I passed my qualifying exam last week, which is the last formal hurdle before I begin writing my dissertation. That's a weird sentence to write -- like talking about the last safety check before jumping out of an airplane, or the last underling to defeat before facing the Ultimate Final Boss Monster -- but it's where I am.
At the same time, my students' final exams are due today, so my immediate future is not as a writer but as a grader. And since it would be just catastrophic if anything distracted me from that essential task, I suppose it's time to clear some browser space.
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I wrote last week about alleged discrimination against Jewish chaplains in the army; now we get a different story about retaliation against a chaplain in the Air Force after he converted to Judaism.
This is the story of another immigrant we, the United States of America, effectively murdered in the most gruesome way possible (the penultimate part of the story -- before the death -- is an amputated penis) via a mixture of grotesque indifference to obvious medical need and complete lack of empathy.
UC-Berkeley releases its report on campus free speech issues. One interesting thing about it is that it is not really focused on questions law. Rather, it takes for granted that Berkeley is constrained in various ways by the First Amendment, and rather than dwelling on where those precise borders lie it tries to ask what practical steps the university can take -- consistent with those strictures -- to foster and maintain a healthy speech culture.
Also germane: Jeffrey Sachs has an interesting data set on instances of speech suppression on campus. Interestingly, there have been more successful terminations of left-of-center college professors for "bad" speech than conservative professors -- and while on its own that might be explained by different base rates, the big spike in left (but not right) firings from 2015 to 2017 can't be. The other interesting finding was that -- contrary to some narratives about the so-called "Palestine exception" to the First Amendment -- Israel issues were of comparatively minor importance. There were, depending on how you count Joy Karega (Oberlin) and Michael Chikindas (Rutgers), between three and five Israel-related terminations (or coerced resignations) over the data-collecting period (out of a total of 58). Of the unambiguous cases, two were for anti-Israel speech (Steven Salaita at Illinois and N. Bruce Duthu, who returned to the regular Dartmouth faculty from a deanship position due to backlash over his role in the NAISA BDS resolution), one was for pro-Israel/anti-BDS speech (Melissa Landa at the University of Maryland).
The mixture of deep hostility to divorce, openly male supremacist theology, and physical abuse is a toxic combination in the Southern Baptist church.
Speaking of toxic Protestants, a wing of the Presbyterian Church has published a follow-up to its notorious Zionism Unsettled document -- 110 pages on why Israel is the locus point of global colonialism and genocide (this sounds familiar....) through everything from eating hummus ("cultural genocide") to wanting to actually talk to people ("normalizing oppression"). This is the latest in a series of PCUSA highlights, including calls for all Jews to "come home to America" and my absolute favorite exhortation by a Christian minister on this issue: "Jesus wasn’t afraid to tell the Jews when they were wrong."
An interesting "This American Life" segment on an ill-fated Alabama field trip to see Schindler's List.
Two good pieces on police misconduct that I wanted to flag. One is by a Black police officer commenting on business trespass calls (like the Starbucks affair). The argument here is that when individuals call the cops against seemingly innocuous conduct, there is to some extent a fobbing off of responsibility to then say the police officers are the wrongdoers rather than the caller (cf. Colorado State). The other is in the Atlantic on how we might want to extend our narratives of police bravery or cowardice to cover instances where they whistleblow (or cover off) instances of violence, racism, or misconduct by their colleagues.