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Cornell campus climate “so far beyond political correctness”

Cornell campus climate “so far beyond political correctness”

My appearance on Laura Ingraham show: It’s “almost a totalitarian type of mentality”

I appeared last night on the Laura Ingraham show to talk about my post, There’s an effort to get me fired at Cornell for criticizing the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Much of the conversation turned on a Statement issued late yesterday afternoon by Cornell Law School Dean Eduardo M. Peñalver defending my academic freedom and stating that no disciplinary action would be taken, but otherwise condemning me.

Law Professor David Bernstein addressed the statement at Reason, Cornell Dean Eduardo M. Peñalver on the Jacobson Controversy.

The description of my writings in the Dean’s Statement, Bernstein points out, mischaracterizes a fair reading of my writings:

… rather than being unqualified attacks on all “protesters for racial justice,” the posts read to me as quite clearly a narrow and specific attack on the funders, founders, and leaders for the organized Black Lives Matter movement, and on what Jacobson sees as the radical and dishonestly-presented goals of the movement itself. He sees their agenda as a laundry list of far-left, anti-American and anti-capitalist goals at best very tangentially related to racial justice. I reread the posts several times, and I don’t see any attack, much less a categorical one, on the average peaceful protester who isn’t affiliated with the formal Black Lives Matter movement and has just attended protests to express concern about racism or police violence.

Bernstein also points out the impropriety of expressing an institutional opinion when it comes to faculty statements covered by academic freedom:

The good news is that he writes that the “unwavering commitment to these [academic] values means that all Cornell Law professors must be able to write and speak freely,” and that “to take disciplinary action against [Jacobson] … would corrode our ability to operate as an academic institution.”

The bad news is that Peñalver should have stopped there (but did not), as there is really nothing more to say as dean as representative of the law school about opinions expressed by faculty members (something I agree with Brian Leiter about!) …

Bernstein expanded on that concept in the comment section:

A non-religiously-affiliated law school is not supposed to have a “point of view” on any matter of public concern not directly related to the operation of the law school. (Which does not include BLM or social justice.)

This may be the only time I quote Leiter favorably:

Individual faculty are free to exercise their speech rights to criticize [colleagues who say controversial things], but the institution, for whom the Dean speaks, should remain silent. Here is how the University of Chicago’s 1967 Kalven Report (authored by famed First Amendment scholar Harry Kalven) puts it:

The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge. Its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society. A university faithful to its mission will provide enduring challenges to social values, policies, practices, and institutions. By design and effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones. In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.

The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic…..To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry, and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures. A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community….

Since the university is a community only for these limited and distinctive purposes, it is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness.

… As dean, speaking for the law school as an entity, no. Because as dean he’s not expressing his personal opinion, he’s expressing an opinion on behalf of the law school, and law schools, as places of academic inquiry, are not supposed to have official opinions on political matters.

That goes for university presidents, too, and that includes university presidents who criticize, e.g., some lunatic anti-Israel ravings of a faculty member. Either the faculty member has violated university rules in some way, or his opinions are not a matter of the university as an institution’s concern.

I made similar points in my interview, as did Ingraham. I added the point that the institutional singling out of a professor for criticism, at least at Cornell, only takes place with regard to a non-liberal professor:

WAJ: That statement by the Dean is falsely characteriz[ing] what I wrote. I did not cast aspersions on people, peacefully protesting. I cast aspersions on the violence and the looting and the tearing down of society. That’s what I was talking about. I think anybody reading my posts would fairly come to that conclusion.

But there’s a bigger point here we have on our campus faculty who say the craziest, most offensive things from a left wing perspective, they never get called out. They never have their Deans issue statements. It’s only the one conservative in the law school, me, who gets singled out and it’s almost like an attempted public shaming. It’s what happened during the cultural revolution in China, that if there’s a professor who has wrongthink you hold him out, you ostracize him, and you criticize him to the community.

That is a statement the Dean should have said, “he has the academic freedom to write whatever he wants, period ,.,


WAJ: … because that’s what they do for everybody else.

More excerpts:

INGRAHAM: … So you’re used to being in the minority on college campuses. But what about this level of vitriol?

WAJ: I’ve never seen this. I mean, this is so far beyond political correctness, this is almost a totalitarian type of mentality, that everything you say and everything you do is watched. And if you don’t toe the party line completely you’re ostracized and you’re attacked. And that’s exactly what happened here.

I simply told a couple of truths about the foundations of the Black Lives Matter Movement. It was founded based upon the claim that Michael Brown was shot by police while he had his hands up and he was saying, ‘don’t shoot’. And every day now during the protests, people are walking around saying ‘hands up, don’t shoot,’ but that’s a complete fabrication. It’s not a fabrication because I say it’s a fabrication, it’s a fabrication because after an exhaustive investigation by the Obama-Eric Holder Justice Department, they found that that never actually happened. That was concocted by the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement to portray police as brutal killers of Black people. And it has been the ethos that has carried on forever. And that’s why we see calls to defund and deconstruct the police. But it’s based on a fabricated tale that gave rise to this movement.


INGRAHAM: Professor, I have to ask you because I went to Dartmouth college during the eighties and there was just the beginning of the political correctness movement that we were exposing in our college newspaper. But are there any liberals in the traditional sense, still on campus who say, look, I don’t agree with you bill, but you know, you have a right to speak out. It’s ridiculous. What’s happening to the country. Are there any of those left? Are they all gone?

WAJ: Well, a lot of them are left, but they always speak very quietly. They talk to you in hushed tones and behind closed doors. It’s a very repressive atmosphere on all campuses…. It used to be, if you kept your head down and minded your own business, you could kind of escape the crowd. That’s not true anymore. I mean the, the Cornell student group that’s been coming after me has on their Facebook page. ‘Silence is Violence’ right now. This is completely crazy.


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North Korean style cultural fascism is becoming the norm.

    practicalconservative in reply to dystopia. | June 12, 2020 at 9:24 am

    You are not being cancelled. You are just being “re-educated”.

    DaveGinOly in reply to dystopia. | June 12, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    In North Korea:

    Forced apologies.
    Public humiliation.
    Threats and intimidation.
    Violence and murder.

    In the United States of America:

    Forced apologies.
    Public humiliation.
    Threats and intimidation.
    Violence and murder.

    What separates these two sets of acts is that the former are conducted by a government and the latter are conducted by people who would like to have a government capable of acting in their stead. That’s perilously close to a distinction without a difference.

    J. Maccabee in reply to dystopia. | June 12, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    And Hitlerian fascist government fashion has become the norm; anti-science, environment destroying, big-lie, and plutocrat loving to the destruction of the American middle class economically, and the destruction of the rule of law set out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Wouldn’t it be great if the 60-75% of the middle of the American political spectrum could get rid of the Narcissist-In-Chief (or if you prefer, The Lyin’ King) and Mitch (rhymes with **t**) McConartist and restore America’s soul and world leadership by example?

    Got Science? Trying to get a kid through college? Trying to get/hold on to a job?

      nordic_prince in reply to J. Maccabee. | June 12, 2020 at 3:33 pm

      We finally were rid of the Narcissist-in-Chief in January 2017, after putting up with his crap for 8 years.

        J. Maccabee in reply to nordic_prince. | June 12, 2020 at 3:53 pm

        He wasn’t a narcissist, just a naif in foreign policy and too kumbayaish to fight to get Americans what Harry Truman forced on the defeated Axis Powers: universal heath care. And with your attitude, pray you don’t get a bad case of COVID-19 while parading around asserting your non-existent “right” to infect your family, children, co-workers or other Americans or, while parading around, accidentally shooting yourself and seriously injuring and disabling yourself.
        I’m sure that if the Heavenly Host, Greatest Generation Section, could return to Earth to kick ass, they’d go after the anti-democratic right and left, simultaneously and without qualms that when they returned from whence they came, that they’d find any of you from either political extreme in the place they left.

          And with your attitude, pray you don’t get a bad case of COVID-19 while parading around asserting your non-existent “right” to infect your family, children, co-workers or other Americans or, while parading around, accidentally shooting yourself and seriously injuring and disabling yourself.
          I hope if I do get the chinese flu I meet you. It would be fun to watch the tears stream down your cheeks while you kneel before your god – Nanny Big Government begging for relief and a vaccine.
          You’d soil your Depends if you were to hang around my town.

Great start. Maybe someone could gather all of you professors being cancelled and hold a nationally-televised town hall meeting. Make it a weekly or monthly thing to go after the colleges and universities. I’ll bet it makes a big dent on college admissions.

    J. Maccabee in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 12, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    There’s already crater, not a dent, thanks to Republiconartist policies since the Eisenhower administration. The middle class is shriveled because the best Congress money can buy shifted the burden of running the finest democracy in the world onto the backs of the widest, deepest, and richest emerging middle class the world ever saw. Once upon a time, one good middle class job was good for a nice place to live, one or maybe two cars, send a couple of kids to college, keep a dog or a cat. Now you need two full-time workers and loans if anyone goes to college, as long as no one gets really sick.

      buck61 in reply to J. Maccabee. | June 12, 2020 at 4:01 pm

      in those days a family of three or four wasn’t living in a five bedroom house, four bathrooms, 4000 sq feet home on an acre lot with a three car garage either.

    henrybowman in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 13, 2020 at 4:14 am

    Better than a town hall meeting, start a new university. I’d pay to send my grandkids to Galt College.

“Bernstein also points out the impropriety of expressing an institutional opinion when it comes to faculty statements covered by academic freedom…”

Doesn’t this parallel with Oberlin’s problem? If you want systemic racism, there it is.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 12, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    I think that Twillie and associates are bald faced racests, that they are mad that they did not get away with pinning false racism claims on Gibsons and they were unsuccessful in acquiring Gibson’s property for a song.

When a group/person has principles that will not stand up to honest debate, an opposing view must be stopped by any means possible. Personal attacks, misleading or outright false statements and ridicule are standard. To many SJWs, rolling of eyes is a valid tactic.

Good luck, Professor.

This is one battle in a war with many fronts. They intend to win. Do we? Can we win with passive defense?

WAJ is a soldier on the point. On active offense receiving incoming. A courageous soldier. A feared soldier.

    MAJack in reply to TX-rifraph. | June 12, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Passivity NEVER wins. Winston Churchill demonstrated this basic truth.

    DaveGinOly in reply to TX-rifraph. | June 12, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    To continue the military analogy – “When the flak is heaviest, you know you’re over the target.”

      henrybowman in reply to DaveGinOly. | June 13, 2020 at 4:06 am

      And on a hopeful note, something those of us who lived through the collapse of the USSR might remember: the enemy often appears most threatening when (unknown to you) it is on the brink of collapse.

It’s almost too easy to point out the intellectual dishonesty of finding that criticim of a radical, political movement (BLM) that espouses a frontal attack on the idea of individual liberty as enshrined in our Constitution is “criticizing a broad group of people” and therefore “against the University’s standards.”

How else can you disagree with a group’s core philosophy, and tactics, than by criticizing the group as a whole? Do they invalidate a critique of Marxists unless it names individual Marxists and their personal shortcomings? Or, to point out the obvious hypocricy: how can demonizing the entire country as rotten with “institutional racism” comport with “University policy” if denigrating the vast majority of non-racist Americans?

If Administration is not entirely cynical, they are obtuse beyond belief.

You deserve at least an hour on tv network time, not just a 10 minute segment.

    DaveGinOly in reply to buck61. | June 12, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    I’m sure there are many outlets that would be happy to take the time with the professor. How about the Joe Rogan Experience, Louder With Crowder, and The Rubin Report? Also check out Karlyn Borysenko (YouTube), the former progressive who turned around after attending a Trump rally, and who had the temerity to seek out information from “unapproved” sources that changed her thinking. The professor would get considerable exposure from these platforms and a very good shake from the hosts.

Hang in there Prof, there’s a lot at stake and we appreciate your stand.

texansamurai | June 12, 2020 at 11:04 am

calm, clear, reasoned–excellent professor

what you are doing(and have done) is much more important than you know–be assured that many folks who do not possess your poise and eloquence are nevertheless able to understand your message–have directed many to this site because of your efforts

easy to become jaded by the continuous hysteria/deceit pushed by the media but the truth just is………….

and here you are, telling the truth again

thank you, sir

When the truth can be accepted as a “smear,” our Republic is in mortal danger.

LukeHandCool | June 12, 2020 at 11:33 am


The dean probably means every word too, but, in fairness, if the dean didn’t fire you and DIDN’T say these things, he’d be next. He may be anyway, because he didn’t fire you.

LukeHandCool | June 12, 2020 at 12:26 pm

A pep talk for Professor Jacobson.

Stay strong, Professor J. You’re a rock. You’re vastly outnumbered … but by a mob and their cowardly appeasers.

One of my proudest moments as a parent was when my kids’ high school staged a walkout in conjunction with the National School Walkout for Gun Control organized by student activist David Hogg and his adult leftist activist backers.

Our son was in his calculus class that day when the time came and nearly 100% of the student body and faculty shamefully participated in this politicized stunt and walked out of their classrooms.

Our son, who at the time was enduring very bad anxiety and panic attacks, nevertheless bucked the peer pressure and refused to walk out. Along with our son, two other students in his class and the teacher — an Asian immigrant to America, God bless her — remained in class.

Our son came home and quipped, “I’m not joining the Red Guards.”

When I told my wife what is happening to you, after a burst of anger subsided she said, “He must feel all alone. It must be really uncomfortable.”

I’m sure our son was very uncomfortable not going along. But even with his anxiety problems, he’s unbelievably stubborn sticking to his principles.

In this case stubborn is an admirable trait. Stay stubborn, Bill. For all of us who have no voice over the current hysteria that’s spreading like a virus throughout our country. I can’t remember having ever seen anything like it, and it’s caused me to feel deep despair.

I’ll add to the pep talk.
There is an entire generation out there that is fishing for ‘likes’ all day long on facebook, twitter, tinder, etc. They are also trained to avoid any confrontation and it just depresses them when they are disagreed with. So they either go along or stay silent, as the Professor wisely noticed. I interact with legions of them who can’t/won’t read an article/document beyond the first 2 sentences. They readily accept that all news is true, even from a guy like Frodo. Giant corporations, now doctors and nurses can’t run fast enough to pray at the altar of political correctness, even if (this week) it’s defined as whatever BLM wants. But that’s just on the surface, underneath a lot of them are young people who know exactly why we need to protect our freedoms.

It’s a real struggle to reach these people, but we can’t stop trying. It’s not enough to clearly point out right from wrong; you have to understand that someone who knows what’s right still lives in mortal fear of cancel culture. Notice the dean defended the professor’s academic freedom but failed to encourage the students to use that same freedom to listen and learn about all points of view.

There is another ray of hope- our country of immigrants yields plenty of them who abhor what is going on. Immigrants from totalitarian and/or failed states are here for the country we always have been, they want nothing to do with these winds of change. So, freedom-loving groups of all ages and professions meet in semi-secrecy, participate in private social media groups, spend their evenings trying to steer Wikipedia back to earth, etc.

Search them out and work with them. These patriotic folks need help and support to maintain the strength to do all this and go to work every day in an often hostile-to-conservatives work environment. They are all around us but hard to find, so keep an eye open and support them however you can.

BierceAmbrose | June 12, 2020 at 1:16 pm

They get away with this when they can carve someone out of the herd; isolate them; stifle them; misrepresent them.

That’s why they have to shut down communication tools: people who can check in with each other don’t get gaslighted. That’s why they target Prof J, Praeger U, NRA-Dana, Cancice Owens, Milo (as much for being funny as anything else, and indeed Joe Rogan.

Animal Farm / 1984 Redux!

BierceAmbrose | June 12, 2020 at 1:35 pm

A story. Somehow this seems apropro…

A couple days ago I emerged, pre-coffee, from my front door to find the upstairs neighbors, with 6-8 other fooks assembled, talking about … something.

It seemed like folks from the block, hanging awkwardly about, sans beer, steaks, or inappropriate outdoor fire.

Hi’s all around, then Earnesting introduced herself: “I’m the one who put the fliers out.”

“What fliers.”

“You didn’t get one? I thought I put one in every box…”

“Oh maybe. Not your fault; I’m good at ignoring things I didn’t ask for.”

(That worked — ed. I also held my Earnest poker face; not a single snicker. So, yay, me — ed.)

“Oh, well we’re taking about organizing to march here on the block; what do you think.” (So many things, but inside voice, inside voice — ed.)

“Well, since you asked, I think it’s ridiculous and ineffective, or worse. You wanna riot on the block?”

“Oh, we’re not about stirring up riots…”

“That’s what happens. Look what’s happening now. Do something better.”

“But, we’re just about supporting each other…”

“That’s what they said when it started, and look where we are now. We’ve seen this play — what middle of ACT II?”

“Becuse that’s what always happens. I was around during the Rodney King uproar, what, near 30 years ago … it’s the same play.”

“*I* was around in the 1964 riots, when I got arrested for being marriet to a black man.”

“See. Didn’t help. Still not helping. Here we are again, still.” (And BTW, Earnestine won’t get arrested for “being married to a black man” these days, if that was the actual cause then. — ed.)

“Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

“Yeah, well, if you think of something else to do, do tell me. I might be in, if it makes sense. Meanwhile, I’m off.

“Nice to have met you.”

“Likewise. Glad to say high, anybodyneed a hand with something, and so on. Glad to talk even ABOUT ANYTHING BUT THIS.”

Before I made the corner, they had broken up. Amazing how one little grain of sand screws up their frenzy induction.

Now, I don’t need my neighbor’s permission to be, nor do I work with them or similar. We’re not on a group mission from god, thought that’s part of what was on offer by “third time’s the charm” Earnestine.

Seems like Cornell is making Prof J’s association so much more restrictive n encompassing. They’re on a mission from God. Or Goddess. Or Gaia. Or whatever.

The one thing they can’t stand is loose, partial, contingent assocaitions. Calmly, energetically, crisply live your boundaries and it stops them cold.

Things were similar at Cornell in 1969, but they’re worse now.

    HarvardPhD in reply to gibbie. | June 12, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    I’m not so sure they were any better in 1969. Then the radical students came out of the Student Union waving rifles, and the administration was ‘negotiating’ with them. It was kowtowing to acts of aggression like that which led to four or five years of unacknowledged guerrilla warfare on campuses (verbal, but with implied threats of force), followed by recurrences every five or ten years, up to today’s widespread social justice war. And as the right of left-wing dissidents to make irrational demands and impose their thinking upon the curriculum became ever more entrenched, it became more and more difficult to find students willing to oppose mob rule.

    Perhaps one needs to go back to the root cause, which was that students ought to have the right to protest violently, about matters for which they have no competence, and to make, not petitions, but demands. As soon as intimidation is accepted as a valid means of discussing an issue, one no longer has dialogue, but a gang fight. And if the threatened institution refuses to fight back, the gang will always win.

Prof – your recourse should be legal. That’s the only language that they will understand. And it will be useful for others as well.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Mimi. | June 12, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    I agree, and it would be great to get names, and then give them a good dose of that they are trying to dish out.

That is a statement the Dean should have said, “he has the academic freedom to write whatever he wants, period ,.,

I wish that same privilege were extended to people working outside academia. Far too many companies are forbidding their employees to voice opinions that go against the company line, even if they are speaking on their own time and as private individuals.

Academia is a utopia compared to that.

The only conservative professor at Cornell.

Cornell will never make that mistake again. Cornell will vet family histories going back three generations. Those found with unfortunate family ‘origins’ will be quietly blacklisted.

I remember when shrinks used to tell us that people owned their reaction(s) – that no one can make you feel something. You have the right to speak your mind and listeners the right to listen and form their own opinions / reactions. But the speaker is NOT responsible for the listener’s reaction.

Now days, people don’t own their reactions – they blame others for them.

It’s said doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I think another definition appropriate to our time is the difference between managing your own reaction to all that life throws at you, vs. trying to manage everything life throws at you so you never have a discomforting reaction. The former is the mark of maturity, the latter is the method of control-freaks and emotional children – and ultimately proves impossible.

J. Maccabee | June 12, 2020 at 4:39 pm

What’s a Single Jehovah’s Witness got to do with anything? Moving on. You’ve just described the modus operandi of The Lyin’ King in the White House and his Republiconartist cohort in Congress. As demonstrated by all their efforts to gerrymander districts and suppress easily identifiable groups of voters. Which excuses neither side from anti-free speech, unAmerican conduct.

It is getting to (or has already gotten to) the point that the original act is not important. Mob rule says he has to be fired because it suits the mob. I fear that there is no nonviolent way to fix this. Certainly we need Trump to win reelection, but he will have to authorize violence against the mob to stop their insanity and the character assassination of good people.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to bjdogg. | June 12, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    I most certainly think that violence must be met with violence, it is the bully mentality to continue bad conduct until someone makes them very sorry.

    J. Maccabee in reply to bjdogg. | June 12, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    So, you’ve modeled yourself as one of the “Good Germans” who supported Hitler but didn’t know what he was really up to. I think you’d feel more at home in Iran, Brazil or even Russia.

      henrybowman in reply to J. Maccabee. | June 13, 2020 at 4:12 am

      I think you’d feel more at home at Huffington Post or the Daily Worker. Why are you here, wasting your time and ours? Nobody here cares what you think, and you’re not wanted.

Professor Jacobson: you have my heartfelt support. That said, I have a question. When you said “…this is so far beyond political correctness . . . ” my eyebrows shot upward; it sounded as though pc were the reference where the line is drawn. I know you did not mean it that way . . . nevertheless the phrase seems to lend legitimacy(?) to the authority of the thugs who arrogated the phrase. Recall the staid Michael Barone’s calling it dead on in Oct 2016: “The Coming Obama Thugocracy.” Well, we knew where this all was going back in the 80s . . . and here we are. Perhaps better (hindsight is 2020 I know, sorry): ” . . . this is so far beyond rational discussion, freedom of speech, and academic integrity it smacks of Wiemar book burnings and Heydrich’s SD.” Your attackers remind me of Otto Neurath of the Vienna Circle Manifesto (1929) — cowardly activist-revolutionaries posing as “scholars.”

On the other hand perhaps your approach is the more prudent; mine would have sent your attackers into an even more vicious meltdown — & too the dem/media-propaganda complex — creating even more headaches for you.

Stay strong professor. You have my deepest respect; your efforts continue to be admirable.

J. Maccabee | June 20, 2020 at 5:48 pm

The Professor is an actual Conservative who steadfastly stands for truth and free speech; he hardly needs support from white nationalists like Herr Drumpf and doesn’t deserve the ridiculous, politically correct ad hominem attacks of the neo-Stalinist twits.

And O’Balmy has been revealed as an Islamist supremacist anti-Semite.