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Saturday, June 11, 2005



Rodriguez couldn't fulfill the university's mission and purpose of a commencement speaker, which is to punctuate the graduates' college education with one last blast of brainwashing and indoctrination to socialist ideaism and attacks against individuals--with the added bonus of insulting parents and other visitors who have to sit through the smug drivel from some leftist. Wow. I said that all in one sentence.


But, I couldn't do it without misspelling a word. There is no ideaism--make that idealism. Marc, please fix the spell-check on this site.

Nat Hentoff

Thanks for sending my article on Richard Rodriquez to your blog, Marc.


I was just as disappointed that Rodriquez withdrew as I was disgusted at the ethnic-mafia "educators" who opposed his selection. Rodriquez is a thoughtful guy...I don't always agree with him but I've always enjoyed his video-essays on PBS' Newshour. Hayward CSU has diminished itself. The protestors are morons who are espousing ethnic fundamentalism.

I don't know any liberals who agree with this kind of crap, incidentally. This is a fringe minority, like most fundamentalisms, which is why it's doubly disturbing that Rodriguez didn't have the balls to stand up to them. He's voluntarily accepting "victim status", allowing pressure to conform and fringe stereotyping to grow from moronic insult into a self-inflicted wound of acquiesence - a posture that he argues against passionately. I'm confused by his withdrawal from the fray in this instance.

The types who concoct this nonsense are self-appointed ethnic bureaucrats who are part of these half-assed, dumbed-down education departments at certain schools. I've met a few of these people - they can't think critically, regurgitate pet theories and have as much capacity to educate as the folks at Oral Roberts University. In the real world - and college campuses don't qualify in that category - this kind of crap has as much support among people on "the left" as the Great Ebonics Kerfluffle that led to the rapid demise of a previous incarnation of the Oakland School Board when very liberal voters realized what a bunch of idiots they'd allowed in their midst.


Woody...as usual you bring a hand grenade to a shooting match. It's about as edifying to read your broadside against "socialist" commencement speeches as it is to digest the garbage that was thrown at Rodriguez. And you're about as accurate.

The capacity for moronic bullshit knows no political boundaries, but I have to say that right-wingers always seem to be able to up the embarrassment ante. Why not just bask in the enjoyment of opposition stupidity when you catch lefty types making asses of themselves...you can see them and call...you don't always have to raise...

too many steves

Idiocy and authoritarianism are non-partisan - there are plenty of examples throughout the political spectrum.

I'm struck by the self-conciousness and inferiority implied in a 32 year old masters degree holder who cannot abide simply listening to a point of view that challenges her beliefs. I guess for some the mere expression of an idea in public makes the idea true - which is all the more reason to supress it.

This is a vivid example of the failure of education, at least at this institution and with these individuals. Assuming that Sarah Gonzales speaks for the prevaling view of the school's administration, should we really be surprised?


"Assuming that Sarah Gonzales speaks for the prevaling view of the school's administration, should we really be surprised?"

I can't stand academia and have gotten through life without having succumbed to it, but in fairness to this particular school, I think it's pretty obvious from the news reports of this that the school administration doesn't hold this view. The school administration invited Rodriguez in the first place and had previously integrated his book and a speaking appearance into the freshman curriculum. This is a fringe minority in the Education Department.

I have to say that from my observations and a few conversations with folks from those preserves, the self-appointed "multi-cultural" education types are fringe ethnic fundamentalists who've created a little world for themselves in these departments and are increasingly irrelevant even in the "real world" of practical elementary and secondary education. Most of their hobby-horses are getting rejected at ground-level.


I'm confused. Where's the link to Nat Hentoff that he thanks Marc for above ??? I could find an Amazon link, the article that I read about this in yesterday's Chron, and two interviews with RR, none by Hentoff. What am I missing ???? What is the great sage Hentoff, who I admire enormously even when he disappoints, talking about ?

too many steves

Fair enough, but this fringe minority had enough clout to goad Rodriguez into withdrawing. And while not being privy to the conversations between Rees and Rodriguez, I would say University President Rees let pass a wonderful educational opportunity by not defending Rodriguez. Instead she seeks '...to hold a forum in the fall to "share opinions and offer suggestions about this and related matters."'.


Agreed that the administration didn't show anything even vaguely resembling backbone, but since Rodriguez is the guy who has made his own way into the public consciousness through eloquence, argument and intellect rather than by climbing the back stairs in an academic bureaucracy, I'm more disappointed in his standing down than I am by the timidity of the institutional establishment.


I never understood the anger Rodriguez can conjure up. He identifies himself as a Hubert Humphrey Democrat.

He believes class tends to precede ethnicity, but since he doesn’t frame his understanding” within a strict Marxist language, it gets interpreted as “self-hating” and “anti-bilingual”…he argued for class-based affirmative action, instead of an ethnic based one. It really is sad to see folks smear Rodriguez, this way.

His real crime, it seems, is that he thinks the hard questions out loud.


The poor students of these "urban" experts will be great protestors, which they will have plenty of time for since they will not be employable.

And there are separate "Chicano" graduations at many campuses. Not separate Asian or Romanian, just "Chicano." It is a hopeful sign that many eligible students choose not to attend these insulting spectacles.

I've only read his Hunger of Memory, which is a heartfelt memoir speaking to the losses and opportunities attendant to anyone changing cultures--which, in the Ward Churchill milieu of academe, makes him totally unacceptable!


Like reg, inquiring minds want to know. "I'm confused. Where's the link to Nat Hentoff that he thanks Marc for above ???" When I saw the thank you remark, I searched the site and gave up. When I saw reg's question, I went to google and found articles that were close but none exactly right. So, if we're going to thank Marc for something with no support, let me join in and say, "Thanks for not exposing me as a conservative, Marc."

I, too, think that Rodriguez gave up too easily--as did the administration. It's like giving in to children who throw temper tamtrums to get their ways. Let them get away with it once, and they will do it over and over and over. Heck, I would have kicked Marc out of school just for wanting free speech on campus if it interfered with campus order--back then. But, today, the politically correct who interfere with the interchange of ideas should be the ones who get the boot, and I wouldn't be polite about it.


Oh, the idiocy! But I echo reg and Woody. I don't know why Roderiguez didn't fight a little harder. It’s essential to stand up to this kind of nonsense. Rodriguez tends to be a gentleman, in my limited experience of him, maybe a bit too much so, really. Thus he may not have wanted to court the open conflict. But I sorely wish he had.

Pearsall Helms

I never understood the anger Rodriguez can conjure up.

Well, I think it's because Rodriguez says that assimilation just sort of happens, that it's an inevitability; an idea that goes against every tenet of the multiculti academic mindset, where 'assimilation' is some kind of cultural murder and preserving your 'cultural identity' (whatever the hell that ever means...as if culture is static!) is some sort of sacred bond with your ancestors.

I think these clowns cause a lot of damage to the wider left. Not because they have much real-world power, but because they have a soapbox (the universities) and they so frequently say foolish and divisive things. To too many people, they are the public face of the left, and that's a big problem. And it's not like there's anything progressive about identity politics; it's a fundamentally conservative idea, that you are purely defined by your ancestry, and that you are a 'traitor to your people' if you choose your own path in life. The fact of the matter is that any group of people will largely adapt to the wider society around them, and no number of ethnic demagogues can change that. There's almost nothing German about me beyond my last name and my fondness for beer and starchy foods (and that is pretty much the same situation for all other Americans of German ancestry), yet for decades from the late 19th century into the early 20th German organizations fought like hell to preserve German culture, communities, and language in the US. They failed.


"my fondness for beer and starchy foods"

Which is why many of us who have German ancestry consider the Atkins Diet fad to be nothing short of cultural genocide. Perhaps my German grandfather, who was hounded out of a small midwestern town nearly ninety years ago by the American Legion because he couldn't preach his sermons in English, was right in his barely suppressed bitterness toward his adopted country.

Pearsall Helms

"Which is why many of us who have German ancestry consider the Atkins Diet fad to be nothing short of cultural genocide."

The Atkins Diet is the most nonsensical shit ever. It makes your breath smell like a rotting wolf, puts you in a bad mood, and denies you one of nature's greatest gifts: the potato.


Well, I think it's because Rodriguez says that assimilation just sort of happens, that it's an inevitability; an idea that goes against every tenet of the multicultural academic mindset, where 'assimilation' is some kind of cultural murder and preserving your 'cultural identity' (whatever the hell that ever means...as if culture is static!) is some sort of sacred bond with your ancestors.


I don't see much difference between Chicano nationalists and "Southern Culture" types and American nationalism...except when it comes to actual power and influence. Identity is obsessively held by right-wing Christians and moderate Republicans; as well...The paranoia right-wing Christians have concerning secularism reminds me of the rabid multi-culturalist….don't forget Rodriguez is gay!!!...he isn't using a traditional mindset to critique his brothers...but advocating something more radical than “multi-culturalism”

Identity, like “the truth” is in constant flux. This is FAR from traditional conservative beliefs.

Pearsall Helms

"he isn't using a traditional mindset to critique his brothers...but advocating something more radical than “multi-culturalism”

Identity, like “the truth” is in constant flux. This is FAR from traditional conservative beliefs. "

I agree with everything you said, although I'm not sure if you think that I was saying that Rodriguez' position is conservative. I said that identity politics is essentially conservativism, and you are right that it is a mindframe that is EXACTLY like 'Dixie nationalism' and similar crap like that.


Sorry, I misunderstood you.


This isn't about indoctrinating 2nd graders. This is about a college commencement, an ENITRELY VOLUNTARY activity, involving grownups. Many of my college classmates preferred to sleep in on graduation Sunday instead of getting up at 5 and putting on a cap and gown one time only. My own mother didn't even show up to get HER Master's.

William Safire spoke at my graduation -- not my first choice for speaker either, but it was just 10 freaking minutes out of my life. There are a million really worthwhile things for college students to protest over. This ain't one of them.

green dem

Although a student is quoted I tend to suspect it was the profs who protested most. The whole PC thing (and the culture wars generally) is really a war between boomers, and it isn't just boomers on the left, but the theocon boomers who want to ban queer books from libraries and tits from TV, and the right-wing nationalist boomers who have their own version of PC (that's patriotic correctness). Y'all should know that most of us youngens tired of this shit years ago (South Park is our way of trying to communicate this to y'all). I remember the first week of college Nat Hentoff and some multi-culti primadonna debated PC to a progressively sleepier auditorium of kids. As far as most of us are concerned, most of these debates were over years ago.

Mark A. York

It certainly is disgraceful, but the idea with previously and currently discriminated against groups unfrtunately is to wall themselves off even more, fortifying the mosaic of culture over Amaerican citizenship. This is an overreaction. I battled this at CSUN for four years, so Marc I am a baby boomer who just was a college student in this environment. I felt the discrimination against my profile all the time.

That said when I read the knuckleheaded cliched biased crap that Woody spouts I know the idiots from both sides have been exposed. I don't like either one.

Jim Rockford

Reg -- this view in general is all too prevalent. Rodriguez had no choice but to withdraw because any speech would have errupted into a mini-riot. PC is the religion of the Left, sadly. The Nation had an article about Ayann Hirsi Ali in the Netherlands, who faces strong condemnation from Liberal activists. Her crime? Speaking up for the rights of Muslim women in the Netherlands, and opposing genital mutilation (she herself was victimized by that at age 6), second class citizenship, forced marriages, and honor killings. The Left both in the Netherlands (and here in the pages of the Nation) would hold to PC-Multiculturalism rather than the universality of basic human rights (not to be murdered by one's own family for holding hands with a boy, for example).

This is just the way it is.

Much of the Multicultural PC left pretty much hates the ordinary life, as exemplified by the American Dream, in favor of a romanticized notion of the Despotic Other. This to me explains the support for despots overseas, consistently, and the rejection of moderate and messy leaders and policies. At it's core is an adolescent refusal to grow up, as seen by the hatred for the American Flag, Fourth of July, regular Church attendance, suburbs, families, and the like. None of these attributes are inconsistent with struggling for justice, prosperity, peace, and full equality under the law (Dr. King was patriotic and the embodiment of the middle class dream) but they are the complete and total enemy of some romanticized heroic rebellion (as opposed to politics of progress).

This to me explains the divide between the "Left" (Kos Kidz, Ward Churchill, Dean .. as far as his positioning goes though certainly not his record as Governor, Robert Fisk, George Galloway, Cynthia McKinney, Huffington, Boxer, most of Hollywood like Sean Penn); and the "Right" which would be both Clintons, Bush, Miller, McCain, Feinstein, Gray Davis, Arnold, and the like. The Romantic Rebellion vs. the defenders of the ordinary life.

Dave K.

Agreed with all posters; this man shouldn't be denied based on views that, while well-argued and articulate, don't sync with the ethnic Grand Poobahs. And as Reg said, only the dumbest fragments of the Left really agree with this sort of thing. I actually agree with class-based affirmative action, and mostly agree with the idea that assimilation is unavoidable.

Multi-culturalism is, at its core, good; there are lots of people on this planet, and there's no harm in learning about them. But culture is not static, and instead of using multicultural/ethnic studies to show what groups of people want to become, ethnic studies professors often just reflect what those people are. You don't really learn that way.

That said, recognition and pride in where you come from is fine. Stubborn adherence to your heritage is stupid and detrimental in the long run.

Oddly enough, minorities are starting to get turned off by advertising that exploits their stereotypical cultures. Many of them prefer ads that show them as successful and confident, and minority ad firms are starting to latch on to that. I offer this as an example of what I mean.

As for Campus Republicans, they're worse than you think. A lot of them use "free speech" and "liberal bias" arguments to shield them from criticism whenever they say something stupid.

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