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Cornell Daily Sun Interviews Professor William Jacobson Re Critical Race Training Database

Cornell Daily Sun Interviews Professor William Jacobson Re Critical Race Training Database

“[Kendi] artificially divides the world into ‘racists’ and ‘anti-racists’ with no middle ground allowed for people who are merely not racist,” Jacobson said. “This creates a coercive dynamic of compelled activism and crushing of dissent that is unhealthy to an educational environment.”

https://cornellsun.com/2021/02/24/students-weigh-in-on-critical-race-theory-database-launched-by-law-school-professor/

The Cornell Daily Sun student newspaper asked to interview me about our new website, criticalrace.org, which has received enormous media attention and well over a million page views since launch on February 2, 2021.

The criticalrace.org website is a project of the Legal Insurrection Foundation, which has added extra help to rapidly expand and build out the website.

I agreed to the intervivew, but requested the questions and answers be in writing, as I had done with student reporters for the Sun in the past, so that the exchange was precise. The Sun posed 17 questions to me, which I answered in detail spanning almost 2000 words. Very little of it made it into the Sun article, so I am printing the entirety of the written interview at the bottom of this post.

The Sun article focused on student “reaction” to the website, Students Weigh in on Critical Race Theory Database Launched by Law School Professor. (As we’ve noted before, the Sun only accepts comments via its Facebook post page.)

The only students quoted were student activists and groups pushing for CRT and so-called “anti-racist” mandates and agenda, so it’s not clear at all that the article presents a representative range of student body reaction.

Here are the quotes attributed to me in the Sun article:

According to Jacobson, the idea to create the site came about in early September, when a letter detailing a list of demands to create anti-racist action on Cornell’s campus began garnering support from hundreds of faculty, students, alumni and staff. Jacobson attributes the creation of such demands to the summer Community Book Read: Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be An Antiracist.

“[Kendi] artificially divides the world into ‘racists’ and ‘anti-racists’ with no middle ground allowed for people who are merely not racist,” Jacobson said. “This creates a coercive dynamic of compelled activism and crushing of dissent that is unhealthy to an educational environment.” ….

* * *

Jacobson believes critical race theory sows division in society.

“I consider some of the activities of critical race training to be against the best interests of our society and country by pitting people against each other based on race and creating artificial distinctions that make society less cohesive,” Jacobson wrote in an email to The Sun.

Jacobson said when it comes to anti-racism initiatives, he believes there’s a difference between voluntary study and requirements. Jacobson, a strong proponent of free speech, added that students should have the ability to learn about anti-racism if they choose, but mandating it harms freedom of expression on campus.

“I am focused mostly on the administrative mandates that are under consideration at Cornell and have been enacted elsewhere, as well as campus culture, which impose on and force students to adopt a particular viewpoint,” Jacobson said in an email to The Sun.

In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Jacobson described anti-racism as racist. “It’s current discrimination in order to remedy past discrimination is the ideology,” he told Carlson.

Here are the “reactions” from two student activist leaders as quoted in the Sun:

Some student leaders strongly oppose Jacobson’s incendiary comments.

“[Jacobson’s] stance, in particular, the anti-racism is racism — it’s merely another false reverse racism claim,” said Daniel James II ’22, Industrial and Labor Relations Student Government president and founder of the podcast “Black Voices on the Hill.” “I think that his behavior is symptomatic of the fact that there is still a generation of white stoic professors and racist professors who refuse to be educated, and who would rather preserve the white status quo.” ….

“Anti-racism and critical race theory classes, they’re not blaming anyone, they’re blaming whiteness as a social construct, and at the end of the day, whiteness not only harms Black and brown folks,” James said. “Whiteness and white supremacy, in particular, harms white people as well.”

The Cornell Abolitionist Revolutionary Society is an organization that is leading the effort to disarm and abolish the Cornell University Police Department, and supports the implementation of anti-racism initiatives at Cornell.

Angeliki Cintron ’22, a member of CARS, told The Sun that anti-racist work involves dismantling racist structures. Cintron further highlighted some ways Cornell can work toward becoming an anti-racist institution including abolishing the CUPD, divesting from private prisons and taking a firm stance against the prison-industrial complex.

Cintron recalled when Prof. David Collum ’77, chemistry, also faced backlash in June 2020, when he defended alleged police brutality — statements which Pollack characterized as “not just deeply insensitive, but deeply offensive.”

“The fact that they can say all of that and not face any consequences from the administration here is really telling that all of their commitments to anti-racism is pretty performative,” Cintron said. “Anti-racist reforms involve taking some power away from the administration and giving it back to like students, faculty and community members, and maybe that’s something that they just don’t really want to see happen.”

[With regard to the accusations against Prof. David Collum referenced in the article, see my post Will Cornell Apologize To Chemistry Prof. David Collum After Charges Dropped Against Buffalo Cops?]

It’s unfortunate that the Sun’s generally good article is being promoted by the Sun on social media as me being “under scrutiny.” To the contrary, it’s Critial Race Training and its Kendian “anti-racist” deception that is under scrutiny.

https://www.facebook.com/cornellsun/posts/10159250113086108

FULL INTERVIEW

Here is the full interview.

What was the inspiration for the database? How was this idea created?

The immediate impetus to create the website was an early-September 2020 Demand List signed by multiple programs and hundreds of faculty, students, alumni, and staff, demanding that implementation of President Pollack’s July 2020 call to “embed anti-racism across” the campus include race-based hiring and promotion, the elimination of colorblind hiring practices, and other race-based practices.

This troubling explicit advocacy of racially discriminatory practices in the name of “anti-racism” did not come out of nowhere. In June 2020, Cornell designated Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be An Antiracist as a Summer Community Book Read. Kendi advocates that “[t]he only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination” and artificially divides the world into “antiracists” and “racists,” with no middle ground allowed for people who are merely not racist. This creates a coercive dynamic of compelled activism and crushing of dissent that is unhealthy to an educational environment.

Whatever President Pollack’s intent in using the term “anti-racism,” it became clear that much of the campus interpreted it as Kendi used it, and that posed a threat to academic freedom and free expression. Looking at this unfold, I was convinced that most parents, alumni, and prospective students had little idea how rapidly events were devolving at Cornell.

It was only after the September Demand List was released that the Legal Insurrection Foundation, of which I am President, decided to take research we had been doing and turn it into a separate website and database to provide an easy platform for parents and students to know what was happening at Cornell and elsewhere.

What is the purpose of your database?

The database is an informational resource for parents and students as to Critical Race Training on campuses, including so-called “anti-racist” training, which sometimes is mandatory, sometimes voluntary. The database is neutral, and just as useful to those who want such training as to those who oppose it.

There is a strong demand for this information, as evidenced by over 1 million page views since launch last week.

Contrary to some media portrayals, we do not advocate avoiding the schools listed or any particular school. As we say on the website: “This is not a list of schools to avoid, it is a database to provide parents and students with information from which they can make informed decisions as to what is best.”

What do you hope to achieve with it? Or what is the main goal?

The main goal is to provide information in an easy format that allows individuals to make decisions as to what is best for them.

How do you define Critical Race Theory? 

Different scholars define Critical Race Theory in a variety of ways, and the field has evolved over the years. Our focus is not an academic debate over Critical Race Theory, but on training and programming that coerces students, faculty, and staff, into adopting a single viewpoint under administrative and social threat, with the attendant damage to campus free expression and academic freedom. That is why we use “training” in the title of the website and database.

What are your thoughts on critical race theory? What are your main criticisms of it?

See prior answers.

How do you feel about it being applied to university anti-racism initiatives?

See below.

What are your thoughts on Cornell’s anti-racism initiatives? Any criticisms? Any praises?

The initiatives are not final and still are subject to Faculty Senate recommendation and then approval by President Pollack. A key factor for me will be the element of coercion and mandate in the final result, including required student curriculum and faculty programming, and the requirement of so-called “anti-racist” activism for promotion and professional advancement. Also worrisome is the possibility of forcing faculty to incorporate these so-called “anti-racist” efforts into their own course curriculum, which is a violation of our academic freedom and imposes an ideological orthodoxy.

The risk is that so-called “anti-racist” training and programming at Cornell will resemble such efforts at some other colleges, where sessions turning into race-shaming and racial kafkatrapping (use of denial of an accusation as proof of the accusation). These trainings exploit and perpetuate racial stereotypes, and individuals are demeaned and held responsible for historical wrongs they didn’t commit based on their skin color. Rather than broadening campus intellectual life, such trainings narrow the scope of acceptable discourse and bully dissidents into silence.

Cornell already has a serious problem with lack of free expression. A survey last year by free speech groups ranked Cornell 40th out of 55 schools surveyed. Cornell did poorly on student willingness to express viewpoints on campus, especially as to affirmative action. That survey comports with my experience that many students are afraid to express views that go against the campus activists for fear of retribution. Cornell is at risk of making the existing free expression problem substantially worse.

Already, however, staff mandates have been imposed and made part of staff annual reviews and promotion; there is a lack of transparency as to what the mandated training consists of, as those modules are not publicly available as far as I know. Staff are most at risk, and there needs to be greater transparency and protection of differing views.

On Tucker Carlson you said “Anti-racism does not actually mean what people think it means. It actually is very racist,” Could you expand on that statement? What does anti-racism actually mean? How is it racist?

The term “anti-racist” as used by activists is a linguistic sleight of hand and deception. Ibram X. Kendi, the person most identified with the term “anti-racist” and whose book was promoted by Cornell, advocates current discrimination as a remedy for past discrimination. I specifically mentioned that point during the Tucker interview as an explanation for what I meant: “It’s current discrimination in order to remedy past discrimination is the ideology.”  Such “anti-racist” discrimination on the basis of race fits the traditional definition of racism, and is prohibited by applicable federal and state law, and Cornell policy.

The experience at Cornell is bearing out my concerns, with hundreds of faculty, students, and staff demanding race-based hiring and promotion, among other race-based activity, as part of the so-called “anti-racism” initiative. Cornell is heading in the wrong direction, one set in motion by the university itself last summer. Hopefully, the Faculty Senate and ultimately President Pollack will pull back before irreparable harm is done to the university educational environment.

In my view, the answer to racial discrimination is to lessen racial discrimination, not to impose new forms of racial discrimination.

Why is it important for parents to have access to a database like criticalrace.org? Why is it important for students to have access to this information?

The information we link to is public, but it’s not always easy to find. We save parents and students time and effort by putting it all in one place. The massive traffic to the website, over 1 million page views since launch last week, reflects that parents and students want this information.

How do you respond toward concerns that your criticism of CRT and antiracism initiatives may alienate students of color from participating in your securities clinic?

I stand for equal treatment of all people without regard to race, which is consistent with federal and state law and Cornell’s non-discrimination policy. Why would someone object to me taking the same position Cornell already takes on non-discrimination? Additionally, I don’t think we should presume that all people of a certain skin color think alike; I don’t accept that in general or as to Critical Race Training or Kendi-style “anti-racism” training. My criticisms of so-called “anti-racist” training is to affirm the need to treat people as individuals without regard to skin color. My course continues to be oversubscribed, and we regularly have a very diverse student enrollment, so such concerns are misplaced.

What do you see as a better solution for racism in America opposed to using anti-racism initiatives? 

We need to stop dividing people into racial categories and designing initiatives by such group designations. Focus on individual rights, including the right to fair and equal opportunity and treatment. By affirming the dignity of the individual, we will create a positive environment for change, rather than the so-called “anti-racist” construct which pits groups against the other and creates an artificial divide between “anti-racists” and “racists.” I believe that most people fit into neither group, they simply want to treat others with respect without regard to race, and to be treated the same way. We should focus on what we have in common, rather than what separates us.

Do you believe there is a racism problem in America at all? 

Yes, of course racism is a problem and is something we need to continue work to solve.

Do you believe systemic racism is present in America? Why or why not?

I don’t believe that America is systemically racist in the way that term is used by so-called “anti-racist” activists. Our system and laws stand against racism, and that is embedded at almost every level of government and increasingly the rest of society. The goal should be to help this systemic anti-discrimination live up to its promise, not to tear down the system itself or engage in our own retaliatory discrimination.

In 2020, Former President Trump signed an executive order to strip critical race theory training from the government budget, and President Biden has recently revoked this order, what implications does this action have?

My understanding is that Trump eliminated the types of abusive race-shaming tactics in government agency training, including segregating people by race for training purposes, that had been exposed in a series of leaks. The net result of the Trump Executive Order and the Biden revocation of the Order is that we are back to where we were before Trump’s EO.

Did you agree with Trump’s stance of calling the training “un-american”? If you did, do you still believe it is un-american? 

I consider some of the activities of Critical Race Training to be against the best interests of our society and country, by pitting people against each other based on race and creating artificial distinctions that make society less cohesive.

You speak a lot on how universities using antiracist initiatives “indoctrinate” students into leftists ideologies, what exactly do you mean by indoctrinate? How specifically are universities indoctrinating students? 

I distinguish voluntary study from mandates. If a student voluntarily wants to take such courses or engage in such training, that’s fine. I am focused mostly on the administrative mandates that are under consideration at Cornell and have been enacted elsewhere, as well as campus culture, which impose on and force students to adopt a particular viewpoint. This harms campus free expression because it sends a message that only one viewpoint is acceptable.

What are your thoughts on the student effort to disband the CUPD?

CUPD seems to play an important role on campus, so I don’t understand why students would want to disarm or eliminate CUPD, which would decrease security and require outside police agencies to enter campus more frequently.

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Comments

The full interview is not overly long and no doubt they could have published it all if they had wanted to. It just goes to show we don’t need undocumented immigrants to do the work Americans refuse to do such as cherry picking.

The answers the professor gave to the questions were very detailed and well thought out. I made a copy and will read it again later. This would be a good read for some of our posters who get cherry picked news from the media and then come here and attempt to convice us of their “superior” knowledge of the facts.

    henrybowman in reply to UserP. | February 25, 2021 at 2:52 am

    Prof. Jacobson: Doubtless you have seen the popular YouTube video on “Never talk to the police.” (If you haven’t, it’s well worth the 45 minutes.)

    Among the Second Amendment crowd, there is a second commandment: “Never talk to the press.” There is NEVER ANY UPSIDE to talking to the press, and a tremendous downside.

    You know they hate you.
    You know they hate what you stand for.
    You are not going to convert or convince the press.
    The press is not going to publish any of your words that may convert or convince anyone else.
    They get to choose which words to quote, and they will always choose the worse ones.
    When the article finally comes out, you will always be worse off than you were before.

    Please, professor, consider this next time someone asks you.

    Besides, nothing pisses a reporter off than telling her,
    “No. There is no upside to talking with you.”

      “Never talk to the press”

      Yup. My dad was once (70’s) a program officer working in the pentagon. A reporter interviewed him on what they were running and the article was an absolute fraud. Swore he’d never talk to one again.

      I wouldn’t say “Never.”

      I would first encourage anyone who thinks it is a good idea to get media relations training. There are several good places around to get this, and it doesn’t take more than a couple of days. You also need practice in controlled settings.

      I would also say that anytime you can get an unfiltered viewpoint across, such as a live Q&A/panel/interview, it can work. Ben Shapiro and Milo Y (not going to try to spell it) in particular have made good use of these. If it can’t be live and it is in the best interest of the cause, run your own camera and record it to prove any shenanigans.

      The other tactic is the use of two or three short answers (“sound bites” but I hate that term) that get your point across, and no matter what the question is, use those answers. Again, have your own camera running. This is best for the ad-hoc “street interview” for local media.

      In my experience, the Press, especially local press, does not like being called out for major bias, errors, or laziness. We’ve published second by second analysis of local TV coverage of (anti/pro)-gun bills, and within hours had a meeting request from the news director and station manager. I’ve confronted state capitol reporters with their bogus information, and in a firm but instructive tone, showed them where they were wrong, lazy, and biased. Pointing out opinion in a news story gets them bristled up. Followup articles were generally neutral to almost good. I’m happy if they are neutral. It lasts for a week or so, then they go back to how they were.

      It can be done IF you have had some training and practice. But you better believe that if 100 people show up to testify at a hearing on a gun bill, they will look for the one older dude with the floppy eared hat and the red flannel shirt and do their worst to make him look and sound stupid. THAT is the “never” part I do agree with.

      Yuckster in reply to henrybowman. | February 25, 2021 at 11:39 am

      I sympathize with henrybowman’s pov, but I actually agree with bhwms on the “soundbite” tactic.

      15+ years ago, I had a difficult, semi-public position in which I had to manage the narrative about a not-for-profit that was in financial trouble (it was). Reporters would continue to try to engage me on the details of the financial problems which was not a constructive conversation. I wanted to talk about our mission, our notable successes, and the gratitude we had for all our amazing donors {all true!}. I could expound on any of these topics at the drop of a hat.

      So in general, the strategy is to go into each interview or presser with 3+ points and be ready to say them, explain them, support them in various ways. Weave them together into “a story” (actually “the story”). 4 might be better, but it needs to be more than 2

      Then, no matter what question is asked, respond with one of the points, and keep following up with the same answers. Mix up the order to make it seem like you’re saying something different. Eventually, the press (they are human) will get tired and go with what they have == what you gave them.
      Which is much better than silence.

      For example, here are 3 points {again, ALL TRUE!}:
      * United States has fought long and hard to have a society that is statutorily and culturally much less racist than we were 160 or even 60 years ago. We see these encouraging signs of change all the time.
      * MLK . . .”content of their character; vs. color of their skin” and while evolution takes time, I am happy to be part of broad society of diversity and see success by so many people from different backgrounds.
      * Imposition of a forced re-education program for goes against so many of our values . . and can turn well-meant ideals into thought-control

Doctor-Elect Disco Stu_ | February 24, 2021 at 6:50 pm

And those of us 80% normals, who just want to live our lives as responsible & respectful adults and who want nothing to do with either the few genuine bigoted racists out there OR the foolish & childish professional “anti-racists”.

    Their point is precisely to de-center that point of view, to punish anyone for thinking that’s “normal”.

    Within the law I hope there’s pushback, a cost to them for such subversion. It should be possible because they are the outliers and we have more sympathy in the “normal” broad population. Otherwise they just keep trying, and ridicule on a website like this doesn’t bother them at all. It just makes them want to punish us.

IT’S EVEN WORSE
Actually, it’s worse than described. To not be smeared as a “racist” Kendi requires that you go along with the woke agenda – which means being racist against Whites (and Asians at times).

This is because Kendi want ACTUAL racism to be used to fight PERCEIVED racism of “implicit bias” and “historical bias” and whatever they define as “structural racism”. Never mind that structures are largely constructed to combat racism – in fact there is no law or “structure” that I can think of that is anti-black. But plenty that favor blacks over others.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Ben Kent. | February 24, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    My take is that the CRT people are just the latest racism based scam. They are actual racists.

    In fact, they are much like the Biden Crime Syndicate, in that both want to extract money through hook and crook, both do not produce anything of value, both are parasites on society.

    henrybowman in reply to Ben Kent. | February 25, 2021 at 3:44 am

    For you to be an “anti-racist,” Kendi wants you to advocate for programs that benefit him, not you, on your own time, on your own dime. Back in the days when we were more honest, we recognized that kind of deal as SLAVERY.

    venril in reply to Ben Kent. | February 25, 2021 at 9:27 am

    “… This is because Kendi want ACTUAL racism to be used to fight PERCEIVED racism of “implicit bias” and “historical bias” and whatever they define as “structural racism”. …”

    Right out of the playbook. Marcuse approves.

Diversity of individuals, minority of one.

Jacobson —-> Kendi.

Definition of punching down.

VetHusbandFather | February 24, 2021 at 9:48 pm

I think it’s important to consider how Kendi anti-racism will be used as a political cudgel as well. The argument sounds benign. If you see an overt act of racism, how can you just stand by? For example, if you see someone yelling slurs at someone else, would you act? If you act you are in the anti-racist camp, if you let this kind of behavior go unhampered you are allowing racism to persist and are therefore racist. But then Kendi extends his arguement to policies like universal health care. He claims that because the current healthcare system has unequal outcomes for people of different races, that it is systemically racist. And therefore to be anti-racist, you must support policies like universal healthcare which will supposedly drive equal outcomes. Those that don’t support universal healthcare are therefore racist by Kendi’s logic. That is where the true danger lies in this. It’s not just a threat to academic freedom, it’s and indoctrination that will eventually allow the socialist left to dismiss conservative views as racism. It won’t be long before saying that you support capitalism will be get you banned from Twitter as “hate speech”.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to VetHusbandFather. | February 24, 2021 at 10:08 pm

    “eventually allow the socialist left to dismiss conservative views as racism”

    Eventually? Really, when Zimmerman and Officer Wilson were being attacked, their civil rights were being trampled on a grand scale, we should weighed in then, and kicked the crap out of the perps.

    artichoke in reply to VetHusbandFather. | March 2, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    Kendi basically wants people to do stupid stuff against their own interest. He even got a chaired appointment at BU for telling people to do that stuff. He must be amazed to get such a reaction, and that people are afraid to laugh at him.

JusticeDelivered | February 24, 2021 at 10:18 pm

I would add that what is happening to Cuomo right now is an example of how ringleaders can be taken down.

Pick vulnerable targets, engineer interesting times. Take them down. Do it on a large scale, say 1-2 a month. Get their associates to turn on them. It is all about finding the right lever to start an avalanche.

It’s dangerous to a free society

This sort of “training” has no place in any school. It’s nothing more than social/political indoctrination from a radical Marxist point of view.

Every individual has their own definition of racism. Even if something, or someone is racist, there are many worse and more important things to be concerned with. A school doing its proper job of imparting useful information and teaching students how to think in an orderly, deductive and logical manner wouldn’t have time for political propaganda.

    artichoke in reply to Bisley. | March 2, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    Those are reasons I think Cornell, which does a world-class job at the education mission, will be hard to bring down. But the administration should protect it rather than putting gratuitous stress on it! Hopefully this will be the direction of their actions.

    Cornell got a grant to do some of these race-related things, I believe it was for about $500,000, not all that large but much appreciated these days I am sure. Maybe this is just how they’ll spend that money. It should go to special programs, not to foundational changes at the school. No outside donor has a right to change the direction of the school.

E. Zach Lee-Wright | February 25, 2021 at 12:06 pm

It is a widely accepted idea that poverty causes crime. The opposite is true, provable, and never discussed; CRIME CAUSES POVERTY.

Professor J., I read the Cornell Sun’s (CS) article (https://cornellsun.com/2021/02/24/students-weigh-in-on-critical-race-theory-database-launched-by-law-school-professor/?fbclid=IwAR0j_yn491dIBjAxW6tEcPcumb5Mav4J7x5iYgvwJVRHEZP2-guh43boa8Q). The CS labeled you quotes, not sure if all quotes or one quote, as “incendiary comments”. Would like to have the CS’ define “Incendiary comments” and ID which of your comments met their definition.

    artichoke in reply to Olenole65. | March 2, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    Quoting from the article:
    ——————————-
    … Cornell Students 4 Black Lives said that Jacobson’s database has cherry picked parts of the critical race theory, presenting it in a way that explains the theory without including how theorists have come to their conclusions about racism in daily life.

    “The site points out that it is not enough to be ‘not racist,’ which plants a seed of doubt in the theory, but does not go further to clarify what constitutes ‘not racist’,” wrote C4BL in an email to The Sun. “This falsely traps people into drawing ‘their own conclusion’ that he is passively pushing throughout the site.” …
    ——————————–

    This is worth analyzing. The typical cry of this movement is that we are lacking “nuance” in apparently race-neutral things. They tend to add “nuance” with adjectives, like saying that any allegation against them is “without evidence” or that current conditions are “due to structural racism”. You can’t have a simple statement of fact, without such things being inserted.

    Here they are taking raw data, a list which they don’t challenge for accuracy or bias, and say it’s biased because it’s lacking the “nuance”. In the word of our current presidential office holder, “malarkey!”

    It’s not how I learned the meaning of the word. But in the tedious way they use it, “say no to nuance!”

Retired in Chicago | March 14, 2021 at 2:03 pm

systemic racism does not exist in America. It’s a term made up by liberals and such because they gave up trying to find racism everywhere they looked. They couldn’t find it so saying systemic racism simply takes care of that problem because racism is everywhere LOL. It isn’t because we have laws against it for years and all you have to do is look around you everywhere you go you see people of all colors in all kinds of jobs and all kinds of positions.

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