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For this selfie, I stood accused of cultural “appropriation”

For this selfie, I stood accused of cultural “appropriation”

On the modern campus chock full of microaggression bureaucracies and monitoring, no gesture no matter how small escapes scrutiny.

An excellent Open Letter to the President of the Vassar College from a Vassar alumnus, published in the student newspaper, is a must read as to what happened when I spoke at Vassar on “hate speech” and free speech. President Elizabeth Bradley’s response is here.

That letter exchange was the subject of my post, Alum to Vassar College President: “You owe Professor Jacobson a public apology”, which has even more detailed background.

That letter exchange also caused me to go back and look at a letter from the Executive Board of the Vassar Student Association (the student government) to Vassar’s President, demanding my appearance be cancelled. After lodging a series of accusations against me, the VSA letter concluded:

…. We strongly urge you, on account of students undergoing serious and real pain, to take our words and ideas seriously, and work towards breaching the contract, ultimately preventing him from coming to campus on Wednesday. On account of the timeframe under which we are operating, we urge the College to undertake speedy and urgent action, as outlined in the beginning of this communication, for the wellbeing of our community. We also urge you to denounce the sentiments and ideologies underlying these types of events, instrumentalizing the language of“free speech” to allow a platform for hate .

We urge you to think critically about these things. Rather than just engaging the abstract, we urge you to understand how these ideas have physical implications for the safety and well-being of real students on this campus . Ideas are not merely esoteric concepts; they have historically (and presently) been used to silence and justify extreme violence. William Jacobson’s rhetoric and worldview is an illustrative example of where we locate this violence; this is not “free speech.” This is sanctioned violence hiding behind the veneer of liberalism.

The VSA Executive Board

The letter was widely circulated on campus. To her credit, Vassar’s President did not cancel the appearance.

I’m not going to publish the entire VSA letter, since it contains numerous inaccuracies and distortions. But one accusation was so absurd as to be worthy of highlight to illustrate the intolerance that has swept so many campuses.

The VSA and/or other student groups put together a research team to scour my writings at Legal Insurrection to back up their argument that my appearance should be cancelled. One of the examples they used in their letter to the president referred to my post, All is proceeding as dreaded — A follow up to my DREAD-ful 9th Blog Anniversary post.

The post utilized the image that is the featured image to this post.

It was a selfie I took at the Cornell “Take A Knee” Faculty Protest. When I took the selfie, I intended simply to show that I was standing while others knelt, my way of protesting the protest without disrupting my colleagues doing their thing.

But when I saw the selfie, I realized that I captured two white people standing behind me with their fists in the air during the moment of silence and kneeling. I have no idea, and don’t care, who they are or whether they are faculty, staff or community members. But it struck me as somewhat humorous to have two obviously “woke” “virtue signaling” not-exactly-young white people raising their fists this way, as if they were Tommie Smith and John Carlos, with me in the foreground.

Referring to that post and featured image, I stood accused by the VSA Executive Board in their letter demanding my appearance be cancelled of cultural “appropriation” and disrespect for the civil rights movement:

“He utilizes a picture in which two white people appear to be raising their fists in the same symbolic manner as the Black Panther Party, this is clear appropriation and disrespect of the Civil Rights movement”

Of course, there’s nothing about the photo that is a cultural appropriation by me, or disrespectful to the Civil Rights movement. I wasn’t the one with my fist in the air, it was the two “woke” attendees participating in the protest.

And even if I were the one raising my fist, who’s to say raising a fist in the air is the exclusive property of the Black Panther or Civil Rights movements? We all share symbols and speech and mannerisms from others. It’s what happens in a healthy, tolerant society. But on the modern campus chock full of microaggression bureaucracies and monitoring, no gesture no matter how small escapes scrutiny.

But there’s a bigger picture here.

It’s something we are seeing more and more on college campuses. The intent of the speaker or alternative explanations don’t matter. It’s the feelings of those hearing or seeing the speech that controls. If students seeing that image view it as appropriation, then it’s appropriation. It’s a way of enforcing ideological uniformity.

A comment to the Open Letter put it succinctly:

… I don’t know what happened to Vassar but the situation is out of control and scary. The intolerance for others who do not hold the same beliefs is frightening.”


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What is happening in some of our vaunted halls of intellect and brainy endeavor is sickening, and it happens by design.
Just ask the “kids” that populated places like Berkeley and
Columbia, etc., back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. They are running those places now, and they are taking their sweet revenge on us.

The most effective way to put a stop to this crap is to
starve them for cash. Starve them til they quit.
The bastards!

    Not only our Universities, politics and Culture but The World seems to be spinning Out of Control!
    One can choose what Sex, What Race and soon what SPECIES to belong to. ……and the rest of us will be legally bound to support your Delusions!

Subotai Bahadur | December 10, 2017 at 9:28 pm

They are not in any way our countrymen and women anymore. That is a fact that is going to have to be dealt with, and the ability for peaceful means to deal with it is rapidly decreasing.

    Peaceful means have been repeatedly tried and have failed, mostly because the Left refuses to acknowledge or discuss anything that does not fit their distorted worldview. Professor Jacobson’s experience with Vassar proves that. Rather than listen to or debate him, the Left tried to silence him.

    It is going to take non-peaceful methods to reverse this disturbing trend.

      4th armored div in reply to Rusty Bill. | December 11, 2017 at 12:18 am

      while i don’t agree that we need to use violence.
      what we need to have Schools teach – If you don’t want to listen to the speaker then don’t.
      the fear that the leftists have is that there will be some who will listen and agree with the speakers POV – they can;t let that happen.

        C. Lashown in reply to 4th armored div. | December 11, 2017 at 4:17 am

        “We” might not need to apply violence. The way things appear to moving, perhaps Iran or North Korea will apply the violence for us. A good “all hands on deck” conflict might grow a few of these snowflakes up, quickly. Thousands will cross over the borders, looking for some form of sanctuary: arrest them or shoot them, they’re wasted leeches on American society. I can just see a company of ‘snowflakes’ going through boot camp, learning to OBEY their drill master. They’ll end up crying themselves asleep every night until they learn to embrace reality and prosper.

          Tom Servo in reply to C. Lashown. | December 11, 2017 at 8:08 am

          The almost funny thing is that no, they won’t leave, and at the first sign of real opposition, they’ll fold like a cheap lawn chair.

          The problem is NOT the students – it is a warped and treasonous faculty at almost all of these schools that intentionally misguides these children so that they can impose their views on the rest of us. Eliminate tenure, throw away the 19th century germanic style “research university” concept and start from scratch.

          Btw, 100 years worth of “research” into the humanities has produced absolutely Zero ideas of any actual useful value – as a society, we now know less about what helps people to live together and enjoy their lives than we knew a century ago.

I’m willing to discuss “cultural appropriation” with anyone … but not in English

    austin in reply to Neo. | December 11, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Anyone ever comment on the “cultural appropriation” these minority students engage in? From straightening their hair…dying their hair blond…reading and writing? Driving cars, using telephones…and all the other technology invented and manufactured by whites?

    And do not forget all the medical advances?

    Where would all these ‘social justice’ losers and whiners complaining about ‘white privilege’ be without the innovation and and products of white people ?

But don’t call’em ‘snowflakes’.

So that’s what the deal was with the dorks in Prof Jacobson’s photo! Come on Granny, the 60’s are over.

They remind me of the 80’s when older people tried to rock the discos and just looked ridiculous. lol!

“It’s something we are seeing more and more on college campuses. The intent of the speaker or alternative explanations don’t matter. It’s the feelings of those hearing or seeing the speech that controls. ”

hello Jeff Goldstein @ Protein Wisdom

    For those who don’t understand this reference or aren’t familiar with Mr. Goldstein’s writings on linguistics, his collected work is a PhD-level education in the foundations of totalitarian evil that has corrupted our language. Well worth the effort to find.

For social justice adventures, and other genocidal causes, and to progress the integrity of bullhorn prosecutions (e.g. trial by press, public lynchings), you must report to the nearest Planned Parenthood.

Also scary:
They have the critical thinking skills of a 5 year old, and they still made it to college.

So Rags, Prof Jacobson was appropriating Iron Eyes Cody because he too was surrounded by trash?

A single tear would’ve made it even more poignant, perhaps concerning the waste of an education by so many

Actually, I thought it was some sort of disco move in the background.

Saturday Night Lives Matter!

DieJustAsHappy | December 11, 2017 at 5:09 am

“raising their fists in the same symbolic manner as the Black Panther Party”

Bob is black. He’s standing on his front lawn with a raised clenched fist. So, obviously, Bob is expressing his Civil Rights convictions.

No. Bob is expressing his outrage at the kids who TP-ed his trees on Halloween.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | December 11, 2017 at 6:05 am

“We strongly urge you, on account of students undergoing serious and real pain”

A proposed speech by an Ivy League law professor defending the principles of free speech causes nobody pain.

Nobody calls you out on this lie. You are not in “serious and real pain”. You are liars. You are fakers. You were feigning “pain” to engage in a form of emotional blackmail. To get power over the situation.

You know that most people don’t want to see other people suffer in pain. So you pretend to be in pain. Then assert that the pain will subside if the professor does not talk.

You are dishonest people, and the administrators are doing you a disservice not calling you out on it.

If this “be” cultural appropriation then Beyonce et al need to give up their hairstyles. Why don’t they talk about that…..they are forever wanting to break the chains of enslavement, therefore they should sport an Afro.

The first rule of effective writing: do not repeat the same word more than three times in one communique.. I strongly “urge” them to to employ other verbs.

Cicero of Arpinum | December 11, 2017 at 7:47 am

They’re professional students at Vassar are worse than “snowflakes”; they are probably ignorant of the observation made by Bonaparte that “There are limits to genius; there are none to stupidity”.

L’Empereur, two centuries ago, described them to a T.

It’s right outside NY City, so what do you expect?

DINORightMarie | December 11, 2017 at 8:09 am

The Communists used that raised-fist first, starting at least as far back as 1917, all for “the workers” – “Workers of the world, unite!” You didn’t do anything wrong. And frankly, neither did these brainwashed leftists behind you. Cultural appropriation – please!

These children need to have an adult call them out on their irrational, defamatory accusations and facile arguments.

I would love to think there is a college administrator, somewhere, who would both publicly and line-by-line in writing dismantle their “arguments” and tell them they failed the semester and/or on academic probation because they are incapable of using higher-level thinking, as their collective diatribe displayed.

Ah, for the days where higher-level academics meant higher-level, open-minded thinking, rational thought, and true education. The 1960’s mantra to “open your mind” failed, miserably.

(For those interested, read this from The London Telegraph: Sixties liberalism swept away our shared sense of decency and this Getty clip of Sixties protesters.)

In any case, cultural appropriation IS A GOOD THING.
It has been happening since the origins of men, and it will continue to happen.
Examples of the benefits of cultural appropriation abound, and are evident to anyone with a minimum of education and intelligence.

Quick examples:
Music: Rock & Roll and the myriad of sub-genres spawned from it.
Peforming Arts, Entertainment: It’s been a quite an upgrade from court jesters and tribe storytellers to 4D IMAX.
Cuisine: Wholly Guacamole!
Architecture: Sad that in some parts of the world they still build huts out of grass and dung. Thankfully, there has been a lot of progress moving towards bricks, steel and concrete.
Human Rights: Interesting than in certain parts of the world it’s still OK to own people, or to stone people to death, or to … you get it, don’t you? Hopefully there will be more of this appropriation.
Mathematics: Presented without comment.
Sports: Presented without comment.
Religion: Presented without comment.
Medicine: Presented without comment.
The Blue Jeans: Presented without comment.

It’s what we do. As cultures interact, we appropriate the best elements of one another. There’s nothing wrong with that. We have to be thankful for cultural appropriation.
It takes a special kind of stupid (libtard stupid?) to wage war against cultural appropriation.
And it’s terrifying that the practice is actually catching on.

The letter from the VSA sounds like it was composed by a ten year old: “We urge the college to undertake speedy and urgent action.” Speedy and urgent?
Repetition for effect has its limits, and the use of “we urge” five times in two paragraphs suggests that the authors didn’t pass English, or muster.

Why do the Cornell Faculty Take A Knee Protest pictures look as white as a glass of milk?

The VSA Executive board should be abolished for having the stupidest accusation in the history of stupid accusations.

As a middle aged slightly balding white guy, I disapprove of you, Professor, a 35 year old buffed up weight lifter and triathlete, trying to look like, well…. a middle aged slightly balding white guy.