Of Boycotts and Double Standards

by Corey Robin on December 18, 2013

Last month, Brandeis University announced that it was severing its decade-long relationship with the Palestinian university Al Quds. Since 2003, the  two universities have engaged in sustained academic exchanges, involving joint research projects, conferences, study abroad programs, and more.

Brandeis severed the relationship in response both to an Islamic Jihad rally on the Al Quds campus that featured Nazi-style salutes, military-style outfits, and fake weapons, and to the failure, in Brandeis’s eyes, of the Al Quds administration to respond appropriately to that demonstration. Three Brandeis professors who have been involved in the Al Quds exchange wrote a lengthy report protesting this decision by Brandeis.

In terms of actual academic exchange, the Brandeis decision has a substantive impact. It ends a real relationship, with real infrastructure and opportunities for scholars and students to communicate with each other and work together.

To my knowledge, not a single professor of American Studies at Brandeis has publicly protested the decision of the university. [click to continue…]

David Brooks Says

by Corey Robin on December 18, 2013

Matt Yglesias has an excellent post on that odd column of David Brooks, which John already posted about. (Thanks to CT commenter Marcel for pointing me to the Yglesias column.)

David Brooks says:

We are in the middle of…a dangerous level of family breakdown.

David Brooks says:

It’s wrong to describe an America in which the salt of the earth common people are preyed upon by this or that nefarious elite. It’s wrong to tell the familiar underdog morality tale in which the problems of the masses are caused by the elites. The truth is, members of the upper tribe have made themselves phenomenally productive. They may mimic bohemian manners, but they have returned to 1950s traditionalist values and practices. They have low divorce rates, arduous work ethics and strict codes to regulate their kids. Members of the lower tribe work hard and dream big, but are more removed from traditional bourgeois norms. They live in disorganized, postmodern neighborhoods in which it is much harder to be self-disciplined and productive.

David Brooks says:

I’d say today’s meritocratic elites achieve and preserve their status not mainly by being corrupt but mainly by being ambitious and disciplined. They raise their kids in organized families.

David Brooks says:

It’s not enough just to have economic growth policies. The country also needs to rebuild orderly communities. This requires bourgeois paternalism: Building organizations and structures that induce people to behave responsibly rather than irresponsibly and, yes, sometimes using government to do so.

David Brooks is getting divorced.

Thought Leading

by John Holbo on December 18, 2013

“Little boys and girls in ancient Athens grew up wanting to be philosophers.”

That’s not a good first sentence.