Ethics Dunce: The University of Wisconsin-Madison

uwmadisonflyer

That flyer above may tip-toe through the legal tulips adequately (though I would love to see it challenged), but it stomps its way through the garden of ethics.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will host a “Welcome BBQ” on September 12, four days after the start of the academic year “intended” only for students of color. White, like everyone else, are “welcome,” of course, but they have been warned that the event isn’t “intended” for them. “We don’t want you white devils to come, but you’re ‘welcome’ if you do.” Boy, I bet the legal staff worked long and hard on that wording. They should have worked harder. If a “welcome barbecue” is only intended for one type of student, how are other students still “welcome”?

The university’s Center for Cultural Enrichment is hosting the barbecue. It’s whose mission includes “embracing all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender expressions, religions, classes, abilities, or any other aspects of identity we hold.” It does this, apparently, by figuring out ways to discriminate against white students without getting cited for it.

I know I am a child of the Sixties, but if there are any white students on campus having any fortitude and integrity while possessing a shred of self-respect, they should be organizing a huge contingent of white students to prove how “welcome” they are at the barbecue. Once again, we have the political Left trying to use Rationalization #64, “It isn’t what it is,” and assuming that everyone else is gullible or stupid. What would we call a restaurant that said in its ads, “This establishment is intended for whites only, but all are welcome” ?

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Source: College Fix

22 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: The University of Wisconsin-Madison

  1. I’m going to say that one of my favorite events at an old job was a BBQ organized by the South Pacific (i.e. Hawaiian) employee group. Really nice food, traditional dancing show, tiki torches, etc. They organized it and invited EVERYONE to share their culture. This is like the exact opposite of that. But then if they serve chicken and watermelon they’ll get in trouble for that too.

  2. Witte Hall? Hahahaha. Is there a German Department in Badger Land? They’re having a barbeque at White Hall for black kids? Jah! Jah! They’ll have to rename it Schwartz Hall. Maybe Mel Brooks can do the dedication. Assholes.

  3. How do you promote cultural enrichment by suggesting the event is designed only for people of color. It seems to me that enrichment comes from experiencing other cultures which would naturally include European culture. By excluding European Americans that do not identify as a POC, I can only conclude that a BBQ would technically be cultural appropriation.

    Anyone that understands the origins of BBQ in America knows that it is a melting pot of ideas and tastes. BBQ has it origins in a pre-Columbian Caribbean (Bahamian) method of smoking of sliced meats on wood racks as a means to preserve them. Smoking meats as a preservative began as a means to keep insects off the meat while it dried in the sun. The West Indian natives called this process Barbacoa. The Europeans embellished the native American method of preserving meat on a stick and the German, French and English colonists created the basic varieties of BBQ we have today such as: N Carolina BBQ with its Lexington and Eastern varieties, South Carolina, St Louis style, Memphis and Kansas City style. There is a French term very similar to barbecue meaning from head to tail. The French cooked the whole pig (innards discarded) on a spit. It is however true that lower socio economic classes (cowboys on the trail and slaves) relied on slow cooked tough sinewy meats and slaves from the Caribbean brought with them a taste for red pepper which is a staple in most modern dry rubs. Nonetheless, traditional BBQ as we know it is more European in styles and methods than that of its Brazilian Barbacoa and Caribbean “Jerk” cousins.

    Food should be used as a means to come together not divide. I would never turn down an invite to a real barbecue.

  4. Way back in the fall of 1980, I very nearly attended a Socialist Party of America rally at the UW-Madison campus. There was a conflict with the world premiere of the TV mini-series version of James Clavell’s Shogun, however, for which there was a watch party in the basement of the graduate student dorm I was living in at the time. Shogun won, and I never did pursue any further interest in socialism (although I didn’t start getting converted to conservatism until I met my future husband at the University of Illinois 1 1/2 years later). I remember voting for John Anderson for President that year (on “favorite son” grounds), and my boss at my work-study job wore mourning the day after Reagan was elected.
    So the “People’s Republic of UW-Madison” has been leftist/”woke” for a very long time, although it seems to be even worse now than it was 40 years ago.

      • That brought back so many memories! I remember one of the other grad students brought sake to share for the final night of the watch party, too. Pop culture with wide cross-cultural appeal — and it saved me from socialism, too!

        • I was 10 at the time, so it was the first time I or any of my friends saw ninja. As tween boys we mostly remembered that and how the samurai just cut down anyone like it was nothing. Also the incident where Omi pisses on Blackthorne, which some of us wanted to do to this or that classmate. None of us ever did, though, most of us grasped that would NOT be something teachers or parents would look the other way on nor mete out punishment that could be comfortably ignored for.

          • For the college-age crowd at the time, I think it sparked an interest in discovering authentic Japanese cuisine, and an increased interest among the “gaijin” (although not me) in learning Japanese. Console video games were just beginning to become popular (and 8-bit computers suitable for home use would be coming within the next few years, although they’d be horrendously expensive by modern standards), and I expect at least some Anglophone video gamers were willing to take a chance on Japanese-produced videogame hardware and software, even if they couldn’t understand a word of Japanese.

  5. I’m ambivalent about this situation. I’m actually writing an article about different forms of power, to try and clarify disagreements about situations like this one.

    Although different ethnic groups may be basically similar to each other, they may still have different emotional and semantic reference frames based on culture, historical experiences, common contemporary experiences, et cetera. (I call the mindset that deals with this aspect of reality “background mindset.” It uses semantics mindset in the service of empathy mindset.)

    Communication between two people with different reference frames is almost by definition more awkward than communication between people with the same reference frame. This can discourage interaction or lower their opinions of each other. If one of those people is from a group with less social influence, that person will be further disadvantaged. They will not be able to network with people from the more influential group, and thereby share in their influence, as easily as members of that more influential group.

    One popular solution is to expect members of the less influential group to adopt the reference frame of the majority or more influential group. Sometimes this happens. Other times it’s impractical (in the case of people not invested with resources and time to learn that reference frame) or impossible (in the case of people with disabilities). Is that necessary all the time, though?

    What if we don’t want to force people to use the dominant reference frame whenever people in the dominant group are present? There are a number of options I can think of, and probably many more I haven’t.

    The option that the University of Wisconsin-Madison went with is to hold a social event for everyone, as is ethical, but to attempt to emphasize that attendees should defer to a particular reference frame so that members of the group with that reference frame can enjoy a university-sponsored event in a comfortable social space, as the dominant group can do most of the time. Is that unethical?

    Because humans don’t often talk about things like reference frames or “background mindset” or networks of influence, the university didn’t have an elegant way of communicating all that, so I can see why people misunderstand why this could be an attempt at doing something ethical. I can’t even guarantee that the university itself understands the reasons that (I hold) would make this ethical, so they might be doing this out of terrible reasoning and accordingly might implement it terribly.

    If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, though, I would like you to picture as vividly as you can what it feels like to walk into an establishment like a grocery store, doctor’s office, tailor, salon, coffee shop, et cetera, where everyone there was of the same gender, ethnic group, or age, except for you.

    I’m not saying by any means that everyone will feels one way or another about it. The point I’m making is that every social space has a background context that enables comfortable communication. Different groups of people have different backgrounds, although there may be considerable overlap and a person can certainly be part of multiple groups.

    Most importantly, humans need to learn to how to talk about their different backgrounds, as well as their attempts to use backgrounds to share, empower, protect, or simply normalize their cultures. If humans keep using things that are easy to talk about as proxies for talking about backgrounds and social spaces, then they will keep arguing about things that aren’t actually the things they care about, and Earth will remain an angry and stupid planet.

    • E. Ceph,
      Great comment but I recall from experience that when specifically different people attend the same gathering they just naturally, organically, segregate into their own comfortable cliques and those who are adventuresome and curious take the plunge and begin the intersection.
      There really isn’t anything about the proposed, imposed, structure, of this gathering that makes good sense and the sponsors have introduced an unnecessary tension into it.

      And btw; I have attended an all black party with a black girlfriend (I’mnotblack) and understand how that feels but this is not that.

    • The option that the University of Wisconsin-Madison went with is to hold a social event for everyone, as is ethical, but to attempt to emphasize that attendees should defer to a particular reference frame so that members of the group with that reference frame can enjoy a university-sponsored event in a comfortable social space, as the dominant group can do most of the time. Is that unethical?

      Yes, and here’s why — quite simply, “People of color” is too diverse a group to have that same frame of reference. Also, that “of color” reference usually refers to sexual minorities as well.

      So the common reference they have is not being the majority and little else. Their life experiences are so diverse as to make such an argument unsound, and the common frame of “not being in the majority” seems to me to be particularly destructive. It is an invitation to amplify and reinforce grievances against the majority.

      I’m not saying by any means that everyone will feels one way or another about it. The point I’m making is that every social space has a background context that enables comfortable communication. Different groups of people have different backgrounds, although there may be considerable overlap and a person can certainly be part of multiple groups.

      This appears to me to be an argument for segregation. If we group all persons into schools by race, they will be more comfortable with each other in your reasoning, and perhaps that is so — it’s a defensible argument.

      Alas, that defeats the idea of America and the world as it exists and makes coexistence more uncomfortable when segregation becomes impossible. Further, it would appear to teach us that comfort and a feeling of being “among out peeps” and by extension, excluding others who are not in that peer group, is a desirable and ethical position.

      The purpose of college is to educate the young, not just in academia but also social interaction. Starting school off by segregating students by race (or “of color” status, in this case) seems a poor way to begin the social part of their education. It seems to me, even if I stipulate your argument, that a diverse, less “comfortable” group would be a better way to kick off a college education.

        • The “Lavender Mafia” is a term I’ve heard used in regard to homosexual cliques in Catholic seminaries, so perhaps mauve would be an appropriate color for LGBTQ+ members who wish to call themselves “people of color”?

        • I got nothing.

          Perhaps I have an incorrect perception but I have always regarded the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people with BIPOC as implied.

          I wonder if the organizers would be offended if a white gay man showed up? Would there be a community outcry?

          I suspect the answer is no, but then, perhaps that’s my bias talking.

  6. What I love is the “self-identified” part. White kids should show up “self-identifying” as … I don’t know, Red Martian?

    The stupidity not just of this, but the entire racial grievance industry that sprang into prominence over the last 18 months has become a caricature of itself. Do people not know that there is absolutely no linguistic difference between “of color” and “colored,” yet one is considered racist and the other somehow okay? We found a socially acceptable way to call someone “colored” simply by making it the passive tense?

    I know I am a child of the Sixties, but if there are any white students on campus having any fortitude and integrity while possessing a shred of self-respect, they should be organizing a huge contingent of white students to prove how “welcome” they are at the barbecue.

    Can you imagine their lives there if they do? They will be harangued out of school at minimum, and possibly investigated and expelled.

    Besides, I’ll bet 75% of them agree with UW-M. It’s more important to kids today to be seen as a “good person” rather than to stand up for what’s right in the face of the mob. After all, they’ve been largely indoctrinated in the socialist utopia thinking throughout school. All it takes is a cursory look at Loudon County, VA and other school boards in the news to see just how pervasive this rot has become.

    No, I’m pretty sure the white students are “all in” on this thing at a very high percentage.

    What would we call a restaurant that said in its ads, “This establishment is intended for whites only, but all are welcome” ?

    I recall seeing just such signs in Tennessee in the late 1960’s, only in reverse. I guess it was just a lack of imagination on my part to think they were gone forever.

  7. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, self-parodies themselves like career Lefties, ‘specially hive-minded/intellectually prepubescent, tunnel-visioned U.W. academia, who call the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality home.

    • The medical school just named an Iranian woman as their “Associate Dean for Diversity and Equity Transformation”, citing her as a ” 2019-20 UW–Madison Outstanding Woman of Color”. Iranians are one of the source types for the term “Caucasian”, and the word “Iranian” is derived from the word “Aryan”. So only Western Europeans are “colorless”, Gotcha !

  8. Noticed the name of the event location WITT hall is close to the word White. Noticed that you can attend if you “self-identified as a person of color.” When I googled Witt Hall shows it is also the loci for ESSENCE, a black study experience. But the pictures of the three Residence Directors are all of the “white” persuasion.

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