What's Brown and Squishy?

Brown University has been the most radical left wing campus in America, ever since failed Clinton health care plan guru Ira Magaziner led a successful student revolt in the 1960s, and 'reformed' the university out of handing out grades, and supporting imperialism, racism, and patriarchy in its classrooms. Word now comes that Brown is considering complying with a 'progressive' campaign which might actually destroy the financial resources which have enabled Brown to maintain its elite ranking. America's left wing academic elites have never shown much backbone in standing up to faddish nonsense in the classroom. But squishy liberalism has usually selected targets fairly distant from its own pocketbook.

 

The New York Times reports that Brown University is about to begin

 

an unprecedented undertaking for a university: an exploration of reparations for slavery and specifically whether Brown should pay reparations or otherwise make amends for its past.

 

It is personal, you see. Brown's radical chic image was considerably burnished almost three years ago when it became the first Ivy League university to appoint a female African—American president, Ruth J. Simmons. President Simmons lets the Times know that she is the great—granddaughter of slaves, and that her office is in a building built by laborers who included slaves. Thus, she has

 

appointed a Committee on Slavery and Justice, which will spend two years investigating Brown's historic ties to slavery; arrange seminars, courses and research projects examining the moral, legal and economic complexities of reparations and other means of redressing wrongs; and recommend whether and how the university should take responsibility for its connection to slavery.

 

President Simmons makes an extraordinarily candid statement to reporter Pam Belluck,

 

``I don't think there can be a person with a better background for dealing with this issue than me,'' she said. ``If I have something to teach our students, if I have something to offer Brown, it's the fact that I am a descendant of slaves.''

 

So the president of Brown University concedes that racial victimhood is her major contribution to teaching her students. Although she possesses masters and doctoral degrees in Romance languages from Harvard, and initially taught French at the University of New Orleans, president Simmons quickly discovered that the path upward in academia lay in such fields as 'pan—African studies' and 'Afro—American Studies.' Even more importantly, she discovered that her talent and inclination towards administration opened the door at elite campuses such as Princeton, Smith, and finally, Brown. Plus, of course, the pay and perks are much better as a provost or president than a professor, even in a trendy racialist field.

 

The chairman of the new committee, James T. Campbell, a historian who 'specializes in American, African—American and African history,' avers that there will be opponents of reparations on the committee.

``You're going to have those that will hear the very word reparations and start blustering that this is just one more way that blacks are asking for a government handout,'' he said. ``And then you are going have those that say the university is just trying to whitewash things. Our hope is to carve out as large a middle as possible.''

Hmmm. One side "blusters" and the other just "says." That's evenhandedness for you.

President Simmons, for her part, is making her expectations clear:

``If the committee comes back and says, `Oh it's been lovely and we've learned a lot,' but there's nothing in particular that they think Brown can do or should do, I will be very disappointed.''

The game is probably this: have Brown admit culpability in 'profiting from slavery' because some of its early backers either traded slaves or benefited from the slave trade, and then offer up programs to divert resources to blacks, in the form of racially—exclusive scholarships, admissions preferences, hiring quotas, academic programs, etc. Then, kick the money ball into the court of the federal government, with a demand that the United States as a whole should also engage in these policies. That would preserve Brown's endowment, and hit taxpayers, believers in non—discrimination, and other groups disfavored by the academic left.

But Brown should be very, very careful in establishing the principle that its benefactors' 'crimes' (legal actions which became illegal or unfashionable in subsequent centuries) require redress from the university. Here's why:

The four Brown brothers who endowed the university, and gave their name to it, owed a far greater portion of their fortune to the opium trade with China than to slavery. The great Yankee merchants of the late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, from the Lowells to the Cabots, to John Forbes Kerry's ancestors, the Forbes family of Boston, to the Brown brothers, all benefited from the mercantile system in China, critically dependent on selling mass quantities of opium. Originally established by the British, the New England Yankees, with their swift clipper ships, quickly horned in, and established the great American fortunes of the era.

But it would never do to have Brown University begin to favor students of Chinese descent, would it? Everyone knows that tacit quotas and race discrimination are necessary to keep down the numbers of Chinese students on elite campuses. If merit—based admissions and financial aid criteria were employed, Chinese (and other Asian—American groups) would vastly increase their already disproportionate presence. Just because people work hard, study hard, get good parenting, and have high mental capacity, there's no reason, according to current academic fashion, to see large numbers of them on elite campuses.

Alternatively, Brown might pay reparations directly to China. But that would never do, either. It would simply be outsourcing racial guilt, and outsourcing is bad, we are told.

But who knows? Academic fashions have a way of changing. Maybe some day Brown will appoint a Chinese—American president.

Brown University has been the most radical left wing campus in America, ever since failed Clinton health care plan guru Ira Magaziner led a successful student revolt in the 1960s, and 'reformed' the university out of handing out grades, and supporting imperialism, racism, and patriarchy in its classrooms. Word now comes that Brown is considering complying with a 'progressive' campaign which might actually destroy the financial resources which have enabled Brown to maintain its elite ranking. America's left wing academic elites have never shown much backbone in standing up to faddish nonsense in the classroom. But squishy liberalism has usually selected targets fairly distant from its own pocketbook.

 

The New York Times reports that Brown University is about to begin

 

an unprecedented undertaking for a university: an exploration of reparations for slavery and specifically whether Brown should pay reparations or otherwise make amends for its past.

 

It is personal, you see. Brown's radical chic image was considerably burnished almost three years ago when it became the first Ivy League university to appoint a female African—American president, Ruth J. Simmons. President Simmons lets the Times know that she is the great—granddaughter of slaves, and that her office is in a building built by laborers who included slaves. Thus, she has

 

appointed a Committee on Slavery and Justice, which will spend two years investigating Brown's historic ties to slavery; arrange seminars, courses and research projects examining the moral, legal and economic complexities of reparations and other means of redressing wrongs; and recommend whether and how the university should take responsibility for its connection to slavery.

 

President Simmons makes an extraordinarily candid statement to reporter Pam Belluck,

 

``I don't think there can be a person with a better background for dealing with this issue than me,'' she said. ``If I have something to teach our students, if I have something to offer Brown, it's the fact that I am a descendant of slaves.''

 

So the president of Brown University concedes that racial victimhood is her major contribution to teaching her students. Although she possesses masters and doctoral degrees in Romance languages from Harvard, and initially taught French at the University of New Orleans, president Simmons quickly discovered that the path upward in academia lay in such fields as 'pan—African studies' and 'Afro—American Studies.' Even more importantly, she discovered that her talent and inclination towards administration opened the door at elite campuses such as Princeton, Smith, and finally, Brown. Plus, of course, the pay and perks are much better as a provost or president than a professor, even in a trendy racialist field.

 

The chairman of the new committee, James T. Campbell, a historian who 'specializes in American, African—American and African history,' avers that there will be opponents of reparations on the committee.

``You're going to have those that will hear the very word reparations and start blustering that this is just one more way that blacks are asking for a government handout,'' he said. ``And then you are going have those that say the university is just trying to whitewash things. Our hope is to carve out as large a middle as possible.''

Hmmm. One side "blusters" and the other just "says." That's evenhandedness for you.

President Simmons, for her part, is making her expectations clear:

``If the committee comes back and says, `Oh it's been lovely and we've learned a lot,' but there's nothing in particular that they think Brown can do or should do, I will be very disappointed.''

The game is probably this: have Brown admit culpability in 'profiting from slavery' because some of its early backers either traded slaves or benefited from the slave trade, and then offer up programs to divert resources to blacks, in the form of racially—exclusive scholarships, admissions preferences, hiring quotas, academic programs, etc. Then, kick the money ball into the court of the federal government, with a demand that the United States as a whole should also engage in these policies. That would preserve Brown's endowment, and hit taxpayers, believers in non—discrimination, and other groups disfavored by the academic left.

But Brown should be very, very careful in establishing the principle that its benefactors' 'crimes' (legal actions which became illegal or unfashionable in subsequent centuries) require redress from the university. Here's why:

The four Brown brothers who endowed the university, and gave their name to it, owed a far greater portion of their fortune to the opium trade with China than to slavery. The great Yankee merchants of the late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, from the Lowells to the Cabots, to John Forbes Kerry's ancestors, the Forbes family of Boston, to the Brown brothers, all benefited from the mercantile system in China, critically dependent on selling mass quantities of opium. Originally established by the British, the New England Yankees, with their swift clipper ships, quickly horned in, and established the great American fortunes of the era.

But it would never do to have Brown University begin to favor students of Chinese descent, would it? Everyone knows that tacit quotas and race discrimination are necessary to keep down the numbers of Chinese students on elite campuses. If merit—based admissions and financial aid criteria were employed, Chinese (and other Asian—American groups) would vastly increase their already disproportionate presence. Just because people work hard, study hard, get good parenting, and have high mental capacity, there's no reason, according to current academic fashion, to see large numbers of them on elite campuses.

Alternatively, Brown might pay reparations directly to China. But that would never do, either. It would simply be outsourcing racial guilt, and outsourcing is bad, we are told.

But who knows? Academic fashions have a way of changing. Maybe some day Brown will appoint a Chinese—American president.