Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Coo-Coo On Campus

America’s universities have gone crazy. Decades of dubious African-American Studies, Queer Theory Studies, Womens’ Studies, Gender Studies, and the like have produced a nearly uniform dippiness in students, faculty, and administration. That students and their parents would spend upwards of $50,000 per year to study such things is bad enough, but that’s their business. That government spends our tax money on them in the form of grants and subsidized loans is far worse.
Those applying for admission to the University of California are asked to identify themselves as either “male; female; trans male/trans man; trans female/trans woman; gender queer/gender non-conforming; and different identity.” They’re asked their sexual “orientation,” which assumes they were born either homosexual or heterosexual, but it also asks: “what sex were you assigned at birth, such as on an original birth certificate?” This is reflective of the assumption among progressives that homosexuals are born that way, but men and women are not.
According to the progressive mantra, sex has nothing to do with genitalia, chromosomes, anything physical or scientific, and has little to do with reproduction either. Rather, it has everything to do with feelings. Feelings trump logic, history, biology, evolution, and creation. 
Speaking of feelings, students attending at least twelve campuses experienced panic attacks recently, triggered by seeing “Trump 2016” and “Build The Wall” drawn in chalk on a sidewalk. According to campusreform.org, the “victims” who read these messages have been offered counseling. Administrators have banned political chalking entirely. Students complained about how much water is wasted to hose off the chalk.
He's talking about seeing "Trump 2016"in chalk on his campus

There was some craziness when I attended what is now UMass Lowell in the 1970s. A professor recruited me to attend a class called “Sociology of Women and Sex Roles” because no men signed up and she wanted some male perspective in discussions. I didn’t have to do the reading and I only had to show up twice a week though the class met three times. I had a full-time job on the second shift and couldn’t make the third class. One of the books we discussed was “The Bitch Manifesto” which was still being studied in 2007 according to a quick net search. I wouldn’t be allowed in today without first renouncing my heterosexual-white-male-privilege.
It got crazier in the 1990s when my wife finished her undergraduate degree in Social Work at the University of Southern Maine. I accompanied her to a graduation party in Scarborough where several lesbian graduates lived, one of whom was her friend. Upon arrival, attendees were assigned badges declaring whether we were gay, straight, or bisexual.
In 2010, I wrote what I considered a tame review of Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues but I it got me fired from one of the papers carrying this column. The publisher received so many complaints about my use of the word “vagina,” he said he couldn’t defend me anymore. It didn’t seem to help when I explained that those readers’ taxes subsidized the play when it was produced annually on multiple campuses of the University of Maine, not to mention hundreds if not thousands of other campuses across the country. I was hired back a few weeks later when the controversy died down.
Science departments used to be anchors of sanity at universities. They’re infected now too by millions in government grants for dubious research on alleged human-caused climate-change. I hope I live long enough to see the day when it’s finally exposed for the power-grabbing hoax it is. I also look forward to Mark Steyn’s day in court, the legal preliminaries for which have dragged on for almost five years. Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann, author of the infamous hockey-stick graph purporting to demonstrate anthropogenic global warming, has sued Steyn for defamation after he accused Mann of fraud. Steyn refused to apologize and wants a trial to further expose Mann’s specious research. Given Steyn’s brilliant mind and biting wit, that promises to be the best legal theater since the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Mark Steyn

I wanted to get this out before Maine Attorney General Janet Mills comes after us climate-change “deniers.” Together with sixteen other Democrat AGs around the country, Mills is on a witch hunt to criminalize research into what they all insist is “settled science,” as if there were any such thing.
Political correctness on campus has gone way beyond ludicrous. One longtime friend who is very loyal to his alma mater was pushed over the edge when its administration dictated which Halloween costumes were allowed and which were not. He’s a thoughtful guy and has been left-of-center for the many decades I’ve known him. Now, however, he’s supporting Donald Trump in hopes that he would counteract it. I was shocked.
Around, around, and around it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows.

Addendum: Response by Michael Mann in Conway Sun, one of the papers carrying this column:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Family in the Twentieth Century

Mary McLaughlin 1969

At 91 my mother, Mary McLaughlin, told us she didn’t want to go through another winter in Lovell. She did not want to move in with any of her children, several of whom invited her, and picked an assisted-living facility in Quincy, Massachusetts near my sister, Kathy. We persuaded her to just take her essentials and move in there last November, after which we would sort through and pack up whatever else she wanted to keep. Then, we would each take whatever items we each wished to have and leave the rest for our nephew, who is leasing the house, to keep or dispose of as he wished. 
I took a steamer trunk, a suitcase, and boxes — all filled with family memorabilia. Now the musty smell of pictures and keepsakes permeates my house. On my dining room table and in my office are piles of photos, some professionally produced in cardboard frames now crumbling with age, and some smaller, curled-up, black-and-whites from now-extinct Polaroid cameras. When I’m done, I’ll take them all to Quincy so my mother can identify the people, places, and times depicted. If I don’t, that information will die with her.
I remember my father’s friend, Gerry Hurley, pulling them from his Polaroid, peeling off a layer, then swiping a pungent, chemical-soaked cylinder over each photo’s surface and waiting for it do dry. Sections the chemical didn’t cover have turned brown, but I can see my brother Danny and myself swimming in Little Sebago Lake where our two families rented a huge camp for two weeks around 1959 or so.
There were few photos of my mother or her siblings until she was a teenager and her brothers were in uniform during World War II. Maybe they couldn’t afford a camera. I’ll have to ask her about that. There’s a Medford High School yearbook from 1942, the year my mother graduated, but no wedding photos — because she eloped with my father while he was home on leave in 1943. There were faded shots of my older brother and sister when they were toddlers, then several professional group shots of our growing family with five, then six, then seven, then eight of us through the fifties and sixties. I remembered posing for those and trying to hold a smile as my cheeks cramped.
That's me in the middle

In one photo were assembled guests at a wedding from the late forties or early fifties. My mother and father, my maternal grandmother and grandfather, as well as my Uncle Joe and his wife Pat. Seated front-row-center is great-grandmother Kate McDonnell, who died around the time I was born. She married my great-grandfather, Peter Haggerty, after each had emigrated, separately, from County Mayo, Ireland in the 1870s. They met in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and married. Peter worked in the coal mines there and died of black lung at 40, after which Kate moved with her young son, my grandfather, John Haggerty, Sr., to the Boston area so he wouldn’t work in the mines. The oldest item from the trunk is a diploma from Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Roxbury, Massachusetts earned by John Haggerty in 1903 when he completed eighth grade. There’s also an American flag, but I don’t know if it’s from his funeral in 1957 or my father’s twenty years later. In 2009 when John Haggerty’s son, my Uncle Joe Haggerty was 90 and my mother 85, I took them to Ireland to try and find where Peter and Kate had come from. It was a grand trip and we found two places we believe were where they lived in Crossmolina, County Mayo.
My mother and father top right

There are copies of the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle editions from August 14, 1945 with the bold headlines: “JAPS QUIT!” and “TOKYO SAYS ‘WE WILL QUIT” respectively. My mother had moved there to work because my father’s ship had departed from there to Okinawa months earlier and would soon return. Next to the paper was a scrapbook with receipts, menus and other souvenirs from San Francisco venues, most of which had come unfastened from its crumbling pages. My father had told me how scared he was during kamikaze attacks off Okinawa as we watched it all on “Victory At Sea” in the early sixties.
Teaching 20th century US History, I emphasized that WWII was that century’s pivotal event politically, of course, but also personally for millions. It’s possible my mother and father would not have married and produced me or my siblings if my father hadn’t pressed her before going off to combat with the plea so many other young women heard: “Let’s marry now because I might not live through it.” She’s told me since that she didn’t really want to get married but gave in when he told her that. My father and fifteen million other surviving American soldiers and sailors were discharged in 1945 and set about begetting us Baby Boomers.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Blaming "White Privilege" For Black Behavior

Nobody likes discipling students. It’s unpleasant, but behavioral limits have to be defined and enforced. If that’s put off too long a teacher loses control of a classroom. Teachers can mete out consequences but sometimes students defy them, often with the support of parent(s). At that point, the teacher needs backup from an administrator, usually in the form of student suspension. That’s unpleasant for the administrator too, but if they back down under pressure and leave the teachers hanging, the whole school breaks down. I’ve seen it happen. When unacceptable behavior is not confronted it escalates. 
The same dynamic applies to a city. Police must enforce behavioral limits defined by government. If the police are not backed up by government, the whole city breaks down. America is watching that unfold across the country. Why? Because two Obama-appointed Attorneys General have injected race into the dynamic, both in our schools and in our cities.
Holder's "School-To-Prison Pipeline"

Last month, Theo Olson, a teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota was suspended because he described the above process on Facebook. Black Lives Matter, a group of racial agitators funded by George Soros, called him a racist even though Olson didn’t mention race in his post. Black Lives Matter met with the superintendent who then suspended Olson.
Attorney General Eric Holder engineered this whole mess. When teenaged thug Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Holder sent dozens of Justice Department employees to Ferguson to teach city officials about “White Privilege,” as if that were to blame for Brown getting shot. Then George Soros and other rich leftists sent millions to create Black Lives Matter, which they continue to fund generously.
To keep stoking the fire, Attorney General Holder then blamed white teachers for what he called a “school-to-prison pipeline.” According to Holder, white teachers overreact when black students misbehave causing more blacks to be suspended than whites. Then President Obama issued an Executive Order mandating racial quotas for school suspensions. Teachers around the country now get “White Privilege” instruction, including St. Paul, Minnesota.
On his Facebook page, Theo Olson posted: “Anyone care to explain to me the school-to-prison pipeline my colleagues and I have somehow created, or perpetuated, or not done enough to interrupt? Because if you can’t prove it, and campaigns you’ve waged to deconstruct adult authority in my building by enabling student misconduct, you seriously owe us real teachers an apology. Actually, an apology won’t cut it.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch

For daring to question the race-baiting policies of Holder and Obama on his private social media account, Olson got booted from his classroom. What about Olson’s First Amendment rights? Does feigned indignation from Black Lives Matter negate them? In St. Paul it does, apparently.
And it’s getting worse. Last week, Holder’s successor, Obama appointee Loretta Lynch, warned she will be applying the same policies to 6500 municipal courts across the country because they enforce the law too much on black violators. According to the New York Post: “A strongly worded ‘guidance’ letter, written by [Lynch’s] civil rights team, warns that a local court policy of enforcing warrants for failure to pay court fines and fees can have an adverse ‘disparate impact’ on African-Americans, who are fined and/or arrested for outstanding warrants at ‘disproportionate’ rates versus whites.
And why would it have a “disparate impact”? The Post article explains: “Federal data also show that blacks tend to break both felony and misdemeanor laws at a disproportionate rate. Even if applied evenly across all races and in neutral, color-blind fashion, such policies could be found by [Attorney General Lynch] to be discriminatory… This is the same dubious legal threat the administration is using to force the nation’s public schools to back off suspending unruly — even violent — black students.”
We can expect this latest Obama Administration initiative to work out as well as the others have. So far it’s just a warning from Lynch, but can we expect another executive order to follow as Obama did with our schools? Obama said he would use his phone and his pen as much as possible, so get ready.
It’s a good thing I’m not teaching in the public schools anymore or I’d likely be in Theo Olson’s shoes. I wouldn’t, however, meekly submit. Neither should he.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Metrosexual Masquerade

I’ve always had trouble with the “turn the other cheek” thing. If someone punched you in the face and you just stood there, you could expect it to happen again and again until you moved away. That’s how it was in my neighborhood. What you did was hit back harder and more often —  twice at least — before asking, “Want some more?” If the other guy was tougher you still had to hit back, even when you knew you’d get pounded. Everyone understood that. There was never a shortage of bullies, and that’s the way you dealt with them. Though I’ve met bullies several times since, I haven’t had to hit one for decades. I think it was because they knew, viscerally, that I would. I’m fairly old now, but I still would.
There are always bullies, and boys who fight back. The way adults handle it, however, has changed. Teachers and administrators who have to deal with occasional fights have stopped inquiring about who or what started it — who may have been in the right, and who in the wrong. Instead, the same punishment is meted out to both combatants because the new ethic is: “Fighting is always wrong.” That sometimes it’s right is never considered in what some call our new, feminized culture. 
I know men who believe that’s the way is should be, and they may be in the majority now. That’s sad, but what’s even worse? These metrosexual men are running our government. When Vladimir Putin invaded the Crimea, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.”
Really John? I know you grew up in Massachusetts the same time I did, but maybe it was in a different kind of neighborhood, or maybe you were a cheek-turner. If you’ve never been punched you in the head, you never learned the basic lessons every man should learn. Clearly Putin learned them, and he understands you much better than you understand him. That’s unfortunate for the rest of us Americans you’re representing. You should know the nature of man is the same in the 21st century as it was in the 19th and in every other century, but you don’t.
After Putin took Crimea and then massed troops on the Ukrainian border, President Obama said almost the same thing Kerry did: “Because you're bigger and stronger [you’re] taking a piece of the country — that is not how international law and international norms are observed in the 21st century.” Oh yeah? I have news for you President Obama: That’s the law of the jungle no matter what century it is. You clearly haven’t learned it, and neither has your Secretary of State.
Yes, I know Kerry got three Purple Hearts and a silver star in Vietnam, but the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth were right when they claimed he lied to receive them. I came to know Kerry shortly after that. I worked in his unsuccessful campaign for congress in 1972. He was a guest in my house and in my parents’ house, and I sensed in him what Putin sensed, and what Iranian negotiators sensed: A leader needs an inner core of toughness and Kerry hasn’t got it. It’s not there. Neither his Boston Brahmin accent nor his $400 haircuts, nor his ill-gotten medals can disguise the emptiness of his expensive, tailored suit. I stopped showing up at his campaign headquarters back in September of ’72, and I was happy to watch him lose in November after spending more than any other congressional candidate in the country.
Never have I met President Obama, but I’ve been forced to see him over and over on television — so many times that I feel like I know him. He’s faced tough situations and I’ve observed his reactions. My conclusion? He hasn’t got it either. If I had any doubt, it was gone when he drew a red line in Syria and then let Assad cross it. He dithered and denied, saying he never drew it in the first place. After that, nothing mattered — not the crease in his pants that David Brooks so admired, not the thrill Chris Matthews got up his leg, not the resolve he pretends to possess as he reads from a teleprompter — none of it. Both our allies and our enemies know that, although people in the Obama Administration still talk tough, that’s all there will ever be. They’ve seen the man behind the curtain and he isn’t much.