Teacher Strikes Beget More Teacher Strikes
So far in 2018, teachers in six states have gone on strike or left schools to attend political demonstrations, leaving children without instruction and parents scrambling. Students have missed classes due to teacher absences in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, and North Carolina, Teaching unions cited various reasons to leave schools including demands for higher wages, better benefits and pensions, and increased school funding.
Education Week reported about a Chicago meeting of teachers union presidents from four states who met for an “in-person chat” while they attended an NEA “leadership summit.” The nine-day West Virginia strike had just ended. Teacher activism was promoted. Education Week says, “In addition to the ‘support group’ of union officials, teachers at the grassroots level are communicating with each other via social media, leaving comments of support and encouragement on Facebook posts, and sending advice to the teachers who have emerged as leaders of the movement.” (4-26-17) The increasing number of strikes is a planned event encouraged by teachers unions and organized by activist teachers.
West Virginia Paves the Way
Teacher strikes are illegal in West Virginia. In early spring, teachers there left for nine days, seeking more money and protesting the cost of health insurance premiums. On March 6th, the legislature gave teachers a 5% pay raise, which ended the strike. The “state’s attorney general had said his office would assist and support any state agency, county board of education, or superintendent as they enforce the law.” Existing law says teachers “could be punished by being denied pay, suspended, fired, barred from teaching in a public school for a year, charged with a criminal misdemeanor, or even fined or jailed if they do not comply with a court injunction ordering them to return to work.” Striking teachers in West Virginia faced no legal consequences. (Education Week 3-6-18)
Higher Taxes in Oklahoma
A statewide strike in Oklahoma lasted for nine days. Reports indicate that teachers in Oklahoma are among the lowest paid in the nation and that they haven’t had a raise in ten years. The Oklahoma Education Association teachers union demanded raises of $10,000 over three years, as well as increased education spending. One reason for the lack of teacher pay raises is that Oklahoma didn’t increase taxes for “nearly three decades,” according to Education Week. Low taxes benefit residents statewide, including teachers. The Oklahoma legislature responded to the strike with a $6,100 pay increase, which teachers said wasn’t enough.
NPR reported on April 14 that leaders of the Oklahoma Education Association teachers union ended the strike because they “had polled its members and a majority said they doubted that continuing the walkout would result in more funding.” A union leader said, “There comes a time, when if what you’re doing is not getting you the results you seek, there is wisdom in shifting focus.” According to reports, that focus will be on the midterm elections. (NPR.org, 4-14-18)
An analysis in National Review titled “Don’t Raise Teacher Pay; Reform It” offers more information about the status of teacher salaries and benefits. Mentioning Oklahoma in particular it says:
Over a full career, teacher pensions are generous. Consider Oklahoma, where teachers are widely considered underpaid. An Oklahoma public school teacher who retired in 2017 after a full teaching career received $45,888, plus an estimated Social Security benefit of $18, 240. That total retirement income of $64,128 is equal to 94% of the teacher’s final salary, well above the 70% that financial planners say retirees need to provide a comfortable retirement. It is also 30% above Oklahoma’s median household income. Teachers may be middle-class employees, but they’re upper-middle-class retirees. (National Review, 6-5-18)
Arizona Teachers Get Their Raises
In late April, Arizona teachers went on strike, demanding a 20% pay increase. They wanted a billion dollars in increased education spending. School districts chose to close schools to make it easier for teachers to strike and “skip work without penalty.” Education Week reports, “If districts had remained open teachers would have had to use personal leave to miss work.” (Education Week, 4-27-18)
According to the Phoenix-based think tank the Goldwater Institute, “Not only does this unlawful strike violate the teachers’ constitutional duty — and contractual obligation — to teach, but it interferes with the plans of almost 850,000 students and their parents who have been forced to make arrangements or being out of school.”
Arizona “State Superintendent of Schools Diane Douglas said it was premature for teachers to walk out, and it’s illegal for them to do so in Arizona.” She said citizens were calling the Department of Education’s offices with questions about the strike. According to Education
Week, Douglas said that days outside the classroom can have long-term consequences for those populations, in reference to special education and English Language Learners. But missed days affect all students so it’s unclear why only those groups were specified. Douglas concluded with a message for teachers: “Get back in the classrooms because your duty is to the students and the parents.” (The Arizona Republic, 4-26-18)
The strike ended in early May. Legislators agreed to 20% pay raises for teachers over the next three years, with 9% of that to begin this fall. (Education Week, 5-3-18)
A Cacophony in Kentucky
On March 30, hundreds of Kentucky teachers called in sick with “pension fever.” They were unhappy about a pension reform bill that would give new teachers a combination of a traditional pension along with a 401 (k) plan and a provision that no longer protected newly hired teachers from future benefit changes. Teachers chose to demonstrate at the state capitol on April 2. Some schools were on spring break but at least 20 school districts were forced to close schools for the day.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican, refused to sign the budget eventually sent to him by the legislature because it didn’t include the teacher pension reforms and other fiscal cuts he wanted. Teachers again descended on Frankfort on the final day of the legislative session, this time closing schools in about 43 districts. Lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto.
Gov. Bevin made a series of comments critical of the teachers being absent from classrooms. He said, “Children were harmed – some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time – because they were vulnerable and left alone.” Bevin “received a tremendous amount of backlash over the comment from educators as well as lawmakers, including members of his own party.” But when two working parents or single parents have to show up at their jobs, they are sometimes forced to leave children at home when schools are unexpectedly closed.
The president of the Kentucky Education Association teachers union said she was “appalled” by his remarks. She continued, “There is no rational comment I could make to that.”
Although the governor later apologized, many knew exactly what he meant; they understood and agreed with his commiseration with parents. He said, “For those of you who understand what I was saying, thank you,” Bevin said. “I know a tremendous amount of people didn’t fully appreciate what I was communicating.” (USA Today, 4-16-18)
Colorado Catches Strike Fever
In Colorado, empty classrooms were the result of teachers “storming” the state capitol on April 26 and 27. More than 25 school districts, including Denver and several other large districts, had no classes for students. By May 9, teachers in southern Colorado had been on strike for three days. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and supporters picketed and marched in Pueblo. What they wanted was an immediate 2% pay raise.
Teachers got what they wanted. After a five-day strike, “The teachers’ union says its members voted 495-62 for the deal.” What it means is teachers get a 2% cost-of-living increase retroactive to January and a 2.5% increase next school year.”
Pueblo teachers won’t be missing any money for the time students were not taught. The district paid them “for three days of the strike and [gave] educators the option of working extra days or using days off to cover the remaining two.”
Although many Colorado teachers demonstrated at the state capitol, their gripes and solutions to them have nothing to do with the current legislators they criticized. As former secretary of education William J. Bennett pointed out in Education Week, “In Colorado, state legislators do not set teacher salaries – that is the role of the local school boards. But the walkout organizers in Colorado clearly think they can maneuver a sweeter deal through disruption, regardless of the consequences for the state’s children and families.” (Education Week, 5-9-18 and 5-14-18 and 5-15-18)
No School in North Carolina
Teachers in North Carolina asked for “better pay and working conditions.” Many school districts in the state made the decision to completely close schools for students because of the number of teachers who planned to take the day off. Durham, Raleigh, and Orange County, which includes Chapel Hill, were among North Carolina schools that were closed on May 16 because so many teachers planned to be absent in order to attend a demonstration at the state capitol.
Schools are increasingly providing other services to students and families, such as meals. The decision to close schools in Durham “left [Durham Public Schools] to figure out how to feed children for whom school breakfast and lunch might be their only meals of the day.” And, “The school district also had to find a new site for Hillside High School students to take a required International Baccalaureate exam and reschedule Advanced Placement exams for more than 500 students.”
Parents and others were disturbed by the teachers’ actions. Some local politicians and citizens “disagree with the method of the protest and the way organizers from the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) [union] have targeted Republican legislators.”
Those people “point to four years of teacher raises and another one to come next year, when average teacher salaries are set to top $53,000 even without the Republican majority signing onto [Democrat] Gov. Roy Cooper’s pitch for larger raises.” They question “why teachers didn’t fill the streets outside the capital in 2009, when a government controlled by Democrats and emerging from recession ordered furloughs …. “
North Carolina Senate President Pro Tern Phil Berger said that “the NCAE [ union J is very closely aligned with the Democratic Party in North Carolina.” Prior to the rally of about 10,000 teachers, Berger stated, “Much of what we’re hearing is politically motivated, and it’s an effort on the part of Democrats to support Democrats.”
Teachers wore red t-shirts as part of the “#RedforEd” movement. It is estimated that 2/3 of North Carolina’s students, about one million children, missed the day of instruction due to their teachers being absent. (Herald-Sun, 5-3-18) (WRAL.com, 5-15-18)
Post-Strike Fallout in Arizona
The headline of a May article in Education Week says, “Teachers Who Led Strikes Now Turning Focus to Elections.”After a season of unprecedented teacher activism and strikes, some observers are stepping back and analyzing what it means to the big picture for education.
One of them is Lance Izumi who says, “The walkout in Arizona may have ended on May 3rd, but the fallout is just beginning.” Izumi is an author and a Koret senior fellow in education studies and senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute.
Izumi takes a look at some of the leaders of the strike. He also reports on ways the strikes impacted families, and in some cases caused changes in how they view their local schools and the teachers who work there.
After the strike there was settled, Education Week reported:
“Leaders of the Arizona movement are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to tax the wealthy and use the extra money to pay for education. They are vowing to oust lawmakers and other state officials whom they deem anti-education. (5-17-18)”
Lance Izumi asked in an Education Week opinion commentary, “Are #RedForEd Supporters Hurting Their Own Cause?” #RedForEd is the hashtag used by the striking teachers in several states. The hashtag unites comments, photos, and social media posts across platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The teachers also wore red shirts during their protests and walkouts, as a show of solidarity and support.
Izumi says that “Arizona-the third state to protest teacher pay and conditions- is remarkable for what it reveals about the internal workings of the organizers.” He offers details about “Noah Karvelis, the young music teacher, who is one of the key leaders of the Arizona walkout.” Karvelis wrote an essay titled “From Marx to Trump: Labor’s Role in Revolution” for the online magazine The Progressive Times on February 22, 2017.
Karvelis’ article promotes working class revolution, denounces the ruling class, and bemoans declining union membership and power. He is, quite simply put, a Marxist revolutionary. Izumi doesn’t come out and label him that, but he comes close, saying, “Karvelis’ ultimate goal, then, is not merely to squeeze out more government funding for higher teacher salaries, such as the 20% increase proposed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, but to increase the power of organized labor as a means to a leftist political revolution.”
Izumi also brings attention to another leader, Derek Harris. Harris ‘s “social media posts are replete with venomous anti-Republican comments.” Izumi says that according to Phoenix-based KFYI talk radio, that venom has “galvanized conservative opposition.”
Izumi continues, “Republican lawmakers in Arizona have hammered Karvelis and other walkout leaders.” He reports about an op-ed written by a Republican State Representative who supports more money for teachers but questions the motives of the movement. Rep. Maria Syms says, “#RedForEd leaders Noah Karvelis and Derek Harris claim to be grassroots and nonpartisan. But a look at their recent past reveals the truth.”
Syms says, “Cursory research (my public school teachers taught me well) reveals that #RedForEd’s music teacher leaders, 23-year-old Noah Karvelis and comrade Derek Harris, are political operatives who moved here within the last two years to use teachers and our children to carry out their socialist movement – cue Karvelis’s former boss Bernie Sanders.”
Syms notes that Karvelis left a teaching job in Texas that paid $10,000 more to become an activist in Arizona.
Syms also mentions Karvelis’s leftist leanings. She says, “He’s the media darling, teaching two years in Arizona with a provisional certificate.” She says that he teaches ten-year-old children hip-hop music about hating police and “indoctrinating them in ‘social movements and societal change’ and ‘socioeconomic and racial privilege.”‘
Finally, Syms asks, “So does #RedForEd really have our children’s best interests at heart?”
Intimidated Teachers in a ‘Minefield’
There are also reports of Arizona teachers who didn’t agree with the strike who “were forced into silence due to the tactics of their fellow educators in some instances.”
The Arizona Daily Independent is a publicly supported online publication written by citizens. This source maintains that the media ignored teachers who did not support the walkout.
The Arizona Daily Independent obtained emails from Republican State Representative Kelly Townsend which revealed that teachers were “frustrated and alienated by the protest.” One teacher wrote:
My school, which was once a safe and nurturing place, has become a political minefield. Teachers are wearing [#RedforEd] shirts in front of students, being aggressive with all employees about their beliefs, but not listening to those who may not agree.
Parents Explore Other Options
Another aspect of the strike in Arizona is explained by Izumi. He says the teacher strike has caused parents to rethink their schooling options. He was told by a former teacher who still works as a substitute that she supports the idea of higher wages for teachers. But the strike seemed to cross a line. Izumi says that according to this educator, the walk-out “has caused many families to abandon the public schools in favor of charter schools, private schools, and even homeschooling.”
Izumi reports that an online poster responded to an Arizona Daily Independent article about the strike by writing:
“I will never return my children to the classroom again. I have had issues with poor quality education in two different schools in my area. This [#RedforEd movement] was the last straw.”
Izumi also tells about an interview an Arizona father gave to PBS in Arizona. Forest Moriarty, who is a Phoenix-area father of two school-aged children, found that social media sites were unwelcoming to those who weren’t 100% supportive of the strike. Moriarty said, “If you went to talk to the #RedforEd people on their boards or on their chat areas, if you disagreed with them, even the most minor amount, you would be shouted out.” Moriarty responded to this by creating an alternative group he called “Purple for Parents,” with the intent of offering a free-speech zone and “an anti-walkout perspective.” (The Arizona Republic, 4-24-18) (Education Week, 5-21-18)
While the strike is settled and students and teachers have returned to classrooms, there are those in Arizona and other states who have a different opinion of their neighborhood schools and the school system as a whole than they did before so many teachers chose to strike.
A Reliable College in Liberal California
As some college administrators and professors become more outspoken about their progressive beliefs and students become more loudly supportive of leftist ideology, parents and prospective college applicants are looking more closely at their choices when it comes to higher education.
Thomas Aquinas College is located in Santa Paula, California. It is a Catholic school with a lay faculty. The campus sits on 131 acres about 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean at Ventura, an hour north of Los Angeles. The school backs up to the Los Padres National Forest, known for its protected natural beauty, including hiking trails and the well-known “Punch Bowls” waterfalls.
Students at Thomas Aquinas College (TAC), who number almost 400, study a Great Books curriculum and are awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts degree. The curriculum presents the arts and sciences ofliberal education as a comprehensive whole. There are no majors, minors, electives, and no specializations. The four-year interdisciplinary course of study makes use of original writings of the great philosophers, historians, mathematicians, poets, scientists, and theologians of the West including Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Euclid, Aristotle, Augustine, Shakespeare, Einstein, and especially Thomas Aquinas.
At TAC, there are no textbooks and no classroom lectures. Students and their professors study and discuss together using the seminar discussion method in classes of 15 students. They read only original sources. The curriculum is a conversation in the form of tutorials, seminars, and laboratories guided by professors who assist students in the work of reading, analyzing, and evaluating these great books. Students develop the tools of inquiry, argument, and translation – in critically reading and analyzing texts, in mathematical demonstration, and in laboratory investigation.
Recent graduates include students from 41 U.S. states and several foreign countries, such as Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Nepal, and the United Kingdom.
TAC’s graduation rate is 71 % within four years in contrast to the national average of 39%. Retention rate statistics show that 90% of beginning students in the 2016-17 school year returned for their sophomore year.
The Princeton Review places Thomas Aquinas College on both their “Best Value” and “Financial Aid Honor Roll” lists. US. News & World Report places it in their top tier and named it a “Best Value,” while Kiplinger’s Personal Finance included it in “I 00 Best Values in Private Colleges.” TAC accepts no government or archdiocesan subsidies. Most students receive financial aid, including work-study. The college has a generous financial aid program which expects that no student graduates with debts exceeding $18,000. Many of the students come from large families.
There will soon be a Thomas Aquinas College in New England. From among over 150 schools that showed interest, in 2017 the National Christian Foundation (NCF) chose to transfer ownership of a former Northfield, Massachusetts preparatory school to TAC. The selection of TAC to receive the campus marks positive cooperation between evangelical Christians and Catholics. The college websites states, “The NCF’s donation of the New England campus marks the largest gift in Thomas Aquinas College’s history, consisting of some 100 acres of land that include residence halls, a library and gymnasium, and ample classroom and administration space.”
The college should receive necessary approvals from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education in time to welcome students to the campus in the fall of 2019.
A bus driver in Utah is helping a young girl and her father by combing and styling the child’s hair before they arrive at school. After his wife’s death from cancer, eleven-year-old Isabella’s father made certain she could get ready for school alone since he must leave for work very early, but hair styling was a problem. He initially cut Isabella’s hair very short, but bus driver Tracy Dean, herself a cancer survivor, took notice and started helping. Isabella said, “It makes me excited for the next day to see what she does.” (Fox6Now.com, 3-30-18)
Digital media expert Kim Komando warns that text messages coming to children in emojis, the small characters used on cell phones, could indicate danger. Some characters have specific and sometimes sexual meanings and particular arrangements of the emojis have meanings that wouldn’t be readily apparent to the uninformed. Adults should look at what incoming and outgoing phone messages their child receives. Emoji-only messages could be an indication of shenanigans, either by the child or someone who is victimizing or bullying the child. (Komando.com, 2-25-18)
The Food and Drug Administration says a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by teens from 2011 to 2015 has not slowed. The 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey noted that “1.7 million high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days.” Among those in junior high, the number was 500,000. Some manufacturers seem to be targeting younger taste buds with candy-like flavorings. One e-cigarette called a Juul resembles a flash drive, which makes it easily concealed from parents or teachers. E-cigarettes are gateway instruments to use of tobacco products. The liquid heated in them often contains harmful chemicals, including unintended trace amounts of lead and intentional inclusion of nicotine. (CNN.com, 4-6-18)
Book of the Month
Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President, Charlotte Pence, illustrated by Karen Pence, Regnery, 2018, $18.99
This story is told by an unusual bunny. Marlon Bundo was the first rabbit to ride on Air Force Two. He did so when Vice President Mike Pence and his family moved to Washington, D.C.
Bundo is the BOTUS, or Bunny of the U.S., a take-off on the acronym for the president of the United States, POTUS.
The author, Charlotte Pence, is the daughter of Vice President Mike Pence and the illustrator is the VP’s wife, Karen.
This insider’s look aimed at ages 3-8 ( and their parents) amuses, engages, and educates. Readers will learn where the vice president lives and works and about the duties of the office. The story begins with Bundo and “Grampa” Mike Pence on their way from their home at the Naval Observatory Base to the White House to begin work in the West Wing, down the hall from the president.
An excellent resource section at the end of the story includes details of particular interest to parents and older children.
This delightful and informative book was ridiculed and skewered by leftists. So many of them wrote mean one-star reviews on Amazon that the site had to change policy to only allow verified purchasers to review the book. Critics continued to attack both the book and the Pences, but at least they had to spend money to do so.
Proceeds received by Miss and Mrs. Pence are being donated to Tracy’s Kids and A21. The former is an art therapy program for young cancer patients and the latter is an organization that seeks to end human trafficking.
Today’s late-night talk show hosts aren’t clever, interesting, or amusing in the vein of the late Johnny Carson. It is a cynical, spiteful group, picking on only one political party. A writer for one unfunny host wrote a book with a similar title as an attack on the Pences. Because the Christian family doesn’t favor same-sex marriage, the hero is a gay rabbit and proceeds go to “gay rights” groups.
The late-night TV host whose name is in the title and his staff member were criticized by independent book-sellers for bypassing them and making the book available only through Amazon. The American Bookseller’s Association chief executive said his group “firmly believes that our industry is stronger when we can all compete on a level playing field, and, conversely, that providing one channel a competitive advantage is, in the end, bad for everyone.”
FOCUS: How Hamilton College Defines ‘Academic Rigor’
The insanity that passes for ‘scholarship’ at a radical liberal arts college
by Mary Grabar
First published by Front Page magazine on May 2, 2018. Reprinted with permission.
What do college presidents mean by “academic rigor”? Good “judgment” in the classroom? Making the campus “inclusive”? Recent developments on the campus of Hamilton College after the visit of Paul Gottfried, Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus, Elizabethtown College, provide clues.
Gottfried was invited to speak to two classes by Robert Paquette, Executive Director of the nearby Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI) for the Study of Western Civilization. As I described at AHI’s website, Gottfried on October 25, 2017, discussed conservatism in the United States in “Modern Conservative Politics” in the Government Department, and then gave a lecture based on his recent book, Fascism: The Career of a Concept, in a history course, “Nazi Germany.”
Although he was greeted by students holding signs accusing him of racism, Gottfried gave two informed performances and responded to questions, including hostile ones, with intelligence and courtesy.
Nevertheless, his visit inspired campus-wide denunciations in a letter from the Government Department, editorials in the student newspaper, and a letter from the college president.
Two days after the visit, students, faculty, and administrators received the following proclamation:
We the undersigned full-time members of the Government Department would like to speak out regarding Paul Gottfried’s visit to one of our courses. We are still learning about what transpired on Wednesday … However, we have already heard multiple complaints from students about racist remarks allegedly made by Gottfried. We unequivocally condemn any and all such racist remarks ….
Similarly, the student newspaper vaguely claimed that Gottfried was “espousing hateful opinions” and therefore should not have been allowed on campus. It took until December 4th for President David Wippman to reply, which enraged student Katherine Barnes who wrote an opinion piece in The Spectator, Hamilton College’s student-run weekly newspaper. It is titled “Too little, too late, too tolerant: President Wippman fails to condemn Gottfried.”
But Wippman’s letter would be considered laughable if it weren’t so slanderous. “I write to address issues of serious concern to every member of the Hamilton community,” it began as it addressed “the aftermath” of Gottfried’s visit and repeated the Government Department’s hearsay of”racist remarks.”
Wippman, too, wrote that “racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of bigotry are anathema to our core values.”
“Second,” he intoned, “we are a community that insists upon academic rigor … [W]e should not invite speakers to address subjects on which they have little or no relevant expertise or who espouse views that have no grounding in reason or fact”
Wippman then declared his commitment to the “free and open exchange of ideas,” noting the “dozens, if not hundreds,” of invited speakers every year, but added, “Special considerations apply when a speaker is invited to a class, in which attendance is expected … It is essential that all members of our community exercise good judgment.. .. “
“Academic rigor”? “Good judgment”? History Professor Paquette rightly contends, “no one on Hamilton’s campus approaches” Gottfried’s level of scholarship. He wrote multiple scholarly books on the topics of his lectures.
In contrast, we can examine two members of the faculty recently touted on Hamilton’s website.
Ashley Bohrer, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy, at Hamilton since at least 2016, has a department web page describing her scholarship as “making philosophy transcend disciplinary and institutional boundaries,” with research focusing “on the intersections of capitalism, colonialism, racism, and hetero/sexism in both the early modern period and in the contemporary world.” The page advertises her as “a committed activist who has organized with a variety of feminist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist grassroots collectives.”
Yes, she served on the “education committee” of Occupy Chicago and was an activist with SlutWalk Chicago. At Hamilton, she has taught “Philosophy and Incarceration” (with which she appears to have had firsthand experience) and ”Marxism, Feminism, Antiracism.”
Ms. Bohrer has been bestowed with at least three grants from the college: the “Emerson Foundation Scholars Summer Grant for Collaborative Research,” “Building Inclusive Classrooms Seminar Grant,” and a “Social Innovation and Transformational Leadership Course Development Grant.” Bohrer, though a visiting professor, has been a member of the Hamilton College Humanities Council and of the Arthur Levitt Center Council for Public Affairs. In 2016/2017 she served as an “organizing faculty member” on “problematizing whiteness.”
Her “scholarship”–spouting Marxist drivel — was displayed at the 2016 Marxist Feminist Conference in Vienna. She claims a forthcoming book bearing the title, “Marxism and Intersectionality: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality under Contemporary Capitalism,” infor- mation derived from a notice about her presentation on “gender policing” to Red Bloom, a “Communist Collective” in April.
Canary Mission, which “documents individuals and organizations that promote hatred of the USA, Israel, and Jews on North American college campuses,” describes Bohrer’s numerous anti-Israel activities, including a “leading role in a campaign to occupy an illegal outpost in Israel, in hopes of building a Palestinian settlement.” She vocally supported Steven Salaita, whose tweet in 2014 wishing that more Jews would be kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists prompted the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to withdraw its job offer to him. She has authored several articles that “demonize” Israel and is a founding member of the Syracuse chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace, a group, which, contrary to its name, engages in disrupting pro-Israel speakers and events, and promotes BDS activities, which strongly encourage all entities to Boycott, Divest, and initiate Sanctions against Israel.
Over in the Anthropology Depart- ment, recent tenure-track hire Mariam Durrani is praised for incorporating “feminist and decolonial methodologies” in her research on “Muslim youth and communities, cultural mobilities, higher education in Pakistan and the United States, race, gender, and migration studies”–as well as her use of multimedia and for being “a committed social-justice advocate.”
In April 2017, Ms. Durrani participated in the “Resistance and Complicity to Empire Through Political Movements” panel at the “Beyond Bans, Beyond Walls: Women, Gender, & Islam Symposium” at Harvard Divinity School, along with a Ph.D. candidate, Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, the first elected Muslim politician in Massachusetts, and Haley Rogers, Massachusetts Director of Development and Community Relations for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). [YouTube video of the event shows her employing “Marxism” and “praxis,” and denouncing capitalism and the “military-industrial complex.”]
After class, Hamilton students have had many offerings of speakers and workshops, for which they often receive class credit or extra credit for attending.
On January 18, students were offered the Art Department Visiting Artists Series lunchtime workshop, “Wise Up for Otherwise: Queer Scholarship Into Song,” in which Dr. Kay Turner described “how she writes lyrics from queer texts, and why transforming those texts into song is both an entertaining and necessary mode of queer world making.”
On April 10, Porsha O. (sic) led a writing workshop titled “Glory: On Radical Self-Love.” The student newspaper described her as the Lead-Teaching-Artist & Program Manager at Mass Leap in Boston, and a “renowned poet.” A video from the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam Finals shows the self-described “Black, poet, dyke-goddess, hip-hop feminist, womanist” shouting that she is so “pissed off” about racism, injustice, and slavery that she is ready to “Break my foot open over everybody’s ass,” and repeating, “I’m pissed the F!*k off.” We doubt that students under her tutelage learned how to write sonnets.
Two days after this workshop, on April 12, students were tanatalized with an email from the Hamilton College Womxn’s (sic) Center, asking, “Do you love amazing music about queer lovin’?” and announcing the evening visit of Be Steadwell* (sic). The mailing included a link to her music video containing witch-craft, marijuana-smoking, and lesbianism.
The following evening, students had two events. From 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. in the Chapel, they could hear far-left media commentator and professor of African-American Studies Marc Lamont Hill’s “message to inspire hope, courage, and constructive social change.” At 7:00 p.m. they could learn how to implement such ideas in a workshop titled “Activism 101,” hosted by “Mexican-American spoken word artist David A. Romero.”
A few days later, on April 18, the Sociology Department presented a talk on “LGBTQ+ Polyamory and the Queering of Intimacy” by Dr. Emily Pain, whose “findings speak to current struggles over LGBTQ sexual citizenship…” In the vital research field of “polyamory,” Hamilton students learned, the “voices of queer people of color, of low-income backgrounds, and of trans* [sic] identities have been virtually silenced.”
On April 25, professor Durrani gave a late afternoon presentation titled “What is Islamophobia?” at the Days-Massolo Center, a place of “intercultural dialogue,” which features speakers like Angela Davis. Later, students could go upstairs to the Womxn’s [sic] Center to make “zines,” about “healing, surviving, and trauma” and then discuss agitating for vending machines for birth control and abortifacients, like Plan B.
One would think Hamilton College would value the Alexander Hamilton Institute’s generosity in providing speakers on campus and at leadership dinners at our site, as well as reading clusters on classic works of Western civilization. Instead, they have pressured students, especially African-Americans, to stay away from the AHI, and ignored threats against AHI-affiliated students, including in 2016 on the leader of the campus Republican Club, now defunct.
But in totalitarian regimes, alternate views cannot be tolerated.
Mary Grabar, Ph.D., is a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization in Clinton, New York. She taught college English for twenty years, most recently at Emory University. She is also founder and executive director of Dissident Prof, a 501(3) nonprofit educational organization (www.dissidentprof.com). Her writing can be found at www.marygrabar.com