Antifas in statu nascendi: Portland high school students denigrate free speech as “legitimizing hate”

Stuff like these letters—particularly the last one—make me despair of the future. Fortunately, I’ll be dead when my Left has been completely co-opted by intolerant Social Justice Warriors. Reader Gary sent me three links to letters in The Oregonian (the local daily paper) by students from Grant High School in Portland, Oregon. (Portland, of course, is the placenta for Antifa and Social Justice Central.) Click on each screenshot to see the letter.

The first two are from students (one conservative, one apparently moderate) who criticize the lack of “viewpoint diversity” in their school, meaning that conservative viewpoints aren’t tolerated. Apparently there are students with who harbor conservative views, but they’re afraid to air them because they’ll be ridiculed and demonized. The third letter is absolutely stunning in its pomposity, its certainty, its intolerance, and, most of all, in its claim that free speech for conservatives simply serves to “legitimize hate”. Already in high school, the two students who wrote that last letter are so mired in identity politics that they’ll never extricate themselves, and will hector both Right and Left for the rest of their lives.

I’ll give a few quotes from the letters, but read the last one in particular to see what the future holds for Americans:

Reid seems pretty conservative, apparently defending gun rights and Confederate statues, which of course will render him untouchable to the students. I disagree with him, but his fellow students’ response to his views, and the tenor of the school in general, seems pretty scary:

At the start of the year, I was lambasted and berated by two people in my U.S. History class for my beliefs regarding Confederate statues and symbolism. I know I presented my beliefs in a polite, direct manner only to be met with screaming, swearing, and other behaviors not acceptable in a classroom setting. My history teacher failed to interfere with this, citing that they were “emotional about their beliefs”. Of course, emotions are often important factors in deciding our actions and ideals, but emotions must be controlled, especially in an academic environment. Instead of countering my belief with facts, logic, or reason, these people expressed themselves using intimidation. They went so far as to tell my football coach that I was a racist and misogynist, which eventually made its way around the school. People wouldn’t talk to me because of rumors they heard about the apparently hateful, bigoted things I said. Allowing pernicious behaviors like this to occur and thrive destroys any chance of developing intelligent leftists who are able to compete in an unbiased academic debate.

. . . My younger brother’s teacher frequently wore a shirt to school that said “Yes, he’s a racist”, clearly in regard to President Donald J. Trump. Ideological homogeneity isn’t just peer enforced, it’s implicitly created by the staff at Grant.

In a way, this ideological bubble has pushed me further right, as I wouldn’t have even considered myself conservative at the start of the year. However, numerous instances like the ones described have proved to me that the school has failed its students, both conservative and liberal. I know I’m not isolated in this. Students across the school, state and nation are growing tired of the liberal agenda frequently pushed in high schools and colleges. Privately, students at Grant have admitted that they hold some of the same, conservative beliefs as me, but fear social isolation or ridicule for publicly expressing them.

These are the minds that Grant seeks to nurture, develop and protect. But Grant is not doing them any favors by allowing a learning environment to become as twisted and corrupt as it currently stands.

Twisted and corrupt? Hey, it’s Portland, Jake! That’s the normal there!

Here’s a more moderate student who mourns the loss of free discussion at Grant:

The ideological monotony within my school is painfully obvious. I’m now entering my fourth year in high school, but have yet to meet a single student willing to openly declare himself a Republican. Is it really possible that, out of the 1,500 kids in my school, not a single one even leans conservative? No, it’s not. Instead, a number of students have told me privately that peer pressure and their fear of incurring the wrath of today’s blasphemy-hunting political scolds has led them to keep silent.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a conservative, nor am I a Trump supporter. But I’d like to be able to talk to one, to debate with one, to learn from one. However, in an atmosphere where different ideas are met with harsh disapproval, this simply cannot happen.

. . . In any event, condemning and shaming people won’t change any minds. In a culture of stark political polarization like ours, you cannot win people over by demanding they be punished for wrong-think. You change minds with debate, with civil discourse and through the battle of ideas. You demonstrate your ideas are better by using evidence and reason, not coercion and disciplinary measures.

I ought to know. As captain of our school’s “Mock Trials” club and a member of the national championship Grant High School Constitution Team, I’ve seen the power of free and open debate in action. It is America’s greatest weapon. It is the means by which the founders of this country forged a nation from 13 disparate colonies and by which today’s majority national consensus in favor of civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and care for the environment was constructed. This consensus did not exist 50 years ago. It was midwifed by free speech and open debate.

Kline’s well written letter concludes reasonably:

. . . .when the question “Do we, as a school, need more diversity of opinion?” was asked to a class of mine, all twenty-plus students unanimously agreed that we do.

Some said that they would like to hear another point of view. Others said they’d like to share their own. But every student agreed that more needed to be done to foster a culture in which ideas, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum, can be shared openly and freely.

I honestly don’t know the answer to how we can revitalize free speech, civil discourse and all-night coffee shop debates.  But I do know how to find the answer: let’s debate it.

Some of my University of Chicago colleagues and students—not to mention alumni—who signed a petition to ban Steve Bannon from speaking here this fall, don’t have near the perspicacity of this young man.  In fact, they’re closer to the two signatories of the following letter, whose prose is not only unbearably hectoring and pompous, but whose message is that free speech is not okay if it comes from conservatives. Mark my words, Ms. Ernst and Mr. Quinn-Ward will, in a few years, be wearing black bandanas over their faces and throwing flaming trash cans through shop windows.

Read and weep. A sample, which begins by questioning the motives of the students who wrote the first two letters:

In an attempt to prove their point, both pieces victimize conservative voices and provide superficial perspectives that fail to address power structures. As students who have attended Grant, we have the necessary situational understanding to break down these complaints and address the larger context to the rhetoric of free speech.

At the core, these students are not arguing for free speech. They are merely upset that reactions to opinions — often founded in hate — are not presented in a palatable manner. This argument is a poor effort to try to mask their perceived entitlement to respect and civility, no matter their opinion.

Nope, because the only true free speech is that uttered by Ernst and Quinn-Ward, the Deciders. Their letter goes on, explaining carefully why there can’t be conservative speech in their school:

Within the walls of Grant, conservative ideas may be met with resistance, but it is crucial to recognize that the school is not isolated from the country’s political landscape. To suggest that conservative ideas are being marginalized is to ignore the immense institutional power that these voices hold. The funding schemes and media-backing of these opinions should not be taken lightly. Opposition to conservativism does not equate to the systemic oppression that marginalized groups experience.

The cry that one’s ‘free speech’ is being infringed upon is often employed as a tool to distract from analyses of oppressive structures and promote a reactionary agenda. The far right is quick to draw attention to the seemingly outlandish responses they garner. In doing this, they divert from legitimate critiques of the deeply embedded white supremacy and fascist undertones of their movements.

Like prize dogs at Westminster, the familiar old words of the Control Left are trotted out, the prose liberally larded with the words “fascist”.  And these high school “fascists” are, the authors contend, simply racists. At this point I’m having stomach pains reading the letter, so I’ll conclude with some choice polemic by the two authors:

While it is not the students’ intention, both students seem to classify oppressive ideas as just another different point of view as they make the call for a diversity of opinions. To consider chauvinistic rhetoric simply another perspective worth hearing out is to give fascism a platform.

. . . The published articles ignore the actual culture of hostility towards working-class students, students of color and queer students while labeling those who display casual racism to be an oppressed group.

and the clincher:

As of right now, we are in a struggle for control, not a dialogue. Making room for reactionary voices will further legitimize hate. Instead, let’s start having critical conversations and get to work dismantling power imbalances. Only then, will we have the equal footing that is fundamental to speech that’s truly free.

And that is the crux of the matter. These students want to control the discourse, and until they are able to do that—and nobody’s allowed to perpetuate “power imbalances” with their words—then they’re not going to allow free speech. Dissenters will be shouted down and demonized. In fact, of course, these authors would never allow free speech as the American courts have construed it, because they’d deem that “hate speech.”

I’ve pondered long and hard what it means to prohibit free speech until “power imbalances” are corrected, and all I keep coming up with is that the authors of this letter are the true fascists, whose “power balance” involves they and their favored groups wielding the levers of power and casting everyone else into the void. I despise Trump, but the kind of views these two students promulgate will serve to keep him and his like in power and, in fact, come perilously close to the kind of authoritarianism that we so despise in Trump.

66 Comments

  1. nicky
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I can fully agree.
    However (the dreaded ‘but’), “the two students who wrote that last letter are so mired in identity politics that they’ll never extricate themselves, and will hector both Right and Left for the rest of their lives”. I’m not sure about that. They might grow up and get a better understanding, they are in their twenties, not their seventies, there still is hope.

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Wait. In their twenties? Isn’t this from a high school newspaper? If they’re still in high school in their twenties they have MUCH bigger problems than their proto-fascist thinking.

      • Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        It’s from the city’s main newspaper, not a high school newspaper. They are high school students. But colleges largely reinforce these attitudes nowadays.

      • Posted August 1, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Their post ends with:

        “Amelia Ernst will be a senior at Grant High School, and Cal Quinn-Ward graduated from Grant in June. Both live in Northeast Portland.”

      • nicky
        Posted August 1, 2018 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

        It didn’t register it was a high school, was thinking of college/varsity. If they are still in their teens I think there is even more hope.

    • Filippo
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Sic semper adolescentis.

      (To paraphrase, unfortunately, John Wilkes Booth)

    • Posted August 1, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      I agree. We should allow them at least the chance to change their minds. I don’t even remember what I believed in high school. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone thinking that I hadn’t evolved since then.

  2. James
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    What I’ve come to realize is that these people on the Left think they have found the Truth. Free speech is only a value when you are searching for the Truth; once you’ve found it, any dissenting opinion is, by definition, false, and therefore not open to discussion. So, to these students, what they are doing isn’t violating anyone’s freedom of expression; the concept simply isn’t applicable.

    There’s a parallel in math. We wouldn’t grant equal time to someone who said that the sides of a triangle on a flat (Euclidean) plane added up to 170 degrees. To these students, their political beliefs are on the same level. Of course, this analogy brings a warning: Questioning the dogma of geometry DID occur, and gave us an entirely new kind of geometry. They ignore that bit.

    • freiner
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      I agree with everything in the WEIT post and your note. But I do find that 170 degree comment somewhat hyperbolic.

    • Scorch
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      I think this is a very good point. In their minds ‘conservative’ (I would rather say anything right of extreme left) views are simply not to be considered expressions. They can only be hateful and violent. It’s important to understand that because it’s the only way to defeat them.

    • Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      There is indeed a parallel in maths (plural; I never did work out why Americans abbreviate a plural to a singular).

      But there’s a better parallel in theology, over the difference between Revealed Truth and heresy.

      • Adam M.
        Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        We don’t consider math to be countable. “One math, two maths, three maths”? What would that even mean? What is a math? 🙂

        • Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          But you do say mathematicS rather than mathematic, right?

          • Posted August 1, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

            Are you taking the pis (singular)?

          • Adam M.
            Posted August 1, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

            ‘course! It ends with an ‘s’ but it’s non-countable. There’s no “mathematic”.

            Huh… but according to this dictionary, there used to be: “mathematic – late 14th century as singular noun, replaced by early 17th century by ‘mathematics'”. So you non-Americans are 400 years behind the times!

        • freiner
          Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

          I think Coel’s on to something here. “Mathematics” is itself a shortening of “mathematical sciences” (or disciplines, studies, etc.). So maths are arithmetic, geometry, algebra, numerology (well, maybe not that one), and so on.
          As for arguing over “math” vs. “maths”, though, I take Groucho’s view on ee-ther vs. eye-ther: “Skip it.”

        • Posted August 1, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          “What is a math?” It’s the abbreviated name of a subject and its department. No need to count them. The Americans decided to leave the “s” off the abbreviation while the Brits kept it.

        • Posted August 1, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          ℝ is one set and it’s not countable. ℚ is another set and it is countable.

      • James
        Posted August 1, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        Unlike many here, I feel no need to demonize religion. It merely muddles the issue here.

      • Taz
        Posted August 1, 2018 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

        Mathematics is a singular word even though it ends in “s”.

        I have a question – do you abbreviate Economics as “econs”?

    • Posted August 1, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      There’s a parallel in math. We wouldn’t grant equal time to someone who said that the sides of a triangle on a flat (Euclidean) plane added up to 170 degrees.

      Actually, if the angles of the triangle add up to 170 degrees, there is more than one parallel.

      By the way, non Euclidean geometry came, not from questioning the “dogma” of geometry, but from trying to prove it.

      • freiner
        Posted August 1, 2018 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        I think of the establishment of non-Euclidean geometry as a vindication of Euclid — he really did need #5 for his business. Unfortunately, popular presentations of the whole affair sometimes make him look like the heavy.

        • Posted August 1, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. Euclid himself noted the parallel postulate might be iffy.

        • Posted August 2, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          And it shows the need to state assumptions clearly – see the contrast between that and the continuity axiom that Hilbert recognized as needed.

      • James
        Posted August 1, 2018 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        Well, a bit of both. They attempted to prove the Parallel Postulate and failed. After that, though, it was questioning the prevailing thought of the day.

    • Posted August 2, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Moreover, the inventors of non-Euclidean geometry proceeded rationally: they looked for consequences of the belief, attempted to integrate the original axiom, etc. They didn’t claim “the man” was oppressing them.

      (Though someone [Gauss?] said he refrained from publishing out of fear of ridicule from the mob.)

  3. Historian
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    True liberals must work hard to assure that the views of Ernst and Quinn-Ward as expressed in their jargon filled rant are not used by the right wing to attempt to characterize actual liberals as petty authoritarians. We must keep in mind that the far left hates liberals and Democrats with extreme passion. This hatred goes back to at least the 1930s. We cannot allow a false equivalences to Mr. Trump. Fortunately, David Cole of the ACLU, tutors liberals on the value and importance of the First Amendment. I know that some fear that the ACLU may be backing away from its defense of the First Amendment, but that is not at all evident in Cole’s piece. As Cole says: “When one party controls all three branches of the federal government, the checks and balances have to come from the people. It’s on us. And it’s the First Amendment that gives us the tools to act — including the rights to speak, associate, petition the government and enjoy a free press.”

    Never forget that the well-financed right wing media machine never rests. Actual liberals must never give it aid and comfort. Historically liberals have repudiated the far left. So must that happen now. Liberals are NOT the far left. Do not be fooled!

  4. Richard Sanderson
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    This sort of nonsense is spreading.

    Part of the pipe-laying come from anti-liberal extremists who masquerade as “humanists”, such as Peter “Humanisticus” Ferguson, Dan Arel, Kristi Winters, and Ryan J Bell-End.

    These regressive creeps defend these anti-liberal authoritarians, while enabling antisemitism and other forms of hate.

    Anybody who believes “free speech means legitimising hate speech” is either stupid, or an extremist who opposes liberal and progressive values.

  5. Lauren
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Working in a high school for the last twenty years, I can say, yes, this type of thing is only getting more and more prevalent. Kids can’t be uncomfortable (I.e., made to actually think), they cannot be challenged, they cannot feel judged, and they cannot fail lest we harm their fragile egos. And, thanks to SB 100, they cannot be disciplined either, but I digress. Fortunately there are still some students who also find this tedious and tiresome. There is some hope. Eventually they grow up… well, many of them do anyway…

  6. Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    We didn’t debate politics in my public high school, it was mostly lectures, and I never knew who was left or right. Back then teachers didn’t want to share their political or religious views and didn’t think it was their job to.

    In fact kids are figuring things out and aren’t set in most of their opinions because they believe many things tentatively without much evidence. If you think there needs to be more debate, then I think wearing a provocative T shirt to stimulate one is acceptable. Its not like kids re required to condemn republicans to ace US history, English or any other required subject.

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      “In fact kids are figuring things out and aren’t set in most of their opinions because they believe many things tentatively without much evidence.”

      As a father of two teens (and as someone who was once a teen) I don’t really agree. Although it is true they are going on very little evidence of any sort, teens are generally absolutely certain about their ideas and no old guy (or gal) is going to tell them otherwise.

      • Posted August 1, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I agree. Kids like these are way too sure of themselves. The Ctrl-Lefties really take advantage of this by supplying a ready-made list of unquestionable beliefs. Their knee-jerk responses referring to power structures, white colonialism, etc. all seem like refined versions of, “The old folks don’t know anything and aren’t to be trusted anyway.”

        • tomh
          Posted August 1, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

          “Kids like these are way too sure of themselves.”

          Everyone is “way too sure of themselves.” Witness this thread.

    • Posted August 1, 2018 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      My objection to the tee shirt was that it was worn by a TEACHER–an authority figure–and that tends to impede discussion. It’s fine to wear that stuff outside the classroom if you’re a teacher.

      • Posted August 1, 2018 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        How is it really so different when students wear provocative T-shirts? In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District the Supreme Court upholded attire as free speech regardless of dress codes.

        And you know kids need to learn to stand up to authority, to start debates in class, and to question things, because if they don’t get in the habit when they’re young they might never do it in the working world. If I had my childhood to do all over again, I would have been more rebellious and argued with my teachers and fellow students a lot more, and likely gotten away with it because student bullying isn’t as commonly allowed as it used to be. We need kids to care less about GPAs and more about learning.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Memo to Ms. Ernst:
    There is the quasi-fascist alt-right and the classical right which is relatively more benign. We don’t know that these students are alt-right.

    Ms. Ernst cites three examples of racist things that happened at this school in the past: swastikas, black students being more likely to be expelled, and the murder of Mulugeta Seraw. The last did not happen at this school.
    She also cites one instance of swastika graffiti, but says it happens on a regular basis.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. said Barry Goldwater was “not a racist, but a facilitator of racism” and continues to treat Goldwater with civility. A good example for people today.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Further Google searching verifies that in contrast to Ms. Ernst’s statement
      “In a school where swastikas and fascist symbolism appear on a regular basis,”
      there has only been one instance, in 2015.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    “… when the question ‘Do we, as a school, need more diversity of opinion?’ was asked to a class of mine, all twenty-plus students unanimously agreed that we do.”

    See? More conformity. (I think there’s a rabbi joke to be had in there somewhere.)

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Brian imploring crowd; “You are all individuals!”
      Crowd intoning back; “We are all individuals.”
      Guy in crowd; “I’m not!”

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        As I recall, the full dialogue is

        Brian: …You’re all individuals!
        Crowd: [in unison] Yes! We’re all individuals!
        Brian: You’re all different!
        Crowd: [in unison] Yes, we are all different!
        Man in crowd: I’m not…

        making your point even more emphatically.

        • bobkillian
          Posted August 2, 2018 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          Typical blinkered criticism of the Judean People’s Front.

  9. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I do not agree with the writers of the last letter, certainly not when they go after “reactionary voices”. But the idea that free speech can support or “legitimize” hate is the reason why many nations have instituted hate speec laws. They just do it more objectivly.

    Other problems I have with the texts is the letter that smell of US exceptionalism. Maybe I am just miffed that Sessions got his “religious [anti-]liberty task force” in Trumpism newspeak:
    http://thehill.com/regulation/administration/399482-sessions-announces-religious-liberty-task-force .

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      “objectivly” = objectively.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      “speec” = speech. [Need moar coffee.]

    • Mikeyc
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      In what ways do other countries define hate speech “objectively”? I’m not baiting you. I’m curious how they do it.

  10. yazikus
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    The Oregonian is an excellent paper, for those curious. They’ve done some important investigative work over the last few years, and also covered the Malheur Occupation.

    High school can be a hard time, but the two conservative teens will likely do well once they get out into the world.

    • tomh
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Exactly right on the Oregonian. They have done great work on the faith healing churches.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Stuff like these letters—particularly the last one—make me despair of the future. Fortunately, I’ll be dead when my Left has been completely co-opted by intolerant Social Justice Warriors.

    Despair not, o ye of little faith, the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to he that persevereth.

    The arc of the moral universe is long, and it will bend away from these folks, just as it bent away from the racists and reactionaries they ostensibly stand against, but so regrettably resemble.

  12. Posted August 1, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    To a teen, yes indeed most of them,
    it is your peers that matter, as amongst your cohort is where you’re trying to find yourself.
    So what is going on here? it seems to me less and i don’t mean completely, of what the ideas are conveying and more about tribalism and all that a means.
    Prising the two apart requires effort and discomfort, all at a time in life where security in a wider sense and uncertainty oppose and loom large.
    Critical, unbiased, open thinking IS hard work if not taught, shown, pursued. This swinging in the breeze, blindly following a tribe say is hard to combat, this high school seems lost to it.
    A student must compete and joust with all other demands of growing and expanding including biological peaks and lows.
    But here must be a proportion of these students who grow out of this as they move into adult careers and where more progressive peers have influence.

  13. Posted August 1, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I live in the Portland/Vancouver area and there is much to love about it. It is not all Antifa and Social Justice Warriors. Nor is this part of the state exceptionally conservative as are the less populated parts of the state. It is an area that has tolerated, and does, diversity of life style and opinions. This is reflected in the clothing, body adornment and hair styles seen everywhere. I love it.

    I was proud of how well written these Grant students are in a time when we bemoan the quality lacking in our public education system. The fact that they communicated with the public by using the local newspaper is commendable. They care and did something about it. As to the content, I am not a conservative or and Antifa proponent, but am all for freedom of speech. Thoughtful, well presented, reasoned speech. No screaming, swearing, belittling speech. Until we can share our different points of view in understandable ways, there is no likelihood of rapprochement. And no way forward.

  14. JezGrove
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Is it just me, or is the only mention of “Antifas”in the title of this post rather than any of the lengthy quoted extracts? I’ve no problem with denouncing intolerance, wherever I find it, but I do have one with attributing the words of individuals to a group they may have no association with. For what it’s worth, I would probably disagree with these students’ views – but I’m with Voltaire on their right to express them.

  15. JezGrove
    Posted August 1, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Oops – I realize I just expressed myself badly. I meant something like “attributing the words of individuals opposing a particular viewpoint to a group they may have no association with”.

  16. Posted August 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Minorities no longer believe in free speech or the First Amendment because they really, really believe that freedom of speech is a defense of white privilege. Think about this carefully for it applies also to all Enlightenment values and to history. They want to not just censor but ban everything of the past two thousand years. This is a rejection of civilization in essence, and a re-writing of history to suit their complaints. We are now seeing the rise of the New Totalitarianism intended to incinerate the past and replace it with privilege based on skin color…..that is, a reverse racism that uses the language of true resistance struggles to justify total political and societal control, using reparations as their excuse. Neither Trump nor the Republicans nor the evangelicals could do any better. We may wake up one morning and find that are living in a doctrinal jail which we entered willingly.

    • Angel
      Posted August 1, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      I totally disagree. It’s Trump, the Republicans and Evangelicals the ones that are marching towards a Totalitarian Regime. The values of the Enlightenment were passed by individuals that fought against pre-established concepts , like Church, monarchs, dictators and so on. In fact, they’re accused of the same faults, against the”Xistian, Wersten ” civilization. Their moto, the reactionary, was JC, Country and western values…. doesn’t look familiar?

      • Posted August 1, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Trump is the bigger danger. As you say, the Ctrl-Left’s ideas have bigger implications but they don’t really have much power and, IMHO, they never will. They’ve managed to convince some academics and students but their ideas evaporate when they make contact with the real world. Their ideas are much easier to make fun of than Trump’s. On the other hand, Trump and his lackeys control the levers of our government and economy and are destroying cherished institutions as we speak.

      • James
        Posted August 1, 2018 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        Two groups can march on different paths toward the same objective.

  17. Posted August 1, 2018 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I have to say that this is a very good discussion. Good points were made on both sides, and there was no name-calling. If only the students could behave like the commenters!

  18. Jair
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    In defense of Portland, I will say that I had an excellent education in a public high school there, circa early 2000’s. We had many discussions of free speech issues, studying the relevant Supreme Court cases, and the importance of the First Amendment was emphasized. In class we watched the film Skokie, the hero of which is an ACLU lawyer defending the right of neo-Nazis to demonstrate. Indeed, at the time, I considered this to be a left-leaning line of thought, since conservatives had traditionally argued against the freedom-of-expression arguments in obscenity cases. I’m not sure if things have changed that much, but Trump’s continued idiotic rhetoric has surely had a radicalizing effect.

  19. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Has anyone noticed that the modern Left use different language from the rest of us? It seems to have a distinctive pomo flavour. I read the first two letters. Then I started on the third, and by the end of the first paragraph (“conservative voices” “superficial perspectives” “power structures” “situational understanding”) my bullshit-o-meter was well into the red and I gave the rest of it the TL;DR treatment.

    This is probably a defect in me, that I instinctively react to scent of pomo in this way. I should be able to disentangle the message from the medium. But sometimes it’s just not worth the effort.

    cr

    • Posted August 2, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      It’s not just you. Reading stuff like that starts my teeth grinding.

      There’s an element of truth in some of those phrases but I suspect most like these high schoolers are just parroting the talking points blessed by their brethren. It’s a verbal MAGA cap.

  20. Diane G
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    My mother graduated from Grant–around 1936, I calculate. She also read The Oregonian religiously. If she could read these letters, she’d be “churning in her urn,” to steal a phrase from Ant.

  21. Roo
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Do you think things are actually getting worse, or it’s just that the more things change, the more they stay the same?

    Every generation looks back on the intolerance of the one before and thinks “How could they be so backwards! How wonderful that we’re so much more enlightened now.”

    And yet every generation seems not to notice that in the generation before, the actual progressive we celebrate today are those who built bridges with those who were truly in a taboo ‘out group’. It’s as if we assume, “yes, but now all the ‘right’ people who used to exist in out-groups have been brought into the mainstream, so real progressives should pat themselves on the back by celebrating the mainstream and trying to marginalize out-groups!”. Without realizing, of course, that this is likely exactly what those ‘backwards types’ in the previous generation thought they were doing as well. I think it’s always a relatively rare few who are willing to go out on a limb and show compassion for the true ‘untouchables’ of society.

  22. Posted August 2, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I realize that their teachers are likely my peers (early forties) or there abouts.

    And it is them I do largely blame for the failures to act.

    Students getting emotional in a classroom discussion is a “teachable moment”, people!

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Excellent point. The Orwellian atmosphere of student life at Grant, as described in the first two letters, is apparently not merely allowed but facilitated by the teachers. They, not the kids, are to blame for this. And the ultimate blame attaches to the School of Ed hot-houses where the teachers are “trained”, acculturated into this kind of groupthink, and credentialed as teachers.

      However, I detect a silver lining in the first two, remarkably well-written letters.
      The blasphemy-hunting political scolds, as Oliver Kline described them, may be doing their “Progressive” doctrines no favors. Caiden Reid reports: “Students across the school, state and nation are growing tired of the liberal agenda frequently pushed in high schools and colleges.” One keeps being reminded of the Polish 1989 Sejm election: the Poles, tired of 40 years of enforced groupthink, rejected 99 out of 100 candidates of the ruling ctrl-Left.


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