Student activists demand college 'take action' against conservative journalists

Several black activists at Pomona College, associated with the Claremont Colleges, have sent a letter to the college president asking administrators to "take action" against conservative journalists from the student publication The Claremont Independent.

The president, David Oxtoby, posted an email defending the right of Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald to speak.  Mac Donald was physically threatened and forced to cancel a lecture at Claremont following protests against her appearance.

The activists claim that "free speech" is incompatible with "truth" and therefore should not be protected.

Claremont Independent:

"Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses," Oxtoby wrote. "What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker. Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society."

In their open letter, the students sharply disagree.

"Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry," they write.

"Thus, if 'our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth,'" the students continue, citing Oxtoby's letter, "how does free speech uphold that value?"

In other words, only our "truth" should be accepted.  Anyone else's notion of "truth" is based on white supremacy:

"Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of 'subjectivity vs. objectivity' as a means of silencing oppressed peoples," they explain. "The idea that there is a single truth–'the Truth'–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples."

In reference to the protests of Mac Donald, the open letter explains that engaging with Mac Donald's speech would have amounted to a debate not "on mere difference of opinion, but [on] the right of Black people to exist."

What a load of crap.  In order to discern the "truth" that Mac Donald questions the "right of black people to exist," you have to abandon reason, logic, and intelligence, substituting hysteria and paranoia. 

"Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live," the letter claims. "Why are you [President Oxtoby], and other persons in positions of power at these institutions, protecting a fascist and her hate speech and not students that are directly affected by her presence?"

Heather Mac Donald wrote a book, The War on Cops – a brutal intellectual takedown of Black Lives Matter.  It is doubtful these activists bothered to read it – or would understand it if they did.

Needless to say, Mac Donald is none of those things she is accused of being.  But what of the activists' argument that "truth" and the notion of "objectivity" are incompatible?

In Keats's "Ode to a Grecian Urn," the poet defined truth this way: "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' – that is all. Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

"Objective truth" is a mirage.  People will always process ideas and events through their own prism of biases.  Even if there is an agreement about the facts, the interpretation of those facts can be debated.  That's politics.  And that's what makes the activists' version of "truth" so problematic.

You may be entitled to your own version of the "truth" – i.e., interpretation of the facts.  But you can't invent your own reality to mold the facts to fit a worldview.

The activists have created a reality where their enemies question "the right of black people to exist."  From there flows hysterical and paranoid imaginings that not even most black people accept.  In my youth, we used to call this sort of thinking "false consciousness" – a worldview tainted by the inability of an individual to reject logical fallacies and other sins against reason.

The irony is, if the activists had studied a lot of those dead white European males and how they thought, they would recognize their idiocy in a minute.

Several black activists at Pomona College, associated with the Claremont Colleges, have sent a letter to the college president asking administrators to "take action" against conservative journalists from the student publication The Claremont Independent.

The president, David Oxtoby, posted an email defending the right of Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald to speak.  Mac Donald was physically threatened and forced to cancel a lecture at Claremont following protests against her appearance.

The activists claim that "free speech" is incompatible with "truth" and therefore should not be protected.

Claremont Independent:

"Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses," Oxtoby wrote. "What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker. Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society."

In their open letter, the students sharply disagree.

"Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry," they write.

"Thus, if 'our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth,'" the students continue, citing Oxtoby's letter, "how does free speech uphold that value?"

In other words, only our "truth" should be accepted.  Anyone else's notion of "truth" is based on white supremacy:

"Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of 'subjectivity vs. objectivity' as a means of silencing oppressed peoples," they explain. "The idea that there is a single truth–'the Truth'–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples."

In reference to the protests of Mac Donald, the open letter explains that engaging with Mac Donald's speech would have amounted to a debate not "on mere difference of opinion, but [on] the right of Black people to exist."

What a load of crap.  In order to discern the "truth" that Mac Donald questions the "right of black people to exist," you have to abandon reason, logic, and intelligence, substituting hysteria and paranoia. 

"Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live," the letter claims. "Why are you [President Oxtoby], and other persons in positions of power at these institutions, protecting a fascist and her hate speech and not students that are directly affected by her presence?"

Heather Mac Donald wrote a book, The War on Cops – a brutal intellectual takedown of Black Lives Matter.  It is doubtful these activists bothered to read it – or would understand it if they did.

Needless to say, Mac Donald is none of those things she is accused of being.  But what of the activists' argument that "truth" and the notion of "objectivity" are incompatible?

In Keats's "Ode to a Grecian Urn," the poet defined truth this way: "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' – that is all. Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

"Objective truth" is a mirage.  People will always process ideas and events through their own prism of biases.  Even if there is an agreement about the facts, the interpretation of those facts can be debated.  That's politics.  And that's what makes the activists' version of "truth" so problematic.

You may be entitled to your own version of the "truth" – i.e., interpretation of the facts.  But you can't invent your own reality to mold the facts to fit a worldview.

The activists have created a reality where their enemies question "the right of black people to exist."  From there flows hysterical and paranoid imaginings that not even most black people accept.  In my youth, we used to call this sort of thinking "false consciousness" – a worldview tainted by the inability of an individual to reject logical fallacies and other sins against reason.

The irony is, if the activists had studied a lot of those dead white European males and how they thought, they would recognize their idiocy in a minute.

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