Campus Free Speech

Michigan Students Accuse Celebrated Music Professor of Racism for Screening Othello

Bright Sheng survived the Cultural Revolution. Or so he thought.

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Bright Sheng is a professor of composition at the University of Michigan. He was born in China in 1955; when he was a child, the Red Guards took away his family piano. Nevertheless, he grew up to become a widely celebrated musician: He received a MacArthur "genius" Fellowship in 2001, and has twice been a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in music.

His undergraduate students should certainly count themselves lucky to be able to learn from him. Instead, they are demanding the university fire him for rendering the classroom an unsafe space. The administration is looking into the matter, and Sheng has stepped down from teaching the class for the time being. He has apologized profusely for making his students feel wronged, though many have loudly rejected his apology.

What was Sheng's transgression? He screened the 1965 version of Shakespeare's Othello in class as part of a lesson about how the play was adapted for the opera. This version stars Laurence Olivier, a white actor, who wore blackface to portray the protagonist Othello, a Moor. The choice was controversial even at the time, and today, the portrayal is considered by many to be akin to a racial caricature.

It's not clear whether Sheng, who was born and raised in China, understood blackface's specifically American legacy, and why such a portrayal is considered offensive. But he swiftly apologized for screening this version of the film.

"I thought (that) in most cases, the casting principle was based on the music quality of the singers," Sheng told The Michigan Daily. "Of course, time (sic) has changed, and I made a mistake in showing this film. It was insensitive of me, and I am very sorry."

His apology ought to have been more than sufficient, but his students were not appeased. Indeed, they reacted as if they had been traumatized by the experience.

"In such a school that preaches diversity and making sure that they understand the history of POC (people of color) in America, I was shocked that (Sheng) would show something like this in something that's supposed to be a safe space," one student told the Daily.

Other students signed an open letter calling on Sheng to be removed from his teaching position for failing to "create a safe environment." Their letter laments that such a thing could have happened, even though 100 percent of professors are required to take diversity training.

One of Sheng's colleagues, Evan Chambers, another professor of composition, sided with the students and accused Sheng of committing a "racist act."

"To show the film now, especially without substantial framing, content advisory and a focus on its inherent racism is in itself a racist act, regardless of the professor's intentions," said Chambers. "We need to acknowledge that as a community."

Sheng willingly admitted that screening the film was a mistake, but bristled at being labeled a racist. In his apology, he noted that he had repeatedly cast people of color for leading roles in his work and "never thought (of himself as) being discriminating against any race."

But his protestations that he is not a racist only further enraged the students.

"Professor Sheng responded to these events by crafting an inflammatory 'apology' letter to the department's students in which he chose to defend himself by listing all of the BIPOC individuals who he has helped or befriended throughout his career," wrote a group of concerned composition students including eight undergraduates, 15 graduate students, and nine staff and faculty members, according to the Daily. "The letter implies that it is thanks to him that many of them have achieved success in their careers."

The graduate students also told the Daily that they were reaching out to the undergraduates to make sure that they felt supported and safe. "What can we do to help the undergraduates? What do they need?" said one. "Clearly they're not going to be in a room with (Sheng) anytime soon."

I'm including so many of the quotes from this student newspaper article in order to make clear that this was not just one or two irate outliers: A significant number of Sheng's students, former students, and colleagues have denounced him as a racist. And the administration is taking the matter seriously: The music department released a statement saying that "Sheng's actions do not align with our School's commitment to anti-racist action, diversity, equity and inclusion." The university's Office of Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX has received a complaint about the incident.

The University of Michigan is a public institution at which students and professors deserve free speech and expression rights. It is a violation of the university's cherished principles of academic freedom to punish Sheng for the choices he makes in the classroom. Screening a racially problematic film in an educational setting is neither a racist act nor an endorsement of racism. At this point, it is Sheng who is owed an apology from the broader university community for falsely maligning him.

Imagine surviving the Cultural Revolution in communist China, only to reencounter it on an American university campus in 2021.

NEXT: New York City Is Hiding Its K-12 Enrollment Decline

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    1. Also: nuke ’em from orbit.

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      2. Woodchippers would be the best thing for these failed humans. If they’re so fucking afraid and tormented and offended by everything, they should probably just kill themselves and spare the agony.

    2. No, NEVER apologize to “progressives”. Do that and it’s all over. The leftloons will just take your apology as a further insult, and rational people will reject you for groveling to them. You’ll have nowhere to go.

    3. Not only should he not apologize, he should accuse them of trying to censor a film whose lead actor was bisexual.

    4. He said “Solly, so solly!” and the woke mocked him and said it wasn’t good enough

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    6. Don’t apologize. These authoritarian crybullies won’t accept “yes” as an answer. No matter how much you give them, they will only get angrier. The school should cancel the class and the students should forfeit their tuition. Someone should take note of all the students and faculty who went after Sheng and blackball them. Make them unemployable. That won’t happen. They will all be rewarded.

    7. Who would have thought that in Obama/Biden’s third term watching Shakespeare would become an act of defiance. Fight the American Taliban, never give and inch, do not comply.

  1. Hopefully, the pendulum will swing the other way.

    This is interesting:

    https://www.tmz.com/2021/10/08/dave-chappelle-mocks-cancel-culture-hollywood-bowl-documentary-celebs/

    OK, we expect controversy from Dave Chappelle, but the most interesting thing in the article is that Stevie Wonder “also took the stage following the premiere of Dave’s ‘Untitled’ doc to chide the idea of being canceled”.

    1. Besides Dave Chappelle seeming to be cancel-proof, there are a few others. J.K. Rowling just seems to be too independently wealthy and Harry Potter is too big a part of our culture to be canceled. Who else can get away with saying what they want — Ricky Gervais? Chris Rock? Jordan Peterson?

      Sadly, it’s a short list.

      1. Quinten taritino

      2. South Park. There are some lower profile semi-celebrities that seem to do fine too.

        1. ya cartoons in general can get away with more.

          1. Ya. Rick and Morty probably counts too.

      3. Rowling isn’t even controversial unless you’re in a tiny sphere of people who believe gender has no meaning. That’s why she can’t be canceled. No matter how bad they attempt to frame her statements, 95% of the population agrees with what she has said.

        1. I’d modify that a bit to 99% of the population is unaware she even said anything controversial.

    2. You admitted to not being a libertarian and lying about it your entire life.

      Mike Laursen
      October.8.2021 at 10:54 am
      Flag Comment Mute User
      I’m a life-long libertarian, but I’m not longer interested in a libertarianism that isn’t coupled with adult behavior and a sense of responsibility, including civil responsibility. Selfish, childish libertarianism is not a good thing.

      Of course adult behavior here is having people do what you want them to do, not doing what they want to do.

      Youre not libertarian.

      1. A ‘lifelong libertarian’ who promotes and defends only non-libertarian policies, politicians and laws. Clearly not a lie.

      2. No matter how often he chants it, it’s never going to come true until he abandons fascist mantras like his fire extinguisher insurrection.

    3. Hopefully, the pendulum will swing the other way.

      Yeah, that’s two of us. If this is the fruits of liberalism, why should I be afraid of the fascists? Can’t say that I’d cry much if those whining woke students disappeared into a black van some night.

      1. White Mike defended a whole summer of this shit just a year ago.

    4. Actually Stevie Wonder didn’t take the stage. He wandered into the bathroom thinking it was the stage and made his cancel speech facing the urinals.

    5. A pendulum doesn’t represent equality.

      I attempts to perpetuate imbalance, the best pendulums swinging from left to right extremes with each stroke.

  2. Othello has been played by white actors ever since white Shakespeare wrote the play.
    Fuck off with that racial caricature rot. These students need to be expelled and these deanesses need to be fired.

    1. Men played the female roles too.

      I wonder how long the Japanese will keep doing that?

      1. Men…female????? what strange language is this? Just use normal words and tell us what you are trying to communicate.

      2. My dad was with the Red Cross at the Rape of Nanking. Japanese were pretty terrible back in the first half of the 20th century.

  3. I’m guessing woke students don’t have the knowledge to get the idea for struggle sessions from history, so it must be the natural inclination of that type.

    1. Truth.
      The fascist wing of authoritarians just kill you outright. The communists make you denounce yourself publicly, then silence you (often permanently) while you’re in the gulag so any recanting is invisible.

      1. To be fair the communists did as much or more outright killing.

      2. And there is a high chance you would die in the gulag.

  4. Every time you find yourself wondering if modern progressive hypersensitivity to racial issues has gone too far, just remember this: It’s precisely their obsession with race that has convinced progressives to embrace the Koch / Reason open borders agenda. Because once you view immigrants primarily as Black and Brown bodies, any form of “border enforcement” becomes racist by definition.

    IOW if Sheng becomes unemployable while our benefactor Charles Koch increases his supply of cost-effective foreign-born labor, that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

    #ImmigrationAboveAll
    #InDefenseOfBillionaires
    #LibertariansForCancelCulture

  5. Fuck Joe Biden.

    1. Let’s go Brandon!

  6. This is stupid but expected. Akin to Bret Weinstein, Sheng decided to make a career where this type of lunacy has been celebrated for decades. All fun and games until they come for you.

  7. All of the female characters in the plays of Shakespeare, in his own time, were played by men.

    Shakespeare MUST BE NEVER BE TAUGHT EVER EVER!!

    1. Shaksphere also ran a theator during a pandemic! That is completely unsafe he should be doubly canceled!

    2. Trans men, Shakespeare was ahead of xer time.

  8. Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.

  9. The left has lost it’s blinking mind.

    1. They had none to lose. That’s why they are statists.

  10. when they came for the professors of composition I said nothing.

  11. Professor Sheng grew up in China and knows what this kind of demand for self-criticism and abject apology can lead to. It is a pity he chose to surrender to it, instead of explaining that this is exactly what he came to America to get away from.

    1. LOL

      A local county board member explained as she quit “this is just the sort of behind the scenes hypocracy that I left Czechoslovokia in the 70’s to get away from” (or words to that effect).

      Unfortunately for Prof. Sheng, this is his full time job (I assume), not some volunteer board / whipping post.

      Never apologize to these people, it’s like putting chum in the waters around sharks.

      1. It’s like jumping in the water with the chum.

      2. The schadenfreude aspect of shark-like feeding frenzies:
        “Sharks involved in a feeding frenzy have been known to disembowel each other, and even eat each other in their excitement over new blood spilled.”

        “The mercy and forgiveness you show is the mercy and forgiveness you deserve.” — Granma

  12. Yet no one is condemned for brainwashing these students to the point that they have completely lost their powers of reason.

    1. Their leaders and masters are under the illusion that they will always be in control of the beasts they have created to cancel their ideological enemies.

  13. Okay, okay. Next time I’ll screen “The Sound of Music” for my music class.

    1. Try “South Pacific.”

      Turn up the volume when Lt. Cable sings “They’ve got to be taught to hate.”

  14. Imagine surviving the Cultural Revolution in communist China in 1955, only to reencounter it on an American university campus in 2021.

    Robby, Robby Robby. Pay closer attention to your dates.

    1955 was not the cultural revolution. He was born just before the Great Leap Forward, which went from 1958-1962. Considering how the young were dying and being dug up for food during that time, I suppose it’s remarkable enough that he survived that (Although it sounds like he wasn’t in the countryside which suffered the worst of Mao’s great famine).

    The cultural revolution occurred from 1966 until Mao’s death in 1976. If anything that means that Bright Sheng was a teenager during the Cultural revolution, and was the right age to be one of the kids waving a little red book around while forcing his teacher to go through a struggle session.

    I highly recommend Frank Dikötter’s trilogy on China for those who want to read some real life dystopia.

    1. I highly recommend Frank Dikötter’s trilogy on China for those who want to read some real life dystopia.

      No thanks, we’re all stocked up here at home.

    2. If the students want Prof. Sheng to feel right at home, they will make him wear a conical dunce cap while confessing his ideological errors, all the while spitting on him and insulting him. And maybe chuck him out the window at the end.

      I’ll bet he thought he left all that behind when he emigrated from Communist China to America. No such luck. Maybe he can re-emigrate back again.

      1. You forgot subjecting him to the jet plane position (forcing his head down while violently pulling his arms out of their sockets behind him) as the comrade student activists jeer at him to confess

    3. I’m a longtime lurker of the Reason comments section, but just made an account in order to thank you for the book recommendation! I’m interested in this part of history but had never heard of Frank Dikötter or his work. The books look fascinating and I have popped all three into my online cart awaiting payday.

      Thanks again!

  15. I love the idea of denouncing a Chinese immigrant for being insufficiently versed in American cultural history.

    It’s the dragon (!) eating its own tail.

    1. I grew up in America and I had never even heard of the concept of blackface as an offensive racist stereotype until the 2000s, when I was in my twenties. Now it’s this deeply offensive taboo that everyone is supposed to know about but nobody can discuss.

      1. It’s the new dogma

      2. One Halloween in college about 25 years ago, three of my buddies went as Run DMC in blackface (in Queens no less), another buddy went as “random oriental” (he’s Russian), one friend went as a Union soldier, and I went as a Confederate.

        I was the only one to get into a fight. The “random oriental” had nice wooden nunchucks with brass ends, and he did a drunken display that made everyone else back off. In a White Castle at 4AM.

        Those were the days.

      3. Ever seen the Sarah Silverman Show?

    2. This is the key takeaway, time after time. Ignorant and stupid, to the point of arrogance, US students, faculty, post-grads, and administrators expect people from other cultures to display sensitivity to some in-group mythology. The academe are Ugly Americans, not just when traveling, but at home.

  16. The extreme reaction that “blackface” gets is weird. Yeah, minstrel shows where whites portrayed offensive stereotypes of blacks were offensive. But why does that extend to any time someone who isn’t black puts on makeup to look black? I’d agree that it is often done in poor taste, but if it’s not portraying a negative stereotype, I don’t see the big deal.

    1. There’s a movie coming out soon where Penelope Cruz plays a Colombian. I can’t wait to hear the outrage about cultural appropriation. Then again, I suppose it’s possible that we won’t hear anything and those scolds will be proven to not actually have principles.

      1. Sarah Silverman (she oughta change that name!) threw a tantrum because an upcoming Joan … something … biopic won’t have a Jewish woman in the lead. She calls it Jewface. I’m surprised the wokies weren’t all over her shit for demanding a woman play the role of a woman.

        1. They should always get a Jew to play Shylock.

          Wait, what did I say?

          1. Racist if you do and racist if you don’t.

            Something, something, a boot stomping on a human face forever.

        2. Her dad was Jewish; not her mom. So she is not Jewish…unless she converted.

    2. I don’t find it offensive. I don’t find black ators playing white roles offensive or vice versa. I thought Donald glover would have been best choice for new Han Solo. I don’t think people having fun with accents is offensive, I think it’s great. I didn’t find daymon Wayans twins white girls movie offensive, I don’t think anyone did. I didn’t find blackface in Tropic Thunder offensive, not sure who did.

      I think Smokey Robinson said it best “fuck you if you can’t take a joke.”

      1. I don’t find it offensive in a general sense, either. I thought Idris Elba did a fine job in Dark Tower (an otherwise horrid movie), but the whiteness of the character in the book was an integral part of some critical character development as it related to the Susanna/Odetta character (who was left out of the movie, perhaps to avoid that particular issue, and whose blackness was a critical part of her character). OTOH Denzel Washington character in Training Day could have been played by any actor, so I assume Denzel won the role because of his acting ability (not that Idris didn’t).

        I get annoyed when the character is swapped so that the director or producer or whomever can run out and proclaim their wokeness. The all-female Ghostbusters sucked, largely because the whole thing was more about them being women than the being Ghostbusters. But the all-female Ocean’s 8, despite not being very good movie, at least had a natural extension from the other Ocean movies that an all-female Ocean’s 11 remake would not have been able to pull off, I think.

        When role is not one that is already ingrained or prescribed as a man or woman or black or white (James Bond, Jack Reacher, Luke Skywalker, Galadriel), hire the actors that make the role pop, even if you have to gender-swap or have an unplanned race change. People won’t care, unless and until you start hiring actors BECAUSE of their race, etc. rather than their ability to act or do something utterly stupid like hire a black woman to play Bill Clinton in the next movie about his affairs or try to pretend that Alexander Hamilton was a black man.

  17. The children now run the universities. Woke mindless sheep.

    1. That would be children of all ages.

  18. How fragile do students have to be to feel UNSAFE when a professor shows a video of Othello? Did they think the professor would suddenly pull out a knife and start carving out a pound of flesh?

    It’s fucking face paint! It may be offensive, but it was not dangerous.

    But this is Michigan. Not hiring any Michigan graduates is already on my list of things never to do. I’ll take an Oberlin grad over a Wolverine any day. Wolverine, pfft, more like a dyspeptic badger.

    1. My kid got accepted at Michigan and Baylor and chose Baylor, primarily for financial reasons.

      While I don’t follow the university’s creed in any way, that school is so much better for her (and for my sanity, having to read what’s going on in the school she attends) that I am considering recommending it to my atheist daughter as well.

    2. Obviously they don’t actually feel unsafe. It’s just a programmed tantrum according to the dogma.

    3. I would avoid hiring college graduates period. Best to be safe.

    4. We had a board game called Othello when I was a kid. 64 squares with pieces that are black on one side and white on the other. I suppose it is called Reversi now.

    5. Yeah the “unsafe” thing is such a load of shit. I suppose it goes with the whole “speech is violence” thing. Professors and others subjected to this kind of reaction really need to stop being nice about it and tell them to get their shit together.

    6. They act like North Korea…never accept “yes” for an answer. The more someone apologizes, the more you demand.

    7. A pound of flesh is from The Merchant of Venice. (;

  19. Jesus Christ! I suppose the possibility that this could have been used as a ‘teaching moment’ was discarded right off the bat.

    1. “Teaching moment” implies students go to college to learn something. Today’s students have been convinced that they already know everything. Unfortunately college administrations go along with the farce.

  20. Best part of this is that students have been coddled enough that they take it for granted that a classroom is supposed to be a safe space.

  21. Why do people apologize to these people instead of making fun of them?

    If I were him, I’d base the final exam on the movie and whoever refuses to take the test gets a big fat F.

  22. I have never flattered myself that I’m heroic, but people like these students make me look like I’m a mega hero. I can’t imagine them surviving the Navy boot camp I went through in 1978, and that was nothing compared to my Dad’s experience at USMC boot camp at Parris Island in 1942.

    1. I’d be curious to know what your fathers USMC post-bootcamp experience was like… you know, if he went through in 1942.

  23. Maybe he could agree to show them the upcoming “The Tragedy Of Macbeth” where Denzel Washington plays a white Scottish lord, and call it even.

    1. Well, that’s different.

  24. Are film classes still showing Birth of a Nation? As far as patently-offensive-but-critically-important works of art go it’s pretty hard to top that.

  25. Cast a black man to play a white man’s part or a woman (of any color) to play a man’s part or a gay person to play a straight person and the director is “brave”. Cast a straight person to play a gay person or etc. and you’re racist or transphobic or anti-LGBTQLMNOP.

    I’m wondering when we’ll be required to cast real serial killers in movies, or rel 14-year-old girls to have real sex in Romeo and Juliet, or where we’ll get real Klingons to play those roles in the next Star Trek movie.

    1. I doubt Kamala would be available for the next Star Trek movie.

  26. The Cultural Revolution was late 60’s and early 70’s, not 1955.

    1. No one said it was in 1955. Sheng was born in 1955, meaning he was old enough to remember living through the Cultural Revolution

  27. Freedom of expression to act in blackface or show a film containing it. Black actors have portrayed themselves in film as pimps and murder victims. Acting, Freedom of Expression. BUT it is not racist. You can fuck on video and upload it. So what, don’t like don’t look.
    Freedom to speak does not quite include saying things that will without a doubt cause physical, financial or psychological harm or interfere with another’s Independence or violate protected Rights yet it seems nobody knows this and are not taught this in schools that take revenue from taxpayers. It cannot be a call to violent action especially against the morons in D.C.
    66 year old man from China should have a long police record of his racist acts. Right? He looks guilty! Right? Has he burned Buddhas on lawns? This is the narrative for student assholes whom I would cherish slapping them all silly and ship em off to butt fuck egypt. SICK OF IT already so stop giving them press Reason dot com(mie) you bunch of pansies.
    GOVERNMENT has 2 jobs from the beginning: Protect our borders from foreign invaders and protect our Rights given us by our creator. Score so far? FAIL. Go home.

  28. Any student who demands a college classroom be made a “safe space” should expelled because they are obviously not ready for college. They should also have their tuition refunded because clearly the university erred in admitting them in the first place

  29. OTHELLO WAS A MOOR, NOT A SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN!

    The Moors are Berbers. They’re genetically related to Spanish and Levantines and other Mediterranean people. The name was also applied to Arabs and Arabized Spaniards.
    They are phenotypically Europoid, and do not look Negroid.

    Having an African American like Laurence Fishburne play him, as he did in the 1995 version, is as racially problematic than Laurence Olivier with a fake tan.

    1. Those idiot students should be tarred and dipped in a pile of Olivier’s reviews before being promptly expelled.

    2. Its no different than all the hullabaloo over Gal Gadot playing Cleopatra. Its ironic that the supposed “progressives” tend to have such an extreme ethno-nationalist view of race

      1. Exactly, Cleopatra was a Ptolemy. She was mostly Greek with a little Lebanese thrown in, but the idiot lefties think she was black.
        Ecog-levels of historical knowledge there.

  30. This is what you get from a brainwashed left that treats George Orwell’s 1984 as a training manual

    1. Yes, the big problem with fascist regimes is that they’re too polite to minorities.

  31. So they are fine with the portrayal of otherwise courageous and intelligent black man being easily goaded into strangling the woman he loves to death in a rage over completely imaginary infidelity as long as it is an actual black man doing the portrayal.

    They do realize that nobody in the film was a citizen of 17th century Italy, right?

  32. Isn’t this an example of anti-Asian racism?

  33. This MUSIC prof is very blind. If his main academic focus is opera interpretations, then he would be very aware of the blackface stuff since the Met went through that controversy in 2015 not the deep dark recesses of history. If he wanted to show a film version of the opera, then Placido Domingo’s 1986 Otello still has blackface but he can sing. There are more recent films of the play.

    Just because Olivier was famous to those college kids grandparents and greatgrandparents doesn’t mean that film version was any good. He can’t sing and that film had almost no music anyway. His blackface was not just putting makeup on. It was a combo of Al Jolson (complete with googly eyes) and Dan Aykroyd (with over the top accent). Whatever his performance on the stage in 1964 was that inspired putting it on film – the film performance wasn’t that.

  34. Oh my lord! A man with black paint on his face in a movie from 55 years ago! The horror! The violence! Safety has been thrown out the window! I am being terrorized! My head is going to explode! The skin on my arms and legs is going to start burning and peel off! Mommy! Mommy, please help me!

    1. There, there, child. It will be alright. We have a nice safe place for right over here. It is much safer than that mean old university that let someone show you reality. See, we even upholstered the walls and everything! Just sit down in that corner over there, and we will bring you a nice meal in just a few minutes.

  35. A college classroom is the last place that should be a safe space.

  36. There is a very clear market opportunity for a university that will expel snotty little red-guard wannabes, or better yet, not admit them in the first place.

    -jcr

    1. Hillsdale College.

  37. Never apologize when those complaining are literally the dumbest people in America – it is nearly a certainty that they are of the “minority” ethnic groups that have the lowest IQ distributions of all groups and are only at the institution of lower learning in order to fill some arbitrary color quota. In other words, they didn’t get there on merit, but rather were “included” merely for the sake of “representation” which is a sickening perversion of the entire purpose and intent of education.

    The only feasible response to the ludicrous screeching allegations of “racism” is total denial and condemnation of the accuser as being literally the dumbest person in the room, as evidenced by the fact that they don’t know what the word “racist” actually means and thus not only have no business using it, but also no business participating in academia at all, in any capacity, whether its as a student, faculty, or administrator.

    I have learned that nearly all of this baseless aggression against the cultural work-product of whites is the direct result of anti-white racism and race-hatred. This is powered by greed, envy and an inferiority complex. White cultures are simply head-and-shoulders above the rest in most fields of creative or artistic endeavor, and of course, that extends to the classical arts as well. There is no canon of great African literature, because African was an intellectual wasteland inhabited nearly entirely by pre-moderns – primitive peoples stuck at the Neolithic level. Thus, when those of African descent are forced to observe or study the cultural production of the Western world, many of them are deeply embarrassed or ashamed by the relative dearth of similar contributions from their own ancestral cultures.

    This is why they are driven to co-opt and hijack Western, white cultural production and claim it as their own. The story of Othello is a perfect example, because a black or African (of any national or regional origin) was an oddity in Europe in Elizabethan England.

    Out of a population of 4-5M, there are estimated to have been only a few hundred blacks in the British isles, nearly all of whom were slaves transported from mercantile colonies in places like Guinea and brought back as domestic servants. Very few were free, and even fewer had any education or were literate. It is an interesting little peccadillo of Shakespeare that he occasionally enjoyed putting a proverbial turd in the punchbowl; foreshadowing the taboo-breaking of 20th century dramas such as “Look Who’s Coming to Dinner”, he developed counterfactual characters such as Othello and Aaron.

    Shakespeare was nothing if not a merry prankster, and certainly must have enjoyed shocking the sensibilities of the audiences with such anomalous and fantastical characters such as a classically educated, literate black African, since this would have been as foreign in reality as a giant metallic robot was to 20th century audiences watching Michael Rennie play a visiting humanoid space alien in “The Day The Earth Stood Still”. The source for that film was a short story published 11 years earlier in a publication titled, appropriately, “Astounding Science Fiction”.

    Such a thing would have been astounding indeed for any Elizabethan theatre-goer, given that on average, none had ever even seen an African before. Indeed, such was the rarity of Africans, that these characters were always played by white Britons in makeup or costume designed to darken their features. Clearly nobody would have even known if such portrayals were realistic or not, given that there never was any real world experience to compare to the staged version.

    But, anyway, this resentment and jealousy over lacking the same cultural contributions as whites is largely what is behind all of this faux outrage.

    1. Also, they’re children. Certainly among the dumbest demographics, after fully grown Trumpers.

      1. You tried this hot take already, goofy.

      2. And no, they’re not children. They’re grown men and women.

        I’ll accept that they aren’t children when they aren’t old enough to enter a legal contract without parent or guardian representation.

    2. Interesting take on Shakespeare however you missed Othello is a moor not a black African. He is middle eastern and your comment shows how ignorant you are of the cultural contributions from the Moorish empire and the rest of the Americas. Your commentary is typical white north American, ignorant of the information widely found online or by simply talking with educated people but you are too lazy to seek this out. “White” is a construct which exists only in the US because to the rest of the world middle eastern and hispanics are caucasian just like any other “white” person in the US. The criminality of the leftist in the US is perpetuating the fallacy that there are no educated blacks, asians, and hispanics around the world who have contributed to every aspect of science, literature and other areas starting with our current alphabet which is Egyptian in its origin. Keep people divided and feeling like they are victims and they are easier to control when you push the right buttons.

  38. Do conservatards only pick fights with kids these days?

    1. Do you repeat arguments in subsequent threads?

      Also, those adults deserve to be pushed through a woodchipper.

      1. The habitable environment of planet earth is dying and you people think the big problem is kids being taught the wrong fairy tales about George Washington.

        I’m concerned that you’re targeting children not because I’m concerned about your cognitive ability.

  39. Intellectuals locked in cow sheds during the Cultural Revolution—isolated, terrorized and often tortured—very frequently had their initial “self-criticisms” flung back in their faces. “YOU ARE VERY CLEVER!! PRETENDING TO REPENT WHILE HOPING TO LIE LOW AND AVOID CONFESSING YOUR REAL CRIMES! ARROGANTLY SETTING YOURSELF ABOVE THE PROGESSIVE MASSES…..” etc & blahbedy blah blah blah!! Compare that crap to the reaction to this professor’s apology in 2021. His deja by must be intense. Rescind your self-criticism, sir! Tear it to pieces and fling them in the comrades’ faces!

  40. This conditioned response is an interesting if not terrifying twist on the two minutes hate.

    Perhaps I should be outraged Everytime I turn on modern media and find the only straight white males are evil, abusive villains or bumbling fools easily upstaged by even the faintest of diversity tropes.

  41. Never apologize to these idiots. If you just can’t help yourself, say, “there’s the door, no one is making you stay in my class”

  42. Robby, it’s less than helpful to just read a laundry list of student babble without any analysis from you. Prof Sheng is being treated horribly by those racist students who shouldn’t even have a voice in faculty issues. He’s also being thrown under the bus by cowardly colleagues and the pathetic administration. All because some freshman — the lowest intellectual life form in academia — felt “uncomfortable.” When did these idiots start going to college for “comfort” rather than to be intellectually challenged? Do they think the whole world is going to give a damn about their confort level once they leave the university playpen? Brain-dead students who will never rise to the talent and accomplishments of Prof Sheng should never, never have a right to humiliate and harm him.

    1. Robby, it’s less than helpful to just read a laundry list of student babble without any analysis from you.

      Oh, I disagree. I think not having Robby add his “analysis” improves any article.

      Prof Sheng is being treated horribly by those racist students who shouldn’t even have a voice in faculty issues.

      You’re confusing colleges in 2021 with institutions of higher learning.

      When did these idiots start going to college for “comfort” rather than to be intellectually challenged?

      You could see the roots of this in the 1980’s, but it probably hasn’t become prevalent until the 2010’s.

      Brain-dead students who will never rise to the talent and accomplishments of Prof Sheng should never, never have a right to humiliate and harm him.

      Anybody who chooses to teach at such an institution needs to accept the consequences of their choice. What do you think makes Sheng stay?

  43. Today’s college students have no more intellectual ability than Pavlov’s dogs, who were taught to salivate on cue. Students today are conditioned to unthinkingly react to certain words and visuals, using pre-existing canned phrases to voice their “outrage” and “discomfort.” It doesn’t matter whether the situation warrants it or not, the response is always the same, from coast to coast, demonstrating that this is one huge social engineering experiment, and these college students are like dogs, mice, hamsters, or chimps undergoing behavioral modification. Mediocre faculty and administration aid and abet this assault on human rights and human dignity, all in the name of some distorted and twisted notion of social justice. Unfortunately, the only outcome of this macabre social experiment in left authoritarianism will be to produce tomorrow’s Goebbels and Himmlers.

  44. If you choose to work for a neo-Marxist institution, don’t complain if they are going to treat you like neo-Marxist institutions treat people.

  45. Imagine surviving the Cultural Revolution in communist China in 1955, only to reencounter it on an American university campus in 2021.

    The Cultural Revolution was from 1966 to 1976, not 1955.

  46. As someone who was raised in a foreign country, I find blacks’ reaction to blackface acting ridiculous. So what if some actors did that in the 1930s???? I have a photo of me in second grade in black face for a school event. I only show it to non-woke people.

  47. Well, next time I recommend the Lawrence Fishburne version, with Kenneth Branagh as Iago (a part he was born to play). It’s a great version without the blackface issue. I always thought Welles played the wrong character. Someone should have told him Iago gets more lines.

  48. The crybully students at U of Michigan are practicing the revolutionary tactic of not accepting “yes” as an answer.

  49. Fair enough but let’s not have any blackwashing of white characters
    in Shakespearian theater or any other theatrical endeavor.

  50. I WONDER WHO THESE PROTESTERS ARE. HMMM.

  51. Okay, so when the F@#$ did universities become a safe space. In the world of ideas, theories, experiences, debates, and all other things not in the realm of physical contact, universities should be among the most UNSAFE spaces. That exposure to new and different things, especially those that offend, are foundational to learning. Morons!

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