Racism

Western Civilization Holdout Reed College Under Activist Student Attack

The Reedies Against Racism think a Greek philosophy and literature course is an attack on them.

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Under pressure from student protesters, Reed College in Portland, Oregon is considering whether or not to continue requiring freshmen to take a Western civilization course.

Since the fall semester started, the self-named Reedies Against Racism forced cancellation of the opening of Humanities 110, "Greece and the Ancient Mediterranean," at the private, liberal arts school with an enrollment of 1,500.

On Aug. 28, Prof. Elizabeth Drumm cancelled class before it began when protest organizers came to the front of the room to address students. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg3i6-J6zI8.

Two days later, students in the class confronted protest organizers Addison Bates, Tiffany Chang and Alex Boyd, who can be seen in this video banging on a table, and calling the faculty's "exclusion" of herself and others from the class a threat and an attack on black students: https://youtu.be/Sgyb8dH5vFQ?t=5m2s.

Boyd, Bates and Chang left as the class started. School officials have since banned them from protesting in the classroom for interrupting. Reedies Against Racism did not return Reason's request for comment on their protest.

The protest of the class, which mostly covers ancient Greek literature and philosophy, and is the only course on campus required for all freshman, began in earnest a year ago in the fall, coinciding with rallies on campus in support of Black Lives Matter.

Lefty protesters have not confined themselves to race matters. As Reason reported in December, students brutally heckled director Kimberly Pierce when she came to screen her 1999 film, Boys Don't Cry. Students who accused Pierce of transphobia yelled "fuck you, bitch" at her while she tried to conduct a Q&A.

This past summer, a committee drafted an alternative course outline for the class which is scheduled to be voted on by faculty sometime this fall, Kevin Myers, a spokesman for Reed College, said. A decision on changes in the course was moved up due to the protests, Myers said.

Attacks on the supposed racist underpinning of Western Civilization courses is more than thirty years old. In the 1980s, Jesse Jackson marched with students at Stanford to get the course removed. Over the decades, the class went from backbone of a liberal arts curriculum to anachronism. In 2016 a conservative group at Stanford tried to bring back a Western Civ requirement, but students voted against it by a margin of six to one.

Reed College is one of the rare holdouts.

Critics like Reedies Against Racism say such courses uphold white supremacy and ignore the contributions by other cultures. Proponents believe they examine a vital part of the development of Western civilization, attested to in some of the world's most important works of literature and philosophy.

Last year's protests at Reed were quiet and for the most part undisruptive. Students sat behind the professor three days a week holding up signs. After Drumm walked out on the first class this year Reed officials sent a guideline on dissent via email to Reed students. The guidelines have been in effect for decades and affirm that dissent is accepted as long as it does not comprise force and doesn't disrupt the activities of the college.

Reedies Against Racism responded on their Facebook page by calling the email a threat to black students and contended that free speech was only tolerated by the Reed administration for white students.

This past Friday, Prof. Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, the lecturer for the day, held class outside to avoid a confrontation with about twenty protesters. The class went on without interruption and, according to a student who attended the lecture, addressed the protests, saying extremism is based on the "ignorance of complexity."

"My biggest concerns are obviously the methods of protesting," said Sicheng Zhong, a freshman in the class told Reason. "It is extremely disruptive and violates our right to learn."

Zhong said he met with the leaders of Reedies Against Racism multiple times to express his concerns. He said some students are very disturbed by the methods and the messages of the protest.

"They're language policing really upsets me," he said. "They are using words like racist and white supremacist to describe our professors of color, one who is Iranian and another who is lesbian and Latina."

Another student who wished to remain anonymous echoed the concerns.

"Last year the protesters even went as far as calling a Jewish professor a white supremacist. These professors have worked all their lives to get to this position, and what they are saying is despicable."

Despicable or not, Reedies Against Racism has promised protests of Humanities 110 at every class, three days a week, for the rest of the semester, or until the curriculum is changed.

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  1. If (big “if”) the school is truly private, toss the rat-bags out the door.
    There is little doubt of contributions to western culture from other than white folks, but if you haven’t studied what the Greeks left us, you’re going to be in the ocean without a life-jacket.

    1. Not to mention that ancient Hellenic culture undergirds the Islamic world as much as it does the Christian one. You have to go really, really far East or South before Aristotle and Plato stop being relevant.

      1. It’s not like Mediterranean peoples are all that white anyway.

        1. Some Black people believe Aristotle was black. And that the Ancient Egyptians, who were also black, taught him everything he knew.

          1. If we say that can we still teach Aristotle in college?

            1. Fine with me.

            2. These “Reedies Against Racism” are your people, ask them.

              They do not seem to be rational, so anything is possible.

            3. That would be fantastic. Socrates could be the next Hamilton!

          2. Some Black people think their Black Egyptian ancestors invented and widely used the airplane. Then the technology was lost to WHITE SUPREMACY for thousands of years until those crackers, Wilbur and Orville stole it.

            1. How closely genetically related to the ancient Egyptians are you? Can you build a fucking great pyramid? No? Fuck off.

              1. If I have enough slaves, yeah, then no problem…

                1. The pyramids weren’t built (at least primarily) with slave labor. It was actually considered a great honor to work on the pyramids so people volunteered in droves to participate.

                  1. You actually believe this?

          3. Some people believe the world is flat.

          4. Cornell West?

          5. The ancient Egyptians weren’t black, unless you consider middle easterners black.

            1. I don’t think there is a general agreement about the race of Ancient Egyptians. There is also evidence that at different times and in different parts of Egypt, the racial makeup varied.

        2. Am I allowed to use the word “swarthy”?

          1. Ben Franklin did.
            Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, 1751

            Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth.

        3. It’s not like Mediterranean peoples are all that white anyway.

          What’s your point?

          1. I guess Tony must not think Rick Santorum or Justin Amash are white, so can they be good guys?

          2. …that the tan makes the man?

      2. “Not to mention that ancient Hellenic culture undergirds the Islamic world as much as it does the Christian one. You have to go really, really far East or South before Aristotle and Plato stop being relevant.”

        “The Horse, the Wheel and Language” makes a pretty good argument that what we call ‘ western civilization’ largely developed in what’s now Kazakstan and spread east, west and south from there, predating the Greeks.
        Good book.

      3. The students need a history of the Mediterranean basin course. Alexandria was full of Greeks.

  2. Damn, my favorite subject. I wouldn’t have made it through college without Philosophy classes to keep me going.

  3. Ideologues and political partisans attacking philosophy, the study of logic, ethics, and truth. Nothing new here but sad to see all the same. Truth is the enemy of power.

    1. Truth is the enemy of power.

      Yep, like Dr Claw is the enemy of Inspector Gadget. And Truth wins just as often.

    2. And power is the enemy of truth.

      1. And ‘is’ enemy power truth of.

        I tried.

        1. It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

          — Bill Clinton

  4. Billv Your alt-right clickbait headline isn’t going to work. The glibertariat still knows Reason is a subsidiary of CNN.

  5. “Extremism is based on the ignorance of complexity.” Very well put. All these kids are doing is providing grist for the cousinfucking racists.

    1. I liked that quote too. Uh oh, we agree on something.

      But who are these cousinfucking racists? Do you really think that all the protesters are doing is providing grist to only them?

      They’re providing “grist” to me, I guess. They are proving how illiberal the core of the progressive movement is on campus. Am I a cousinfucking racist?

      They are doing more that providing grist. They are damaging the very concept of free speech. They say that they are denied free speech. But the “free speech” they are talking about is standing in the front of a college classroom disrupting the proceedings. They have it exactly backwards.

      They are normalizing the idea that self-reflection is no longer required. That, if you “know” you’re right, then you are no longer bound by the norms of polite society up even to the idea of using violence against people that disagree with you.

      They are in need of learning the concepts taught in Humanities 110.

      1. Extremism begets extremism was my only point. I agree with you, and I’m very curious where this mode of protesting on the left is coming from. When I was growing up, liberals all believed in free speech. The Skokie trial, for example, was one of liberalism’s great triumphs. Now would these kids lift a finger to support the free speech of Nazis? Or would they spend all their time finding ways to shut it down because it is “harmful” in unspecified ways? Apart from simply being intolerant of differing viewpoints, you give the assholes on the other side a reason to complain.

        1. Wow, we really do seem to be in agreement. I don’t know if that has happened before.

        2. “I’m very curious where this mode of protesting on the left is coming from”

          See those two flags in Antifa’s symbol?

          You see that red one, out in front?

          THAT’s where.

          1. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

            The stomping out of Western Civ. is vital to the rebranding of what the Red flag represents to future generations. How else are they going to bury the 150,000,000 bodies that Western history currently acknowledges were sacrificed to that most murderous of all political ideologies.

            http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

            The Iron Curtain may have been drawn back and the Chinese may be buying Chevys, but the Reds have never given up on the long game. They have some damn fine chess players over there.

            The ultimate irony is that the Russkies literally are the Caucasians. Try reconciling that tidbit, AntiFa sympathizing nitwits!

        3. I think you’re rewriting history to suit your own nostalgia. Marcuse was arguing against it decades ago and had a strong following in academia. A big part of the rise of the ‘New Left’ in the 60s was rooted in the youth’s disenchantment with what they saw as the failure of moderate progressivism to bring on revolutionary change due to being shacked by (classical) liberal ideals like individualism and whatnot.

        4. I’m very curious where this mode of protesting on the left is coming from.

          Marxists gonna Marxist

        5. When I was growing up, liberals all believed in free speech.

          Bullshit. They were already trying to shout people down in Berkeley in the 1960s.

          -jcr

      2. When you “know” you are right, largely because you and your fellow group thinkers just “feel” that way, then you are morally superior. Any conflict with what you “know” to be right is therefore immoral, and not worthy of discussion. It is like talking to the devil. Don’t do it, and use any means necessary to destroy it.

    2. “?…cousinfucking racists.”

      Hey you keep your predilections out of this?..and other things away from your cousins.

    3. “Cousinfucking Racists: A Study of Nuance and Complexity in Evaluation of Political Opponents”, by Tony.

      1. Zing!

        1. It’s really more of a roaring noise, I like to think. Like an Abrams driving past your nose at 70 MPH.

    4. Maybe, but she’s YOUR cousin!

      1. is she hot?

    5. Every time leftists do something bad, it only seems to bother you because it might provide fodder for non-leftists.

  6. Which course would have taught them that appeasement never works out?

  7. In 2016 a conservative group at Stanford tried to bring back a Western Civ requirement, but students voted against it by a margin of six to one.

    I don’t have strong feelings on this because I have a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks, but what I do find interesting about this whole tempest in a teapot is that the students voting against this are absolutely pushing a kind of Western Civilization-centric education on everyone.

    I’ll bet you that universities scattered across the rest of the globe don’t spend a lot of time debating the varied definitions of ‘gender’ (to throw in one example). I would argue that entire concept is an entirely Western one.

    1. I’m just gobsmacked at the very idea of students voting on the curricula.

      1. If things were working correctly, they’d be voting with their tuition– or lack thereof.

      2. “We want shapes and colors to be all that’s required for a Doctorate in Nursing!”

        “Sure, ok, that’ll be $100,000 please.”

        -Modern Education

      3. Learn only what you want to learn. Isn’t that what online education is for? Tell them to grab their laptops and go for it

    2. I would argue that entire concept is an entirely Western one.

      Much like multiculturalism.

  8. Maybe they should make a history of 20th century China a requirement instead.

    1. Maybe they should make a history of 20th century China a requirement instead.

      Or Colombia, Guatemala, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine/Russia/Soviet Union, Cambodia, Rwanda, Libya, Bosnia, etc., etc., etc.

      1. Pity we can’t have a class on all those great libertarian success stories, what with there being none.

        1. libertarian success stories, what with there being none.

          Which would be considerably more than Socialism.

          But seriously… Hong Kong, the place where the first governor refused to keep statistics on corporate earnings because he knew slimy politicians would see money moving, and want to get their grubby fingers on it.

        2. Isn’t the old USofA a pretty good success story? Massive wealth increases, massive increases in freedom for most marginalized groups, massive increases in the standard of living.

          Of course perfection is not an option. The fact that the USA is not perfect does not diminish the success of its libertarianish history.

          1. The US is imperfect to the extent that it has not adopted the more socialist policies of countries with better metrics of human well-being. Not because it isn’t capitalist enough.

            1. Tony|9.6.17 @ 6:21PM|#
              “The US is imperfect to the extent that it has not adopted the more socialist policies of countries with better metrics of human well-being”

              Yeah, waiting for medical care until you die is high on my list of desireables!

              1. Unless you’ve lived/worked in one of these second/third world shitholes, you should keep your pie hole shut

            2. And yet when we were more capitalist our economy and well being were growing at a much greater rate. It hasn’t been going so well since we started doing more of the kinds of things you prefer. I’m sure it is just a coincidence or we just aren’t going full Chavez enough.

              1. You mean when we were a developing country?

                What’s this weird new tactic of holding up rate of growth as a measure of greatness. Go Zambia, it’s at 500% growth rate! It must be the best place on earth!

                1. When we were a developing country and well after we were a developing country. The government has never been bigger, there has never been more of a social safety net, and there have never been more regulations than we have right now and yet growth has sucked. I’m sure if we just Venezuela harder it will all be awesome.

            3. True. We’re imperfect because we’re not free-market enough. “Capitalist” and “Socialist” are just two kinds of statist.

            4. Human Wellbeing:

              Measuring human well-being requires the subjective act of defining and creating models and measurements of that which defines health and quality of life. According to Sarvimaki, this requires an opinion of what it means to be a “whole human being” as well as what is worthwhile in life, and how we ought to live

            5. “The US is imperfect to the extent that it has not adopted the more socialist policies of countries with better metrics of human well-being. Not because it isn’t capitalist enough.”

              This is of course demonstrably false. First of all, “metrics of human well-being” don’t reflect the quality of economic policy. People getting in car accidents or eating themselves to death don’t reflect poor economic policy; in fact they sometimes reflect the opposite: rates of diabetes or obesity-related mortality, as well as auto accidents, are much lower in poorer countries for obvious reasons. Doesn’t mean burning crops and banning cars constitute good economic reasoning.

              Secondly, there are only about 4 or 5 countries with higher median income than the US. One of them, Norway, is an oil state; another, Switzerland, has no federal minimum wage and a smaller government, relative to the rest of the economy; Switzerland is probably more capitalist than us. Luxembourg is a tax haven; and then you’ve got, what, Denmark?

              1. Then you’ve got Greece, Italy, Portugal, and France et al.. Most of the European social democracies with larger governments and more regulated economies make the US look sublime; they have much higher unemployment rates, much lower average income, near negligible growth rates. And between them, the more capitalist/less socialist, the better they do. Germany has lower unemployment than France due to its less regulated labor market; Switzerland, even less regulated, has an even lower unemployment rate. What’s more, your prized Nordic countries, despite having high tax rates, generally have less deficit spending and less regulation than the US. Are they really so ‘socialistic’ compared to us?

                Meanwhile, compare the socialistic Mediterranean and central/eastern European slavic states to the more capitalistic Baltic states: the former, despite tremendous demographic problems, have seen growih and improvement in standard of living far beyond the stagnant Southern European states.

                The true standard-bearers for social democracy aren’t Switzerland or Denmark; rather, they’re Spain, Portugal, and France. High regulation, high taxes, nice “Keynesian” chronic budget deficits. And they are case studies in economic failure among developed nations. Social democracy has failed.

            6. countries with better metrics of human well-being

              And which would those be?

              1. Name a place you’d be OK living in.

                1. Oklahoma.

                2. Switzlerland, easy.

                3. Singapore. Hong Kong. Switzerland. New Zealand. Australia.

                  Oh look, all of those have smaller governments than the US.

                  Even Canada is about the same at ~40% of GDP.

          2. Not to mention open borders and unchecked immigration for the first century or so.

        3. There are myriad libertarian success stories. Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and the Baltic states all experienced massive economic growth due to economic liberalization; Sweden too achieved its most noted economic gains due to postwars liberalization, becoming the 4th richest country in the world while having one of the smallest governments and lowest tax burden. Only in the 70s did they start turning heavily toward pseudo-socialism, and not coincidentally, their economy became increasingly stagnant.

        4. Now that you are inarguably a self-identified troll, isn’t it time for you to move along?

    1. *Bill Hicks’* failure to use that image as a screen-cap is a black mark sad failing, and a sign of declining standards around here.

      (*no relation, afaik)

  9. How bout the students just go to some nameless community college? They are obviously not interested in a liberal arts education.

  10. also obligatory:

    WHERECOME MAH WHITES CIVERALISASHUN GAWN?!

  11. My alma mater, Wabash College, still has a course called Cultures and Traditions that all sophomores have to take that covers the basics of Western civilization.

    The SJWs won’t get far protesting there, for Wabash is still all-male.

  12. Sub-Saharan Africans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders didn’t have written languages to create literature or history or math until Europeans contacted them. That’s not the Europeans’ fault.

  13. Not sure why any humanities course is mandatory.

    1. I had the same question about math courses.

      1. Serious question: why is any course mandatory in college?

        1. Because despite the fact that a 19-year old kid thinks he’s a full-grown adult who knows everything there is to know about everything, older and wiser adults want to make sure he has a foundation for learning and a sampling from the entire library of human knowledge. There’s a general consensus (or used to be) of “things a well-rounded adult should know about”, things that allow a reasonably educated adult to participate in society and civics with a reasonable expectation that everybody understands one another. It’s a common culture.

          You don’t have to be able to quote Aristophanes or Shakespeare, understand Euclid or Newton, offer a synopsis of Livy or Darwin, explain Einstein or Euler, appreciate Bach or Renoir to be educated, but you damn well ought to have heard of them and have at least a vague idea of who they are.

          1. Sorry, no one teaches Livy anymore.

            1. Tacitus then?

          2. o/~ The girls today in society, go for classical poetry
            To win their hearts you must quote with ease, Aeschylus and Euripides
            One must know Homer and believe me beaux, Sophocles, also Sappho
            Unless you know Shelley and Keats and Pope, dainty Debbies will call you a dope! o/~

          3. Both Livy and Tacitus were on the syllabus in HUM 102 (Spring) when I was there.

        2. In the hopes that the paper you get for graduating has some value.

          1. This is to both of you, I suppose my question was far more narrow than I let on. I interpreted Hugh’s response was about Mathematics being mandatory when you’re not taking a study track which really requires it.

            If you take a course of study– such as Engineering or Computer Science, I can see that to acquire that credential, mathematics would be required. Again, I never went to college, but I understand that regardless of your line of study (major), that certain things are mandatory.

            1. You seem to have acquired an education regardless of formal circumstances, so you’ve probably picked up the math you need and it seems you do need some.
              A basis in math is pretty much required to understand social and financial trends and conditions, and to avoid getting sucked in by some J-school numerical-illiterate pushing bullshit on page one.
              Pretty sure courses in history, thought (‘philosophy’?) English, etc are really worthwhile even if you’re going to be a math geek; you still are a member of society and it helps to understand it.
              It’s only knowledge of history which makes the imbecile Tony so pathetic.

            2. The purpose of the quadrivium (all of which were mathematical subjects) of the original liberal arts education was not to teach the students how to do math as an end in itself, but to exercise the mind in certain ways to strengthen it. Math has proven of extensive practical use in many fields in the centuries since, but the purpose of it being a core requirement in all courses of study is still strengthening the mind.

              1. That could be accomplished with membership in the Chess Club.

                1. Sevo is dead on. This is a mathematical universe and not understanding at least how math fits in and what it is capable of makes you functionally illiterate. You will get hoodwinked by all sorts of charlatans.
                  No one is saying you need to be able to bang out quadriatics or perform derivatives. But you need to know what can be treated algorithmically and how, and have enough familiarity with the language that you don’t quake in fear when the first greek letters rear their heads. God knows HS math does not do the job right.

        3. There were no mandatory courses at all where I went to college. Just a requirement that you take a few courses outside of your major and related fields.

    2. Because we’re all human?

  14. Reedies Against Racism has promised protests of Humanities 110 at every class, three days a week, for the rest of the semester, or until the curriculum is changed.

    Or until an adult gets their parents by the ear and makes them go smack their spoiled brats upside the head like a non-retarded parent would do. If these fucking brats think they know better than the adults, why are they even in college?

    1. Wait. What? EVERY class is three days a week?
      Boy, that explains a lot.

      1. Lots of classes are only 2 or 3 days a week, but 1.5 to 2 hours long. Some classes are even 1 day a week, and 3 hours long. Did you not go to college?

        1. As I recall it is 3 days a week at an hour, in a very small informal setting (10 students or so), and at least one large lecture a week that the entire Freshman class attends. 90 minute lecture? It’s been decades.
          That’s a lot of work, and the reading load is absolutely nuts. My conference was expected to have read the entire Iliad before classes started!

  15. “They’re language policing really upsets me”

    For its apparent insufficiency, it upsets me too.

  16. I had something kind of like a Western Civ course, though we also got some stuff from the East and Africa (Achebe near the end). It was one of the best classes I ever took. . But it wasn’t a requirement. Meanwhile, I needed 2 classes to meet the diversity requirement. I don’t even remember what they were and it wasn’t even that long ago

    1. Incomplete thought I was adding in the middle: You can literally just add a few works from outside of the West for a comparison

  17. Dr. Devon Belcher, Reed ’89, founding member of the (now defunct) Reed Libertarian Society.

    I have been through a lot of these silly Reed protests. I think I can be definitive on a few issues tho.

    -Every year, there was / is pressure to make Hum 101 / 102 (“Greece, Rome and the Middle ages”) more inclusive. This is generally probably a good thing. The course centers around the Mediterranean, and that was a multicultural stew of appropriation (in the best way). Every year, the faculty try to do something to emphasize this point. Every year, Those Darned Kids are unsatisfied (well 10% of them). This is not some kind of new identity politics issue, it’s been going on for decades, and there are solid scholarly grounds for such efforts.

    -even if 90% of the students are perfectly happy with the program as taught, the faculty – even the crustiest, oldest, whitest guys – are not. It’s a great school and a terrific faculty and the faculty are always trying to refine and improve this signature course in particular. I encourage the author of this piece to talk to the faculty.

    -Hum was not, is not, and is not intended to be, Western Civ. It’s an Ideas course. It acknowledges the debt of European culture to ideas that were being passed around the Mediterranean, from many cultures.

    Best,
    Devon
    Associate Professor of Philosophy
    Some SLAC you never heard of

    1. Like Socrates put it, all we are is dust in the wind, dude.

    2. The course centers around the Mediterranean, and that was a multicultural stew of appropriation (in the best way)…. It acknowledges the debt of European culture to ideas that were being passed around the Mediterranea

      if you spent more than 5 minutes talking about “who else had similar ideas prior” to Aristotle, it was probably time-wasted.

      1. That comment is either an amusing jest or supremely, childishly, ignorant.
        For Starters, you just tossed Plato. And the pre-Socratics. And the flourishing middle eastern civilizations that Greece traded with.

        1. “And the flourishing middle eastern civilizations that Greece traded with.”
          And the ones which flourished in advance of those. Again, I recommend “The Horse, the Wheel and Language” (Anthony) and, besides, “Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present” (Beckwith, but you’ll have to ignore some rants).
          The Greeks were somewhat late to the party in some ways, but even with the predecessor civilizations, they seemingly originated logic as a concept a manner of dealing with reality.
          If anyone has (reliable) sources suggesting otherwise, please post them; fascinating stuff.

          1. The first real systematization of logic – as a means of systematizing natural arguments – is Aristotle, true. Then there is about a 2000 year interregnum where no fundamental advances are made (ignoring the arabs probably contributed to that) and truly formal logic does not really begin until 1879 with the publication of Frege’s “Begriffschrift”. That was a game changer for many reasons, not the least of which being that it gave logic a footing in mathematics so that all the really deep questions could have the full power of formal math brought to bear on them.
            But far earlier, even the Babylonians were doing very sophisticated math (it turns out they beat Euclid to the punch on a lot of Geometry, such as the Pythagorean theorem!) and firing up algebra. The Persians picked up the ball and ran with it. The Greeks, obsessed with shape, took another route – one ultimately less general – but they were well aware of these developments from the Persian cultures they traded with, well before Aristotle.

            1. Why is this relevant? Modern symbolic logic, Frege-Russell style, can easily be expressed and generalized as an algebraic structure. It’s not called “Boolean Algebra” for naught. In fact, one of the great insights that allowed Frege to give the first satisfactory treatment of the quantifiers (“all” and “some”) crucially involvings treating subjects and predicates as functions and arguments, algebra style. I really can’t overstate how important this is. It’s a staple in formal linguistics, even.
              Which is just to say that Hellenic math involved a lot of discourse with the Persian world.
              Sorry to be pedantic. I am a logician by trade and I get quite pie-eyed talking about it.

              1. Pedantry is a minor sin compared to responding to your own comments.

        2. My point wasn’t about tossing plato et al (i confess it was poorly said), but diminishing actual time spent on aristotle’s writings in attempt to claim each idea he advanced might have had mixed parentage.

          iow, “what’s more important: the movie, or the bloody credits?”

          if you’re going to study great contributors to western civilization, then study their works, and leave the historicity and proper dividing of intellectual-credit to some other course. I’d far rather people understand idea like

          I experienced a bit of this myself in the early 1990s, during a prior burst of P.C. idiocy. You couldn’t talk about any subject without the ideologues demanding that the “problematic’ aspects be highlighted and discussed. And consequently you ended up sitting through speculative debates about about whether or not Faulkner was a racist rather than learning a bloody thing about his work

          in short: its far more valuable to know the content of the the poetics, nichomachean ethics, prior analytics, rhetoric, etc. than to self-flagellate over who actually else might claim the trademarks on the ideas.

          hope that is clearer.

          1. Sure. But HUM 101 / 102 is not a Philosophy class. It’s also not a history class or an art class. It’s truly interdisciplinary, which is rather rare, and it crucially involves understanding the trade of ideas and our own intellectual past.
            You want all that other stuff – poetics on tragedy, Nico Ethics (ugh!), Physics – well, there are specialist classes for that. Trust me, I’d love to have every student do a class on The Republic, and one on Symbolic Logic. I’d love Macroecomics to be required. Maybe a basic psych class. There’s only so many hours in a day and so many credits that can be required for a Bachelor’s, though. I was lucky and took the slow road through grad school and got a considerably wider intellectual background than most of my colleagues, and I believe it’s made me a much better thinker.

            1. Just to be clear, I think the RAR kids should be strung up by their balls. (I bet you’d find some testes where you were not expecting them, too; and miss some where you were expecting them). What they want for HUM really is some version of feelgood identity studies. The curricular contributions they suggest when they are asked for concrete proposals are either non-existent or outright laughable.
              But where HUM is not identity studies, it is also not at the other end of the spectrum, some kind of onanistic celebration of how awesome western Europe is. It’s not Western Civ 101. In the end that’s just another identity study.

              1. where HUM is not identity studies, it is also not at the other end of the spectrum, some kind of onanistic celebration of how awesome western Europe

                still not sure after the hemming and hawing my complaint is taken seriously or still being misunderstood.

                If your argument now is, “well its just a shitty survey course you’re asking too much”, then i’d probably ask what all the fuss is about in the first place. Who cares whether a shitty survey course has a narrow or wider focus?

                My point was that if you’re going to study ‘the greeks’ at all, then study the fucking greeks, and focus on the texts and ideas, which are where the important bits are.

                I wasn’t begging for a more-pure “Western studies” class and you misunderstood me if you think so.

    3. “It’s an ideas course”. Small wonder the “Reedies Against Racism” want to snuff it out

  18. Many, many years ago, I took that class.

    Reed used to have high academic standards. There were always batshit crazy politically, but it didn’t get in the way of the coursework when dinosaurs roamed the halls. Said to see it go down the tubes.

  19. Students who accused Pierce of transphobia yelled “fuck you, bitch” at her while she tried to conduct a Q&A.

    That kind of behavior used to be a sure way to get expelled. If I were running a college, that would get them an expulsion, a restraining order to keep them off campus, immediate eviction from the dorms, and a bill for shipping their shit to a storage facility to await their parents to collect it.

    -jcr

    1. Totes. Alas, the current president has zero academic background, and is trying to skate by without a ruckus. Like all university administrators, he sees this as a golden opportunity to drive a wedge between students and faculty. With a weakened faculty unsupported by students, he can get on with the true work of university administrators – hiring more administrators, carving out bureacratic fiefdoms, and paying themselves more.

      1. “With a weakened faculty unsupported by students, he can get on with the true work of university administrators – hiring more administrators, carving out bureacratic fiefdoms, and paying themselves more.”

        Holy shit! Take a note, posers. THAT is what speaking truth to power looks like.

  20. Here’s what professors need to do: throw it down and say, create your own fucking course this semester which still has some sort of legitimate outline and grading system. The founding father SJWs would be eaten alive in no time, viewed as oppressors and bigots solely out of trying to organize and create a functional system.

    I’d be interested in hearing the actual SJW end goal.* What happens when we’re all gender free and no longer allowed to use flesh colored crayons? When our dollar bills are only of black women we’re drinking lattes with trans men milk? What then?

    I loved tattling on kids when I was little but quickly grew out of this habit because I’m not a lame bitch. But I can’t help but get this image in my head of like some creepy, balding, sunken eyed SJW priest feeding these little hunchback warriors marshmallows every time they tattle / check someone’s privilege for using a racially insensitive emoji skin tone. And they hastily eat their little marshmallows and with their rotten teeth and waddle off while snarfing…anyone else get this image?

  21. I have known a few Reedies and from what they have told me, everyone there is too stoned most of the time to give much of a shit about anything. I guess this explains how the Western Civ class requirement has persisted for so long-the SJWs have been too baked to notice.

  22. Students sat behind the professor three days a week holding up signs.

    Um, didn’t they have classes to go to? Reading to do, papers to write, that sort of thing?

    1. Grades are a tool of the oppressor! and besides, you don’t need to worry too much about your GPA when your career goal is to be a community organizer…

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  24. Let them drop the class. They only detract from others’ learning.

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