Today news broke that the University of Wisconsin — Madison admitted a student: 1) who served nearly five years in prison for burning black churches; and 2) who is currently seeking to form an alt-Right student group devoted to protecting the rights of white students.
This is what liberals like to call a “teachable moment.” Because it turns out that the crisis which liberal UW administrators now face — they’re having a complete “meltdown” as Wisconsin talk-radio host Vicki McKenna has memorably put it — is almost entirely the result of various excesses of liberalism run amok.
As this post, and a clip from Vicki’s Jan. 26 Madison show to be added later, will demonstrate, this crisis is the result of: 1) liberal administrators’ myopic refusal to do criminal-background checks on prospective students (so as to avoid having to reject black applicants who have criminal records); 2) their cowardly refusal to engage in debate and discussion with more conservative students on topics regarding race; and 3) their repeated refusal, over a period of months, to permit the student involved here to engage in any counterspeech directed against the university’s new secretive “hate/bias” response system, leaving that student no other option but to try to form a student group in an effort to advance his agenda.
Update (Jan. 27): Late last night the student (Daniel Dropik) posted a three-minute audio message on his website (h/t New York Daily News). Also, yesterday he granted an interview to the Associated Press. The story has also been picked up by the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the UK Daily Mail and Fox News.
Update 2 (Jan. 27): Audio of Vicki McKenna’s discussion now available here (complete, uncut discussion; much shorter version may be added later).
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In a memorable 2009 speech, Attorney General Eric Holder argued that we are “essentially a nation of cowards” on the subject of race: “we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.” “[I]f we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.”
Contrary to Attorney General Holder’s admonition, for much of the past year the administration of the University of Wisconsin — Madison has rebuffed the efforts of one student who urges more frank discussion of racial issues which are not often discussed on liberal university campuses. Thereby forced by the administration either to abandon his effort, or to ratchet it up in intensity, the student chose the later option — leading to current situation, which has university officials in a complete meltdown over the views of just one student on a campus with 50,000 students.
Meet Daniel Dropik (Linkedin; Twitter; website; blog), a 33-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. Despite having faced many difficulties in his youth, Mr. Dropik has turned his life around and, judging by his impressive Linkedin page, is now enjoying considerable academic and career success.
Dropik identifies as Hispanic, noting in a blog post that he is proud of his Mexican heritage, and that he is “a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce scholarship recipient.” (His Linkedin page references the Philip Arreola Scholarship Program, named after the first Hispanic police chief of Milwaukee). But despite being a proud Hispanic, he writes, he opposes the university’s new “diversity and inclusion” initiative for reporting instances of alleged “hate and bias” which, he argues, “makes racism worse for everyone.”
This Hispanic student has been diligently working since last spring to politely engage the administration in a frank conversation about race. A review of his past efforts is necessary for a full understanding of the current situation.
April 26, 2016. Last April, Dropik advocated the need “for students of all colors to get together” to “develop our own organic intellectual movement through the crucible of open academic criticism,” to “reshape the philosophical bedrock of race relations, to explore new paradigms, and quite possibly spark a new era of improved racial equality.”
Addressing recent racial tensions on campus, Dropik argued that “[t]he problem arises, in part, from UW-Madison’s failure to adequately support legitimate channels of expression for controversial positions.” Referencing allegations that negative remarks had been made toward a black student, Dropik opined that such outbursts are more likely when students feel they cannot “express their opinion without retaliation or unfair harassment. My observation is that people resort to racist, offensive behavior, when they feel like they have no legitimate alternative,” and he urged that “it is better to have these ideas channeled in a way which focuses on respectful debate, rather than angry outbursts.”
This Hispanic student ended his April post by stating that “I consider myself an advocate of racial equality,” and by making “a personal call to action and request to the greater UW-Madison community. . . . [W]e can move forward with these upcoming challenges if [we] devote ourselves to dignifying, honest discourse. Even if we have grave differences, we must be still be able to laugh with each other and even be friends. This is the humanizing factor which cultivates empathy, an important ingredient to dialogue. Rather than interfacing with organizations and groups, and regurgitating the ideas of others, let us cultivate the resurgence of the free thinking individual.”
Sept. 20, 2016. After his efforts of spring, 2016, to move the university toward a more honest discourse on race failed to bear fruit, Dropik tried again in the fall. In September, in another blog post he addressed “one of the most fundamental problems facing race-relations today, the problem of loaded language.”
One problem, Dropik argued, as that the university’s “hate/bias” reporting system does not focus on any objective definition of what constitutes “hate” or “bias,” for example whether or not the speech or conduct involved is unlawful. Rather, it is entirely subjective in nature, and entirely dependent on the biases (typically liberal) of the administrators themselves. He observed:
It is NOT appropriate for the University to arbitrarily mold student beliefs about Hate/Bias, and certainly NOT up to the University to punish what it considers Hate/Bias, when such activity would otherwise be legal.
In polite, but firm, language, Dropik went on to spell out the central problem with the “hate/bias” reporting system: its artificially truncated definition of “racism.” Quoting a scholarly article by a dean at Phillips Academy (Carlos Hoyt, Jr., who happens to be a black Hispanic), the prevailing definition “charges white people with being de facto racists . . . while providing an exemption to black people from being held accountable for racist beliefs.” Although he acknowledged it’s a “hard pill to swallow,” Dropik argued:
white racial grievances are callously excluded from the UW Diversity Machine. When was the last time the UW Diversity center published communications condemning anti-white bigotry? This kind of exclusion builds resentment among many white students, cultivating an environment unfortunately ripe for racial outbursts. It is a self-reinforcing institutional failure and it doesn’t just harm whites, it harms minority students. It is unfair to minority students, to bear the brunt of discontent, over programs they had very little to do with.
Further elaborating on the effects of “[t]he racial double-standard on the UW-Madison campus,” Dropik focused on
the overwhelming resistance to the notion that whites can be victims of racism. . . . When whites come together to celebrate European heritage, and/or to organize politically around such ideas, it usually amounts to social taboo. That is how prejudice against whites is different than what African Americans experience, LGBT students and others. Anti-white racism exists, but because it is different, it is frequently dismissed or otherwise improperly dealt with.
Citing polling data showing that “whites are increasingly feeling prejudiced against,” Dropik closed by recommending “to UW-Madison, and the race-relations scholarly community,” that they “work harder to understand anti-white racism. Perform scientific research, and guide this research based on perspectives of whites who feel discriminated against. Also, eliminate the barriers to honest unfettered discourse (i.e. Hate/Bias Reporting ). Examine whether it’s better to drive pro-white student perspectives into the hopeless fringe, or to embrace, cultivate and help shape emerging perspectives on racism.”
Whether or not one agrees with the views Dropik expressed in September, it’s clear that he expressed himself in a polite, organized manner, and that he raised non-frivolous points that ought to be engaged as part of what Attorney General Holder called for in 2009: a frank discussion about racial matters that continue to divide us. Yet university administrators apparently ignored Dropik.
Sept. 24, 2016. In a further September blog post, Dropik took issue with the casual overuse of the term “white supremacy,” a term which properly invokes images and feelings of “violent and extreme acts, such as lynching and slavery.” But, Dropik points out, it can “become a coercive tool when used in a careless and overgeneralized way,” for example, to apply the term to criticism of “socioeconomic/political systems.” As an example of the ridiculous overuse of references to “white supremacy,” Dropik cited this image, of UW mascot “Bucky Badger” as a KKK member, depicted on a sign used during a protest about police executing a lawful arrest on campus of a black student who had vandalized eleven campus buildings and had threatened to kill one of the witnesses to his vandalism:
Obviously, as Dropik pointed out, it is absurd to conflate “the UW-Madison conduct” of bringing a vandal to justice “with that of the Klu Klux Klan with a torch.” Worse, Dropik added, abusing references to white supremacy “seriously undermines trust” and “fosters resentment” and, worst of all, “will yield a long term desensitization of these words. . . . At a certain point, after repeated abuse, a large segment of people will no longer care whether they are considered ‘white supremacist.'” Admitting that his criticism of the overuse of such words and imagery “might seem harsh,” he concluded that it “is ultimately constructive, and congruent with my desire to enhance long-term positive race-relations.”
Sept. 29, 2016. University administrators continued to ignore Dropik, until they could do so no longer — when they were forced to take affirmative action, after he requested permission to engage in counterspeech, by putting up flyers criticizing the university’s “hate/bias” reporting system and offering assistance to students affected by the new initiative, or otherwise critical of it. In a September 29 post, Dropik first reported on the university’s refusal to permit him to put up a flyer. The matter went national on October 17, when UW-Madison Ph.D student Jason Morgan published a College Fix post documenting the refusal of multiple university departments to allow Dropik to post any criticism of the “hate/bias” reporting system:
Dropik said prior to posting any of his flyers, he went through the proper channels to follow campus posting policies. Since every campus official denied him permission, his flyers have never seen the light of day at UW-Madison.
“I anticipated that I would encounter resistance to posting the flyer, I didn’t want to get fined, so I always went out of my way to get explicit permission in accordance with the rules,” he said. “My flyer was never taken down, because I never succeeded in getting permission to post it.”
The College Fix article also reported on the worry of Dropik and other students that the university’s new “diversity and inclusion” policy, “which encourages students to report on one another anonymously, thus initiating a secret investigation by a ‘hate and bias incident response’ squad,” is simply “a tactic for further stifling free expression on the Madison campus.” Further:
Other UW students have taken to Facebook and YouTube to express their frustrations with the UW’s crackdowns on free speech and creation of a program that potentially makes secret informants out of the entire student body. Some UW professors have also voiced their concerns in private, although, perhaps fearful for their jobs, none have yet dared speak out in public.
Jan. 24, 2016. Dropik’s further criticisms of university policy, in blog posts published on October 27 and October 31, likewise fell on death ears. Dropik’s efforts to engage university administrators in respectful debate, or at least to be permitted to put up counter speech, having been utterly rebuffed, this week Dropik took the next logical step. Exercising his First Amendment right to associate with others for the advancement of his views, he began approaching other students to form a student club, handing out slips of paper with this message (image here):
Fight Anti-White Racism on Campus!
Join Our Student Club
This slip of paper completely freaked out at least one student, Dane Skaar, who wrote a Facebook post contending that to even suggest that the new, secretive “hate/bias” reporting system which encourages students to inform on each other could end up unfairly victimizing white students “is a dangerous attempt to victimize those who are born with systemic white privilege” (i.e., an effort by whites to claim victimhood when, “according to the definition of what racism is,” whites can never be victims).
Well, maybe that needs to be amended. If you go by Skaar, whites can almost never be victims — on occasion, it seems, Skaar himself is a fashion victim (at left):
And Skaar’s political leanings are arguably revealing as well:
In any event, Skaar’s Facebook post was rapidly picked up by a student newspaper, the Badger Herald, in a Jan. 24 article: “UW student wants to bring alt-right movement to campus.” Another student newspaper, The Daily Cardinal, followed with a similar article the following day.
Of course, the situation escalated into a crisis once news surfaced today that, among the many difficulties Dropik faced in his youth, he served nearly five years in prison for burning black churches. The Daily Cardinal had the earliest full report, here. Other reports include those by Channel3000.com, the Wisconsin State Journal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Raw Story.
How could even a garden-variety felon, much less a black-church arsonist, be admitted to a university ostensibly obsessed with ensuring that all students, at all times, enjoy a “safe space”? Because, as the UW chancellor readily admits, the school did not ask Dropik whether or not he was a felon. And why didn’t the school even ask? Obviously, as Vicki McKenna discussed in her January 26 Madison show (a clip will be posted as soon as practicable), to avoid having to reject black applicants who have criminal records.
In sum, the UW administrators aren’t in this fix simply because they ignored Dropik’s well-reasoned and impassioned call for a more honest debate on campus on racial issues.
They aren’t in this fix simply because they rejected all his efforts to engage in counterspeech against university policy.
They’re in this fix because rather than ensure that admissions officers consider, as one factor, whether or not the applicant has committed a violent felony (and hence might pose a heightened danger to other students), with a myopic focus on admitting as many black student as possible, the university chose to put all students at risk with a policy of never inquiring into the criminal record of any applicant.
Liberalism. Run. Amok.