Ideological craziness as exemplified by Evergreen State College

More coverage (click here and here for more background info on this topic) on what’s been going on at Evergreen State College up in Olympia, Washington, where a portion of the students and staff have decided to increasingly push a super-divisive, Leftist narrative wherein white folks are othered on the basis of simply being white (because of “eurocentricism” and “white privilege” being viewed as a perpetual threat to minorities) and ridiculed accordingly and where police are automatically rejected and demonized as racist and oppressive and also where very loud and obstructive protests are encouraged at every opportunity. Yet what they’re demanding exactly isn’t clear. They just wish to push this new narrative and switch up the power roles as they perceive them to be at present.

A student at Evergreen State College, Benjamin Boyce, who graduated last semester has documented much of what’s been going on there lately.

Faculty and students finally began publicly speaking back to this movement:

And lastly, an informal interview with Professor Bret Weinstein who was targeted at Evergreen back in the spring:

Also, thanks to all the chaos, controversy, and blatant disrespect fomenting on that college campus, Police Chief Stacy Brown decided to resign. And can you really blame her? I would’ve too. Life’s too short to put up with working somewhere where you’re obviously unwanted and are restricted by the administration from doing your assigned job.

Thoughts on American exceptionalism and race relations

For all the critiques I may volley at my nation, the truth remains that the American national project continues to be the highest ideal dreamt up on this planet thus far. Not that all of its ideals have materialized or been brought into fruition to their fullest extent possible, but the original dream itself is exceptional and awe-inspiring.

Unfortunately, plenty out here today wish to undermine it, spit upon it, and dismantle it. Why? Because they see it as rooted in evil due to being the brain-child of white men from long ago. White men being synonymous with everything hate-filled and exclusionary, so some like to think. They take issue with the fact that slaves were brought to this country (though it can be argued that America engaged in slavery for a shorter duration than many other countries, particularly those in the Middle East). They also take issue with this land having been “stolen” from the natives who lived here before — as if any land hasn’t changed hands throughout the course of history, typically through much bloodshed. And nowadays they take issue with what they see as inherent corruption that they assume is deeply ingrained and a natural byproduct of a powerful Western nation (though all nation-states are vulnerable to corruption, as were all chiefdoms — and this is hardly a feature unique to the West).

Some take issue with our police forces and accuse them of racism. Though current research provides evidence that cops are actually less likely to use lethal force against black people as compared against white people. Then again, other findings suggest blacks are more likely to be handled roughly than whites by cops, so the narrative that cops are racist marches onward. One could ponder the general demeanor of black folks toward cops in trying to understand why cops might opt for a more rough-handed approach in dealing with them, but that’s a taboo topic to discuss publicly, lest you be labeled a racist as well. Seems to me that the general behavior of an easily identifiable demographic has the unfortunate consequences of leading all of them, even those who comply with lawful orders, to be treated with heightened scrutiny and cautiousness. Now, does that qualify as an inherent, institutionalized form of racism? Hmm. It doesn’t strike me as so since it appears more to do with risk assessment and police taking proactive measures to deescalate any potential threats. Is that unfair? Depends on how far it’s taken and what the circumstances are in a given situation. It’s not as if police officers are known for being extremely kind and gentle to all others suspected of wrongdoing. It seems to me this issue winds up being at least partly a matter of projection, whereby individuals break the law or are highly uncooperative when being questioned by police but then become indignant when any consequences are doled out.

Take, for instance, all the talk on Evergreen’s campus about an event in 2015 where a police officer shot two *unarmed* black male brothers named Bryson Chaplin (21) and Andre Thompson (24) shortly after they attempted to rob a grocery store of beer. In a piece titled “In Solidarity with the Struggle for Racial Justice at the Evergreen State College” written by Peter Bohmer (a member of the faculty at Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA — posted May 29, 2017), he harkens back to that off-campus case:

Two years ago, May 21st, 2015, two young Black men, Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson were both shot in Olympia, Washington by white police officer Ryan Donald in Olympia as they were going home on their skateboards after attempting to shoplift some beer from a local Safeway. In a miscarriage of justice and emblematic of the continuing racism here, although there were no injuries to the white police officer, and Bryson Chaplin was shot multiple times by Officer Donald and is in a wheelchair; the police officer was not charged with any crime nor disciplined while the two young men, Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson were convicted on May 18, 2017 of third degree assault. They will be sentenced in June. This is part of the context for the movement on campus which also contains demands against racism by campus police.

Peter Bohmer proved especially prolific in writing about that event in various places, every time characterizing the situation as a white cop mistreating black youths in a completely unwarranted fashion.

Evergreen State College’s student newspaper The Cooperpoint Journal contains several articles pertaining to this case, including one describing major protests in front of the Olympia police station the very next day:

“Whose lives matter? Black lives matter!” was the chant ringing out in downtown Olympia Thursday evening as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in response to the shooting of two unarmed black men, stepbrothers Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, by an Olympia police officer, drawing national media attention.

The two men, Thompson, 24 and Chaplin, 21, remain in the hospital and are expected to survive, although Chaplin was still listed as in critical condition as of Thursday evening.

Officer Ryan Donald shot the brothers around 1 a.m. Thursday morning, after responding to a call about alleged shoplifting from the Westside Safeway, not far from The Evergreen State College.

Olympians awoke Thursday morning to news of the incident, and began organizing throughout the day, culminating in a march to city hall, where the Olympia Police Department is headquartered.

The biggest protest began around 6 p.m. in Woodruff Park, directly next to the Westside police precinct, and about a mile from the site of the shooting.

As hundreds gathered—predominantly from the Evergreen community—they formed a circle around organizers and community members who spoke about their experiences with police, the larger national context of police violence against black people, and organizing and resistance tactics. The speakers continued to discuss these issues over a megaphone as the crowd swelled to an estimated 400 people by 7 p.m. when protesters took the street on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Perry Street.

Protesters marched down the hill, blocking traffic in both directions on Harrison Avenue, while yelling and chanting “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police.”

Crossing the Fourth Avenue Bridge into downtown, the crowd’s numbers reached an estimated one thousand people, shutting down Olympia’s main thoroughfare on their way to the city center.

Once in downtown, protesters stopped and held the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street, for the first time becoming quiet. Organizers asked the crowd to participate in a four and a half minutes of silence, symbolic of the four and a half hours Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after being shot by police earlier this year in Ferguson, Missouri. Everyone sat silently in the street, before beginning call and response chants of victims names: “Andre Thompson, Bryson Chaplin, we honor you.”

When the demonstrators reached city hall, they blocked the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Cherry Street, many demanding that Ryan Donald be indicted for his actions. They continued to hold a rally in front of city hall for nearly an hour, with more speakers and chants, before marching back through downtown and over the bridge to Woodruff Park.

On their way back, at least two motorists instigated confrontations with demonstrators, but the march resolved peacefully, with people dispersing between 9:30 and 10 p.m.

Later that night, a smaller number of protesters rallied again at the Artesian Well and occupied the intersection outside city hall. Most wore all black and covered their faces, marching behind a large banner reading “cops=murderers,” and “judges=executioners,” and emblazoned with a circle A, an anarchist symbol.

This group was more antagonistic towards the police, and the situation escalated when they began to clash with pro-police demonstrators in front of city hall. Police then used flash grenades to disperse the crowd at about 12:15 a.m. Friday morning, leading to moments of chaos in downtown as demonstrators and confused bystanders scattered, running and yelling.

The anger of protesters and community members is exacerbated by disputes about the details of the shooting. More information and facts concerning the incident are still being discovered. However, based on what we already know, many believe that Officer Donald’s use of force was not only unnecessary, but also racist.

Even a vigil was orchestrated for the shot brothers. And this year (2 years later, mind you) they circulated news of another gathering to show more support. Why? Because those students and faculty members view the incident as a clear-cut example of police brutality and the shooting of unarmed suspects, period. This is an ideologically influenced position they are taking, convinced that police are automatically in the wrong in pretty much all cases and that racial minorities are rarely deserving of whatever consequences befall them based on their actions and choices.

This is a problem nationwide currently, the spreading of this attitude. The narrative it promotes is not only anti-police and pro-minorities but it’s also recently showing itself to be outright anti-white and anti-American.

Some would say if you can’t beat it, then burn it down. That appears to be what’s trying to unfold at present across this land…

Nevermind the history — the same sort of people are responsible for tearing down Southern statues and monuments and have since been turning their attention toward trying to remove museum displays. So the modus operandi there appears to be to erase history, or any signs or mention of it.

Take as another recent example the case of a student group called “Reedies Against Racism” protesting a required humanities course at Reed College, wherein a student reportedly stated: “forcing students to take a mandatory Western Civilization course is really harmful.” That being a course said to focus on great thinkers from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.

The protest continued this school year, as students interrupted the lecture, got in screaming matches with students, boycotted classes, and vowed to have silent protests during every lecture. The student activists have also brought in mental healthcare advocates for students who have reported having “panic attacks” due to the course material.

“The course in its current iteration draws from predominantly white authors and relies heavily on the notion that Western customs are the most civilized because they are derived from those of ancient Greeks and Romans who are considered the inventors of civilization,” Alex Boyd, a main Reedies Against Racism organizer, told The College Fix via Facebook recently.

Check out the list of demands put out by “Reedies Against Racism.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so goddamn obstructive.

So, what do these types of people want? What’s their primary objective here? Do they really detest all that America is or ever was? If so, why? Totally taking for granted the privileges they themselves do in fact partake in? Ideologically-possessed, yes, but what else is this? Is looking more and more to me like a will to destroy. One obstructs when they cannot or will not construct. So how does one effectively react to this? Arguments don’t seem to work.

“Sam Harris Vs. Abby Martin”

Interesting to listen to them express their views on Islam, jihadists, and U.S. intervention in the Middle East.

“Why Is White H8tred Encouraged While Black H8tred Penalized?”

The parts I paid most attention to begin about 55:15 in.

Restarting at 1:04:57… My Grandma’s super superstitious like that too. If we think it, we’ll bring it upon ourselves. heh

Ya know, that’s where some superstitions served humans well and still could. Making fun of the other for his or her affliction might result in that same affliction befalling yourself or someone in your family. That gets a person thinking. Being born that way isn’t fair according to many, but cosmic circumstances dole out however they do, fair or not. And that’s just a fact of life. Helps to keep that sort of thing in mind. Superstitions can aid in that purpose. That’s the upside.

A little further on… “Damn Mexicans.” Hehehe I do appreciate equal opportunity humor.

That was Tommy Sotomayor imparting his perspective on the topic. He does crack me up. biggrin

“Thomas Sowell on the many problems with intellectuals and experts”

Other authors I’ve read over time discuss this same issue, particularly when it comes to the so-called liberal intelligentsia entrenched in academe. They do exert a great deal of influence, that much is certain, whether their social theories ultimately prove benign or disastrous.

“The Century of the Self”

This film is one of my personal favorites, offered by the BBC and titled “The Century of the Self”:

 

Key name to take away from this video: Edward Bernays, the grandfather of American public relations (a.k.a. propaganda) and nephew of Sigmund Freud. Very important information there that tells us so much about the last American century and how we as a people have wound up where we now sit.

Chris Hedges’ book “Empire of Illusions: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle”

Having read a number of Chris Hedges’ books, including American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Losing Moses on the Freeway, I Don’t Believe in Atheists, his 2010 book titled Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle is another I’d like to offer up to others, though I wouldn’t recommend beginning with reading this one, this book being more of a summary and broad treatment of a collection of problems facing society. Hedges hits several major points, from our tantalization with Jerry Springer-esque forms of entertainment to the personal and societal destructiveness of hardcore pornography; from the dangers of corporatism and the realities and consequences we face today, as a nation and a people, politically, socially, and economically, to the power of love. This man does a great job of telling it like it is!

I’ll include some excerpts below, beginning on pages 14-15:

In The Republic, Plato imagines human beings chained for the duration of their lives in an underground cave, knowing nothing but darkness. Their gaze is confined to the cave wall, upon which shadows of the world above are thrown. They believe these flickering shadows are reality. If, Plato writes, one of these prisoners is freed and brought into the sunlight, he will suffer great pain. Blinded by the glare, he is unable to see anything and longs for the familiar darkness. But eventually his eyes adjust to the light. The illusion of the tiny shadows is obliterated. He confronts the immensity, chaos, and confusion of reality. The world is no longer drawn in simple silhouettes. But he is despised when he returns to the cave. He is unable to see in the dark as he used to. Those who never left the cave ridicule him and swear never to go into the light lest they be blinded as well.

Plato feared the power of entertainment, the power of the sense to overthrow the mind, the power of emotion to obliterate reason. No admirer of popular democracy, Plato said that the enlightened or elite had a duty to educate those bewitched by the shadows on the cave wall, a position that led Socrates to quip: “As for the man who tried to free them and lead them upward, if they could somehow lay their hands on him and kill him, they would do so.”

We are chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the staples of news, celebrity gossip, New Age mysticism, and pop psychology.

On porn and profits, page 58:

There are some 13,000 porn films made every year in the United States, most in the San Fernando Valley in California. According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues, including in-room movies at hotels, sex clubs, and the ever-expanding e-sex world, topped $97 billion in 2006. That is more than the revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, and Earthlink combined. Annual sales in the United States are estimated at $10 billion or higher. There is no precise monitoring of the porn industry. And porn is very lucrative to some of the nation’s largest corporations. General Motors owns DIRECTV, which distributes more than 40 million streams of porn into American homes every month. AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable are currently the biggest American companies accommodating porn users with the Hot Network, Adult Pay Per View, and similarly themed services. AT&T and GM rake in approximately 80 percent of all porn dollars spent by consumers.

[Bold emphasis mine.]

Broaching the topic of the fall of the United States of America on page 142:

The country I live in today uses the same civic, patriotic, and historical language to describe itself, the same symbols and iconography, the same national myths, but only the shell remains. The America we celebrate is an illusion. America, the country of my birth, the country that formed and shaped me, the country of my father, my father’s father, and his father’s father, stretching back to the generations of my family that were here for the country’s founding, is so diminished as to be unrecognizable. I do not know if this America will return, even as I pray and work and strive for its return.

The words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase. Our textbooks on political science and economics are obsolete. Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow, selfish, political, and economic elite, a small privileged group that governs, and often steals, on behalf of moneyed interests. This elite, in the name of patriotism and democracy, in the name of all the values that were once part of the American system and defined the Protestant work ethic, has systematically destroyed our manufacturing sector, looted the treasury, corrupted our democracy, and trashed the financial system. During this plundering we remained passive, mesmerized by the enticing shadows on the wall, assured our tickets to success, prosperity, and happiness were waiting around the corner.

Chris Hedges includes substantiating literature on the topics discussed, listed in the bibliography, with a few titles and authors specifically mentioned on page 146:

There were some who saw it coming. The political philosophers Sheldon S. Wolin, John Ralston Saul, and Andrew Bacevich, writers such as Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, David Korten, and Naomi Klein, and activists such as Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, and Ralph Nader warned us about our march of folly. In the immediate years after the Second World War, a previous generation of social critics recognized the destructive potential of the rising corporate state. Books such as David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd, C. Wright Mills’s The Power Elite, William H. White’s The Organization Man, Seymour Mellman’s The Permanent War Economy: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, and Reinhold Niebuhr’s The Irony of American History have proved to be prophetic. This generation of writers remembered what had been lost. They saw the intrinsic values that were being dismantled. The culture they sought to protect has largely been obliterated. During the descent, our media and universities, extensions of corporate and mass culture, proved intellectually and morally useless. They did not thwart the decay. We failed to heed the wisdom of these critics, embracing instead the idea that all change was a form of progress.

In his book Democracy Incorporated, Wolin, who taught political philosophy at Berkeley and at Princeton, uses the phrase inverted totalitarianism to describe our system of power. Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, and the Constitution while manipulating internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens, but candidates must raise staggering amounts of corporate funds to compete. They are beholden to armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington or state capitals who author the legislation and get the legislators to pass it. Corporate media control nearly everything we read, watch, or hear. It imposes a bland uniformity of opinion. It diverts us with trivia and celebrity gossip. In classical totalitarianism regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. “Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true,” Wolin writes. “Economics dominates politics—and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.”

[Italicized emphasis his. Bold emphasis mine.]

Excerpts don’t do this book justice. I agree so much with this author. The man makes a great deal of sense, especially when I read this book in conjunction with other books like Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Chris Hedges’ American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Richard L. Rubenstein’s The Cunning of History: Mass Death and the American Future, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, as well as Ron Paul’s End the Fed (not that I personally share Ron Paul’s exuberance for returning to a gold standard).

Here is a review of Empire of Illusion in The Cleveland Leader. I don’t share the reviewer’s disappointment with the ending, lamenting that “Hedges didn’t conclude his work with some small glimmers of hope.” Au contraire. Mr. Hedges ended on the most hopeful message one can offer: that we learn to love one another and make the necessary sacrifices to pull through. Love is no small matter. It may be all we really have…all that will ever set things right.

Below is an interview of Chris Hedges on GRITtv (July 2009):