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Berkeley Bake Sale, MSA 11, Display The Unversity of California Leftists’ Playbook – And Their Hypocrisy

Berkeley Bake Sale, MSA 11, Display The Unversity of California Leftists’ Playbook – And Their Hypocrisy

As CNN reports, and as Kathleen covered yesterday, the Berkeley campus is up in arms over the Berkeley College Republicans’ Increase Diversity Bake Sale.  The publicity stunt, scheduled for today,  is intended to show the discrimination inherent in affirmative action by selling cupcakes at different prices based on one’s level of “minorityness.”

While Affirmative Action Bake Sales are old hat, the response by the left provides a perfect opportunity to explain the University of California (UC) left’s racial playbook. The UC left has a consistent strategy for converting real or imagined racist incidents into political gain, particularly in the pursuit of  censorship or policies that favor specific identity groups.

They portray such incidents as symptoms of a dangerous campus climate, thus requiring  policies to repair a community that is guilty of the crime of being the sort of place where such vicious psychic injuries can be inflicted. Of course, the left only seems to care about hostile campus climates when the identities of the victims and perpetrators fit their narrative of “powerful” groups oppressing weaker ones. As I will show below the fold, these leftists’ defense of the often anti-Semitic, terrorist-supporting, and/or illegal activities of the Muslim Student Association puts the lie to any claims that they are pursuing universalistic anti-prejudice goals or are truly concerned about the dangers of a campus climate where hate of any sort flows freely.

As an old UC warrior, the events at Berkeley are a bit surreal to me. I witnessed the first high-profile Affirmative Action Bake Sale at UCLA in 2003, which prompted a protracted battle between then-California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres and colorful, bomb-throwing College Republican shocktavist Andrew Jones.  I also recall the spate of copycats and repetitions, which ultimately led to the tactic becoming cliche and falling out of practice by the time I was running the organization a year and a half later.  However, due to high turnover, college communities have short institutional memories, so no idea remains unoriginal for long.

The UC  left is responding with its usual claims of critical and widespread psychological injury. When someone says or does something offensive, whether it be legitimately unacceptable (e.g. the Compton Cookout at UCSD, or UCLA student Alexandra Wallace’s infamous “Asians in the Library” video), or just political speech they disagree with, the UC left rhetorically drops to the ground and writhes in pain like an athlete trolling for a foul or free time out.

The idea that an event has caused mass mental trauma and makes people feel unsafe, and that thus there must be a change in campus climate, is key.  In widening the definitions of victims and perpetrators to include the entire campus, they can turn isolated incidents into indicators that fundamental reform is needed.

As there will always be at least a few fools and villains of any given variety, they will always be able to find incidents to generalize into political capital. The mere existence of basic human failings is enough to render their claims of a bigoted campus unfalsafiable.

Now I am sure that some such activists may in fact be traumatized.  For those that believe American society is full of bigots out to oppress them at every turn, I can see how an event they may see as confirmation of that worldview could shake them up in ways that, to give real and relevant examples, left wing activists at UCLA calling me a kike or posting a column I wrote on my dorm room door with the word Jew and horns drawn on my picture never did. But fear and distrust of American society is an explanation, not a justification, and no excuse for cultivating and exploiting fears of prejudice for political gain.

Note also that mental traumas and safe campus climates are close cousins of the legal concepts “intentional infliction of emotional distress” and “hostile learning/working environment.”  The latter is being used by feminists at Yale to take the same strategies described in this article to the next level, in this case bringing on a Department of Justice investigation.

Meanwhile back at Berkeley, sudent government officials are dutifully towing the “campus climate” line:

Here is Joey Freeman, the student government External Vice President:

Joey Freeman, a spokesman for the student body association, said… “It is very offensive to many communities on campus,” Freeman said. “We try to promote a healthy campus climate. Events like this bake sale get in the way of respect for one another.”

…and Vishalli Loomba, the President:

Loomba, the student government president, said she is concerned about students potentially feeling ostracized due to the bake sale.
“I have heard that from numerous students who have said this makes students feel unwelcome on campus,” she said. “For that reason alone, we should think about what events we have on campus.”
Loomba described the situation as a “campus climate issue.”

The next step is to issue a list of demands, often their generalized political wish list in whole or in part, which are required to ensure that “underrepresented minorities” feel safe on campus.  The Berkeley left has not finalized them, but it is working on it.

Additionally, there is the ritual shaming, already well underway at Berkeley.  A public condemnation by student governmentthe administration, often the student newspaper (although their editorial was much fairer this time than I expected), and other assorted groups is used to isolate the transgressors of political correctness and tell the campus what right-thinking people are to think and do.

When it comes to serious action, however, there is fortunately not that much the radicals can do directly.  UC student governments are immensely powerful in certain ways – they have millions of dollars to spend each year and often have representatives appointed to key administrative and academic senate bodies.

However, their funding must, by current constitutional law, be viewpoint-neutral, much of what they want to censor is free speech, and affirmative action policies are inherently slow to develop and banned by Proposition 209.

They can, however, earmark funds for the groups making the accusations and their pet projects, arrange for assorted complicated end runs around Proposition 209, and create assorted initiatives to inculcate certain views.  They can also shame their potential opponents into submission.

Loomba and Freeman, for instance, are from the Student Action (SA) political party.  SA, a party  supported by Fraternity/Sorority, Preprofessional, Jewish, and other sorts of students, sometimes including  College Republicans and/or College Democrats, is the moderate alternative to the extreme CalSERVE, the party made up largely of groups representing ethnic minorities and other identity or far-left organizations. (At UCLA, I was a leader of a sister party to Student Action, and the coalitions there were similar)

SA is the party that blocked student government support for divestment from Israel at Berkeley, and in this matter, they could have been much worse, with many affirming the College Republicans’ right to free speech even while condemning them, and declining to seek punishment for the group beyond harsh words.

The first two items under “Values” on SA’s web site are Diversity of Opinion and Freedom of Expression.  But yet, even they are parroting the “campus climate” party line, because they cannot stand up to the mighty race card, and as liberals, many are not so willing to pay a political price to defend the free speech rights of Republicans.

Also in the news last week were the “MSA 11,” a group of Muslim Student Association/Union (The name differs from campus to campus) members who systematically heckled and disrupted a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine.  Ten were charged and convicted last week of assorted misdemeanors by an Orange County jury.  In the past, members of  UC MSA/U chapters (and UCI in particular) have regularly held events featuring Holocaust revisionists and deniersterrorist supporters, and purveyors of conspiracy theories such as the Jews orchestrating 9/11 or controlling the media . Their members have sometimes admitted support for terrorist groups and wiping out the Jews.  Back when I was a student, I personally was told by a MSA member that Jews slaughter Muslim babies and use their blood for ritual purposes, and before my time (but not long before 9/11), the UCLA Muslim Student newsmagazine praised Osama bin Laden.

Yet, the same groups that seem so keen on protecting the campus climate and ensuring that no groups are made to feel uncomfortable ally themselves with the Muslim Student Association/Union, and have defended the MSA 11.   Organized, borderline-violent, murder-advocating anti-Semitism is apparently  not indicative of a problem with the campus climate compared to some lone fool ranting on YouTube.

This is no surprise coming from the sorts of extremist non-Muslim identity organizations whose members called me and my friends kikes, gringos, gabachos, and race traitors (if non-white), told us to go back to various European countries we weren’t from, issued death threats, and published poems about Jewish media conspiracies and 9/11.

However, few know of such behaviors.  Many merely see students fighting bigotry.  But so long as these groups do not condemn MSA/U’s anti-Semitism, their claims to sincerely oppose hatred of all kinds rings hollow, and their actions reek of political opportunism.

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Comments

The left always overlooks real violence from the left and focuses on perceived potential theoretical violence from the right.

And then the left implements policies that gives them more power over our day-to-day lives and destroy freedoms for everyone…

Agreed. You hit the nail on the head there WarEagle.

The left is nothing but Stalinist to its core. The lazy Mensheviks of SA included.

It is incredible that the small minority of republicans on campus could “ostracize” anyone else on campus. Especially when the alleged victims get so much sympathy for their alleged “distress” and “victimization”. The only people being ostracized are the republicans, but like good stalinists, they always project the behavior they are engaged in onto the people they are mercilessly attacking.

Notice how the media always reports it as ‘controversial’ whever anyone points out how outrageous racial preferences are in university admissions. They NEVER use the word ‘controversial’ regarding the racial preferences themselves.

Excellent post, Matthew.

This is from the L.A. Times … this is not the Onion:

“It’s kind of ugly,” said 21-year-old gender and women’s studies major Tatianna Peck, who held a sign protesting the exclusion of “queer people” from the Republicans’ pricing structure.

….

Some protesters gave out cupcakes in hopes of creating “an environment where people can come have dialogue with respect and sensitivity,” said Damaris Olaechea, 24. The anthropology and rhetoric major said she, along with her roommate, baked hundreds of “cupcakes of conscience” to hand out in that spirit.

LukeHandCool (who hates the haters who hate providing queer cupcakes for sale at an obviously multi-gendered event … and who lives for red velvet cupcakes from Sprinkles in Beverly Hills … and who is known to replace the god-awful culinary abomination that is frosting with some mascarpone and white chocolate … food of the gods … absolutely to die for … and who will provide queer and transexual cupcakes if he ever opens up a cupcake shop … cuz he’s not a hater … and would want a safe cupcake climate in his shop where radical muslim students and women’s and gender studies’ majors with traditionally underrepresented hygiene could nibble their cupcakes without fear).

1. “Concretize the vague language of the university’s “Principles of Community” so that it explicitly condemns racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, islamaphobia, anti-semitism, classism, sizeism, homophobia, hetreosexism, transphobia, and cissexism.”

I think transphobia and cissexism are redundant. If one racist judges another harshly because he doesn’t discriminate against enough classes of people, did he just invent “ismism?”

2. “Include the university’s (updated) “Principles of Community” on every course syllabus in the manner of our Statement of Academic Honesty. If the university is to concern itself with making students feel safe in the classroom, then we believe that students should feel that their instructors are committed to maintaining that safe space, not just hoping for it.”

Did the pro-environment side just suggest adding a new piece of paper per student per class to be distributed? Do they not realize how much paper that is?

3. “Integrate the (updated) “Principles of Community” into the Student Code of Conduct, thus creating a system in which anti-community offenses are subject to disciplinary action.”

A couple choice entries from that set of principles:
* We affirm the dignity of all individuals and strive to uphold a just community in which discrimination and hate are not tolerated.

Does this mean that if a group of Palestinian students gets into it with a group of Jewish students, that someone gets disciplined?

* We are committed to ensuring freedom of expression and dialogue that elicits the full spectrum of views held by our varied communities.

Does this mean they have to discipline themselves now?

* We respect the differences as well as the commonalities that bring us together and call for civility and respect in our personal interactions.

Will the requirement for respect and civility be applied equally to both sides? That might get interesting.

* We believe that active participation and leadership in addressing the most pressing issues facing our local and global communities are central to our educational mission.

Ooooh, this would be awesome. The first college where apathy could become an offense worthy of discipline. If you start disciplining college students for apathy and lack of active participation, would your administration have time to do anything else?

4. “Restructure the American Cultures Requirement to be an Ethnic Studies/Gender Studies Requirement. The function of this requirement must be to prepare students to engage in respectful cross-cultural interaction outside of the classroom, rather than a vacuous exploration of texts. “

Someone should tell them that “vacuous exploration of texts” has been responsible for much of the learning that has happened since the invention of texts. Also, if someone hasn’t learned the ways of polite interactions with others by this point, a 2–4 credit course will probably be of little help.

5. “ Removal of the following clause from the description of the American Cultures curriculum guidelines,

“This is not an ethnic studies requirement, nor a Third World cultures requirement, nor an adjusted Western civilization requirement, nor a course on racism.”

If courses are going to claim to be teaching some aspect of “American Culture”, these subjects must addressed, especially the issue of racism.”

Perfectly fine to address racism as it relates to the intended course. If our economy gets much worse and our middle class gets more eroded, I will also support removing the wording “nor a Third World cultures requirement.”

6. “Cultural competence training for all UC Berkeley Students in the manner of the pre-freshman Alcohol EDU program. Training is to be co-facilitated by representatives from both the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the student body.”

Not exactly sure how one would do this. All I know is that if someone hasn’t yet learned how to communicate with members of other cultures without offending them, this is probably too little, too late.

7. ”An end to UCPD intimidation and harassment of students.”

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