Ethics Alarms 2020 Election Update: Nearing A Tipping Point, Part 2

The first two stories pushing me to a tipping point are discussed in Part 1, here.

This is the third.

3. Brown University issued embarrassingly rote agitprop in support of the George Floyd protests, and Brown Professor of Social Sciences and Economics  Glen Loury, an African American, searingly called them on it.  The letter is a template for the indoctrination virtually all students now receive at elite institutions of higher learning; it could have issued from any one of a thousand schools. Like Twinkies or Lucky Charms cereal, the letter is devoid of nutrition, though of the intellectual variety. Loury published a rebuttal. He’s an ethics hero. Here is Loury’s letter:

I was disturbed by the letter from Brown’s senior administration. It was obviously the product of a committee—Professors XX and YY, or someone of similar sensibility, wrote a manifesto, to which the president and senior administrative leadership have dutifully affixed their names.

I wondered why such a proclamation was necessary. Either it affirmed platitudes to which we can all subscribe, or, more menacingly, it asserted controversial and arguable positions as though they were axiomatic certainties. It trafficked in the social-justice warriors’ pedantic language and sophomoric nostrums. It invoked “race” gratuitously and unreflectively at every turn. It often presumed what remains to be established. It often elided pertinent differences between the many instances cited. It read in part like a loyalty oath. It declares in every paragraph: “We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident.”

And just what truths are these? The main one: that racial domination and “white supremacy” define our national existence even now, a century and a half after the end of slavery.

I deeply resented the letter. First of all, what makes an administrator (even a highly paid one, with an exalted title) a “leader” of this university? We, the faculty, are the only “leaders” worthy of mention when it comes to the realm of ideas. Who cares what some paper-pushing apparatchik thinks? It’s all a bit creepy and unsettling. Why must this university’s senior administration declare, on behalf of the institution as a whole and with one voice, that they unanimously—without any subtle differences of emphasis or nuance—interpret contentious current events through a single lens?

They write sentences such as this: “We have been here before, and in fact have never left.” Really? This is nothing but propaganda. Is it supposed to be self-evident that every death of an “unarmed black man” at the hands of a white person tells the same story? They speak of “deep-rooted systems of oppression; legacies of hate.” No elaboration required here? No specification of where Brown might stand within such a system? No nuance or complexity? Is it obvious that “hate”—as opposed to incompetence, or fear, or cruelty, or poor training, or lack of accountability, or a brutal police culture, or panic, or malfeasance—is what we observed in Minneapolis? We are called upon to “effect change.” Change from what to what, exactly? Evidently, we’re now all charged to promote the policy agenda of the “progressive” wing of American politics. Is this what a university is supposed to be doing?

I must object. This is no reasoned ethical reflection. Rather, it is indoctrination, virtue-signaling, and the transparent currying of favor with our charges. The roster of Brown’s “leaders” who signed this manifesto in lockstep remind me of a Soviet Politburo making some party-line declaration. I can only assume that the point here is to forestall any student protests by declaring the university to be on the Right Side of History.

What I found most alarming, though, is that no voice was given to what one might have thought would be a university’s principal intellectual contribution to the national debate at this critical moment: namely, to affirm the primacy of reason over violence in calibrating our reactions to the supposed “oppression.” Equally troubling were our president’s promises to focus the university’s instructional and research resources on “fighting for social justice” around the world, without any mention of the problematic and ambiguous character of those movements which, over the past two centuries or more, have self-consciously defined themselves in just such terms—from the French and Russian Revolutions through the upheavals of the 1960s.

My bottom line: I’m offended by the letter. It frightens, saddens, and angers me.



Me too, Professor.

The tipping point nears.

9 thoughts on “Ethics Alarms 2020 Election Update: Nearing A Tipping Point, Part 2

  1. Jack wrote, “The tipping point nears.”

    After the public is seeing what social justice warriors and their terrorist militias are allowed to do in our streets across the United States I think we should expect a LOT more blatant virtue signaling towards social justice warriors. If anyone thinks these social justice warriors and their terrorist militia mobs are going to relinquish their new found nationwide power to intimidate, you better think again.

    Unless logical, critical thinking, and common sense minds miraculously prevail over the delusional demands of the social justice warriors protesting in the streets that are backed up by their terrorists militia mobs the problem will get worse. Well folks, I’m here to tell you that there are cities that are openly discussing major budget slashes to their police departments, the leaderships in these cities are cowering in fear of the social justice warriors and their terrorist militia mobs and they appear to be heading down the rabbit hole of chaos to pander to the mobs. The problem is already getting worse and the mobs are after complete capitulation.

    Personally I think it’s been a long hard push for the totalitarians to push that social justice bolder to the pinnacle of massive social change but I think in the last two weeks we’ve past the tipping point ever so slightly and it’s likely that things are going to snowball and get worse. I don’t say this lightly, we’re rapidly approaching the brink.

    The pendulum has been shoved hard left and the lunatics in the asylum cut it off so it would fall over the edge of reality.

    • What does the fact this guy is an ethics hero tell us about the devastated condition of the American academy? A professor authors a rational, eloquent critique of something preposterous. Isn’t this what professors in higher education are supposed to do with every breath? This guy is a stand out? Depressing.

  2. Can you even imagine the tsunami of pearl clutching and hempen homespun futon fainting couch episodes.

    I imagine the talented Dr. Loury has been mass-un-friended and will see invites to the Cool Kids lunch table dry up.

    My earnest hope is him responding APPROPRIATELY!

    • I’d love to see people responding appropriately. It seems like we only need one to do it, and then there’d be a flood of them. We could have two parallel societies, each having nothing to do with the other. Maybe then we’d segregate geographically and leave each other alone.

      But, of course, we know it’s about cultural hegemony and domination. Best to begin researching bird-shaped nuke technologies now.

    • My guess, Paul….he will be quietly stripped of his tenure and invited to find a new position elsewhere.

  3. In retrospect, I think my tipping point occurred on the morning after the election when I woke up and Mrs. OB informed me Trump had defeated HRC. I’d voted for her even though I wasn’t really “for her.” I laughed heartily thinking a rank amateur had single-handedly outsmarted the entire political establishment and won the grandest political prize out there, in his first at bat. The media’s weeping and gnashing of teeth was going full force. That’s the point at which I began rooting for Trump. Nor have I ever gone down the “Gee, I sure wish he’d just stop doing or not doing X” road. It’s a short dead end. He’s a unitary package. And don’t forget, it’s that very package that defeated HRC and the entire professional political class. And boy, are they ever pissed.

  4. In the early years of my 22-year military career we had to attend (endure) racial sensitivity training. at one presentation they showed an 8mm movie of a black man running down the street toward a bus. We were asked, “what did you see?” I replied “a man running to catch a bus.” The instructor retorted, “No you could not have seen that. You should have been more truthful, what your prejudice should have said that you saw back man running away from a crime scene.” I said, “NO it was a man running for a bus!” He asked, “When did you ever see a black man running for a bus?” I informed him “all the time on the streets of NYC!” By the close of my career, we had cycled through feminist sensitivity training, drug addiction training, alcoholic awareness training, gender training, and back to race relationships. The last race relationship showed youtube version of the same 8 mm movie, the black man running for the bus.
    My point is that indoctrination occurs in many places!

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