish influence and control over U.S. foreign policy, and as has entertained wild David Duke-like conspiracy theories suggesting that Israel had a hand in the September 11 attacks. Even Greenblatt’s ADL has recognized CAIR’s odious nature publishing a dossier of the group on its website.

Trump’s Presidential Grace and Class in Texas Yet Fake News critics pounce on his every step — as if each one is an impeachable offense.Matthew Vadum

President Trump’s visit to flooded parts of southern Texas went off without a hitch yet he has been besieged with scathing attacks by rabid left-wingers and their media allies desperate to find fault with him and treat his every action as a crazed assault on the time-honored political norms of the country.

Despite what you may have seen on CNN or heard on NPR, from this writer’s perch, Trump did more or less everything right. The trip, which didn’t take Trump into devastated Houston proper, was ordinary and comforting. In a word it was presidential. The president wasn’t there to rescue babies or house pets from flood zones – he was there to reassure the victims of Hurricane Harvey and let the nation know that the dire situation there was being handled properly, which, apparently, it is. Federal aid is flowing to the region, he said.

The visit to stricken areas was what one political junky called Trump’s first “natural disaster test.” He passed.

Before boarding Air Force One, the president hailed the “incredible” spirit of the people of Texas. “Things are being handled really well, the spirit is incredible,” he said at the White House. “It’s a historic amount of water, never been anything like it. The people are handling it amazingly well.”

Trump spoke an undeniable truth when he added that “tragic times such as these bring out the best in America’s character.”

In recent days Trump’s Twitter feed has been filled with the usual, otherwise unremarkable expressions of hope and optimism that Americans have come to expect from their president in times of crisis.

“First responders have been doing heroic work. Their courage & devotion has saved countless lives – they represent the very best of America,” read one tweet.

“Texas & Louisiana: We are w[ith] you today, we are w[ith] you tomorrow, & we will be w[ith] you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, & REBUILD!” read another.

“After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!” read another tweet.

Another read, “I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety.”

“Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground,” read a tweet.

This is what a president in modern times is expected to do. He is supposed to comfort the afflicted, promise things will get better, and reassure a worried populace.

But no matter what Trump did or didn’t do in coastal Texas, the media would have found an excuse to whine about him. Shouting obnoxiously and exploding with haughty indignation has worked for these people ever since the president declared his candidacy at Trump Tower. Trump’s presidency is an abomination to these people and his every action an impeachable offense.

So naturally, on cue the media set to bitching and moaning about Trump supposedly not acting presidential and being out of his depth.

These journalists are willing to tolerate a Republican president if they have to, but they won’t put up with one who is bold, assertive, and who dares to defend himself and relentlessly promotes his agenda. But when Obama did the same, even at times and in circumstances when it made reasonable people wince, he was given a pass.

Take the Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson, for example. “Even in visiting hurricane-ravaged Texas, Trump keeps the focus on himself,” shrieked her biased, subjective headline.

“With his wife at his side, he sounded as if he were addressing a political rally instead of a state struggling to start to recover – but it was a tone that matched the screaming crowd,” she wrote.

Trump is a showman. That’s what he does and that’s what helped him vanquish umpteen challengers for the GOP nod and Democrat Hillary Clinton, something just about nobody thought he could pull off.

Johnson’s sentence could have been used to describe at least every second or third day when Barack Obama was Narcissist-in-Chief, whether he was speaking to a large, worshipful audience in a venue with a conspicuous echo effect, complaining that Cambridge, Mass., police “acted stupidly,” rhapsodizing about dead street thug Trayvon Martin as the son he never had, proselytizing before the whole world that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” or informing Dallas, Texas, cops’ widows that a Black Lives Matter sniper gave their husbands exactly what they had coming.

Has France Been Bought by a State Sponsor of Islamic Terrorism? by Drieu Godefridi

It is through these tax breaks that the Qataris are buying the “jewels” of France. The U.S. is not selling its defense companies to Qatar.

Thanks to its huge gas and oil reserves, Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world and huge reserves of cash to invest everywhere, whereas France, thanks to 40 years of socialism, is in dire need of cash.

The state of Qatar has been officially labelled as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, and an active supporter of Islamic terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State — not by Western governments, but by Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islamic faith, and the other Islamic regimes of the region.

Knowing the facts of Qatar — 11000km2, one-third the size of Belgium, population 2.5 million — the question may seem far-fetched: How could France, the great France, possibly be bought by a tiny state such as Qatar?

For the single reason that, thanks to its huge gas and oil reserves, Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world and huge reserves of cash to invest everywhere, whereas France, thanks to 40 years of socialism, is in dire need of cash and has a tradition of corruptible officials, to say nothing of a propensity for “collaboration”.

On August 4, the English press — not the French press — revealed that French prosecutors are actively investigating two events: the awarding the 2022 World Cup of football (soccer) to Qatar, and the purchase by “Qatari Diar”, a state-owned investment company, of a stake in the French utility firm Veolia.

At the center of the investigation is former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. To be sure, Sarkozy has not been formally indicted (and he may never be), but the evidence is overwhelming.

First, the World Cup. That the State of Qatar, known for decades for its active support of Islamic terror organizations, and with a temperature among the highest in the world — in addition to zero tradition in the world of football — was awarded the 2022 World Cup is, of course, a source of wonder ever since the award was announced by FIFA, the international governing body of football.

French investigators are now looking into a meeting that took place between then-President Sarkozy, Michel Platini — the French former president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), who sat on the FIFA committee that chose Qatar — and Qatari officials on November 23, 2010 (10 days before the vote). It is alleged that Platini was dead-set against Qatar and that Sarkozy urged him to change his mind: “They’re good people.”

The “deal” is said to have been sealed when Qatar agreed to buy the biggest French soccer team, the Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG). It is alleged that huge bribes were paid by Qatar to high-ranking French officials, to secure these two deals: the World Cup and the Veolia investment. Although no evidence has yet been presented, the case would not have been opened by French prosecutors without it. In addition, no one has ever denied the meeting of November 23, 2010.

In April 2010, the “Qatari Diar” fund bought a 5% stake in Veolia. Investigators are tracking 182 million euros suspected of having been used to bribe French officials. Investigators are also looking into a possible link between these two operations: Qatar investing in Veolia as a favor to France, possibly in exchange for France’s support for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

France’s then-President Nicolas Sarkozy (left) greets Qatar’s then-Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani (right) on March 19, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Franck Prevel/Getty Images)

It is doubtful if the French investigators will ever get to the bottom of these two cases. The judiciary in France has a long tradition of submitting to the government. Since 1789, the French judiciary has not even been an independent power — as are the Legislative and the Executive — but a mere authority with a more limited scope.

Victims of Turkey’s Islamization: Women by Burak Bekdil

“Women should know their place…. Gender equality is against human nature.” — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the ministry’s findings, physical violence is the most common form of abuse: 70% of women reported they have been physically assaulted.

One of the suspects made a deal with K.C.’s family: he paid a sum of about $5,700 to the family and agreed to marry K.C. The family arranged a bogus wedding ceremony, took pictures and presented them to the court to save the man. Under pressure from her family, the rapist had suddenly become her fiancé.

On Feb. 6, 1935, Turkish women were allowed to vote in national elections for the first time, and eighteen female candidates were elected to parliament – a decade or more before women even in Western countries such as France, Italy and Belgium. Eight decades later, Turkish women look like unwilling passengers on H.G. Wells’ Time Machine traveling back to their great-grandmothers’ Ottoman lives.

Turkey’s strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once proudly said that “Women should know their place,” and that “Gender equality is against human nature”. His deputy prime minister said that women not to laugh in public. It was not shocking to anyone when Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Policies found in 2016 that no fewer than 86% of Turkish women have suffered physical or psychological violence at the hands of their partners or family. According to the ministry’s findings, physical violence is the most common form of abuse: 70% of women reported they have been physically assaulted.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once proudly said that “Women should know their place,” and that “Gender equality is against human nature”. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

More recently, Kadin Cinayetlerini Durduracagiz Platformu, a women’s rights organization, reported that 28 women were murdered by men in July 2017 alone. The same month, eight other — luckier — women were physically assaulted for “wearing shorts or ‘indecent’ outfits or smoking in public.” The report concluded by saying, “The state remains silent.”

Turkey increasingly features all possible social and political reflections of Islamism: authoritarianism, majoritarianism and officially-tolerated intolerance to everything Islamists may deem “un-Islamic.” Women are often the target group, and might not avoid intimidation even if they dress in line with the Islamic code. Hayrettin Karaman, an Islamic scholar and the darling of Turkey’s pro-Erdogan Islamists, recently argued that smoking cigarettes sends signals about women’s morals. He wrote in his Aug. 3 column:

“When I see a woman who wears a headscarf but also smokes in public, I get the impression that she’s saying: ‘Don’t mind the fact that I am covering my head. Don’t give up on me, I have a lot more to share with you.'”

Naturally, many Turkish men took the cleric’s words as a message of sexual availability. This kind of thinking is common in conservative Muslim societies. It did not used to be that way in secular Turkey. It is simply an outcome of Turkey’s top-down government-induced social Islamization. That has two disturbing aspects: willing social participation of people who comply, and inequality before law.

FBI Denies Request for Files on Hillary Clinton, Citing ‘Lack of Public Interest’ By Debra Heine

An attorney in New York City thinks former President Obama may still be running the FBI after the bureau cited a “lack of public interest” in rejecting an open records request related to its investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Ty Clevenger filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request way back in March of 2016 asking for a variety of documents from the FBI and the Justice Department as part of an ongoing effort to get Clinton and her personal attorneys disbarred for mishandling official emails during her tenure as secretary of state.

The FBI shot down Clevenger’s request for information from the FBI’s files using the flimsiest of excuses.

Via the Washington Times:

“You have not sufficiently demonstrated that the public’s interest in disclosure outweighs personal privacy interests of the subject,” FBI records management section chief David M. Hardy told Mr. Clevenger in a letter Monday.

“It is incumbent upon the requester to provide documentation regarding the public’s interest in the operations and activities of the government before records can be processed pursuant to the FOIA,” Mr. Hardy wrote.

Mrs. Clinton, is the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, former chief diplomat, former U.S. senator, and former first lady of both the U.S. and Arkansas.

Her use of a secret email account to conduct government business while leading the State Department was front-page news for much of 2015 and 2016, and was so striking that the then-FBI director broke with procedure and made both a public statement and appearances before Congress to talk about the bureau’s probe.

In the end, the FBI didn’t recommend charges against Mrs. Clinton, concluding that while she risked national security, she was too technologically inept to know the dangers she was running, so no case could be made against her.

Clevenger told the Times that he thought it was obvious why Mrs. Clinton’s case was of public interest, but he went ahead and sent the bureau documentation of congressional requests for an investigation into whether Clinton perjured herself anyway.

“I’m just stunned. This is exactly what I would have expected had Mrs. Clinton won the election, but she didn’t. It looks like the Obama administration is still running the FBI,” Mr. Clevenger told the Times. “How can a story receive national news coverage and not be a matter of public interest? If this is the new standard, then there’s no such thing as a public interest exception,” he said.

“It’s an absolute joke,” said former Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on Fox News Wednesday morning. “The reality is, they do the exact same thing to Congress.”

Chaffetz, who joined Fox News as a political analyst after resigning from Congress in June, said:

The deep state will do everything it can to protect its own. There is no reason why those documents should be held from the public — but they also aren’t giving them to Congress. I issued a subpoena on this information! “There were congressional inquiries and they still didn’t give those documents. CONTINUE AT SITE

Arrested Democratic IT Staffer Imran Awan Still Has Active House Email Account By Debra Heine

Imran Awan, the former Democrat IT staffer who was arrested last month at Dulles International Airport as he tried to flee the country amid an FBI and Capitol Police investigation, still has an active, secret email account on the House computer system, The Daily Caller reported Tuesday.

Awan and several members of his family — including his wife Hina Alvi — are being investigated by the FBI and Capitol Police for conspiracy, bank fraud, and cybersecurity violations. The clan was reportedly barred from using the computer networks at the House of Representatives back in February.

According to the Caller, Awan’s email address is still active “and linked to the name of a House staffer who specializes in intelligence and homeland security matters for Indiana Democratic Rep. André Carson.”

Court documents and emails obtained by TheDCNF show Awan used the address 123@mail.house.gov in addition to his standard imran.awan@mail.house.gov account.

He and two of his Pakistani-born brothers, as well as his wife, are at the center of an FBI investigation over their IT work with dozens of Democratic congressional offices. Authorities shut down Awan’s standard email account Feb. 2, and he was arrested by the FBI at Dulles International Airport trying to board a flight to his native Pakistan on July 25.

Authorities apparently did not realize Awan has a second account that is not linked to his identity. While his main email address began rejecting mail after it was shut down, the 123 address was still accepting mail Tuesday.

The Daily Caller’s intrepid reporter Luke Rosiak discovered that the account belongs to Nathan Bennett, a Carson aide whose work in Congress includes “national security and foreign affairs” and work on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The member Bennett works for, Carson, is a member of both the House Intelligence and House Homeland Security Committees, and previously employed Awan. CONTINUE AT SITE

What Criminologists Don’t Say, and Why Monopolized by the Left, academic research on crime gets almost everything wrong. John Paul Wright Matt DeLisi

The history of academic criminology is one of grand pronouncements that don’t often prove out in the real world. In the 1960s and 1970s, for example, criminologists demanded that public policy attack the “root causes” of crime, such as poverty and racism. Without solving these problems, they argued, we could not expect to fight crime effectively. On this thinking, billions of taxpayer dollars poured into ambitious social programs—yet crime went up, not down. In the 1970s and 1980s and into the 1990s, as crime rates continued to spike, criminologists proceeded to tell us that the police could do little to cut crime, and that locking up the felons, drug dealers, and gang leaders who committed much of the nation’s criminal violence wouldn’t work, either.

These views were shown to be false, too, but they were held so pervasively across the profession that, when political scientist James Q. Wilson called for selective incapacitation of violent repeat offenders, he found himself ostracized by his peers, who resorted to ad hominem attacks on his character and motivations. Wilson’s work was ignored by awards committees, and criminological reviews of his books, especially Thinking About Crime and Crime and Human Nature, were almost universally negative. In the real-world policy arena, however, Wilson attained significant influence: the Broken Windows theory of policing and public order, which Wilson developed with criminologist George Kelling, became a key part of the proactive policing strategies that would be largely responsible for the great crime decline starting in the mid-1990s.

In short, while academic criminology has had much to say about crime, most of it has been wrong. How can an academic discipline be so wrongheaded? And should we listen to criminologists today when, say, they call for prisons to be emptied, cops to act as glorified playground attendants, and criminal sentences to be dramatically reduced, if not eliminated? Answers to the first question are readily available—and suggest the answer to the second.

Academic criminologists are mainly sociologists, trained in statistics and armed with theories. Though most don’t study crime or violence directly, they have produced useful studies about offenders and the criminal-justice system. Through their work, we know, for example, that criminal behavior is strongly intergenerational, that relatively few people account for the majority of all crimes, and that some offenders desist from crime over time but many others simply change the types of crimes they commit. We also have learned that most offenders are generalists—that is, they commit a diverse assortment of crimes—and that steps can be taken to reduce criminal events by making them more difficult to carry out. Most criminals, it turns out, are lazy.

In other ways, though, criminologists’ lack of direct contact with subjects, situations, and neighborhoods—their propensity to abstraction—invites misunderstandings about the reality of crime. Most academics have never met with women who have been raped or children who have been molested, or seen the carnage wrought by a bullet that passed through a human skull, or spent a lot of time with police on the street. The gulf between numbers on a spreadsheet and the harsh realities of the world sometimes fosters a romanticized view of criminals as victims, making it easier for criminologists to overlook the damage that lawbreakers cause—and to advocate for more lenient policies and treatment.

Evidence of the liberal tilt in criminology is widespread. Surveys show a 30:1 ratio of liberals to conservatives within the field, a spread comparable with that in other social sciences. The largest group of criminologists self-identify as radical or “critical.” These designations include many leftist intellectual orientations, from radical feminism to Marxism to postmodernism. Themes of injustice, oppression, disparity, marginalization, economic and social justice, racial discrimination, and state-sanctioned violence dominate criminological teaching and scholarship, as represented in books with titles like Search and Destroy: African American Males in the Criminal Justice System, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse.

A quick perusal of Presidential Awards for Distinguished Contributions to Justice, bestowed by the American Society of Criminology (ASC), shows that the winners were primarily rewarded for their left-wing advocacy. They included a judge in Massachusetts who advocated abolishing the state’s death penalty, an FBI agent who successfully sued the organization for ethnic discrimination, and a former director of juvenile corrections in Massachusetts who closed the state’s juvenile reformatories and wrote a book alleging that the system hunted down black men for sport. The society also honored Zaki Baruti, a radical black activist in St. Louis known for his hatred of police and support for leftist causes.

Recently, the ASC’s policy committee sent a mass e-mail to members, asking for help in countering a Wall Street Journal editorial written by Heather Mac Donald, a longtime City Journal contributing editor and a writer known for eviscerating liberal claims about the police and the justice system. Mac Donald argued that because of increased scrutiny and charges of racism, police had rolled back their efforts to deter crime, at least in minority communities, resulting in rising violence in many cities across the country. She called this the “Ferguson Effect,” after the town in Missouri where the (justified) police shooting of Michael Brown, a young black man, in 2014 ignited riots and gave rise to a new anti-law-enforcement push from advocates, the press, and Democratic politicians. The existence and extent of the Ferguson Effect is an empirical question that can be debated. But it is telling that the ASC had never shown any interest in rebutting the hundreds of editorials that repeated factually baseless claims about police shootings or the racism supposedly embedded in the criminal-justice system. Only Mac Donald’s work was singled out—as was Wilson’s, years earlier.

Confederate Crackdown: Colleges sanitize Civil War-era symbols from campus William Nardi

A fiery white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., has reignited calls to sanitize college campuses of anything reminiscent of the Confederacy. Many of the memorials to the Civil War-era are being targeted with vandalism or hidden away by administrators.https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/36203/

While some say the memorials should remain up as a monument to how far America has come as a nation, others say they represent a celebration of white supremacy and must come down, echoing chants such as “No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!”

The controversy is especially heated on college campuses, where protests and vandalism of the monuments have plagued campuses for several years.

In recent times, the issue surfaced in 2014 when Washington and Lee University, named after the Confederate general, removed Confederate flags on display near his statue. The controversy came up again in 2015 at the University of Texas, Austin when campus leaders removed a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis after repeated student complaints.

Later in 2016, Vanderbilt University paid more than $1 million dollars to rename a building that included the word “Confederate” in the building’s stone inscription. In November of last year, administration at the University of Louisville relocated a confederate statue on their campus to avoid offending students.

Earlier this year, Yale University reversed their stance on protecting history by renaming Calhoun College, named after the pro-slavery advocate, to Grace Mary Hopper College.

Now, galvanized by the attention brought to the memorials through the rise of white nationalists, more monuments have been vandalized or removed or come under heated scrutiny. Such recent incidents include:

Aug. 13, 2017: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Silent Sam statue covered with a black hood; a week later a massive rally unfolded against it (and it’s still ongoing)

Aug. 14, 2017: North Carolina Central University: Student takes down a nearby confederate monument by tying a rope around its neck, attaching it to a car and driving away

Aug. 19, 2017: Bowdin College: Moved a confederate monument from public view to an archived section of their library.

Aug. 19, 2017: Duke University: Removed a statue of Robert E. Lee after it was vandalized

Aug. 20, 2017: University of Texas, Austin: Removed three statues of confederate figures and relocating them to the Briscoe Center of American History

Aug. 21, 2017: University of Mississippi: Administration decides to “contextualize” their statue of confederate figure and Civil War-era Supreme Court Justice Lucius Q.C. Lamar by adding a plaque fully describing his legacy

Aug. 24, 2017: Virginia Commonwealth University: VCU President Michael Rao has directed administrators to conduct an audit of all symbols “of an exclusionary nature,” including Confederate ones

Aug. 28, 2017: The University of Maryland marching band decided it will no longer play the state song before the college’s football games because of the song’s ties to the Confederacy

Not all reactions have been supportive. Some say taking the monuments down whitewashes history. Others call the movement a politically motivated stunt that has snowballed out of control.

Some Thoughts and Advice for Our Students and All Students

We are scholars and teachers at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale who have some thoughts to share and advice to offer students who are headed off to colleges around the country. Our advice can be distilled to three words:

Think for yourself.

Now, that might sound easy. But you will find—as you may have discovered already in high school—that thinking for yourself can be a challenge. It always demands self-discipline and these days can require courage.

In today’s climate, it’s all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student—or faculty member—faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink.

At many colleges and universities what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” does more than merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views on moral, political, and other types of questions. It leads them to suppose that dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them.

Since no one wants to be, or be thought of as, a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies.

Don’t do that. Think for yourself.

Thinking for yourself means questioning dominant ideas even when others insist on their being treated as unquestionable. It means deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions—including arguments for positions that others revile and want to stigmatize and against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.

The love of truth and the desire to attain it should motivate you to think for yourself. The central point of a college education is to seek truth and to learn the skills and acquire the virtues necessary to be a lifelong truth-seeker. Open-mindedness, critical thinking, and debate are essential to discovering the truth. Moreover, they are our best antidotes to bigotry.

Merriam-Webster’s first definition of the word “bigot” is a person “who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” The only people who need fear open-minded inquiry and robust debate are the actual bigots, including those on campuses or in the broader society who seek to protect the hegemony of their opinions by claiming that to question those opinions is itself bigotry.

So don’t be tyrannized by public opinion. Don’t get trapped in an echo chamber. Whether you in the end reject or embrace a view, make sure you decide where you stand by critically assessing the arguments for the competing positions.

Think for yourself.

Good luck to you in college!

Paul Bloom
Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology
Yale University

Nicholas Christakis
Sol Goldman Family Professor of Social and Natural Science
Yale University

Carlos Eire
T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies
Yale University

Maria E. Garlock
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Co-Director of the Program in Architecture and Engineering
Princeton University

David Gelernter
Professor of Computer Science
Yale University

Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions
Princeton University

Mary Ann Glendon
Learned Hand Professor of Law
Harvard University

Joshua Katz
Cotsen Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Classics
Princeton University

Thomas P. Kelly
Professor of Philosophy
Princeton University

Jon Levenson
Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies
Harvard University

John B. Londregan
Professor of Politics and International Affairs
Princeton University

Michael A. Reynolds
Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies
Princeton University

Jacqueline C. Rivers
Lecturer in Sociology and African and African-American Studies
Harvard University

Noël Valis
Professor of Spanish
Yale University

Tyler VanderWeele
Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Director of the Program on Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing
Harvard University

Adrian Vermeule
Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law
Harvard University