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What it must be like to be a non- “extreme social justice” student at Brown

What it must be like to be a non- “extreme social justice” student at Brown

One part of my communications with Brown Prof. Naoko Shibusawa has stuck in my mind:

“You can quote those two lines. Those only.”

Shibusawa is the person featured in my post Tuesday night, Brown U. divestment committee faculty member signed 2009 letter calling Israel Apartheid state

The post started by referencing her support for the Brown shout-down of Ray Kelly expressed in her Letter to the Editor of the Brown Daily Herald:

“… I want to point out that every movement toward social justice in U.S. history has included “misbehavior.” “Misbehavior” is a tactic of the disempowered toward disrupting the status quo…. So unlike [Biology Prof. Ken Miller who denounced the shout-down], I applaud the student protesters for their moral courage in a righteous cause against racial profiling and brutal police tactics and for their resolution in the face of the harsh criticisms they have since endured. I am proud of you. You inspire me to try to be a better teacher, scholar and person.

Shibusawa initially told me by phone “I don’t know what the purpose is [of my call] and what you want to do” and “I’ve checked out your blog.” She continued, that it “looks like you want to portray me as some sort of extremist” but “I believe in social justice.” Shibusawa then said, “You can describe me as extreme.”

Fair enough.  But then the follow up email, telling me what I was allowed to say about the conversation (emphasis added):

Do not take what I said out of context.

If it is extreme to be an advocate for social justice, then I am extreme. But what a sad commentary on our society if this is true. You can quote those two lines. Those only.

Of course, I quoted the entirety of the conversation, which was not off the record.

But imagine yourself a non-extreme social justice student at Brown. Not necessarily a conservative. Just not a doctrinaire, politicized extreme social justice student.

Imagine you disagree with the majority on campus, but see professors praise students who shouted down Ray Kelly and drove him from the podium.

Ray Kelly Brown Students Shouting

Imagine yourself a pro-Israel student in Shibusawa’s American history class knowing she posted an announcement about Israel Apartheid Day on the course website.

Shibusawa announcement Israel Apartheid Week 2012

If she would speak and write that way to me, a directive as to what I was and was not permitted (in her mind) to say, imagine what it’s like to be a student. And I’m sure she is far, far from the worst.

You don’t have to imagine what it’s like for non-“extreme social justice” students at Brown.

A couple of weeks before the Kelly incident, Brown student Zach Ingber wrote a column in the Brown Daily Herald, Free speech at Brown?:

Let’s start with the obvious. It is taboo to be conservative at Brown. The moment you express your uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act or drug legalization, most people in the room immediately dismiss you. If you really, truly care about limited government, you might as well be living in the 19th century. The social ostracism that exists at Brown is harsh, often repugnant and not indicative of an open-minded institution. I am constantly ignored or not taken seriously, even by close friends, when I advocate for strong American leadership on the world stage or express hesitation about government spending. This is wrong, unproductive and simply not fair to conservative students at Brown, a group I believe is larger than most people perceive….

That column echoed what an Editor of the Brown Daily Herald wrote just over 10 years ago:

As anyone who has read his many letters to the Brown Daily Herald or seen the copies of the Socialist Worker that grace the door of his office knows, Brown University’s Professor of English William Keach is a socialist. On my first day of class with him last year he announced his views but added that, of course, he wouldn’t enforce them on others, who were free to disagree with him. I’ve shopped enough of his classes to know that this is his regular spiel. On the other hand, the fact that he feels it necessary to make this reassurance suggests that he also understands that some of his students might be intimidated by such open partisanship from expressing contrary views. He did not explain how having a professor relentlessly advocate a partisan position in class could be squared with an educational mission to open students’ minds.

Though Professor Keach’s left-wing views and in class partisanship are the absolute standard across the uneven playing field at Brown, his willingness to concede his partisanship is not the norm. Other professors feel free to unload their prejudices to very unequal students without reassuring them their dissent will have no consequences….

Prof. Keach, by the way, also supports the shout-down:

Thanks to Associate Professor of History Naoko Shibusawa P’14 for conveying her support and admiration for those who protested against New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly last Tuesday. I join her in standing in solidarity with these students and members of the Providence community. We live in a conflicted, unequal society and are at times presented with situations that can’t be adequately confronted within the customs of polite, institutionally structured debate alone. As Shibusawa says, there is a long, honorable history of disruptive protest that is part of the tradition of political democracy.

Professor of Biology Ken Miller’s ’70 P’02 claim that last Tuesday’s protest represents “a step . . . towards mob rule” strikes me as alarmist and one-sided. Kelly has not been silenced: His advocacy for a policy of intimidating racial profiling is widely known and currently being debated in the federal courts. For people who are being threatened and violated by stop-and-frisk, the time has come to combine serious debate with serious action.

It’s why, as I noted when we announced the College Insurrection project, I wrote:

Because most campuses are dominated by liberal adminstrators, faculty, and student activists, conservative/libertarian students often feel isolated and alone, and up against seemingly insurmountable forces which wield power over their lives.

For many students, the risk/reward ratio says to shut up and just go along so as not to be singled out and targeted.

It’s easy to criticize conservative students for not speaking up more on college campuses.

But sometimes I think it’s too much of us to expect conservative students to stand up alone to the ideological “extreme social justice” professoriate on campus.

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“Imagine yourself a pro-Israel student in Shibusawa’s American history class knowing she posted an announcement about Israel Apartheid Day on the course website”

So if you thought that you were an extreme advocate for social justice (in that you believed that Israel was wrongly persecuted), how would Professor Shibusawa react if you screamed at her in her class? Would she applaud your integrity and zeal?

    Sunlight78 in reply to mochajava76. | November 7, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Imagine yourself having a Jewish last name and being stuck in her class. It is doubtful whether you would even have to say anything but just exist for there to be a bias.

    If it can be shown that she creates a hateful atmosphere for students then she should not get tenure and if she has tenure then it should be revoked. The alternative would be to force the University to provide an education without a hate filled environment so there should be an alternative (neutral) class option that students can take to fulfill their requirements instead of her class.

    It would be interesting to see which class got the most attendance if students had an option of picking a class choice where they could get the education without the hate speech.

      Sunlight78 in reply to Sunlight78. | November 7, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Money talks… Would it be possible to post a list of schools who try to keep hate speech and political ideologies out of education.

      When people consider donating money or adding University endowments it is important for them to know what they are supporting and paying for with their donation.

      Right now I live in Rhode Island and thanks to the harassment of free speech would never consider donating a dime to Brown or assisting in their support in anyway.

      If Brown starts seeing their bottom line impacted by the choices they make (like Shibusawa’s social extremism)then they will have a choice – do they stop supporting faculty who support hate or do they move to a position where students can get an education free from harassment or potential bias.

Because loud mouth obnoxious females are overburdened with too much social justice in Palestine?

Need more proof that liberalism is a mental disease?

BannedbytheGuardian | November 6, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Ha. She is born in Japan & forced as a child to go to the land of her Nation’s conquerors.

Tough life Miss Shinto.

Does Shibusawa know that the USA has a Constitution? Does she know that “social justice”, as depicted by her is antithetical to the Constitution? Does she know that planes are flying to many different countries, and if she does not like the way America is, she can buy a plane ticket to a place that is “socially just”? Does she consider Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, etc. to be more “socially just” than the USA?

If she wants, I will help her buy a ticket to the “social justice” paradise of her choice.

Colonel Travis | November 6, 2013 at 11:27 pm

“Extreme social justice” sounds like the flavor of the month at Baskin Robbins. Can I get that in a extreme sugar cone and 517,685 napkins?

legacyrepublican | November 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Sorry, I am just enough of a sarcastic instigator and bubble popper to ask her how she can justify being a teacher at a school that stole land from the Indians. Shouldn’t social justice begin at home. Guess you can quote me on that if the opportunity presents itself.

Social Justice at the expense of historical ignorance of the Jewish right to live in their historical homeland seems to be lacking in her world view.

I think Brown should be free to become an enclave of totalitarian Marxists if that is what its trustees wish it to be.

BUT I insist they should do this without federal subsidies. No taxpayer money to promote their politics.

Get the federal government out of the education business, and the radicals out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

Doug Wright Old Grouchy | November 7, 2013 at 12:32 am

So, this professor cares deeply about all the wrongs Japan committed upon the lands it occupied in the past and about the terrible injustice done to the Aboriginal People of the Japanese Islands? Or, are those, in her caring mind, no longer worthy of concern on her part?

Perhaps this most caring person would be willing to educate us as to her particular form of social justice, whatever the heck that is supposed to be?

    Whatchu talking about the Aino for, Old grouchy? Doncherknow that the invaders from the Mainland had a right to deprive the Aino of their social justice in the name of creating a better society?

BannedbytheGuardian | November 7, 2013 at 12:44 am

Hiroshima = extreme social justice.

“I want to point out that every movement toward social justice in U.S. history has included “misbehavior.” “Misbehavior” is a tactic of the disempowered toward disrupting the status quo”

I wish we could see a show of hands of the “disempowered” at that enclave of privilege called Brown University.

I wonder if we are not marching toward that day when the ordinary citizens, those who work and pay the leeches, become fed up? So, what will they do? Will they pick up the pitchforks, allegorically speaking, and go on the offensive in a literal sense? Or will they simply sit down, and say, “No more. We are not going to work and pay for those who benefit from our labor to abuse us.”?

At some point the common folk may realize that while the products necessary for survival are produced by them in the hinterlands; the hatred of the country, and the undermining of founding principles are espoused in enclaves and locales that produce little but rhetoric and bombast. So, what if the actual necessities were withheld from New York, Boston, DC, San Francisco, and the other havens of the elitist mindset? How long would this grotesque fantasy survive?

This pitiful person has no understanding of the concept of disempowerment. But, she could be taught.

NC Mountain Girl | November 7, 2013 at 1:02 am

How much of this garage is actually swallowed by the average student and how much is parroted back to get the grade and then ridiculed behind the professors back? I suspect the more obvious propaganda is the modern equivalent of “Reefer Madness” less believed than seen as a colossal waste of time.

It is that waste of time and opportunity that is truly criminal. Some students will later learn the truth but many will not simply because college will be the last time they ever read serious material not related to their jobs and careers.

Don’t want ANYONE to tell me what social justice means, especially someone that will coerce me to accept their interpretation.

Not to mention that one should always be skeptical of those that proclaim they are morally superior and those that do not agree are morally deficient or evil.

Unfortunately, the universities pump out too many people that have no affinity for tolerance because they ignorantly believe they hold all truth and knowledge and need not bother to look any further.

They seem every bit like extremists in pursuit of religion.

Social justice can rightly be described as extreme because it is selective. You cannot denigrate individual dignity; recall a selective history; and still qualify your cause as just. Well, technically you can; but, then you deserve the attribution of extremist or fanatic. Her sense of fairness is prejudiced and disproportionate which is unjust. It is unfair to the Jews and others who coexisted until their presence was deemed a threat to their neighbors.

‘Social justice:’ raising useful idiocy to a fine art.

Would it be okay, do you think, if a few of us went and shouted out one of these professors in their classrooms?

(I thought that Brown was an institution that generally attracted the higher-end students. How did it happen that they hired stupid people to teach them?)

Yeah, right.
She has the “power” to decide what others can or cannot say or quote.
That little detail says everything you need to know about her and others like her.

One clue a person lives in a socially closed bubble is when they no longer see their extremism as extreme. Rationalizing the shouting down of a speaker is sign of a closed mind. She lives in the fundamentalist religion of the social justice warrior. So right in her own mind, but so selfish. That’s the irony.

Does this woman know she is really the disempowered? She is a fool to think otherwise.

The face of 21st century fascism.

Help me, please! I’m on staff at Brown – fell into the job 19 years ago. God was good in providing me w work that helped put my kids through college and other good benefits. But, I cannot take it any longer. I’m a social & political conservative and am drowning here. Need to get out for my mental & spiritual sanity!
However, something of which most may not be aware: the relatively new President of Brown (1+ yrs), Dr. Christina Paxson, sent an email yesterday with the following content (there was more, but not enough room here): quoting from the Code of Student Conduct section Protest and Demonstration Guidelines: “Protest is a necessary and acceptable means of expression within the Brown community. However, protest becomes unacceptable when it obstructs the basic exchange of ideas. Such obstruction is a form of censorship, no matter who initiates it or for what reasons.” And from her email: “The Guidelines describe acceptable means of protest, such as picketing, as well as unacceptable means, such as interrupting or halting a lecture, debate or any public forum. To prevent similar episodes in the future—something we must do—these standards of conduct will be upheld and enforced.”
I told my husband: she’s too good for this place.
My question is: How long will this fair-minded President last in a place like this? Hubby & I speculate that she will not be liked (that’s putting it mildly) by many faculty and students. Your thoughts?

    Exiliado in reply to PrisT610. | November 7, 2013 at 11:08 am

    So it seems that the shout out is a direct violation of the code of conduct.

    I wonder if any disciplinary action will be taken.

This seems similar to the anti-war protests, etc at UC Berkeley decades ago. Universities have long been centers of provocative liberal expression and passions of the young. There are many conservative universities out there also. For example, Brigham Young, Pepperdine, Notre Dame, Univ Kansas, Univ Nebraska, etc., perhaps even in the Ivy League. It is always advised that students shop around for a university that is a good fit. No one wants to be ostrasized, but the individual chose to go to Brown and should take some personal responsibility for that choice. How could a person not know this about Brown?

Irony and hypocrisy, thy name is liberal. If a teacher or administration dares talk about religion is a classroom, the mantra is: “We cannot allow religion in the classroom. If a person in a position of power (teacher) expresses those religious beliefs, it is akin to state sponsorship of religion since students are young / easily influenced / can’t make up their own minds / impressionable.” Could it be that tolerance really depends on whether or not the expressed view conforms with your liberal agenda?


She’s afraid of being quoted out of context. But then says, “You can quote those two lines. Those only.” So she can set the limited context, but can’t bear the thought of someone else doing the same thing.

That’s the totalitarian mindset in a nutshell.

Not only is she a totalitarian, but an elitist as well. After all, nobody elected her to the job of manipulating contexts. She just grabbed it for herself.

One hardly knows where to start with this. Goldwater’s extremism in the defense of liberty quote comes to mind. Is that acceptable to Prof Shibusawa? Who gets to decide what social justice is? what is “righteous”? If my understanding of social justice includes liberty, rule of law, and so on, would she tolerate our “extremism” and “misbehavior” in defense of these? I think we already know the answer. That being the case, it all comes down to whose misbehavior prevails, and we then stand at the threshold of mob warfare, no?

When will American supporters of Israel, those who are Jewish and those who are not, start to complain to universities about the crazed leftists who are working so hard to make anti-semitism acceptable and normal in college life? For example: what has Brian Roberts said to Brown? In addition to being chairman of Comcast, he has two kids there (and I think one is a History major) and his family has been a big giver to the university.

Parents, alumni and those who have influence for whatever reason must start to speak up. Join Professor Jacobson and object to this incipient fascism at universities!

One quick note: Professor Shibusawa hasn’t updated her Brown website-listed CV since February, 2010, leading me to think she does no research or writing. She has written very few things I can find listed on the web. Amazon lists only her one book, from seven years ago, that describes Japan in overtly racist terms as a “Geisha Ally” of “imperial” America.

Professor Shibusawa appears to be a very confused soul, and not one given to scholarly work. What value does she have to the university?

Maybe the only way she can find to be noticed at Brown is to be more extreme than anyone else.

This is the tip of the iceberg.

Angry women like these on the left inevitably lead to cowed, spineless men like Krugman, Gregory, and Carney.

Just imagine how big a sissy you would have to be to actually ADMIRE Obama.

“Social justice” is neither.

Social Justice is a myth. Like everything the left says.
There are no Palestinians.