Best and Brightest?

College and University campuses across North America are becoming ideological echo chambers. Universities have historically been a place where the best and brightest minds of our societies would have their ideas challenged. It would provide students and academics a place where all ideas could be presented, debated, and depending on how much evidence you’ve shown to support your ideas accepted or rejected.

Today, campuses have become the exact opposite.  Constant de-platforming and an exclusively left-wing bias that is enforced with an iron fist that even the KGB and Stasi would be proud of. Any conservative speaker who is invited to speak at any university is heckled. Protesters often interrupt the events by taking the stage with chants or pulling the fire alarm. Protests and hecklers reached their peak at the University of California Berkeley campus where riots were organized by students, and the far left group ‘Antifa,’ outside of the auditorium where speaker Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak.

They proceed to graffiti the windows, light fires, through objects and assault those who were waiting for the speaker. Having a make America great again hat made you a particular target for the angry mob. Something very similar happened again at UC Berkeley when Ben Shapiro a conservative jew who was also invited to speak.

Image result for uc berkeley milo

The university had to brunt the bill for both events that cost them more than USD 800,000 for security fees.

In Canada, things are very similar to the United States. De-platforming in universities and an ultra-liberal bias in academia. The most high profile case here in Canada has been that of Jordan Peterson. Who was reprimanded for refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns in class to one of his students and was opposed bill C-16. His lectures became popular on youtube after the massive wave of media attention. He became a symbol for many young Canadians and Americans of the excess of the liberal left and the importance of freedom of speech on university campuses.

A cellphone video captured by fourth year student Ali Yazdankia has been widely viewed on Facebook. It shows the second leg of Peterson's talk, when he was outside, speaking both to and over the crowd surrounding him.
A cellphone video captured by fourth-year student Ali Yazdankia. Peterson’s talk, when he was outside, speaking to the crowd surrounding him at McMaster University (Ali Yazdankia/Facebook).

The second most highlighted incident was at Wilfrid Laurier University.  Where Lindsay Shepherd a teacher’s assistant was reprimanded for showing a video of Jordan Peterson in her class. Her reasoning for showing the video was to show what the other side of the argument said about the gender pronoun debate.

But what is causing this?

Universities have become very dominated by progressive ideology. A study in the United States found that in university programs of economics, history, communications, law, and psychology Democrats outnumber Republicans in a ratio of 11 to 1. I suspect that the trend is very similar here in Canada. What is concerning is that the left-wing bias has bled over into the education where only progressive and leftist ideologies are expressed to the students.

Teachers instead of showing both sides of the argument often cement their bias into the courses they teach. Furthermore, sometimes classes will be overwhelmingly in agreement with their ideas and instead of playing devil’s advocate or encouraging students to look at the other side they demonize, exaggerate, underrepresent and discourage these ideas.

College Republicans began a twitter campaign called #MyLiberalCampus where they asked Republicans at colleges to express their experiences in liberal campuses. Unfortunetly for them it did not catch on.  However, the conservative Leadership Institute opened their first the website called Professor Watch.  Because of its success it later became merged with the main site called Campus Reform. The website became a place where students and professors would submit instances of liberal bias in Academia as well as to report instances where students where being reprimanded for expressing their political opinions at universities.

A diversity of opinion?

Universities should stand as complete free speech zones where all people can feel safe expressing their opinions regardless of political affiliation, race, gender or even if they a considered controversial. Often if a student disagrees with common perceptions such as, but not limited to ideas of diversity, affirmative action, or immigration they are immediately branded with the now unfortunately common terms of  ‘racist’ or ‘bigot.’ Even if they formulate a solid argument or have a legitimate concern about the topics they are still subject to all types of vitriol, scorn, and censorship.

What is important to highlight is how many of those who call for diversity in other aspects of life do not bat an eye at the lack ideological diversity in today’s campuses. Keeping a diverse set of opinions in colleges will only add to the quality of the education. If universities are in charge of training our best in brightest, they should be allowed to question anything and everything.

If we cant, have these hard conversations and converse the issues at the university where is it acceptable for them to happen?

The ideological echo chamber in universities is only fueling the political divide in our societies. The climate has pushed people to the discuss the controversial topics on the internet, not in the classroom.  Even though the internet is a convenient tool that has made out lives much easier it is also home to very radical ideas.

One of my professors told the classroom once: “on the internet, you  are always two clicks away from the daily stormer”.

It is clear to see the direction the internet is going. On the popular video hosting platform Youtube, which is considered one of the most popular websites for young people,  hosted a debate stream which featured Richard Spencer and other prominent members of the ‘alt-right’. This stream was number one trending video on the platform and amassed more that 300,000 views. Pushing ideas to the fringes, de-platforming speakers, the rhetoric sometimes used by liberals and hostility to anything not progressive or left wing is why the ‘alt-right’ has begun to multiply on the internet. Preying on young people who cannot express their feelings and opinions. They are susceptible to arguments by pseudo academics of the likes of Dr. David Duke or by descoussion blogs like the now infamous /pol/ board on 4chan. These ideas will only fester and grow if they cannot be addressed, debunked and clarified in the classroom.

Whats more dangerous however is that those calling for censorship do not realize that political paradigms do not last forever. In the 90’s they censored what they thought was satanic and demonic content. It failed and only put these ideas into mainstream thinking. In the future who knows who will be in charge and what ideas the censorship we have today will bring into the mainstream.  It is dangerous and totally irresponsible to set to limit what can be said and discussed in the bastions of knowledge and progress of our societies.

Bigger Than Watergate?

The memo that was released recently by the house intelligence committee headed by the member of congress Devin Nunes shows that the intelligence agencies of the United States used fake information to spy on a presidential campaign. These types of aggressive maneuvers have not been seen since the famous Watergate incident where president Richard Nixon was actively spaying on the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The only difference is that the memo realized on February 2, 2016, is much larger than Watergate and might include more than just high-ranking officials in the FBI.
The memo shows an active FBI, investigating a presidential campaign on no other basis than on lies that were paid for by the opposition (DNC). Furthermore, it was used to gather further research after the election by members of the FBI who were loyal to the opposition.
The memo provides an indictment of senior Republicans, Department of Justice (DOJ), and FBI officials of inappropriately and unlawfully using the biased and unreliable information to conduct surveillance and obtain warrants to violate the privacy of then-private citizen and presidential candidate Donald Trump. According to the memo, the data from the “Steele Dossier,” was essential to the acquisition of surveillance warrants on the Trump campaign.
It also claims that the FBI director, Andrew McCabe, told the committee that without the information from the “dossier,” no surveillance warrants for Carter Paige (member of Trump campaign and ex-FBI agent) would have been sought. Thus, indicating that the “dossier” was the sole basis of the investigation. The memo finishes by stating that the political origins of the “dossier” paid for by the DNC weren’t disclosed to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC or FISA) who signed off on the warrants.
Ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele compiled the “dossier,” that was used to obtain the warrants. The memo claims that the FBI had clear knowledge that Steele was profoundly biased and prejudiced against Trump. It even quotes Steele as saying that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not gets elected and was passionate about him not being president.”
The so-called “dossier,” should have never been considered legitimate or valid for purposes of granting the warrant. Even more shocking of all is that FBI without a mention of the origins of the document went to the federal judge when applying for the permit.
Even Vladimir Putin is left asking “where am I? Why am I not involved in the investigations? I bought some Facebook ads!”. The Democrats responded by saying that the memo was cherry-picked and that accusations were baseless and inaccurate with the intention to harm Robert Muller’s investigation. It is easy to see how concerned the democratic party was about the release of the memo. Instead of encouraging the unveiling of the document they went of full damage control. They desperately trotted out Rep. Adam Schiff out on CNN to explain how the record contained sensible material that the DOJ and FBI should have a chance to vet the report before release. They even began to suggest the Donald Trump hated the FBI. All to try to discourage and cover up the version.
In closing, the memo shows that high ranking members in the FBI let their political bias get in the way of their judgments. It will ultimately prove to be the nail in the coffin for those who were hoping to impeach president Donald Trump. Also, it puts doubts in the public’s mind about the reliability and the integrity of their institutions. What makes this memo even more damaging is that it gives credence to Donald Trump’s idea that he will drain the swamp of Washington D.C. The memo has wholly confirmed the re-election of Donald Trump for the upcoming 2020 race.


It Can’t Happen Here

It is very common for humans to say things like “that would never happen to me” and fail to realize just how most of us are just one step from away from what we think can never happen. The readings mostly focus on the idea that Americans believe that their country is safe from all types of Fascism or Communism because of their well-founded institutions and divided political system. Also, they have a belief that America and Americans have a sort of exceptionalism that all other countries in the world lack. It also points out how susceptible democracy is to these candidates. Moreover, it tries to unpack the term populism and put Donald Trump at the starting point in American populism. They are right to suggest that Donald Trump using Steve Brannon’s strategy is the rise of American populism. But I think the idea of populism has been distorted into a buzz term that is branded on political opponents. What I found most interesting how the watering down of terms has been pushed to a breaking point. Words like “racist” or “fascist” have become things that are thrown around so lightly and continuously. Some individuals are no longer fazed by getting these terms launched at them; they even use them as part of their social media personalities. Should we be careful to brand people with such words as populists, fascists, racist, etc.? Have the terms lost their value? Can it ever get its punch back?

Fascism Explioting a Broken System

Italian fascism had a clear goal to rid of their society of what they deemed to be undesirable aspects of liberalism and socialism. It is quite easy to see why so many people can fall prey to this ideology. Those who feel patriotic and proud of their heritage can be easily coerced into thinking of the heroism and unbending wills of their forefathers. Moreover, utterly rejecting any idea of the Marxist concept of class conflict can be a uniting force for a whole nation. It brings together the poor who no longer feel as if the rich are putting them down, and the rich no longer see the poor as lazy. It gives unity and gives them a reason to work together for a common cause. Besides, capitalism often leads to a culture of consumerism. The more things you have, the happier you will be. This idea often leads individuals to have feelings that life is something more to than just acquiring material goods. These beliefs and insecurities are easily exploited. In my opinion what fascism uses the most is the idea of ‘the good old days.’ This notion that if you give us the power will bring back the good times in the past, by riding of all what they consider to be degeneracy. What made it more interesting is why do so many people believe they were countering “masonic” bodies in their nations? What is with this obsession with masonic power? Who are these Masonic influences and how do they manifest themselves? Are they a real force to reckon with or are they all just a big conspiracy?

Week 2. First Responder Commentary

In Patrick Geary’s Myth of Nations, he argues that the ideas European nations and ethnicities are created by the study of the language spoken in a specific geographic area by a group of people or tribe. I do not agree with the premise of the book because the language and culture are predominantly imposed by a conquering force. These conquering people/tribes over many years incorporated and assimilated the more numerous peasant class into the stronger and more dominant culture. A few examples cultures taking over are Merovingians, the Spanish conquest of South America, and the Turkish conquest of Hellenic Anatolia. However, this is not always the case. Various communities have stayed relatively homogenous in their customs, traditions, and languages. The best example of this is the European Jews. For most of their history in Europe, Jews maintained a unique cultural, religious, linguistic, and ethnic identity inside of the more extensive European culture. I do think that as Patrick Geary states religion plays a huge role in the division of people groups. This idea of beliefs dividing populations can be seen in the article written by Amy Kaufman. Amy Kaufman mentions in her article how the Ku Klux Klan used views born in the middle ages to further a political and racial agenda. They used ideas of the crusades, defending a princess’s virtue, and taking oaths to protect their mostly protestant values. I think her correlation is very weak. She does not take into consideration that the KKK was not only a white supremacist cult but also a very openly anti-Catholic organization. All the knightly orders of the middle ages were Catholic. They were a sort of warrior monk of the time. I also find the fact she is citing the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) only weakens her points. The SPLC has become very discredited in recent times. Using its position to brand “hate groups” to those it disagrees politically rather than on an objective basis.