Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Comments made by LC

Sorting Through Race Relations At UCSD

expat, about free speech and it exceptions: I already see it going bad in Europe, where the official ban on Nazi imagery has made the racist right appeal all the more strongly to angry, resentful youth. The implicit message is, "if the government doesn't even want us to think this, there must be something to it." Neo-Nazism is in fact now far more robust in Europe than in the US, where the reactionary Tea-Party movement is at least nominally non-racist: they are bad and ignorant, but they aren't the BNP, they aren't Haider's Freedom Party, they aren't the Front National or the Dansk Folkeparti, all of whom have much more racist platforms than the Republicans do (albeit often with progressive social programs - ie. universal health care for natives and police oppression for everyone else), and all of whom have had a number of major electoral victories in recent decades. While the Democrats are to the right of the Tories, the US has not elected anything like UKIP or the other hard-right politicos into power. At best, you can say that the "jury is still out" on the effectiveness of the EU approach to policing speech. As bad as the US has been, I'll take its record over the past 100 years - even 200 years - over Europe's, despite current American progressive idealism about European social nets. I say this while being very much not an American patriot and an overall anti-nationalist.

February 28, 2010 at 11:11 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Sorting Through Race Relations At UCSD

expat, Prop 8 was during the presidential election, in November, during the school term. In the same breath that we voted in our first African-American president, we denied basic civil rights to the most violently oppressed minority in this country.

February 28, 2010 at 11:29 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

UCSD Student Suspended For Hanging Noose

expat, the raceandhistory link didn't work. But that site seems to be a pro-Mugabe site. That, I'm afraid, generates serious doubts on its credibility: it characterizes in many of its articles any criticism of Mugabe's deeply troubled, economically disastrous, and corrupt regime as racist. I don't engage with people I consider fools, which is why I probably seem to be arguing with you more than with people who are making crude, reactionary apologetics for the party-goers: I consider them beneath direct engagement. But if you really are an apologist for the Mugabe regime, then, I have to start to question things.

February 27, 2010 at 10:55 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Sorting Through Race Relations At UCSD

expat, the line I would draw is between the party and the noose. the party was in bad taste (and a minor affair attended by few, etc. i am quite willing to expound on the relative unimportance of the party.) the koala tv remark was very offensive, yet still on the range of speech (the ACLU agrees) - the speaker should be roundly castigated as a racist fool. We all have to put up with analogous garbage.

But the noose is fairly read as a threat of violence, and if it were an act of hate or meant to be read as one (as a hoax) one that should be prosecuted. I am not against the idea of hate crimes and hate speeches: symbolic actions meant to terrorize should be condemned, criminalized, and play no part in campus life.

However, I have learned a lot about who is actually responsible for the noose. I think you are going to be somewhat taken aback when you learn more, too. I wonder what you will think should be done to her when more is revealed.

I would agree that it is a failure of K-12 education in this country that someone graduate without learning the meaning of the symbol: I'm quite sure that the central role of racism in the history of the United States was part of the curriculum. But my disappointments in K-12 education in the US are legion, and where I used to blame hegemonic, I now put the blame on well-meaning but misguided measures (the "self-esteem" effort, the role of the unions in protecting ineffective teachers) at least as much, if not moreso.

There is another matter, too, that has disturbed me. During the Prop 8 campaign, I saw a lot of signs on campus and in campus housing advocating Prop 8. Marriage equality is, I believe, the most clear-cut civil rights issue of our time. To me, these Yes on 8 signs were more clearly a demonstration of hatred coupled with a very specific agenda for denying the civil rights of a minority. Yet, there was no outrage at these signs, no protests, no demands that gay and lesbian students have a right to study without being confronted by anti-gay political messages, no demands on the administration from the GLBT groups on campus. Perhaps there should have been - but I think the fact is that true racial suprematists are more or less a phantom menace, that there isn't an organized group of students who advocate the removal of civil rights for African Americans, has a lot to do with it. When there really are organized groups - the Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Fundamentalist Christians - that explicitly deny basic civil rights to a minority, suddenly, a lot of the fire for the fight disappears.

February 27, 2010 at 10:49 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Sorting Through Race Relations At UCSD

expat: "Nobody has the right to tell those who feel hurt that they shouldn't be hurt. "

yes. offensiveness is, authentically, in the mind of the offended, and as such, no one call tell others not to be offended or hurt. The question is the extent to which one can demand to be protected from being offended or hurt. There are people all over the world who hate you, who hate me, and who hate all sorts of other people. There's a much larger group of people with blinkered, stereotyped, ignorant, and tasteless ideas about other people, ideas that are offensive and hurtful to many. Accepting these realities is the very "growing a pair" that is called for. This doesn't mean that all offensive activities have to be tolerated, nor that there shouldn't be responses, attempts to educate, even derision. But there is a scale and matters of degree, and if you predicate a sense of safety on the absence of offensive actions and gestures, then you will never feel safe, whether you are an African American UCSD student or a working-class white middle-American terrified by Islamic fundamentalism.

February 27, 2010 at 9:52 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

UCSD Student Suspended For Hanging Noose

expat, I would back up an "ignorance is no excuse" line if the accused had either been an actual racist making a threat or a sympathizer to the protesters trying to start trouble. this is, it is turning out, someone who simply didn't recognize the activity as having these kinds of semiotics. this kind of "ignorance" is, indeed, an excuse. in a country full of people who can't locate america on a map, who think that france is a city in the us, who don't know who fought who in world war two, i don't find this at all remarkable. the public school system in california in particular is a failure, and the admissions guidelines for the uc system - by which the top 4% of any graduating high school class is eligible for admission - has led to a lot of not-really-well-educated students being admitted into the system.

"the entire campus is a caucasian area?" has 'caucasian' simply become a free-floating signifier representing any kind of abstract hegemonic domination? because that's kind of, you know, b.s.

February 27, 2010 at 8:09 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

UCSD Student Suspended For Hanging Noose

The story is coming out. The student is a non-black minority (and visual arts major), who apparently did this absent any real intent at all, without, it seems, understanding or knowing the history of the gesture. She's made an announcement to the Guardian.

This, apparently, was neither a hoax, nor provocation, nor was it a racist threat. It was a very unfortunate series of events.

Perhaps this is an indictment of the way that US history is taught. (Unless, of course, the student didn't attend US schools before attending UCSD, which is a real possibility.) Sometimes I need to remind myself that everyone involved - frat boys, BSU members, almost all the undergrads - are barely out of childhood, and often deeply clueless. I was at that age - which is why I've become so cynical about campus-based movements.

February 27, 2010 at 2:13 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

UCSD Student Suspended For Hanging Noose

Fair enough, expat. But I'm cynical. If the noose-incident really was an act of hate speech directed at African Americans and the student involved isn't getting prosecuted, much less expelled, then there is a big, big problem - nooses, swastikas, and the like have absolutely no place on a college campus. And, if the act was a tactical provocation, I still think an expulsion and prosecution is called for.

February 26, 2010 at 9:53 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

UCSD Student Suspended For Hanging Noose

The rumor now circulating is that the student involved in hanging the noose was non-white, and the administration is keeping mum about her identity to avoid more trouble. It is possible that the student was sympathetic to the protesters' cause.

The fact that the BSU quietly decamped from the Chancellor's office lends some credibility to this claim, as does the fact that the unnamed student is not being charged with a hate crime, and is not being permanently ejected from campus.

February 26, 2010 at 9:14 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

UCSD Students Blast Chancellor Over Racially Charged Incidents

expat, I think we're communicating and can wrap this up soon. A couple notes of disagreement on this side: I don't think it is right to describe this "an overprivileged group mocking the weakest group on campus--with the possible exception of Muslim and LGBT students." Remember - this wasn't a campus event. The 'group' that created this event were, it is starting to shape up, African-Americans who are street-identified ("Jigga2Jones" claims to be an ex-con who talks about his own incarceration: I do not get the sense that he has middle-class aspirations, but there is still much that is not known, and I wouldn't rule out a Borat-styled maneuver, either. That we can't tell is, itself, fascinating.) I would agree with your characterization more if it turned out that PIKE members were primarily responsible for organizing this event. But the party was not intended to mock African-American UCSD college students. To be honest, the more that African-American cultures are understood *as* cultures, rather than as defective or regressive formations that "should" be outgrown in a "color-blind" "post-raciality," the better, and events like this might be part of the process of that kind of reconciliation with the realities of diversity in the US, particularly on the level of working-class peoples, for whom mutual self-caricature has long been a strategy to surmount difference. (Pious, austere gestures of abstract "respect" are something more associated with dominant classes.) If, it turns out, that PIKE took a significant role in designing this event, I would be more inclined to agree with your characterization.

And as far as the position of AP students, I will simply have to say that I have heard a lot of contradictory statements. When those statements are in the context of pedagogy, I will be frank: there is an echo-effect, and I know that many students will report what they think their instructors want to hear.

February 21, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. ( | suggest removal )