The news stories yesterday in various conservative sources that Columbia University would be holding six segregated graduation ceremonies based on ethnicity, income, and sexual orientation in fealty to “multiculturalism” sounded like a Babylon Bee gag to me, except that it isn’t funny. The story also seemed to epitomize The Great Stupid in so many ways, but something stopped me from rushing to the keyboard and writing a KABOOM! story. I don’t know why: this week has had one news flash after another showing the Left has not only gone bonkers, it is no longer trying to hide it.
So I went to Columbia sources (unlike, say, Fox News) to clarify “What’s going on here?,” and part of what’s going on is that conservative media and social media are misrepresenting the story, but not what’s wrong with Columbia’s conduct. What’s wrong with the story is that it isn’t news. The University has been doing this—segregated, group-identification ceremonies— for quite a while.
I haven’t checked to see if the groups or their names have changed: in 2021, the six are called the “Latinx Graduation,” the “Black Graduation,” the “Asian Graduation,” the “FLI Graduation” (for “first-generation and/or low-income community” students), the “Native Graduation” for Native-American students, and…I kid you not… the “Lavender Graduation” for the LGBTQ students.
“Lavender Graduation’? Really? Heck, why not the “FABULOUS! Graduation”?
If this were a new disgusting and embarrassing innovation for what is supposed to be an elite educational institution, I would have designated it as the perfect embodiment of “The Great Stupid” : separating groups in the name of inclusivity, segregating groups while celebrating the diversity of the whole, returning to “separate but equal” while demanding civil rights. But it is not new, and therefore not news.
For Ethics Alarms, then, the story is here, as the campus newspaper attempted to defend the indefensible by citing one rationalization after another. Apparently they don’t teach rationalizations at Columbia. Or understand them. Or recognize them as what they are—self-deceiving lies to make unethical conduct seem just fine.
The article begins justifying the segregated ceremonies by pointing out that they have been held “for years.” Well, then they have been unethical for years. This argument nicks several Rationalizations, primarily #1, The Golden Rationalization, “Everybody Does It” with its variations “It’s done all the time,” “It’s always been done this way,” “It’s tradition,” “Everybody is used to it,” and “Everybody accepts it.” Later, the article points out that “identity-specific ceremonies are not unique to Columbia’s Commencement traditions. At Yale University, the Afro-American Cultural Center has hosted a graduation celebration for Black students for over two decades. “Lavender Graduations,” designed to uplift LGBTQ students, have a similarly long history. After first being offered at the University of Michigan in 1995, these ceremonies are now held at 220 universities nationwide.”
Oh, YALE used to do it! Well then, it must be OK! The fact that Lavender Graduations are “held at 220 universities nationwide” means that 220 universities are engaging in regressive and divisive graduation ceremonies, and the numbers don’t change their unethical nature.
Next, this sad display of what a Columbia education achieves in critical thinking shifts way down the list to the unofficial rationalization of The Great Stupid, #64, “It isn’t what it is.” Abby Melbourne wrote,
“[T]he spread of misinformation convinced many that Columbia would be holding separate Commencement ceremonies for students based on their race and income level. However, these non-degree-conferring Multicultural Graduation Ceremonies have been offered at the University for years and are optional additions to the larger Columbia Commencement ceremony and Class Days.”
They are still “separate Commencement ceremonies for students based on their race and income level.’ Abby’s “however” is the real disinformation. She invokes #64 again when she writes, “Some major political figures, including conservative author and commentator Candace Owens and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, took to Twitter to claim that these multicultural ceremonies upheld “segregation.” Whether they and others knew that Columbia is still slated to hold its annual Commencement ceremony on April 30 is unclear.” The six ceremonies are still segregated, Abby. Look up the word. The fact that there is also a ceremony that isn’t segregated doesn’t change the unethical character of the six that are.
Other rationalizations used include, #13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause,” and 13A, The Road To Hell, or “I meant well.” “Lavender Graduations,” designed to uplift LGBTQ students, have a similarly long history,” we learn. Hitler used anti-Semitism to “lift up” the German people: what a pathetic and tone-deaf excuse for segregation. 11 A, “I deserve this!” is also invoked: “For underrepresented Columbia students, these events are often hard-won commemorations of surviving what can be a hostile institutional and social environment,” Abby writes.
Yes, all graduations are “hard won,” and still do not justify segregated ceremonies. Where’s the special ceremony for the not-so-bright students? How about for the socially awkward, unattractive, or obnoxious students?
Finally, we get a version of #22, the bottom of the rationalization barrel, “There are worse things,” when the author absurdly suggests that the story was designed to distract attention from the REAL outrage, the grievances of the Graduate Workers of Columbia-United Auto Workers’ second day of striking.
The indoctrinated Leftists of Columbia think a local work stoppage is of greater significance to the nation and society than universities like Columbia embracing and encouraging group identity rather than shared values and unity.
That’s not news, sadly, but attention must be paid.