Offense culture at my own school: student party reported as racist because its theme was “construction workers”, and it was held on May 5

Last week the local student newspaper (the Maroon) published several letters and editorials expressing outrage  about a party apparently held by a fraternity at the University of Chicago. The outrage seemed to be connected with racism, cultural appropriation, and the Cinco de Mayo holiday; but I couldn’t make out what was going on.  Some of the letters, like this one, were so badly written I couldn’t understand them (note to students: please explain your topic at the beginning of your piece.)

Then I found out from an article in the paper that a local fraternity, FIJI (Phi Gamma Delta) was being accused of all sorts of bad things because it held a party on May 5—Cinco de Mayo. Was the party Mexican-themed, causing outrage and accusations of cultural appropriation? Did the students wear serapes or sombreros? No. The theme was construction. Yes, as in “construction of buildings”.

It turns out that the FIJI house had been under renovation for two years, and the fraternity (none of these formally affiliated with the University) were celebrating the completion of renovations with a party. Attendees were invited to wear construction-worker outfits and “get hammered” (U.S. slang for “get drunk”). Here’s the original announcement, as the paper reports:

The original cover photo of the event pictured four FIJI brothers with Photoshopped construction hats, with the party title “FIJI Presents: Get Hammered.”. . . The theme was later changed, and the time of the event was switched to midnight—changing the date of the party from May 5 to May 6, after the end of Cinco de Mayo.

But there was a mistake, though it didn’t figure in the subsequent conflagration:

One fraternity brother also posted on the event page, “What’s the mustache policy for tonight? Asking for an amigo.”

That’s all that happened, but it was enough to start a fracas here.

As the College Fox reported (verified by the Maroon article):

The left-wing Latino student group MEChA issued a veiled threat May 4 to anyone who might violate “the fine line between celebrating culture on a national holiday and undermining the cultural dignity of a group through ignorant and ill-intentioned appropriation.” (Note to MEChA: May 5 is not a national holiday in Mexico.)

After “individuals wearing hard hats, reflective construction vests, and overalls” were spotted at the party, several multicultural organizations penned an open letter calling the party “racially insensitive.”

It discloses that a MEChA member directly asked a party organizer to change the construction theme, and that person agreed.

Because some people showed up in construction gear anyway, FIJI showed its “privilege and authority by blatantly disregarding the concerns of marginalized groups without facing disciplinary actions,” the letter says:

“Moreover, this event was an attack on the mental and emotional well-being of marginalized students on campus.”

The “veiled threat” didn’t even say anything about mustaches; it simply mentioned the “potential for yet another incident of collective, overt, and insensitive racial stereotyping.” (The letter was co-signed by the Organization of Latin American Students, the Organization of Black Students, and the African Caribbean Students Organization.) On May 8, another letter was written by the same group, expressing outrage that the construction-themed party had apparently place after being told the theme would be altered. Here’s a screenshot of part of that letter:

I don’t get it. It wasn’t a racist party, but one highlighting construction of the FIJI house. I’m truly baffled at how anybody could consider that offensive—unless the party was on Cinco de Mayo (a Friday)—but even that’s not offensive, as there was no Mexican theme. Is nobody supposed to hold a party on that date? Apparently not.

Nevertheless, the fraternity issued an abject apology, which included this:

Unfortunately this [an admonition to the members to abjure construction-themed clothing] did not dissuade some brothers from wearing construction themed attire.

. . . We would like to express our sincerest apologies to any individual who may have felt discriminated against by the event. We should have been more proactive in preventing any sort of perceived discrimination to be involved in our event. Our intent was only to host an event in celebration of the (near) completion of the lengthy construction process of our house, which is still ongoing. The intent was entirely positive, and in no way meant to belittle any people group. Still, unintended consequences are consequences. Going forward, this will not happen again. While unintentional, it is unacceptable that people felt marginalized in any way by the event. For all future FIJI events, the entire cabinet will have to approve the theme unanimously.

Further, we do ask from now on, that the president is contacted directly when concerns about an event or theme arise. The email address of the president of the chapter for any given year can be found on the FCS website, FIJI was and is meant to represent a safe space on the University’s campus, and we fell short of our goal. We again apologize to any individual or groups that may have felt marginalized by the event.

Clyde Anderson
President, Chi Upsilon chapter of Phi Gamma Delta

And the party was reported to the University’s Bias Response Team as a racist event:

First-year and MEChA chair of community engagement Andrés Cruz Leland says he saw individuals dressed in construction gear at the FIJI party from his window in Max Palevsky East.

“I glanced out and could see various, I assume, FIJI brothers in construction hats, as well as vests and overalls. So I was immediately extremely alarmed and frustrated because I thought that this would not be happening at all that night and they had made it very clear that they did not want that to happen and were doing their best not to have this stereotype of Mexicans be portrayed on Cinco de Mayo,” Cruz Leland said in an interview with The Maroon. “But that was not the case at all.”

Cruz Leland thought at the time that immediate action was necessary, primarily because some students were considering a violent response. He contacted his Resident Heads (RHs), who informed him of the various avenues he could use to report the incident, namely the Bias Response Team and administrators addressing Title IX.

According to Cruz Leland, at around 11 p.m., his RHs filed an incident report with the Assistant Dean of Housing on-call that night.

“It was made clear in the conversation with the Assistant Dean that this was seen by me as a racist event,” he said.

Fortunately, the University of Chicago found no grounds for complaint, with the Maroon reporting that “the administration [did] not see this incident as harassment as it was neither ‘pervasive’ nor did it occur on multiple occasions.”

But suppose it had: suppose there were two  construction-themed parties? What then?

I’m truly puzzled by how this event could be construed, even by the most delicate snowflake, as racist or offensive. Can someone enlighten me? This is especially distressing to me as it’s happening on my campus, and I see stuff like this almost daily. I’m living right in the middle of the Rise of the Student Outrage Culture, and it’s not pretty. Students seem to be looking for an excuse to be offended and outraged.

At any rate, Bias Response Teams are proliferating in American colleges and universities, and they can have a chilling effect on free speech. Check out the “further reading” below.

h/t: BJ


Further reading:

FIRE’s (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education‘s) extensive “Bias Response Team Report” shows that these teams are proliferating, and while in principle they could be useful, in practice they’ve often been used to suppress speech

An article in The New Republic:  “The Rise of ‘Bias Response Teams’ on Campus“.

The University of Chicago’s Bias Response Team page, which seems less invidious than most because it seems to enforce only harassment prohibited by law.



  1. BJ
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Hey all, I’m timberhoood, the one who sent Jerry these articles. I thought it was so important and right up his alley.

    I’m not posting this to toot my own horn, but rather to provide a couple of other links of similar, even more ridiculous “bias incidents.” Here’s one:

    If you don’t feel like clicking on the link, and Asian American student wrote in to bias incident report office that “There was a white female student that kept making glares at me and another student. She would glare at both of us and then continue to proceed on her phone. This proceeded for 2 hours. Both me and the victim were Asian American women. I don’t know if race plays a part in it. Though this event was small and seemingly insignificant, it made me and the other victim feel unsafe, uncomfortable and paranoid. We did not approach this person.” Yes, they were made to feel “unsafe” because a white girl looked at them.

    In that same article, you’ll find another bias report sent into the same team (U of Wisconsin), saying, “It’s nothing serious, but I feel I need to get this out of my mind. Around 2pm afternoon last Friday, I went to Gordon Market to grab some late lunch, and got french toast from one of the male kitchen staffs there. I don’t know why but he gave me a clearly quite burnt toast among all other breads that were not burnt. I was so shocked but I couldn’t say anything and just accepted it. I am a female Asian student.” Yes, because she got a piece of burnt french toast, she felt there must be racism going on. Notice how she mentions her race, as if that makes the toast and the cafeteria worker who served it to her (and I imagine that worker is far less “privileged” than she is) completely racist.

    You can read a whole slew of ridiculous bias reports at the U of Oregon here:

    That link also includes that university’s insane flow chart for how to identify and deal with “bias incidents.”

    Finally, we have colleges now paying their own students to tell on other students for perceived “bias,” for example at the U of Arizona ( They’re literally creating a secret police where any one of your fellow students could be the student who is watching you, being paid by the hour by your school, waiting for you to make the slightest perceived slip-up so they can get you punished, ostracized, or even expelled.

    This is truly frightening stuff, folks.

    • BJ
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      And thank you, Jerry, for spreading the info on this. It’s incredibly important for people (especially those with children who may soon go off to college) to know what is happening. Thank you for responding to the email and making a post.

    • Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Sane students need to organize a campaign to short-circuit this insanity: just bombard their complaint department with an endless series of inane and ridiculous “incidents”.

      • Michiel
        Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        It would also be nice if people and organisations would stop… bloody… apologizing whenever they are confronted with these ridiculous demands and threats.

        • Genghis
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

          Exactly. It’s just like the English (and Japanese) habit of apologising for something, even if it’s not your fault, just to defuse any animosity.

          • Merilee
            Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink


            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

              I would argue that it’s a lot more defensible (and justifiable) to say ‘sorry’ automatically if you bump into somebody, it helps as you say to defuse the situation; than to apologise unnecessarily when you’ve been confronted with a stupid and unreasonable demand and had time to consider it.


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

          Most fervently agreed.

          I’m not sure which is more culpable and annoying – organisations who quite flatly refuse to apologise when they have quite clearly f***ked up and there are bodies everywhere; and oranisations who grovel when they have done absolutely nothing wrong and thereby just reward and encourage these offence-monkeys to do it again.


          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

            I would argue that it’s a lot more defensible (and justifiable) to say ‘sorry’ automatically if you bump into somebody, it helps as you say to defuse the situation; than to apologise unnecessarily when you’ve been confronted with a stupid and unreasonable demand and had time to consider it.


            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

              Oh bugger, that was a reply to Genghis, not to my own comment. WordPress made me** put it in the wrong place. 😦

              Err, sorry for the double-posting… 🙂

              **It couldn’t possibly be my own cock-up, of course. I just get fumble-fingered when confronted with WP. I don’t think I’m the only one.

              • merilee
                Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

                We’ll forgive you, cr, at least I think we will, unless someone gets his/her knickers in a twist therefrom…

    • Bob Murray
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      An Asian student ordering French Toast. Not even a whiff of a sense of irony!

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Is “French Toast” a dish that a Frenchman would even recognise?

        • Bob Murray
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          Assuming gender? Fascist!

        • Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          They call it “pain perdu”, if that matters. I suspect it’s no more french fries.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

            C’est tout un croque de monsewer.

      • Merilee
        Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink


    • barn owl
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      There was a white female student that kept making glares at me and another student. She would glare at both of us and then continue to proceed on her phone. This proceeded for 2 hours.

      This is pretty much on the level of those contrived squabbles you have with your siblings at the breakfast table, when you’re a young child. “Moooommmm, she’s STARING at me…” “Noooo staahhhp LOOKING at meeee NAO.” etc. Just get a cereal box and put it between you and the offending starer. Sheesh.

      • Merilee
        Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Cereal boxes were good for more than just fighting over the toys inside ( I’ve got three younger brothers).

        • barn owl
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          Always after me Lucky Charms …

          Ooops, was that offensive? ;-D

  2. Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    “I’m truly puzzled by how this event could be construed, even by the most delicate snowflake, as racist or offensive.”

    Because the snowflakes really aren’t that delicate. They are fast becoming bullies who intimidate and threaten those outside their identity and ideological group.

    So this has little to do with being offended, and more with mounting an “offensive” against groups of people and organizations that they feel should be dis-empowered. To many on the left, fraternities are inherently bad and any pretext for attacking them should be fully taken advantage of.

    The fact that the fraternity had to scramble to issue such an apology shows the degree of power the regressive left has in the University space .

    • Harrison
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      The term is “crybully.”

  3. Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I suspect MEChA suspects that the construction theme on Cinco refers to the high percentage of construction workers who are Latino. The mustache tweet confirmed their suspicion. Whether FIJI intended that or not I don’t know, but the fraternity should be condemned for appropriating the name of a Melanesian archipelago as its own.

    • Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Yeah. If you have a “Cinco de Mayo” party and instead of sombreros everyone wears hardhats and overalls, it is conceivable that the intent is to “dress like a Mexican” (because Mexicans work construction). That’s racially insensitive and offensive, but that was pretty obviously not the intent. It seems to be just a coincidence that the construction party was planned for May 5th. That may not be the case, but after reading the apology it is hard for me to believe this group was trying to be offensive.

      • Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Other possibilities for offensive costuming of this sort: field workers’ clothes, chef’s clothes, hotel/motel workers’ clothes, waiters/waitresses clothes,agricultural food processing clothes (turning vegetables and fruits in to frozen or canned foods), industrial food animal raising clothes, food animal processing clothes (killing animals for consumption by humans), animal dismemberment clothes (a la workers at chicken processing factories), and on and on.

        The chefs at my favorite Chinese restaurant (now closed because the landlord wouldn’t re-up the lease) were hispanics.

        • Posted May 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          Most of the best Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, etc. food in New York City is cooked by Ecuadorians. And to a lesser extent Mexicans, but only Mexicans from Puebla.

          • Merilee
            Posted May 16, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

            What’s special about Puebla? ( one of my best friend’s daughters married a guy from Puebla and lives there)

            • Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

              I heard it’s just because a guy from Puebla did well in a restaurant and told friends and family to follow him and they told their friends and family and on and on it went. There’s not a lot of Mexicans in NYC, but the ones that are here and work in restaurants tend to come primarily from Puebla.

    • somer
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Fiji is nothing to do with Hispanic and why shouldn’t they call their frat Fiji if its a fun abbreviation of Phi Gee (Phi Gamma Delta)

      The MEChA could have easily checked the construction theme was nothing insulting about characterising the jobs of many Mexicans but to do with their residence being completed. Getting Hammered is an amusing theme for a party after all. The moustache tweets were unfortunate but they are not mentioned in any of MEChAs concerns and they came from one tweeter. Besides a great many peoples besides Mexicans are construction workers, especially, I imagine up north.
      “Moreover, this event was an attack on the mental and emotional well-being of marginalized students on campus.” Sounds a bit precious for construction workers to me. Except that the precious demand a lot of grovelling.

      • Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        The FIJI statement was a (lame) joke. The Latino construction worker connection was a hypothesis, which PCC asked for.

        • somer
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

          Oh dear I had an irony bypass

      • Taz
        Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        If either the fraternity or Mecha thought this was insulting, it just goes to show how out of touch they are with the working class. Construction jobs are sought after and not that easy to get. If there’s an issue with Hispanics and construction jobs it would be NOT being able to get one because of bigotry.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          Not sure who has the bigger ‘right’ to be offended – Hispanics being stereotyped as construction workers, or construction workers being labelled as Mexicans. And Mexican construction workers can be doubly offended at their identity being culturally appropriated.

          Hey, let’s *all* be offended!


          • Taz
            Posted May 15, 2017 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

            I have a feeling most Mexican construction workers would tell Mecha to fuck off.

  4. charitablemafioso
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    The only thing I can think of is it’s common for Latin American immigrants to work in construction (at least where I live) and someone equated immigrants who work construction with a party on Cinco de Mayo to racism and offense. It’s quite a leap in logic, but I’ve noticed there are very few boundaries for those who are making a profession out of being offended.

    • charitablemafioso
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Darwinwins beat me to it.

  5. Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    At any rate, Bias Response Teams are proliferating in American colleges

    I initially misread that as ‘profiteering’.

  6. Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    This is absurd. I must say however that the whole fraternity/sorority thing has always sounded a little vulgar to me, not having that cultural background! oops! …but then – I would not want to culturally appropriate that 😉

  7. Randy schenck
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    My first thought was – at least this is not Penn State. Nothing like a little manslaughter to offend everyone. Fortunate it was not a Village People party or the whole fraternity would be locked up. Will shut up now a go back to my safer place, off campus.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Nothing like a little manslaughter to offend everyone.

      Personslaughter, puhleeze!

      • Randy schenck
        Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Well, the dead person was a guy, in fact one of them. They just found it convenient to leave a very drunk fellow who had fallen down the stairs lying there for 12 or 15 hours. They did attempt to step over him.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          “They did attempt to step over him.”

          You mean some of them failed?

          (This would never happen in New Zealand. The guy was an obvious tripping hazard. Health & Safety would have the area cordoned off – heck, they’d shut down the building – until the hazard – err, guy – had been removed and the area made safe.)

          (Nobody ever accused me of good taste…)

  8. beanfeast
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Re the Latino student groups use of the phrase “veiled threat”. They obviously aren’t concerned about how maligned the Muslim sisters would feel.

    • beanfeast
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Ignore my previous comment. I misread the paragraph in which it occurred.

  9. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    And this was all published in The Maroon?

    How singularly appropriate!


    • Doug
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      While I get the Bugs Bunny reference, I feel compelled to point out that “Maroon” was also a term applied to communities of runaway enslaved persons. For anyone else to use the term is inappropriate appropriation and is a form of violence and I demand that someone do something because my mental and emotional well-being is under attack. And I’m still waiting for someone to give me a coloring book.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 16, 2017 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        Oh good. I was hoping someone would notice my sarcasm. It isn’t a good day unless you piss somebody off… 😉

        I’m a little surprised the editors of The Maroon haven’t realised the politically incorrect connotations of their name by now.


  10. Michael Fisher
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I took the moustache reference to be to do with the 1970s Village People musical disco combo which included a chap with moustache in construction clobber & even a Red Indian**! A fine act!

    ** yes I’m sticking with “Red Indian” so GFY

    • Bob Murray
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      So now all Mexicans are Gay? Homophobic and racist. You sir, deserve a public thrashing! This ultra PC bollocks is a piece of piss!

    • Colin McLachlan
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Good point about the moustache. I think you may be right, so no reference at all to Mexicans, but possibly offensive to gays…

  11. jsoon71
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    It’s telling to me that the email exchange about mustaches involved one of the brothers pointing out that “if you have to ask, it’s probably a bad idea.” That makes it pretty clear, to me at least, that there was no racist intent in the construction-based theme, and that the fraternity members are actually pretty sensitive to these issues.

    But, I guess nowadays intent doesn’t matter. This kind of stuff is written into harassment policies at many places. If your words or actions offend someone or make them feel uncomfortable, even if they weren’t directly involved (e.g., they overheard something you said, or even heard second hand about a conversation that took place), you may be subject to a harassment complaint.

    So, presumably it doesn’t matter whether there was a racist motive behind the construction worker theme. That some individuals perceived it that way is all that’s important.

    • somer
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      and thats dangerous

    • BJ
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      There’s actually saying for this among the regressive left: “intent isn’t magic.” It’s used whenever someone takes offense at something innocuous, that something is explained as to how it is, indeed, innocuous, and then the regressives all scream “intent isn’t magic!” As in, it doesn’t matter what you intended, it doesn’t even matter if you’re right, you offended, and thus must be punished.

      • Posted May 15, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        They need to learn that offense isn’t magic, either.

      • jsoon71
        Posted May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I’ve heard that. I can understand the idea that one’s actions can cause unintended harm, but when “harm” is defined so broadly, it really seems like a problem.

  12. Mark Reaume
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The cultural appropriation bandwagon has come full force in Canada as well. It was even discussed on the National – Canada’s nightly national news hour.

    Here is a decent summary of the story:

    • Merilee
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, just groaned over this in this morning’s Globe😖

  13. Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I assume the frat consisted mostly of (eventually) old, sad, white, males.

  14. Hempenstein
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink


  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I’ve got no time or patience for fraternity boys — either the ones on campus, or the warmed-over variety one encounters in the halls of justice, or in the boardrooms, or elsewhere. And I’m sympathetic to minorities trying to make their way through a majoritarian institution.

    But it takes a chiropteran-like sonar for offense-and-grievance to suss out a problem here. You’d have to be constantly scouring the horizon for the slightest sign.

    Would that these aggrieved kids had half as much sensitivity to how foolish they make themselves look carping on this stuff.

  16. DrBrydon
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Shouldn’t they be studying? Finals are coming up.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Doubtless, but if they were delinquent in that respect, it would show up in their exam results, it needs no policing from the Political Correctness commissars.


  17. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    It was as inevitable as night following day that the reaction from the illiberal left to the last nine months, the most seismic political shift of my lifetime, would be to blithely carry on with and even double down on their idiotic ideology.

    What they are doing to liberalism is so damaging – they are effectively acting as a sort of ‘useful idiot’ branch of the right’s propaganda arm, as can be seen from the fact that there is a slew of conservative websites whose sole purpose is to scan the latest student-run newspapers and print the fuckwittery that they inevitably find there, and yet they will spring upon the slightest hint of anything on campus that they believe might be ‘used by the right’.

    They underestimate the right, because they never speak to them or argue with them, and so they think the right does nothing but pump out blind, unsubtle racism. So they miss the fact that they are just doing the right’s work for them, and the more of these cretinous stories of authoritarian excess that the general public hear, the longer the rehabilitation period left-liberalism will require once(if) we pull out of this worldwide rightward shift. My opinion is that only people who don’t actually care about the left or liberalism, or progressive politics in general, would consistently make such obvious tactical missteps.

    • BJ
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Oh, you’re right about them being useful idiots for the right’s rise and continued hold on power, but I think you’re wrong in your last sentence. It’s righteous anger that fuels them. They think they’re “on the right side of history” and actively making the world better. They don’t see these things as tactical mistakes, but righteous action.

    • Tom
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Years ago I remember a David Attenborough had a film clip showing a bird furiously tearing up bits of grass. This oddity was explained as displacement behaviour because the bird had just lost a fight with another bird and was taking out its frustration on the grass.
      It seems that in the US many on the left having lost out to Trump are doing the same.

      • Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        What the Left needs is more grass.

        • Tom
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          Why didn’t I see that coming?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 15, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

          You holdin’?

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted May 16, 2017 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        Yes, many are. Many OTOH are outraged by the unprecedented awfulness of this administration and are doing everything they can to hold it to account. They are the genuine liberal-left.

        The people in this article are the people who don’t actually care that much either way – they’re just playing at politics. Anyone who actually cared about whether Trump was in power or not would be thinking tactically, electorally, and acting in such a way as to both strengthen the liberal-left and weaken the Trump-right. These students are doing the exact opposite.

    • Anshul
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I hardly think idiot college students are in any way representative of liberalism. Most democrats and liberals would find these things just as insane.

      • Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        Try to tone down that language a bit please.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted May 16, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        That’s why I described them as the ‘illiberal-left’. I also wrote that they clearly “don’t care” about liberalism. At least read my post before you nitpick.

      • BJ
        Posted May 16, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        The unfortunate fact is that, for a huge portion of the populace at large, this is what they see now when they see “liberal” or “the left.” When you keep pulling this crap for years, and most of the population doesn’t exactly engage in the most nuanced of thinking or have time to constantly read up on politics, these things become representative of larger groups in the public consciousness.

        As a left-libertarian, it saddens me deeply.

  18. justin seabury
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Maybe they were just mad they weren’t invited to the party? Seriously though, I would think that America largely respects construction workers, regardless of race. At least I do.

  19. FloM
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    It is quite common for gay men to dress up as construction workers for say Christopher Street day. Is this also inadmissible?

    • Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Are they accompanied by a Native American?

      With a bit of luck there’ll be a cop nearby.

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I did a Google images search on construction worker. Of the first 18 images, two are African and two are Asian and none are Hispanic.

    I call bovine chips.

  21. Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    “I’m truly puzzled by how this event could be construed, even by the most delicate snowflake, as racist or offensive. Can someone enlighten me?”

    I haven’t frequented construction sites lately, but perhaps construction workers are now disproportionately hispanic.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted May 16, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      If that’s the case it’s a change that’s passed me by completely. Admittedly I don’t frequent building sites that often*.
      I have to say though, I’m a bit tired of the constant reinforcement by some centrist/centre-left liberals of the right’s ‘snowflakes’ and ‘SJWs’ narrative. It’s not that any of these stories aren’t ridiculous and damaging, and that liberals above all should be criticising them; it’s more that I think there are more pressing concerns in the form of right-wing nationalism, tribalism, populism and the current American government. If I visit Quillette for example, I see relatively little about the recrudescence of the hard-right and nationalism in the western world. Instead it’s critiques of left-wing identity politics and political correctness, and the comments sections are populated by a lot of right-wing anti-SJWs and Trump sympathisers.
      I think recent events should have shaken the likes of Quillette and Dave Rubin just as much as it should have shaken the people in this article. I feel like both groups would be better off shifting emphasis; a little in the case of the former and a lot in the case of the latter.

      *Hard to believe, I know.

      • BJ
        Posted May 16, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        If you want the left to be effectively take on the right, it first needs to purge this crap, because this is what the populace at large (most people aren’t as politically or intellectually engaged as those on this site or perhaps in your social circle) see as the representatives of the left.

        And why shouldn’t they? These are the people who scream the loudest, do the most outrageous things, make the most news, have set up shop in various online and other news outlets (like Buzzfeed, the formerly-Gawker-owned family of websites, HuffPo, etc.), and we have seen many a Democratic politician co-opt these movements and their languages in attempts to win them over.

        If we don’t solve this problem — and, make no mistake, it is the left’s problem to solve — we will find ourselves dwindling even further in power, both political and cultural.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

          I agree with you – this is something that truly damages left-wing politics, and genuine liberals should be, and are, fighting against it. But the problem with taking up a liberal, centre-ground position as your anchor is that almost inevitably you will begin to drift in one direction or another. This is what seems to be happening to Dave Rubin, Quillette and other ‘muscular liberals'(I would count myself as one*).
          Sometimes it feels like they/we are shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to the clown-car left, and almost wholly ignoring something far, far more serious, which is the recrudescence of hard-right nationalism.
          It’s true that identity politics and overcompensatory political correctness have helped chivvy along the aforementioned recrudescence, so I’m not saying we give up on heavily criticising those things, but there should be more of a balance. And if a socio-political website professes to be liberal or centrist yet the vast majority of its articles centre on ridiculous, petty infractions by a group of left-wing students, at the expense of anything about the current Trump administration, or the rightward shift in the UK, or Marie Le Pen managing to get a third of the populace of France to vote for an avowedly far-right organisation…then it is not really doing its job and I smell bad faith.

          At the heart of this I think it’s important to admit that for a lot of us, writing or reading about the latest absurdity emanating from the illiberal-left actually feels good, in the same way that a Daily Mail reader scanning its pages feels good after reading their daily quotient of stories about murderous immigrants or scrounging benefit thieves. Anything that feels good in this way…we should be careful about it.

          I’m not suggesting any kind of radical change in the way we think – just a realignment, a shift in emphasis, that places the ascendance of the far-right firmly alongside the failures of the left in terms of importance.

          *’muscular’ in an entirely metaphorical sense unfortunately.

          • BJ
            Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

            I just think there are more than enough outlets out there already talking about Trump and fighting him and his administration, and probably everyone who comments here already frequents those places as well.

            We don’t need balance on this particular site. There are fare more outlets for what you speak of than for tamping down this regressive left problem.

            That’s just my opinion, anyway.

  22. TJR
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Like everyone else, I’m struggling to work out who is being offended and why.

    It seems that it is offensive to middle class Mexican students to suggest that some of their compatriots are (shudder) working class.

    • Posted May 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      It does speak more to the racism of the offended in the kinds of stereotypes that they balk at such as the anecdote:

      “Mrs. Digby told me that when she lived in London with her sister Mrs. Brooke, they were, every now and then, honoured by the visits of Dr. Samuel Johnson. He called on them one day, soon after the publication of his immortal Dictionary. The two ladies paid him due compliments on the occasion. Amongst other topics of praise, they very much commended the omission of all naughty words. “What! my dears! then you have been looking for them?” said the moralist. The ladies, confused at being thus caught, dropped the subject of the dictionary.” –

  23. Posted May 15, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t that the final stage? Typically, one of the shrieking crybullies signalizes feeling victimized, the others around them then guess-rationalize what might have caused it, and mount their steed as they ride to battle, with an acute sense of social media, and history, watching: they are the good people! On right side of history! Fighting the good fight!

    Or as they see it.

    In the final stage, their target, the offending party, does all the work, and is made to apologize for something. The witch who is tortured long enough until she thinks up some offence, just to get over with it. This way, the crybullies assert power and control. They can then afterwards continue to attack their target, made them apologize more, and — preferably — go die in a fire.

    Good people should refrain from soul-searching, finding reasons, refrain from dialogue options, never engage, never apologize. What’s more, resist that ever smaller, nonseniscal things are seen as offensive. Rather defend that people can make their Mexican tequila-sombrero pary. The US is a racist country, but tequila parties and such are certainly not the issue. How about wealth equality? How about quality education even in poor areas? How about empowerment of students etc.

    The Woke Postmodernists are NOT interested in dialogue, good faith, or genuine improvement, causes, or any such things — they are sadistic, social dominators and authoritarians who should never be allowed near power or control over others.

    In one respect they have to be treated as you would treat a dog. Even if the dog really needs to get outside, you should never put it in charge. You have to call it off; wait a minute and then you want to step outside. The point is: not they determine the agenda, ever, people who are fair, and responsible should take the lead.

  24. red
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Think of it in game theoretic terms. Demonstrate a general eagerness to fly into a rage at the even the most ridiculous offense and people will strenuously avoid any point of contention with you. There’s no reason not to do this, there’s really no downside to the party engaging in this behavior.

    • Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      So they are hawks? Not an ESS : ).

  25. Merilee
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps The Village People should take offense, and by extension, the entire LGBTQ community…This makes no sense at all.

  26. Sastra
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t read all the comments, so somebody else may have thought that the joking question about the mustaches was in reference to Mario Brothers, and had nothing to do with Mexicans. That one small question might have been what set it off?

    If so, then the Chicago branch of the Italian Defamation League must be notified. They might send someone around to talk to the boys.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      “They might send someone around to talk to the boys.”

      What a shocking statement. That was a clear reference to the Mafia and gangster tactics and a violent and disgusting slur on all those of Italian descent who are not mafiosi. Both of them.


  27. Doug
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    “This event was an attack on the mental and emotional well-being of marginalized students on campus.”

    If your mental and emotional well-being are jeopardized by the sight of someone dressed as a construction worker, I’d say that they were pretty shaky to begin with.

  28. Posted May 16, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Burnt Toast a racial comment ? I give up !

  29. Merilee
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Quilette today is germane to our discussion.

  30. Carly
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Sometimes, I think students who do stuff like this are just looking for attention since they’ve now seen that they can get it.

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