viernes, 26 de mayo de 2017

Scholars beware: mobbing is the new discussion | MercatorNet | May 26, 2017 |

Scholars beware: mobbing is the new discussion

| MercatorNet | May 26, 2017 |

Scholars beware: mobbing is the new discussion

A lone academic defies political correctness.
Barbara Kay | May 26 2017 | comment 1 

Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard are authors of Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation (Keith Morison, National Post)
As the token conservative on otherwise liberal panels, I have been a regular contributor to CBC radio’s comedy news trivia program, Because News, since September 2016.
I was let go from this panel last week for my politically incorrect views on indigenous cultural appropriation (that I did not even express on CBC). I can now empathize (as opposed to merely sympathize) with the individuals who have paid a far greater price for the same reason.
Thankfully, there are a few independent thinkers on this hot-button issue who are protected by academic tenure from excommunication. They may experience collegial hostility, and be obstructed by their administrations or professional associations, but they cannot (yet) be fired or silenced.
One such individual is Frances Widdowson, an associate professor in the department of economics, justice and policy studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary. On June 1, Widdowson will present a paper on aboriginal issues at Ryerson University at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) that is likely to be considered politically incorrect.
It’ll be yet another instance in which this courageous scholar dares to poke a stick into the intelligentsia’s groupthink hive.
Widdowson was already wearing her metaphorical beekeeper suit when I interviewed her recently by phone. She has been dealing with “culturalists” (as she calls them) for many years.
In 2008, she and co-author Albert Howard published a book entitled “Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation.” The title gives you the drift of her position.
Speaking at that year’s CPSA annual meeting, Widdowson argued that Canada’s land reserve system and the policies that encourage First Nations to live separately from mainstream society only further societal dysfunction.
She has argued for the provision of high quality services to Aboriginal peoples, so that they will have the education, skills and values to voluntarily move off of reserves. Some members called her talk “hate speech” worthy of a Criminal Code investigation. One colleague asked if she’d “like to take it outside.”
Aghast at the meltdown, the CPSA formed a committee to consider “ethics in research,” and to monitor what papers got published and who got to present. They discussed the possibility of bringing in misconduct complaints procedures, but decided against it. The CPSA did start a new section: Race, Ethnicity, Indigenous Peoples and Politics.
Widdowson says some individuals have attempted to prevent her from participating on panels such as this one, which are specifically aimed at discussing indigenous politics. Her Ryerson presentation will therefore fall under the “Political Economy” section, where she is the only speaker on aboriginal issues. She plans to attend the Race, Ethnicity, Indigenous Peoples and Politics panel, but is expecting people from that quarter to boycott her presentation.
Widdowson’s paper is provocatively entitled “The Political Economy of ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ (TRC): Neotribal Rentierism and the creation of the victim/perpetrator dichotomy.” She characterizes “rentierism” as the extraction of “rent”— i.e. monetary transfers — from the Canadian government by an industry of aboriginal consultants and lawyers.
Widdowson identifies three distinct transfer processes: payment of royalties generated from commodities — like minerals, water or oil — that are located on aboriginal territory; government transfers for services; and compensation for past wrongs committed by the Canadian government.
She notes that the latter form of transfers took off in the 1990s, as lawyers initiated lawsuits over the residential schools – a now defunct network of boarding schools for indigenous peoples – and “dramatically changed how these institutions were perceived.”
Residential schools became a cash cow for some lawyers. (Most famously, the Merchant Law Group has earned tens of millions in fees for the $5-billion settlement it was involved in negotiating on behalf of residential schools victims, and has since become embroiled in a legal dispute with the government over whether it should have to pay back millions for allegedly inflating its billings.)
Widdowson’s unease with the latter transfers in particular is that they can be based on loose evidentiary processes, and can encourage a kind of grievance inflation. She sees the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a sort of therapeutic enterprise that often does little to pursue objective truths.
One of the TRC’s major methods, for instance, has been to rely on the “unquestioned use of oral histories in documenting the effects of these institutions,” even though these testimonies may not be representative of all students’ experiences or reliable accounts of the past.
Widdowson’s academic detachment in questioning inflammatory concepts like “cultural genocide” will resonate with Canadians like me, who were educated in an era where dispassionate research and vigorous debate were the norm. But those norms are long gone, and challenges to accepted narratives – evidence-based or not – are seen as “re-victimizing the victims.”
Widdowson is aware that her scholarly approach to this subject is passé. She told me that she was last taken seriously as an academic authority in 2008. “Mobbing,” she said, “is the new discussion.”
At a debate panel she hosted last year at the University of Calgary (that she described as “the most disruptive event of my life”), she was told by some of the Aboriginal individuals in the audience that she had no right to speak because she was a guest on their territory.
This claim shocked and disturbed her. If a university campus is indigenous territory where Aboriginals are the “hosts” and non-Aboriginals are the “guests,” the fundamental concept of the university as a public space has been corrupted.
In my conversation with Widdowson, I was struck by her eagerness to understand her adversaries’ positions. She is willing to engage in debate, and wishes they were too. As she put it, “I’m not trying to win the argument; I’m trying to have the argument.”
Alas, that is increasingly more difficult in today’s climate of insouciant speech suppression. Widdowson has the stomach to face down her critics, but what university today will hire anyone who upholds the principles she embodies? (Mount Royal, Widdowson emphasized, has been “stalwart in their defence of academic freedom.”)
My fear is that the lonely academic furrow Widdowson ploughs will be buried when she retires. And though her writings may endure in “samizdat” form, she will be remembered — cultural appropriation intended — as the last of the Mohicans in her field.
Barbara Kay is a columnist with Canada’s National Post, where this article was first published. Republished with permission.

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May 26, 2017

This week we have finally caught up with a wonderful book, Surprised by Beauty, published last year as a guide to music lovers who are, to quote the author Robert Reilly, “thirsting for the beauty” that seems absent in modern music. And by that he means modern art music, not pop music.
In fact, it is not so much the book as the author who features in today’s article, with Mr Reilly (a man of many accomplishments) answering Michael Cook’s questions about what we normally think of as 20th century music -- that which tortures the soul with its atonality and unnatural rhythms – and the neglected stream of works that have kept up the link between beauty and the spirit.
It’s an eminently quotable interview, but here’s just one snippet:
One of the greats of the 20th century, Jean Sibelius, wrote: “The essence of man’s being is his striving after God. It [the composition of music] is brought to life by means of the logos, the divine in art. That is the only thing that has significance.”
One other article calls for special mention: Tamara El Rahi, who contributes to Family Edge, writes movingly today of the miscarriage of her second child at nine weeks. In a note earlier she said: “Writing this piece was helpful to my healing process I think. Please pray for us.” Thank you, Tamara, for sharing this sorrowful experience with us, one that so many mothers and fathers suffer.

Carolyn Moynihan 
Deputy Editor, 

Surprised by Beauty: modern music for the soul
By Robert R. Reilly
A new book offers a listener's guide to the recovery of modern music.
Read the full article
The usefulness of ‘useless’ knowledge
By Donald L. Drakeman
Intellectual freedom and private philanthropy built the modern world.
Read the full article
Mourning after miscarriage
By Tamara El-Rahi
A baby lost to this world but not to our hearts.
Read the full article
‘I’m macro-annoyed with micro-aggression theory’
By Christina Hoff Sommers
The Factual Feminist says friendship is the way to overcome bigotry, real or imagined.
Read the full article
Scholars beware: mobbing is the new discussion
By Barbara Kay
A lone academic defies political correctness.
Read the full article
Why Ramadan is called Ramadan: 6 questions answered
By Mohammad Hassan Khalil
The origins and purpose of the 'spiritual training camp'.
Read the full article
Technology success stories from Cote d’Ivoire, Benin and Senegal
By Eugene Ohu
Using technology to provide jobs and improve the lives of African youths.
Read the full article
The end of a dynasty?
By Marcus Roberts
Perhaps, unless more boys are born...
Read the full article
Lutheran songs: a musical gift for all Christians
By Chiara Bertoglio
The reformer planted the seeds of an extraordinary musical culture in Germany.
Read the full article
No, the norm of marital monogamy is not crumbling
By Alan J. Hawkins
Rumours of its death are greatly exaggerated.
Read the full article
The New York Times flies the flag for ‘open’ marriage
By Nicole M. King
But no matter what you call adultery, it still kills marriages.
Read the full article
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