Monthly Archives: February 2010

Possible racial incident at MU

UPDATE: Here’s an article from the Missourian on the topic. And the Legion of Black Collegians statement. The latter contains some great words advice from group president Anthony Martin towards the end: “Be upset, be disgusted, but keep your composure and react to this situation as the outstanding men and women that you are.”

Earlier today, University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton emailed students about an alleged incident at the Black Culture Center. The incident has all the makings of a situation that could flare up into a full scale controversy, notwithstanding the announcement’s timing at the beginning of the weekend. If this initial bit of information is accurate in its suggestion of a racially-motivated act of vandalism, indeed that is despicable.

Surely nearly every student and local citizen supports the immediate investigation into the incident, and strongly condemns the conduct in question. After the identification and sanction of the individual or individuals who engaged in this act, what interests me is exactly how far university administrators and student activists will take this, officially and rhetorically.

Will people be expelled? Does a university ever suspend people? Perhaps they’ll be placed on disciplinary probation? Will they be kicked out of a fraternity or sorority? Of student groups? Will they be physically safe on campus?

I’m not attempting to determine what would be appropriate at the moment. However, disciplinary action should be administered according to existing student conduct code standards (if the person or persons involved are in fact students), and not be devised in a reactionary or ad hoc basis in response to the intense social and political reactions and demands sure to ensue on campus. That’s not to say don’t be sensitive to student input – but justice is not the same as mob justice, and should that pressure arise the administration must be prepared to resist. Nor should this incident be exploited in pursuit of anybody’s pet programming objectives on campus.

What’s the actual crime here? Vandalism? What happened is not yet public knowledge, so it’s hard to say. But that would seem to be the actual, statutorily-defined and legally prosecutable act (as I don’t think Missouri has hate crime legislation on the books. Although Columbia very well might have municipal ordinances to that effect, which I’ll look into). Anything beyond that will come through university action.

This incident brings to mind the case of Jenny Marinko, a former MU student who several years ago was ostracized from the community for a distasteful comment she made seeming to endorse social self-segregation at the university. In a column for the now defunct MU Student News, she reacted petulantly to alleged acts of vandalism by black sorority members against some predominantly white sororities and fraternities. To my knowledge the vandalism itself – with its obvious racial dynamics – was not discussed after the column’s appearance, while Marinko’s comments became cause for campus uproar.

Ironically, some  who rushed to condemn Marinko seem to advocate related notions of group identity and non-assimilation under the guise of diversity and multiculturalism. Also left unspoken at that time was that there was and still is a good deal of racial self-segregation at MU, much of it with the tacit endorsement of the aforementioned parties.

I’ll continue to track developments of the BCC story, offer my thoughts and relate those of students on campus.

—–

From: MU CHANCELLOR
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010
To: MU CHANCELLOR
Subject: Message from the Chancellor

To the MU Community:

In today’s early morning hours, a disheartening and inexcusable act was committed on our campus when cotton balls were strewn at the front entrance to our Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center. Those guilty of this despicable action have not yet been identified, but MUPD became involved immediately and is conducting an investigation.  This university is fully committed to tolerance and respect for every one of its members, and this kind of conduct will not be tolerated. I urge anyone who has information related to this crime to contact the MU Police Department immediately at 882-7201. I also ask you to join me in expressing your own individual concern and support to the members of our community who were the apparent targets. I have been informed that the Legion of Black Collegians is calling a Town Hall Meeting for Monday at 5 p.m., location to be determined.

MU celebrates the diversity of our community. This morning’s behavior offends us all.

Brady J. Deaton

Chancellor

This e-mail has been generated in accordance with the MU Mass E-Mail Policy: http://doit.missouri.edu/e-mail/mass/

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Filed under Diversity, Education, Race

Transparency as a weapon

Using false transparency as a weapon against one’s partisan opponents seems to be among the ultimate acts of political cynicism. That’s exactly what yesterdays’ health care summit was: President Barack Obama‘s blatant and desperate attempt to manipulate public perceptions of the debate and thus provide leverage and momentum to salvage at least part of an expansive and immoderate health care agenda.

To be fair, it was probably also at least in part about the president responding to the recent criticism that he had as yet failed to honor his campaign pledge to broadcast policy discussion of the issue on C-Span.

From the moment it was announced to the time it rolled around, every politically aware observer understood that the event would be nothing but a dog and pony show. Fake bi-partisanship employed in the service of fake transparency.

In the last two years, little of either real quality has been present during the health care debate. Now, we’re treated to a nauseating display aimed at suggesting what we know not to be true: that we still have very little of either.

One final thought: All the people hyperventilating about Washington, D.C. being “broken?” It’s only broken if you think it’s natural function is to pass massive pieces of legislation with complete efficiency. If Democrats had set their sights on more modest, incremental advances on their health care agenda (ditto with their environmental agenda, etc), you can bet they would have had something to show for it right now. So no, Washington is not “broken,” and those claiming it is need to go back and do some remedial study of our country’s founding and our system of government. But hey, if you want to keep whipping the public up into a frenzy with sensationalist news pieces and the like about a failed federal legislature and broken political system, be my guest – you’re only adding to the anti-incumbent mood that is going to take out Democrat after Democrat this November.

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At a minimum, those who designed or those who approved the Missile Defense Agency‘s new logo should have seen the obvious symbolic suggestions, and thought twice about the look. Drudge has called attention to the logo today, alongside two images  – Barack Obama’s campaign logo and the Islamic Crescent – that together coincidentally resemble the MDA design. I’m not one for conspiracies – my point is simply that this seems like an obvious thing to notice and probably avoid.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous

Great day at CPAC. LONG day at CPAC.

Former UN ambassador John Bolton gave a great speech this morning. Ann Coulter was Ann Coulter, giving a caustic yet thoroughly entertaining address this afternoon. And Glenn Beck gave a fairly lengthy keynote speech tonight, covering a range of topics but really keying in the reality and danger of progressivism. Much more in between.

One of the day’s best panels featured Jonah Goldberg, Amity Shlaes and another expert on progressive history and economics. Newt Gingrich earned a rock star’s welcome when he made his entrance, and gave a speech in which he talked about what real bi-partisanship would look like in the next couple years. I also enjoyed a panel featuring several leading academics discuss the current state of academic standards and academic freedom in today’s university system, and strategies to address the problems.

I have some thoughts on the staw poll, Ron Paul, and more, but will have to wait to post those in the next day or two. For a preview: CPAC needs to change its straw poll procedure. About 2,400 people voted  – the most in the history of the poll – from all fifty states and the District of Columbia. However, there were 10,000 people registered for the Conservative Political Action Conference. The key word being action. Yet less than a majority even voted in the straw poll. This makes it easy for an intense faction like the Ron Paul folks to take the event and make headlines, producing results that by no means seemed to represent the conference constituency at large. More on that later. Right now, I’m watching a Seinfeld episode and going to bed.

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CPAC Friday

Landed at BWI last night and took the light rail to my brother’s apartment near the city center. This morning we took the train to DC and then hopped on the subway to the Mariott-Woodley Park where this year’s conference is being held. For years, CPAC has meant going to the Omni Shoreham Hotel, so things felt a little different this year, but the Mariott is actually located less than a block or two away and the facilities seem well suited to the event.

Congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana) spoke at 11am EST this morning, and I must say that he was very well received by a large crowd that filled the main conference hall for his remarks. I’m biased of course – I’ve been a huge Pence fan for several years – but in substance and style he appeared the spokesman and statesman that conservatism so desperately needs right now. He is not a man of passion, principle or pragmatism alone, but seems to combine these three traits vital to a political leader.

Pence, the House Republican Conference Chairman, delivered a message that was echoed in part by some of the day’s other speakers, but what set him apart was his  energy, humor and sense of timing. Striking an optimistic note about midterm Republican prospects, he underscored the importance of achieving not merely a partisan but a conservative congressional majority.

Several times, Pence signaled the need for movement conservatism to embrace optimism and civility in its attempts to influence society and government. He urged activists to elevate the “happy warriors” and joked that “I’m a conservative, but I’m in a good mood about it.” The remarks were tactful and gentle but very much a word of advice to avoid being consumed by unchecked or indiscriminate anger that risks undermining the Right. He also made a good-natured and light-hearted joke at the expense of Fox News, which may seem counterintuitive at CPAC but actually served as a savvy demonstration of the speaker’s realism, humility, awareness and media acumen.

Pence was the highlight for me, but the rest of the day was good. From a distance I spotted Brett Dinkins, outgoing president of the University of Missouri College Republicans; I also heard that Eric Hobbs, who I believe is doing some work for The Missouri Record, is also at the event, along with a number of other MU College Republicans (Hobbs recently completed his political science degree from MU). One student from Saint Louis University spoke on a panel today about successful campus activism.

Speaking of Missourians, John Ashcroft spoke this afternoon. The nation’s former attorney general said he rejects the notion of a trade-off between liberty and security, and defended the Bush administration’s approach and record on terrorism related issues while criticizing the current administration for its softness on the matter – specifically, granting civilian trials to terrorist operatives and generally refusing to call the greater conflict what it is. It gives me no pleasure to say this, but while I agreed with much of his comments, the speech was not as strong as it could have been. It was long on rhetoric and he seemed a bit disorganized or detached. I know he was also speaking at Missouri Lincoln Days this weekend so maybe he was more focused on that event.

I’ll leave it at that for now, but hope to be back on tomorrow with some more updates.

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To CPAC

Tomorrow I’ll fly to Washington, D.C. for CPAC, the nationwide annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists. I’ll be posting updates and observations from the event, and perhaps relay the reactions of others from the Show-Me State who make the trip this year.

Andrea Plunkett, Platte County resident and founder of Americans for Conservative Training, has set up a personal page to blog from the event. Town Hall is offering extensive live coverage of the event, and there will be a number of sites tracking CPAC developments.

The presidential straw poll is always one of the most interesting events at CPAC. Because the conference draws activists from around the country and from different segments of the movement, the poll results are usually a pretty good indicator of which potential candidate currently has the most active support.

In some years campaigns have aggressively attempted to “get out the vote,” bringing in supporters to the conference and lobbying other conference-goers to support their candidate on the paper ballot received upon checking in to the event. It will be interesting to see if any campaigns are doing that already this year. This is something you would expect from an aggressive, well-organized outfit like Romney’s supporters.

Missouri’s John Ashcroft will speak at the event. Glenn Beck is one of the big draws this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what his message will be to the conservative movement. I’m not a Beck fanatic but he’s doing some important work and clearly has energized supporters and detractors alike.

Some of the speakers I’m most looking forward to include Mike Pence, Mitt Romney, George Will, Newt Gingrich and Marco Rubio. I’ll be interested to see if Pence leaves any hints on the table as far as any of his potential plans for 2012, a subject which has seemed to slowly but steadily get increasing play over the last year or so.

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25 top conservative journalists

The Daily Beast has named its version of the top twenty-five conservative journalists in the country, following its survey of “…50 academics, politicians, journalists, and a few unclassifiable (but wise) friends.”

Now, the list omits Charles Krauthammer, so it is profoundly and perhaps even irredeemably flawed, but I’ve got to say it’s a pretty decent write-up. The term “conservative journalist” may not be the best – after all, a true journalist is neither liberal or conservative – but is nonetheless a serviceable moniker for the influential purveyors of conservative news and views the Beast seeks to catalog.

Lists are fun, and this one isn’t bad. I even learned of a couple new people to follow, like Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic, at number 25. Have to say I wasn’t thrilled to see David Brooks and Peggy Noonan both make the top 10 – they’re credible entries but 6 and 4, respectively?

Glenn Beck comes in at number 2 – one spot above Rush Limbaugh, which is not surprising but seemed more like a tip of the hat to the recency and intensity of Beck’s appearance on the stage, as opposed to actual greater influence than Limbaugh (which I don’t think he has). There were definitely a few folks from the Wall Street Journal, and a few other Fox News Channel personalities – which, surprisingly, included Neil Cavuto (I didn’t think most people would consider him conservative, or at least substantially conservative).

Anyway….cheers to an informative and entertaining compendium by Tunku Varadarajan.

P.S. For kicks, here’s my opinion on a few the list should’ve included but did not: Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, and either Bill Kristol (Editor, Weekly Standard) or Rich Lowry (National Review).

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