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National Review: Cornell Professor Warns ‘Anti-Racism’ Training Mandate Will Exacerbate ‘Toxic’ Campus Environment

National Review: Cornell Professor Warns ‘Anti-Racism’ Training Mandate Will Exacerbate ‘Toxic’ Campus Environment

“when you are forcing it on people, you’re now engaging in coercion, not education”

I have been raising objections to proposed Critical Race Theory mandates at Cornell since last summer. For many months I was a lone voice, but in the past month there have been others voicing concerns. For background, see these posts (among many others):

Everything is coming to a head. The university Faculty Senate is voting as we speak, ending this Friday. From there, assuming one or more of the proposals is approved, the decision will rest with President Martha Pollak. I’m not sure if such mandates would require Board of Trustees approval as well.

Brittany Bernstein of National Review interviewed me recently about the pending mandates, and that article appeared today at National Review Online, Cornell Professor Warns ‘Anti-Racism’ Training Mandate Will Exacerbate ‘Toxic’ Campus Environment (archive; similar version at Yahoo).

Read the whole things, of course, particularly how the Dean of the Faculty (and head of the Faculty Senate) is walking back the impact of a Faculty Senate recommendation. Here’s some of my commentary:

William A. Jacobson, a clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School, has stood in vocal opposition to the proposals, which explore and endorse, to varying degrees, possibilities for a for-credit training on anti-racism.

“I am unequivocally against mandates. I do not accept what the university and much of academia, I believe, misleadingly calls anti-racism,” he said in a recent interview with National Review.

He added that anti-racism, as prescribed by Ibram Kendi in his book How to be an Anti-Racist, calls for discrimination against people in power to remedy past discrimination.

Under Kendi’s guidance, only those who are actively participating in dismantling systems of oppression are anti-racist. Those who remain silent or “have the traditional American civil rights notion that we treat people based upon the content of their character, not the color of their skin” are racist, Jacobson explained.

He doesn’t believe the university should be adopting an “offshoot of critical race theory” as an official ideology, he said.
“If you read these proposals, it says that this is what it is on campus, that this is what students and faculty must accept and learn about and I think that’s anti-educational,” Jacobson said. “That’s an ideological mandate that a lot of people disagree with. It’s not in the tradition of the American civil rights movement and they are adopting it as a semi-official or official University ideology.”

“There is so much critical race theory and anti-racism, activism, programs, administrative personnel,” he added. “The campus is awash in this stuff. If students want to go and participate in that voluntarily, fine. But I don’t think that should be forced on people. I think when you are forcing it on people, you’re now engaging in coercion, not education.”

Three resolutions which are up for a vote focus on student trainings while the other three are targeted at faculty. A working group tasked with devising the faculty training policies has proposed creating educational programs for faculty to learn about “structural racism, colonialism and injustice,” claiming that such an understanding is “an essential part of the job.”

Jacobson, who also serves as president of the Legal Insurrection Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to free expression and academic freedom on campuses, argues that the proposals, if implemented, would have “a terribly chilling effect on free expression on campus.”

“Anybody who is on campus knows that it’s already a toxic environment for anybody who disagrees with critical race theory,” he said. “With the prevailing leftist ideology on campus, it’s absolutely toxic. People are demonized.”

I will continue to speak out about this misadventure.


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You are brave. If this thing turns the wrong way – they will come after you. They don’t take criticism well, let alone opposition.

These are not the classical liberals who used to say “I may disagree with what you say – but I would fight and die for your right to say it.”

I hope all those who support you will be equally brave in defending you against the mob if they ever come after you.

I stand with you.

Off topic but…
Let the rats run…

Over a 100 Republicans, mostly former republicans, want to start a new party because they don’t like how poor ms Cheney is being treated and all things Trump..

Good bye and don’t let the door hit you where dear God split you

    Ben Kent in reply to gonzotx. | May 12, 2021 at 8:11 am


    The media play up discord within the Repub Party. They never explain what it’s all about.

    This is a fight between ESTABLISHMENT wing of the Party and the POPULIST wing.

    The Democrats had a similar fight. Their fight was between Clinton/Biden vs Sanders. They resolved it by incorporating some Populist concepts in their agenda. The media essentially downplayed the Democrat schism – but the loudly proclaim the end of the Repub Party despite the fact that it is, at its core, the same fight.

    ..o . Establishment politicians believe the people are to be RULED. They want in big government, globalism, big donors and career politicians.

    ..o . Populists believe government serves the people – not the other way around. They believe in personal liberty, democracy and the sovereignty of man (rights that government cannot take – such as described in the Bill of Rights). Sanders Populists believe in all of the above but also want government to set rules that limit wealth disparity. Trump Populists believe wealth disparity is best moderated by free markets.

    Establishment types are afraid of the Populists. So much so that the DNC actually secretly supported Clinton over Sanders in 2016. Sander campaign even sued the DNC over this. in 2020, the DNC pretended to be neutral – but the Establishment full backed Biden.

    Each Party, D and R, have Establishment wing and a Populist wing. The Dem have moved further away from Populism and toward Establmentarianism. Establishment types in each Party have a lot in common. That’s why for years people complained that there was not much difference between the Parties. It was the advent of the Tea Party that pushed the Repubs toward Populism.

    Anyway, Liz Cheney, All the Bushes and Mitt Romney – they are all Establishment wing of the Repub Party. The Repub Party moved away from Establishment and toward Populism in the age of Trump. Trump rightly saw that the Repub Party could not survive in the Establishment lane. He also saw that people were rejecting the “traditional politicians” like Clinton. The media tries to smear Populism by equating it with Trump – but Populism is bigger than just one man.

    Removing Liz Cheney is just living up to reality. As an Establishment type, she should never have been in leadership role in a Party that has adopted a Populist agenda. Establishment types are the “Never Trump” folks. What they really mean is “Never Populism”. Rulers want to rule.

    The question is – which are you? A Populist or an Establishmentist ?

    JusticeDelivered in reply to gonzotx. | May 12, 2021 at 8:40 am

    It is good that RINOs leave, even better if they do so mad.

    Longplay in reply to gonzotx. | May 12, 2021 at 9:37 am

    And NRO, which printed the article discussed here, and was, with a few exceptions, all in on TDS, likely supports the effort. I cant believe I ever subscribed to that rag.

    drsamherman in reply to gonzotx. | May 15, 2021 at 12:07 am

    The American Medical Association (NB: EXTREMELY misnamed!) has endorsed CRT variants in medical education. As a matter of fact, AMA represents less than 15-20% of practicing allopathic (MD) physicians in the United States. It lost a LOT of membership over the preceding decades due to its extremist political positions. It doesn’t represent the profession.

    For the rest of whackademia, I have no idea nor do I care about the racist tendencies of liberal arts faculty. The vast majority of them would never make it in the real world, because they are so divorced from the reality of making a living, meeting a payroll, etc.

LukeHandCool | May 12, 2021 at 12:39 am

Close your eyes … listen carefully … you can just faintly hear the distinctive voice of Rod Serling introducing his newest protagonist.

One Professor William Jacobson. A man who has watched the world around him descend into madness. A mild-mannered man who believes in playing by the tried-and-true, time-tested rules of fairness and meritocracy in academia.

A scholar who has watched the thinkers around him embrace the prevailing hysteria. An academic more and more isolated … more and more alone … with the truth.

The truth. An outdated concept bedeviling the thinking mob. Something to which the professor clings, marking him as both prey and predator.

This is the new savanna. Professor Jacobson will hunt and defend in an unfamiliar landscape filled with packs of vicious beasts. Bereft of fangs, claws, or great speed, his only defense is the truth. And in just a moment William will aggressively bare the truth … at the dangerous watering hole at the confluence of fate and free will … called … the Twilight Zone.

    jakebizlaw in reply to LukeHandCool. | May 12, 2021 at 3:20 am

    Rod Serling did teach at Ithaca College and spent many summers at Lake Cayuga, so the Cornell connection is quite plausible!

    Pretty good impersonation … and yes the world has become a never ending serial of twilight zone episodes.

Another Voice | May 12, 2021 at 1:01 am

I was a teen when CBS started airing The Twilight Zone and continue to watch reruns. His shows were with a outside looking in type of perspective relative to the Times while looking into a future. You really nailed it with an intro of what could be one of his monologues.

I closed my eyes and used my imagination … strange thing though – ProfJ looked like poor old Mr. Henry Bemis.

Kendi is a psuedo intellectual. In a proper peer reviewed academic setting, he would not even have a platform. His “anti racism” clap trap is so riddled with logical fallacies and false premises that it would not pass the scrutiny of a philosophy 101 student.

    paralegal in reply to paralegal. | May 12, 2021 at 2:38 am

    Kendi’s central thesis is a textbook false dichotomy fallacy. How he escapes being called out for this is beyond me!

    (one excluded third option making Kendi’s central thesis fallacious is neutral in intent but discriminatory in effect. Another is the opposite, Discriminatory in intent, but neutral in effect.)

    broomhandle in reply to paralegal. | May 14, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    That is so true. This CRT nonsense is just the latest innovation in phony intellectualism that has been going on for a long time. They get government grants to “study” something and produce silly papers with new, pseudo intellectual terms and then 5 more post-docs start more “research” into each of these terms and create more phony academic papers with yet more made-up vocabulary words and the cycle just keeps expanding. There is a whole ecosystem of this now that is so big in budget and phony subject-matter scope that they can hide any political attack agenda in it they want and bend and twist any way need to on-demand to accommodate any strategic or tactical political objective they have.

    drsamherman in reply to paralegal. | May 15, 2021 at 12:16 am

    I completely agree! The standards of scholarship in “victim studies” programs, and in the social sciences in general, would never stand up to the scrutiny applied to STEM and health care professions standards.

    One reason why physicians never trust psychologists and other “soft” sciences.

Kendi has no intellectual authenticity. He’s little more than a propagandist… for a subversive cult and the vicious mob that’s driving it.

The William Jacobsons of our day are few and far between. They are our hope. They are our voice. God bless them and keep them safe.

Swamp Survivor | May 13, 2021 at 1:00 pm

The Prof. is right — non-compulsory education in an environment which allows free discussion — I fear Cornell does not offer such an environment.
Most people who support Critical Race Theory (CRT) do not know much about it. Those who do, accept its Marxist basis. It will be impossible to persuade them that Marx was wrong and CRT, which turned class struggle into a clash between races, is equally wrong.
Those who do not know the background to CRT usually justify their proposed indoctrination on the supposition that white people need to know the history of slavery and its impact on the U.S. They usually go on to say they know all that history, but their white “neighbors” do not. Hence, the compulsory “education” they propose. Sounds good, but my experience is most of my black and brown “neighbors” do not know their history. They simply repeat whatever some ignorant celebrity has spouted that week.
A good liberal arts education would help everyone know our history, both U.S and world history. Such knowledge is best learned in a non-coercive environment.
Examples from my education: I learned more civics from my Scouting merit badge endeavors and from my 8th grade teacher than Rep. AOC know after graduating with honors from a fairly good Univ. As for my knowledge of the different ethnic and racial groups in the U.S., I learned extensively about minority politics in Cornell’s various Government Dept. courses, especially a course on “Minority Politics,” if I recall its name correctly — it was 50+ years ago.. (Of course, those courses were offered by excellent Profs, many of whom left after the Univ. caved into an armed insurrection in the early ’70s.)
When I was in the USAF, it had been plagued by “incidents,” read “race riots,” in the late ’60s and early ’70s. To address the frictions which caused the “incidents,” everyone was required to attend a 3-4 Hr. course designed to make white people sensitive to the experiences and perspectives of minorities’, especially of African-Americans. Yes, forced education, but in an atmosphere of academic freedom and non-attribution. Anyway, in an effort to show white AF members they should be sensitive to subtle prejudices against African-Americans, the faculty administered an I.Q. test based on the African-American experience. For example, what was Marcus Garvey’s message/goal?
As you can guess where I’m going, I scored 20% higher than the next highest score among about 30 officers and enlisted AF members, 1/3rd of whom were African-American, because all the answers, but one (What is a “gashead?”) was part of Cornell’s course which I took voluntarily at Cornell.

I fear Cornell and other great universities have lost their way decades ago.

Always appreciating the soul because as a gift immaterial colorless eternal immortal invisible male or female personal individual free wounded poor, it sets apart those who know themselves a little from those who don’t, those who use blame and denial to cover the reasons they don’t want to be known by anyone. We might call them racial obsessives
The soul being colorless and immaterial is anathema to them. Free and eternal? Their choice and terrifying.
It is also intelligible.
How so? 1. Everyone has one.
And 2. You have to have one to dispute its existence, which, by the way, would be your own… that’s crt in a nutty shell