Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘race

Is this Diversion mutually exclusive: Race and the Free-Speech?

At issue are a black student’s angry denunciation of a Yale professor and the Missouri protesters’ daft media strategy of blockading reporters from a public demonstration.

Of the many concerns unearthed by the protests at two major universities this week, the velocity at which we now move from racial recrimination to self-righteous backlash is possibly the most revealing.

The unrest that occurred at the University of Missouri and at Yale University, two outwardly dissimilar institutions, shared themes of racial obtuseness, arthritic institutional responses to it, and the feeling, among students of color, that they are tenants rather than stakeholders in their universities.

That these issues have now been subsumed in a debate over political correctness and free speech on campus—important but largely separate subjects—is proof of the self-serving deflection to which we should be accustomed at this point.

Two weeks ago, we saw a school security officer in South Carolina violently subdue a teen-age girl for simple noncompliance, and we actually countenanced discussion of the student’s culpability for “being disruptive in class.”

The default for avoiding discussion of racism is to invoke a separate principle, one with which few would disagree in the abstract—free speech, respectful participation in class—as the counterpoint to the violation of principles relating to civil rights.

This is victim-blaming with a software update, with less interest in the kind of character assassination we saw deployed against Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown than in creating a seemingly right-minded position that serves the same effect.

 Andrew Bossone shared this link

The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered.”

The deflection of the controversies at the University of Missouri and Yale with free-speech arguments is simply victim-blaming with a software update.

In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argued that too many college students engage in turning common events into nightmarish trials or claiming that easily bearable events are too awful to bear.

After citing examples, they concluded, “smart people do, in fact, overreact to innocuous speech, make mountains out of molehills, and seek punishment for anyone whose words make anyone else feel uncomfortable.” What Yale students did next vividly illustrates that phenomenon.

David French strikes a similar note of democratic indignation about the Missouri protesters in the National Review:

The entire notion that these students need a “safe space” is a lie. (As opposed to vital space?)

They aren’t weak. They don’t need protection. They’re engaged in a classic struggle for power—for now against weak, ineffectual, and cowardly opposition. Why would they debate when they’ve proven they can dictate terms?

Why would they answer tough questions when they have no satisfactory answers? So they simply push the press away, and the press meekly complies. Pathetic

At issue are a black student’s angry denunciation of a Yale professor and the Missouri protesters’ daft media strategy of blockading reporters from a public demonstration.

The conflict between the Yale student and Nicholas Christakis, the master of the university’s Silliman College—whose wife, Erika, the associate master of the college, wrote an e-mail encouraging students to treat Halloween costumes that they find racially offensive as a free-speech issue, in response to a campus-wide e-mail encouraging students to consider whether their costumes could offend—was recorded on a cell phone and posted on the Internet.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a national campus free-speech organization, posted the video to their Web site.

Since then, a young woman who argues with Christakis in the footage has been called the “shrieking woman” by the National Review and subjected to online harassment and death threats.

Surely these threats constitute an infringement upon her free speech—a position that has scarcely been noted amid the outraged First Amendment fundamentalism.

This rhetorical victory recalls the successful defense in the George Zimmerman trial, which relied upon the tacit presumption that the right to self-defense was afforded to only one party that night—coincidentally, the non-black one.

The broader issue is that the student’s reaction elicited consternation in certain quarters where the precipitating incident did not. The fault line here is between those who find intolerance objectionable and those who oppose intolerance of the intolerant.

The upheaval at Yale and the protests that forced the resignation of University of Missouri President Timothy Wolfe and of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin are both a product of and distinct from the Black Lives Matter moment we currently inhabit.

Students from the University of Missouri participated in protests in Ferguson last year; as the climate on campus became more fraught, activists from Ferguson visited and advised the students.

Six weeks ago, I participated in a forum at Yale on the massacre in Charleston. When the historian Edward Ball pointed out that the shootings had occurred on Calhoun Street, named for the intellectual godfather of the Confederacy, students immediately pointed out that Calhoun was an alumnus and that a college is still named for him.

One member of the audience asked Jonathan Holloway, a civil-rights historian and the dean of Yale College, who has been at the center of the recent events, if he would remove Calhoun’s name from the college. (Holloway, who previously served as the master of Calhoun College, indicated that he had not yet decided how he would handle the matter.)

To understand the real complexities of these students’ situation, free-speech purists would have to grapple with what it means to live in a building named for a man who dedicated himself to the principle of white supremacy and to the ownership of your ancestors.

That this issue has arisen on the rarified grounds of an Ivy League campus doesn’t diminish the example; it makes it a more pointed illustration that no amount of talent or resources or advantage can shield you entirely from the minimizing sentiments so pervasive in this country. (It’s a lesson that has been vividly illustrated in Barack Obama’s two terms.)

Faculty and students at both Yale and the University of Missouri who spoke to me about the protests were careful to point out that they were the culmination of long-simmering concerns. “It’s clear that the students’ anger and resentment were long in coming,” Holloway told me.

“This is not about one or two things. It’s something systemic and we’re going to have to look at that.”

The most severe recent incidents at both institutions—shouts of “nigger” directed at a black student at Missouri, a purported “white girls only” Yale fraternity party—will sound familiar to anyone who works at or even has substantial contact with an institution of higher education.

Last month, women’s and civil-rights groups filed a Title IX complaint that campuses have not done enough to rein in Yik Yak, an anonymous forum that effectively serves as a clearinghouse of digital hostility.

Last year, at the University of Connecticut, where I teach, white fraternity members harassed and purportedly shouted epithets at members of a black sorority; the incident generated an afterlife of hostility on Internet forums, where black female students were derided and ridiculed. Eight months ago, fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma were filmed singing an ode to lynching

These are not abstractions.

And this is where the arguments about the freedom of speech become most tone deaf. The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered.

The enlightenment principles that undergird free speech also prescribed that the natural limits of one’s liberty lie at the precise point at which it begins to impose upon the liberty of another.

During the debates over the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Senator J. Lister Hill, of Alabama, stood up and declared his opposition to the bill by arguing that the protection of black rights would necessarily infringe upon the rights of whites.

This is the left-footed logic of a career Negrophobe, which should be immediately dismissed.

Yet some variation of Hill’s thinking animates the contemporary political climate.

Right-to-offend advocates are, willingly or not, trafficking in the same sort of argument for the right to maintain subordination.

They are, however, correct in one key respect: there are no safe spaces. Nor, from the look of things, will there be any time soon.



What is your race; I mean “ethnic origin”?

Maybe you agree with me that this notion of race is stupid; that it had done more damage to mankind development than any other negative factors such as religious dogma or totalitarian ideologies.

Fact is, even by the turn of the 20th century, mankind was the product of incest in almost every region in the planet. Thus, scientifically, it is deleterious to boast that you are of a pure race or ethnic origin: all kinds of genetic afflictions are generated from close relative intermarriages...

Fact is, this romantic concept of race is still alive and kicking in “advanced nations“, though applied implicitly in every facet of everyday life.

Even in 1920, fascist Mussolini qualified “scientific racism” and anti-semitic ideologies as “Prussian science” and typical of “Germany sickness”.

Nazi Hitler retorted: “Mussolini fascism is kosher”. Do you recall Ellis Island and the slogan about welcoming the downtrodden and tired immigrants?

All foreign passengers disembarking in New York around 1921 had to fill an exhaustive form; a copy was to be kept in Manhattan at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

In 1921, an immigration law reserved quotas to foreigners asking for residency.

Priority in quotas were allotted to Nordic Europeans such as citizens from England, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. Thus, “tanned” people of south Europe (such as France, Italy, and Spain) and citizens from Turkey, Greece, Syria, Egypt, and from Asia were allocated reduced quotas.

For excuses, it was impressed that the USA was haunted by revolutionary upheavals sweeping Europe, Russia, and the Orient.

Fact is, it was a period where race ideologies of superiority was reaching the zenith:  It is assumed that superior race could be assimilated easier and would improve this wretched multiracial America.

US Officers on board had explicit instructions on how to aid the “illiterate”, meaning those who could not communicate in English, filling the forms.

With frequent contacts of foreigners and acquired experience in estimating “racial differences“, officers on board had wide latitudes to help filling the complicated form of port of entry.  For example, there were questions like in column 9 on “Nationality”, question 10 on Race, the question 11 on place of birth, mother tongue, and so on.

Now, most immigrant were practically illiterate and had no idea how to contribute information.

Officers on board had to deal with answers such as “What do you mean by race?”  Is nationality not enough? Is mother tongue not enough?  How can I select from these 42 kinds of ethnic origins?

Race was the prime factor for classification in the forms, followed by the mother tongue as a supplementary clue.

Actually, Hitler demanded from his researchers of the Nuremberg racial laws to emulate the US eugenic measures and classifications schemes  that were already applied in the US since 1921.

How can this hapless immigrant know his race? Can a person from North Africa say he is Arab?

Can a Syrian from the Ottoman empire say he is Turk?

Can a person from Azerbaijan or the Caucasus say he is Mogul?

It turned out that your religion was considered a “solid basis” for estimating your race.  For example, Jews were classified as Hebrew.

In Arabic, Hebrew is said “Obrani” which means the one who crossed (Moses’s variety of tribes crossed the Sinai desert to the fertile land of Canaan or Palestine).  Are all Jews originally from the “crossing tribes”?

What about the Jews in the Caucasus, in Russia, in Eastern Europe, in North Africa, in cosmopolitan Constantinople (Istanbul) and the other Ottoman cities?

Come to think of it, why the US selected Hebrew to designate jews?  Had the Zionist movement decided before 1921 to enforce the archaic hebrew language on all jews immigrating to Palestine?  Most jews didn’t speak this poor archaic language and spoke rich slang of Arabic, Russian, and German.  For example, Maimonides, the most respected jew from the Andalusia period in the 12th century ,interpreted the Talmud in Arabic.  Thus, why adopt an outmoded language when you had a very rich language to applying?

During Nazi ascendancy in 1933, many immigrants living in the “Teutonic vital space” felt so despaired that they wrote “How may I prove my Aryan origin that requires gathering documents on three generations in my genealogy? Could you please refer me to a “competent anthropologist” so that he may clinically examine me and thus, scientifically demonstrate that I am Aryan?”  

Yes, they needed to be confirmed scientifically as Aryan, as the US wanted to in order to be American resident.

 “Are occupational safety and health standards of any concern for the HF professionals?” (April 11, 2005)


Occupational safety and health is a topic related to the body of safety and health standards that modern States enforce on all industries and institutions which hire workers to mass produce objects or services on a full time or part time basis.

The main emphasis is to collect data of the impact of the working environment on the safety and health of workers and employees.

Harmful environmental factors in noise, lighting, indoor climate, temperature, heat or poisonous elements are studied, analyzed, draft standards proposed for comments and recommendations and then standards promulgated for enforcement by appropriate agencies with wide legal empowerment to prosecute and exact penalties on refractory industries.    

Since the dawn of history, slavery or quasi slavery activities have been imposed on hapless souls. During the industrial revolution many political parties and union organizations for fair labor and adequate wages commensurate to the risks the jobs entail succeeded in gaining substantial legal rights to the workers but safety and health standards were not enacted and enforced until the late quarter of the 20th century. 

Even in the modern and ultra developed States sweat shop factories are rampant in building basements with primitive modicum of safety and health concerns for the thousands of immigrants who came from wretched countries with dreams of a better life for freedom, liberty or economic well being.  

Not only these immigrants are getting none of their dreams but they are cut off of the familiar environment and family support they may have enjoyed back home.

From time to time, articles in newspapers and social and political organizations expose these inhuman treatments of people, a few measures are taken by the local governments and then life goes on as usual with no serious follow ups or consistent willingness to eradicate these contagious diseases of unbridled greed to devalue human lives when laws and orders are relaxed for the despondent.

Many consensual safety standards from engineering institutions and industrial organizations such as chemical, petroleum, electrical and mechanical businesses have been accepted and joined to the package of safety and health standards.

These standards also deal in many respects with the organizational environment of workers such as shift work or discrimination in hiring based on age, race and gender basis.

Besides the military and aerospace conglomerates, it was the federal and State governments which realized the values of Human Factors professionals to administering the various safety and health agencies.

Human Factors graduates were employed to collect data on the hazardous situations in workplaces, analyze the data, set priorities, inspect the workplaces and enforce the standards.

Every year we have hundreds of major catastrophic fires in warehouses and industrial factories where many immigrants die because they live and cook their meals in dangerous environments. This page lacks space to mention the mega catastrophes in chemical plants, petroleum refineries, dams and construction civil activities.




March 2023

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