Niall Ferguson and the Avoidance of Personal Responsibility: Every Accusation a Confession Department: (Early) Monday Smackdown
As Mitt Romney said of Niall Ferguson and company, they are: "people who... are dependent... who believe that they are victims, who believe that... they are entitled.... I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives...":
Niall Ferguson descends far into self-parody with this self-smackdown. Jonathan Healey comments:
Jonathan Healey: "Worth pointing out that it also 'might have been avoided' if you'd thought to yourself 'Hang on, a professor with a massive profile trying to find kompromat on a student is a bit off, isn't it?':
Niall Ferguson: From all of this I draw two conclusions. First, it might have been avoided if conservatives at universities did not feel so beleaguered. There is a debate about whether free speech has been restricted on American campuses in recent years. I have no doubt it has. Middle-of-the-road students live in fear that a casual remark will be deemed "offensive" or "triggering" and that social media will be unleashed to shame them. Conservative students have to keep quiet or fight a culture war in which they are hopelessly outnumbered.
The other lesson I have learn[ is that Uncle Jan was right: I do need to grow up. Student politics is best left to students. So I am putting my tweed jacket back on and retreating to my beloved study. It is time to write another book.
#mondaysmackdown #publicsphere #orangehairedbaboons
Niall Ferguson: "Whatever you do don't agree to anything Mr. O. proposes and make sure you arrive with your own proposal...
...Be procedural. Don't even let the meeting begin without an agreement on procedure. And remember: the people who started this initiative should be the ones who lead the meetings. Below are the original committee members:
Makridis Christos Andreas
Veriah Jacques Ravi
They should all be allies against O. Whatever your past differences, bury them. Unite against the SJWs.
Makridis is especially good and will intimidate them as he is an Econ Ph.D.
Niall Ferguson: "Agree 100%...
...A famous victory.
Now we turn to the more subtle game of grinding them down on the committee. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
Some opposition research on Mr. O. might also be worthwhile.
Niall Ferguson: Ouch! A hard lesson on student politics learnt: "In those distant days of the 1980s academic historians came in different flavours...
...On the whole I found the Tory dons more fun.... Fast-forward more than 30 years and I find myself at Stanford. My don’s life has not been exactly as I imagined it, but near enough. Books? Fifteen at the last count. Scruffy jackets? A wardrobe-ful. A level of freedom unknown in any other profession? No question. But there is one huge difference that has crept up on me almost imperceptibly. Today scarcely any conservatives are to be found among academic historians. In American history departments, according to a 2016 study of 40 leading institutions, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of 33.5 to one....
This helps explain why, shortly after taking up a post at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, I was approached by a succession of students. Some were self-professed conservatives, others registered Republicans, but most were libertarians, classical liberals or undecideds. Their common complaint was that the campus was dominated by progressives, and that it was hard even to get a conservative as an outside speaker. Their common goal was intellectual diversity.... I suggested setting up a visiting speaker series dedicated to free speech....
As the president and provost also wished to promote free speech at Stanford, we joined forces. Seeking a bipartisan basis for the initiative, we brought in a Democrat colleague, Mike McFaul, and involved all the student publications, left and right-leaning alike. We organised five such “Cardinal Conversations”, ranging from technology and politics to populism and inequality. There was (as I had expected) opposition from the outset. In particular, our invitation of Charles Murray provoked outrage from the campus left.... The sheer scale of the discussion that Murray’s work has generated would seem to argue for its importance, regardless of whether one ends up agreeing with him.
The campus left took a different view. Eight student groups joined forces to write to the president, calling for Murray’s invitation to be rescinded. “Murray’s work is not an academic undertaking,” they wrote. “It is a foundation for white supremacy.” When the event nevertheless went ahead, they organised a noisy protest....
What I had not foreseen was that the protest leaders might attempt to take over the student steering committee we had established.... I had heard their charge that I was “weaponising free speech”. I had satisfied myself that their antipathy to Murray was not based on any reading of his work. I had no objection to these groups’ views being heard, but began to fear they were seeking an effective veto over future events.... The groups represented by the “coalition of concerned students” seemed to constitute a rather small proportion of the overall student body. When I heard an emergency meeting had been called by their leader to change the structure of the committee, I decided to mobilise the college Republicans.
Now the emails we exchanged have been published, I stand condemned for my intemperate language. Fair enough. As soon as it became clear that these emails had been inadvertently forwarded to unintended recipients, I resigned from Cardinal Conversations. Re-reading my emails now, I am struck by their juvenile, jocular tone....
From all of this I draw two conclusions. First, it might have been avoided if conservatives at universities did not feel so beleaguered. There is a debate about whether free speech has been restricted on American campuses in recent years. I have no doubt it has. Middle-of-the-road students live in fear that a casual remark will be deemed “offensive” or “triggering” and that social media will be unleashed to shame them. Conservative students have to keep quiet or fight a culture war in which they are hopelessly outnumbered...