It’s a rare week when my memories of the University of Chicago have anything to do with the news. In a perverse way, U of C revels in its obscurity, like the cool bar that the posers haven’t found yet. Whenever somebody confuses it with the University of Illinois or places it up the lakefront near Northwestern, a real Chicago grad smiles; we know the inside joke and they don’t.
So it was disconcerting to find Chicago at the center of this week’s big culture-war argument: The Dean of Students sent out a letter to “welcome” the new freshmen by telling them the University wasn’t going to coddle them with trigger warnings and safe spaces and canceling “controversial” speakers. The whole campus is an intellectually unsafe space, so you’d better buck up and get used to it, Bubbles.
Basically, this is the Dean posturing for conservative alumni in hopes of getting more money out of them, and (to use the high academic vocabulary I picked up at Chicago), it’s a load of crap. I’ll explain in this week’s first featured post “Academic Freedom and Institutional Power at My Old School”. Along the way, I’ll reminisce about the only demonstration I participated in at Chicago, when we protested against the University giving a “humanitarian” award to Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara. We protesting students were right, the administration was wrong, and that’s usually how these things go. The biggest corrupting force in a great university is the administration’s lust for contributions and its temptation to cozy up to the powerful, not the over-sensitivity of the student body.
That post just needs some editing and should be out before 9 EDT.
The second featured post is a debunking of the “pay-for-play scandal” at the Clinton Foundation. (Except for the complete absence of either pay or play, the story totally works.) That will be “About the Foundation”, which I think of as a sequel to “About Those Emails“, which I wrote in June. Expect it around 10.
The weekly summary will try (and fail) to make sense of Trump’s new stance on immigration. I’ll be keeping it short because of the length of the featured posts, but I’ll also get around to the 49ers quarterback’s protest, and a few other things. I’ll predict that for noon.