Garrett Park Fourth of July Parade…


… A photo taken moments ago by our
friend and fellow Garrett Parker Koneti.

Click on it to see Les UDs sitting
in front of their Prius, UD clapping
and Mr UD holding a copy of the
Declaration of Independence, which
every year he reads to UD while the
parade is going by for maximal inspiration.

La Kid Rainbows a Recent Photo of Herself…


…to celebrate marriage equality.

“Empty cans make the most noise.”

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi. Hell yeah.

Whether it’s sex-segregated events at its universities…

… or bans on women driving, England seems to have woken up to the fact that it’s a democracy. It is actively fighting back. Last year it beat back the segregationists, and now it seems to have beaten back the woman-annihilating wahhabis. Or rather the haredim.

Women’s Liberation.


A woman casts off her burqa
as she escapes ISIS.

Details here.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says:

If you want to read an example of a really good essay, go here, to Jay Michaelson’s piece on the ongoing death of Israeli democracy. Let me tell you why it’s a terrific essay.

First of all, it’s very short, but within that concision Michaelson brilliantly, elegantly, and with dramatic – even poetic – flair, conveys his argument. An essay is “a short piece of writing on a particular subject,” says the first dictionary definition I get when I Google “meaning of the word ‘essay.'” The best essayists know how to pack their meaning into very few words, and this brevity often packs quite a punch… It is, if you like, a punch – a quick feint to the brain which suddenly distracts the mind from its customary thoughts and makes it pay attention. Think Joan Didion – that weird evocative minimalism which somehow by picking out only a few powerful words (and these are often repeated words) hooks onto you and holds you.

Second, Michaelson’s tone is neutral, controlled, calm, observant… And at the same time it manages to convey intense underlying emotions. Didion’s great at this too: On the surface, in her essays about her husband and her daughter, for instance, she’s so much about dry perceptive intellect directed to the world, careful precise language brought to the description of her experience, that you only gradually realize the almost unbearable melancholy that she’s really feeling, the bafflement and despair that’s in fact motivating the writing as a way of understanding and assimilating the tragic nature of life.

Third, Michaelson gives his essay a narrative frame. The obnoxious Hasid on Michaelson’s flight from Israel begins and ends the essay, giving the author’s abstractions about “a minority group … that pays those who are destroying it” (he has in mind Israeli and American Jewish subsidies of the most reactionary sects within the faith) a grounding in the immediacy of the real world… Or perhaps SOS should say a floating in the immediacy of the in-flight world, where women are angered by the Hasid’s refusal to sit next to them, and where women and men are made anxious by the man’s bizarre rule-flouting behavior throughout the flight.

Finally, Michaelson’s not got much space so he’s not going to fart around. He’s not going to mince words. He’s going to tell you – calmly, precisely – what’s in the mind of the Hasid, what has been put in the Hasid’s mind by the education that the larger Jewish community continues to subsidize.

Most likely, he has learned in religious schools – paid for mainly by government largesse, thanks to “faith-based initiatives” and the erosion of the garden wall between church and state – that goyim have no souls, or are like animals, or worse… . Taught that the customs of the goyim – that includes non-Orthodox Jews, of course – are filthy, stupid and nonbinding, Haredim are unruly passengers on airplanes. “Fasten seatbelts?” – goyishe toireh. “Don’t gather in the aisles?” – narishkeit.

But no – he can’t really know exactly what the Hasid is thinking.

Really, I have no idea what the Hasid is thinking, what the flight attendants are thinking or what my fellow passengers are thinking.

I can report only what I am thinking. And that is that this moment of obstinacy and disrespect is one that we Jews have created. Our cousins in Israel have given the Haredim everything they’ve asked for in exchange for their political support – just watch as the new government undoes all the progress of the previous one – at tremendous cost to society as a whole. And our institutions here in America continue to dole out benefits to fundamentalists opposed to the very institutions that are feeding them.

The last two sentences of Michaelson’s essay wonderfully meld the particular, the immediate narrative of the obnoxious Hasid, with the general:

An obstreperous man on an airplane is not so bad; after a few hours, we made it to JFK, safe and sound. Reversing course on Jewish fundamentalism will be a lot harder.

“[Laura Kipnis] was accused … of writing an article that upset some students. Turning that into a federal case is beyond the pale.”

UD liked Northwestern. She didn’t love it (she loved her graduate school, the University of Chicago), but she liked it. In Erich Heller, for instance, she found not merely a compelling teacher, but a compelling human being.

As Geoffrey Stone points out here, NU has been making an ass of itself, in the matter of free speech, for some time now. He discusses two recent cases, including that of Laura Kipnis.

Laura Kipnis wrote a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education in which she raised important questions about the regulation of student-faculty relationships, the meaning of consent, the procedural irregularities that frequently taint the efforts of colleges and universities to address such issues, and the messy and destructive lawsuits that often follow.

Kipnis’ article is a serious, provocative, and valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about these often difficult and vexing issues. Among other things, Kipnis charged that some of the recently enacted campus codes dealing with such matters have had the effect of infantilizing women students. This, she reasoned, is not a good thing.

In response to this essay, several students at Northwestern staged a protest demanding “a swift, official condemnation” of the article because they had been made to feel uncomfortable by her thoughts on the subject. One woman student went so far as to describe the essay as “terrifying.” Shortly thereafter, a women student who had filed sexual assault charges against a professor at Northwestern filed a Title IX (sex discrimination/sexual harassment) complaint against Kipnis because of the publication.

As Kipnis traces in a powerful new article published this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education, for the past several months she has been subjected to a star-chamber proceeding in which outside investigators retained by Northwestern University have sought to determine whether her initial essay somehow constituted unlawful retaliation, “intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination” against the student who had previously filed the sexual assault charge against the faculty member at Northwestern.

As anyone who has read Kipnis’ initial article can discern, the accusation is ludicrous on its face. An essay that takes aim at the substantive values and procedures employed by universities in their efforts to regulate sexual relationships on campus is not, and cannot rationally be taken to be, an act of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment directed against any particular student who may have filed such a complaint.

What Northwestern should have done in the face of such a complaint was to dismiss it as quickly and decisively as possible and to reaffirm the fundamental right of members of the university community to write, speak, argue, and complain openly and vigorously about matters of public concern. Instead, Northwestern put Kipnis through months of “investigation” for doing nothing more than writing an interesting and provocative article in a journal of considerable repute.

It was only after Kipnis went public in her second article this week that Northwestern finally informed her that the charges against her were unfounded. As evidenced in both of these situations, it seems, not surprisingly, that the best way to get universities to stand up for academic freedom is to call them out publicly on their lack of commitment to the principles for which they are supposed to stand.

As Stone suggests, NU should be ashamed. It should replace whoever is running its Title IX office.


Update: Same idea.

Samuel Bagenstos, a University of Michigan Law Professor who, until 2011, served as the number two official in Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, says Northwestern wasn’t compelled to go as far as it did. “Federal law requires a prompt and equitable resolution of the complaint,” he says. “They do have to look into it. The question is, what does looking into it mean?”

In the Kipnis case, he says, “ All you would have to do was read her article, read the Tweet, and maybe talk to the people who filed the complaint to understand that there’s no conceivable way that even if everything in the complaint were true, there’s no way that was a violation of Title IX.”

Support from left and right.

[R]ight now, France is debating whether to extend the headscarf ban from grade schools to universities as well. Support is wide-reaching and includes former Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on the right and the current minister for women’s rights on the left.

Is it…


Or is it The Onion?

Gets Points for Honesty

At [a recent] conference [Sheldon] Adelson was quoted as saying that Israel would not be able to survive as a democracy: “So Israel won’t be a democratic state,” he added. “So what?”

As Andrew Sullivan would say…

know hope.


Watch the guys here.  Yay.

The Indispensable Maajid Nawaz…

… talks about Westminster University.

The University of Westminster is well known for being a hotbed of extremist activity. The university’s Islamic Society is heavily influenced, sometimes controlled, by the radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir and regularly gives a platform to preachers of hate. On the very day of the Emwazi revelation, the university was to host a lecture by Haitham al-Haddad — a man accused of espousing homophobia, advocating female genital mutilation and professing that Jewish people are descended from apes and pigs. The event was suspended not by the university authorities, but by the Islamic Society, which pulled it only because of security concerns.

“This is not a university with a one-track mind, it is one that says all opinions are valid and all should be discussed …”

That’s a significant part of the problem right there, isn’t it? If the question is How does a university suddenly break into the global limelight for having graduated Jihadi John and sponsored Haitham al-Haddad? part of the answer lies in the fact that the Westminster University student I quote in my headline believes he’s saying something good about his school when he tells us it’s a place that believes all opinions are valid. He’s boasting.

Presumably not everyone at Westminster University thinks it’s valid to opine that homosexuals should be slaughtered like pigs, or that women whose clitorises are still attached to them are apostates. Probably some people at Westminster can think of yet other invalid opinions, opinions that reflective institutions like universities shouldn’t spend time discussing. The Holocaust never happened. The Earth is flat. The Bush administration planned and carried out 9/11. All non-Islamic artifacts must be destroyed.

To be sure, reflective people should be interested in the phenomenon of large numbers of people believing things like this. The more we know about cruelty, fanaticism, conspiratorial thinking, and the failure of any element of the empirical tradition of thought to take hold, the better off we are.

A university graduating people unable to make basic distinctions between valid and invalid beliefs creates a safe space for fanatics. This is what Westminster University appears to have accomplished.


Joseph Weissman:

… Emwazi studied in an environment where his sympathies for jihadi terror were considered “the norm”, and therefore unremarkable; praiseworthy, even. Here, his perverse ideas could be nurtured by his surroundings, rather than flagged up as a concern…

In 2006 at the University of Westminster, the ISOC Annual Dinner from that year featured the Al Qaeda recruiter, Anwar Al Awlaki. It also featured hate preachers Murtaza Khan and Haitham Al Haddad – both of whom support Islamic terrorists killing those deemed “apostates”.

… [Jihadi John] walked into a university which had welcomed hate preachers dreaming of an Islamic State.

… [T]here will be a brief flurry of media interest in how Emwazi attended a university which hosted a leading Al Qaeda recruiter just before he joined, and in university extremism in general. When that dies down, [Haitham] Haddad’s invitation to the University of Westminster may well be restored, and we will all go back to ignoring Islamist extremism on-campus, because it takes too much effort to solve, and it’s too awkward to talk about in polite company.


Avinash Tharoor:

I recall a seminar discussion about Immanuel Kant’s “democratic peace theory,” in which a student wearing a niqab opposed the idea on the grounds that “as a Muslim, I don’t believe in democracy.” Our instructor seemed astonished but did not question the basis of her argument; he simply moved on. I was perplexed, though. Why attend university if you have such a strict belief system that you are unwilling to consider new ideas? And why hadn’t the instructor challenged her? At the time, I dismissed her statement as one person’s outlandish opinion. Later, I realized that her extreme religious views were considerably more prevalent within the institution.

The only thing shocking here is the instructor’s failure to challenge the student. Totally irresponsible; and, for students like the Westminster graduate writing this opinion piece, totally demoralizing.

I don’t think the university itself is advocating extremism, but by failing to prevent the advocacy of such ideas, the institution is attracting students who are sympathetic to them. Students who do not identify with extreme Islamist ideology are being put at risk of discrimination, intimidation and potentially radicalization by the university’s failure to properly handle the situation.

Matt Taibbi on Rudy Giuliani.

I feel sorry for Rudy that he can’t love this country the way it is. I love America even with assholes like him living in it. In fact, I’m immensely proud of our assholes; I think America has the best assholes in the world. I defy the Belgians or the Japanese to produce something like a Donald Trump. If that makes me an exceptionalist, I plead guilty.

On Belgium: I can only think of Johnny Hallyday and Paul de Man. Neither begins to measure up.


Update: UD thanks Alan, a reader, for reminding her that Leopold II trumps Trump.

That whole “wipe your ass” thing is also very annoying.

America’s own mani pulite moment.

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