Just another company boss

Trouble for Tesla and Elon Musk: workers are complaining about racist coworkers, and agitating for a union.

Jose Moran—who claimed to be an employee at the Fremont factory—wrote a scathing critique of the facility and his employer, alleging “excessive mandatory overtime” and low wages. He said that he and other employees were considering unionizing and had reached out to UAW for help.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told our sister site Gizmodo that Moran was paid by UAW “to join Tesla and agitate for the union.”

And what is wrong with that? If conditions are unjust, then rallying workers to form a union is exactly the right thing to do (also, even if conditions are relatively just, forming a union to give workers a voice is also exactly the right thing to do. You are never wrong to form a workers’ union.)

But now the story going around is that Musk has fired some of those rabble-rousers for urging unionizing. That makes him a 19th century villain in my book.

But worse…you know those complaints about coworkers freely throwing around racial slurs? Musk has a suggestion for dealing with that, too.

Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group, Musk wrote in the email. Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.

Jesus.

Different suggestion: if you discover that you’ve got racists working for you who are disrupting the other workers, fire the racists. It’s that simple. If you’re able to fire people for union activities, you must have the power to fire people for naked bigotry. Why aren’t you?

Post-modern neo-Marxist cultural Marxists are coming to get you!

Jordan Peterson is a colossal ass — an ignoramus who has become a professor of psychology and uses his tiny sliver of specific knowledge to grant him the authority to pontificate on every other field, about which he knows nothing. He’s putting together a website that will tell you how wrong, as determined by him, your college classes are.


They can use the website to distinguish between people who are credible and people who aren’t and maybe we can drop the damn enrollment in those horrible courses by 75% over the next three years … it’s in their best interest both, I would say, spiritually and economically to avoid those courses and those disciplines like the plague and then maybe we can get the disciplines that have become entirely corrupt and the ones that started that way to put themselves back together before they run themselves out of existence completely, and I might as well name a few of the disciplines that i think are particularly reprehensible to begin with … So, as I said already, women’s studies, and all the ethnic studies and racial studies, studies groups, man, those things have to go and the faster they go the better. It would have been better if they had never been part of the university to begin with as far as I can tell. Sociology, that’s corrupt. Anthropology, that’s corrupt. English literature, that’s corrupt. Maybe the worse offenders are the faculties of education.

I’ve got some rather awkward news for him: there are biologists (I’m not one of them) who think psychology is worthless and corrupt. There are physicists who think biology is trivial and useless — “stamp collecting”, I think they called it. A good scholar recognizes that there are domains of knowledge in which we lack expertise, and that our ignorance is not an indictment of the field.

And look at what he wants to get rid of! Women’s, ethnic, and racial studies — does he think that those groups don’t have unique problems and perspectives? Does he believe that White Man is the standard by which all should be measured?

Sociology, anthropology, and English literature have to go? Is he insane? These are rigorous disciplines in important subjects. That they are too difficult for Jordan Peterson to understand does not mean they are invalid.

And my god, he despises education faculty? He’s got a job at the University of Toronto. He is supposed to be an educator. Part of his responsibility is teaching, and teaching well, or he’s got no right to be a member of a distinguished university. His only pedagogical technique seems to involve standing up and stammering out bigotry at an audience — an audience of like-minded assholes who applaud in contempt of genuine academic disciplines, by the way.

I’m just trying to imagine an institution of higher learning where he got his way. At my university, we expect students to acquire some breadth of knowledge. We require students to take courses in literature, history, sociology, the arts, even — I know, it’s hard to believe — psychology, a discipline that must be corrupt if it tolerates this jerkwad. If we demolished all those other disciplines that are so essential to developing our students as well-rounded, comprehensive citizens of the world, they’d be reduced to inane Jordan Peterson clones and the kind of people who write for the Morris North Star (I notice they don’t care much for sociology, either).

Let’s call Peterson what he is: an anti-intellectual. He’s stupid and proud of it, and he’d like everyone else to be as stupid as he is, which is why he wants to destroy so many worthy and important academic disciplines. He’s a neurasthenic Rush Limbaugh, and about as well informed. I wouldn’t even trust him in his own field of psychology.

But he’s part of a rising wave of anti-intellectual barbarism, and he’s profiting well from it. He’s making half a million dollars a year from his gullible alt-right fans!

This is an effective strategy, though: create a boogeyman populated with shadowy figures out of your audience’s paranoid imaginations, and convince them to throw money at you for batting them away. We saw the same thing with the bullshit specter of “cultural Marxism”, a non-existent movement that was conjured from whole cloth by right-wing know-nothings.

Hey, my old high school is in the news!

That’s rarely a good thing anymore, and it isn’t good news. Someone went into the girls’ restroom and scrawled hateful graffiti on the walls: swastikas, death threats against Muslims, and of course, the universal shorthand of American assholes everywhere, “MAGA”.

These people are effectively tarring their own slogans by association. I see “Make America Great Again” on a hat, and it’s as bad as if they have a swastika, a Confederate flag, or racial slur proudly displayed on their clothes.

What is The Jewish Question, anyway?

Speaking of YouTube atheism, they aren’t even hiding it any more. A subset of those goons are now pondering…The Jewish Question. Here’s Sargon of Akkad aka Carl of Benjamin promising to do a video series on The Jewish Question, inspired by another series of videos by a guy named Mouthy Buddha.

I skimmed through a few of those videos by Mouthy Buddha — they are impressively and professionally done! The subject, however, is repugnant. He’s openly questioning the existence of the Holocaust; he shows a few still photos of Jews putting on a cabaret show in a concentration camp, therefore these were all happy places. He goes on and on about how Hitler wasn’t a bad man, he was an honorable gentleman and a distinguished leader. You get the idea. They’re outright Nazi apologetics using bad arguments. And there’s Carl Benjamin declaring that they’re not wrong, that he’s going to make videos along this line himself, and suggesting that Mouthy Buddha was making the pro-Nazi arguments stronger.

In case you’re wondering — the YouTube crowd is apparently shy about stating what it is outright — the Jewish question is about the status and treatment of Jews in a country. The correct answer, clearly, is that they are equal citizens who must be treated with the same respect that all residents of a country, all human beings on Earth, should be treated. In the mouths of Nazis, though, the Jewish question is about how best to deprive them of their lives and property and rights, and to them, the proper answer was called the Final Solution.

But once again, there are people trying to make this a respectable debate, and useful idiots who are complaining about calling people who haven’t personally murdered millions “Nazis”.

Racism enshrined in higher ed

Is this what nurses are being taught?

It’s also revealing how white people aren’t even mentioned. We are the standard by which all are measured; our responses are assumed and we just have to mention the differences, like that blacks are inured to pain and Jews complain a lot and Indians are stoic.

I’m not too surprised to see this kind of garbage in a nursing textbook. It’s no criticism of most nurses, but there’s a heck of a lot of bad woo in nursing programs — my university’s bogus Center for Spirituality and Healing is affiliated with the nursing school, to their eternal shame.

Actually, Nazis hate teaching, period.

All of you teachers have been here. You want to get discussion going in the classroom, because that’s a really valuable way to get students involved and thinking, and you want all the students to participate. But what usually happens is that a small number of vocal, confident students dominate. That’s good for them, and you want to encourage that enthusiastic participation, but there’s always that larger group of quiet students who don’t speak up, and you want them to join in. So what do you do?

There are lots of pedagogical techniques out there. You can ignore the waving hands and call on people directly. You can have rules: once a person gets a chance to speak, they have to wait until 3 other people have spoken before they get to raise their hand again. Or maybe you’ve heard of the talking stick, where a token is passed around the room, and only the people holding it get to speak. There are lots of simple tricks like that where we try to get fair representation of all points of view, and get a better sampling of students, and get around the tyranny of the majority, or worse, the tyranny of the loudest.

One of these pedagogical tricks is called the progressive stack. You prioritize the students so that minority views are expressed first, and representatives of the majority have to wait and listen before they can express themselves. It’s a good way to flip the dominance hierarchy and get new voices to set the tenor of the discussion; it means minority views don’t get swallowed up and ignored. It doesn’t silence the majority, but it does force them to consider what others say.

I’ve rarely had to use it in my classes, because students usually don’t have strong opinions on matters of science — they just accept them and my authority. But there have been a few occasions when creationists have been in my introductory courses (they tend not to make it to the more advanced courses, or learn to keep their views totally silent, so I don’t even know they hold them), where I’ve used a version of the progressive stack. If there’s some point the creationist student urgently wants to discuss, let them go first, make their position clear, then ask if any other student wants to agree, and those students go next, and then I have to leash all the baying hounds of the majority and make them address the claims calmly and with evidence. In the humanities and social sciences, it’s got to be trickier — there are valid views by students with concerns about race and sexuality, for instance, and so you use something like the progressive stack to make sure they aren’t drowned out by all the white heterosexuals who are the majority in the class.

To my surprise, this morning I learned that Nazis are aware of this pedagogical strategy, and they hate it. Really hate it. I suspect part of it is knee-jerk idiocy at the word “progressive”, but once they learn about it, they are convinced that it’s part of liberal’s plan to commit White Genocide. The resentment is deep. I went looking for the views of non-educators on the subject, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s a lot of ignoramuses raging about the conspiracy to undermine their privilege. One of the top links returned is a video by Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, explaining the progressive stack, and he gets it all wrong. This is how they figure out who is more oppressed than other people, he claims, and how they determine that white middle class heterosexual men are scum. He’s a fucking moron. He actively misrepresents the subject.

No, no competent instructor is going to decide that half their class are scum who need to be silenced, and the progressive stack is not a technique to silence anyone. It’s about giving everyone an opportunity to speak, and not prioritizing a majority who already have advantages in dominating a discussion. It’s not about figuring out who is more oppressed, either — although the asshole right loves to imagine the Left holding Oppression Olympics. It’s more a matter of recognizing structural barriers that are staring you right in the face, and trying to help students get around them. It’s only a problem for people who either want to pretend the barriers are nonexistent, or want to reinforce them.

Like Nazis.

The usual crowd of internet Nazis has been casting about for more targets, and some of them have latched onto the “progressive stack” as an obvious SJW evil, and are campaigning to silence teachers who use it (I know, they’re so in favor of “free speech”, except when that speech is about equal opportunity for people who aren’t white men). One target is Stephanie McKellop, a graduate student who teaches history at the University of Pennsylvania. Here are her interests:

I am a historian of marriage and the family, with interests intersecting in areas of gender, sexuality, the body, and race. I work primarily on “vast early America,” a conceptualization which moves beyond traditional Anglophone-speaking peoples and regions into the broader, multi-empire continental landscape. I am particularly interested in popular and deviant forms of marriage and divorce; in my research on the practice of wife-selling, I focus on the blurred lines between love matches and economic bargains, the notion of slavery and race in gender dynamics, and how human trafficking and prostitution manifested within matrimonial realms. My current project looks at how popular and folk methods of marriage and divorce clashed with church and state authorities in colonial Carolina.

In the past, I have studied the history of “family history” in early America, seeking to explore how different cultures practiced and understood family through disciplines of history, competitve notions of “blood,” and gendered productions of what we have come to call genealogy, as well as issues of racial blame, immigration, and nationalism in marriage debates during the Progressive Era. Currently, I am working on several smaller projects regarding widowhood in early America as well as how folk and customary marriages informed cultural interactions in the colonial and revolutionary period. I am also working on a side project regarding trauma in history and how historians treat traumatized subjects.

That sounds interesting and relevant, but it also pushes a few alt-right buttons, obviously. So the internet Nazis have been baying for her blood, and they’ve been bombarding the university with accusations and demands. You’d think, though, that a university would pay no attention to Nazis, but noooo…you have to remember that we’re dealing with administrators who know nothing about teaching and often have little knowledge of the subjects their professors are discussing, but do have power over them, and are more likely to listen to howling yahoos and Republicans (but I repeat myself) than the employees they are supposed to represent. So the University of Pennsylvania is about to condemn McKellop, and apparently, reject a widely used teaching technique. They cancelled her classes! They’re issuing a condemnation!

Unbelievable.

Here’s a template you can use to support McKellop.

Dear Prof. [Holquist/Brown/Wenger/Troutt Powell],

It has come to my attention that Stephanie McKellop, a PhD student in UPenn’s History Department, has come under attack from white supremacists for the pedagogical approaches Stephanie uses in the classroom to support underrepresented students in class discussion. I was incredibly disappointed to hear that the university has not only refused to support a student in the face of this attack, but that the UPenn administration is preparing a statement condemning Stephanie.

I urge you to speak to your administration on Stephanie’s behalf. It’s exactly cases like these – where instructors are targeted and vilified – that require the defense of academic freedom.
I hope you will do the right thing, and lend your voice and position to defend a vulnerable member of our community.

holquist@sas.upenn.edu
kabrown@sas.upenn.edu
bwenger@sas.upenn.edu
troutt@sas.upenn.edu

I also highly recommend that everyone read this essay on how to support scholars. It’s going to be increasingly necessary. Remember, first they’re going to go after gender studies, then racial minorities, then sociology as a whole, and eventually, they’ll go after the biologists, because that’s what fucking Nazis do.

Just Asking Questions

Readers here are familiar with a deflection technique used by people with ugly views: they claim they aren’t promoting bad ideas, they’re Just Asking Questions. Asking questions is a good idea, right? We wouldn’t want to discourage people from questioning! Unfortunately, they always use the question as a framework for setting up alternatives that allow them to discuss their real agenda. Are women and black people fully human, or are they inferior subhuman knock-offs of the white man? Hey, don’t criticize me, I’m just asking a question here!

Now look at the kind of person Donald Trump tried to appoint to high office (we could also look at the people he successfully recruited). Anthony Scaramucci has been saying some interesting things on Twitter.

Hey, man, don’t give him no grief. He’s just askin’ questions here. He isn’t denying that the Nazis killed some Jews, he’s just thinkin’ we ought to be quantitative about it.

He’s not sayin’ we should murder 25 million people by setting them on fire and poisoning them with radiation. See, you can choose “no” (and most people did)! He’s just proposing some reasonable alternatives for discussion.

JAQing off isn’t the only tool in the deplorable’s toolbox. There’s also the “Just Joking” defense.

President Trump once joked that Vice President Mike Pence “wants to hang” all gay people, The New Yorker reported Monday.

The publication also reports that Trump has mocked Pence for his views opposing abortion and LGBTQ rights.

Trump jabbed at Pence after a legal scholar told the pair that if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many states would probably legalize abortion.

“You see?” Trump reportedly said to Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.”

And when the meeting began to focus on gay rights, Trump reportedly pointed to Pence, joking, “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!”

I’m also kind of despising the “Devil’s Advocate” gambit. The people who deploy that one sure seem to spend a lot of time role-playing as Satan.

Is there a virus out there causing oblivious selfishness?

Let’s hear his side of the story first, shall we? A bicyclist in Spokane was cruising down a community trail when he spots some pedestrians up ahead. He yells “Hot pizza!” (what?) and smashes into them. Then he gets up, yells at them, and later writes a facebook post about how stupid they were.

So first ride without the brace and some pedestrian wouldn’t move!! Centennial trial is not yours alone pedestrians!! When someone yells on your left or hot pizza maybe turn around instead of walking 3 wife with your strollers and dogs blocking the whole trail! !! F#&@!!!!!! I wish I had my go pro to document the stupidity.

He broke a 67 year old woman’s arm. There are witnesses who state that he had room on the path to go around them. He didn’t even slow down, and he publicly admits it.

“I hate to slow down,” Haller said when asked why he didn’t. “Most of the time people move. These people wouldn’t move,” he added, noting that the moms with strollers were part of the problem, too.

Ah. So I guess next time he’ll feel justified running over babies. The little bastards are just too damn slow.

This is a guy who is absolutely in the wrong on all counts. Pedestrians have the right of way, he is expected to bike responsibly on a shared path, he came up too fast and collided with people from behind, and he was biking with an injury (from a previous accident!) that made him less effective at braking. There’s no excuse.

Yet somehow, he blames it all on the woman he injured.

It’s egregious stupidity, and I wonder where this is coming from. There seems to be an epidemic of diminished empathy sweeping across the country, and it’s having consequences that range from accidents on park trails to the Occupant of the White House.