CSotD: Errors, Misunderstandings and Lies

It’s always nice, though not always possible, to begin with an overview of what is about to come. Jen Sorensen provides a solid abstract of today’s topic.

Amir Levy/BBC

Certainly, the continuing deaths in Gaza are a major crisis, for the Gazans obviously, but also for the Israelis.

The BBC reports tens of thousands of Israelis in the streets of Tel Aviv calling for the release of the hostages and an end to the war, and if that is a political crisis for the Netanyahu government, the larger crisis is that the report also indicates that, even if the hostages are released, the attacks on Hamas, and thus on Gazan civilians, will continue.

Others have recalled the famous statement from an American officer in Vietnam that “we had to destroy the village in order to save it,” and have applied that to the destruction in Gaza. However, it’s only fair to point out that, while the Americans were destroying that hamlet, they were relocating its inhabitants to a newly built place where (A) they would be better protected and (B) they didn’t particularly want to live.

Israel is not offering displaced Gazans new homes and is barely allowing food and medical aid to reach them. From a public relations standpoint, Netanyahu should be grateful his policies are only recalling that quote and not how the residents of My Lai were treated.

I started to quibble with Sorensen’s third panel, in that I felt on first reading that the college administrators are more intimidated than corrupted, but upon reflection, things seemed a bit more muddy. The question is whether they are being forced to change their attitudes or are there in the first place because they would.

I don’t suppose it matters to most kids in college encampments, though the students at Wesleyan can be pleased with their president.

As Sorensen notes, the encampments themselves have not been a crisis, despite a few loud-mouths and show-offs among the generally peaceful throng, though demonization of the protesters has attracted a number of troublemakers.

They’re not all students. Every campus has a few recent graduates and precocious high schoolers hanging around.

While some irresponsible troublemakers are members of the media and of government.

Michael Ramirez attacks professors for leading students in violent protests, but I have seen little indication that the protests have been violent and none that professors have been in prominent positions at the encampments.

I’ll give Ramirez a small break because things did indeed become violent at UCLA and, while he is now the cartoonist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he was at the LA Times for several years. But the Daily Bruin reports that neither the pro-Palestine group at UCLA nor their professors instigated any violence.

This investigation by the NY Times confirms that the protesters were not the aggressors:

I suppose we’ve become used to “alternative facts” since Kellyanne Conway coined the absurd euphemism and her boss piled more than 30,000 examples on our heads.

But, as today’s headline suggests, I’m reluctant to call all of them lies, because it’s not clear whether the purveyors of error believe everything they say. Sometimes they’re just passing on gossip or guilty of incompetence.

However, the Fox/Dominion case indicates that sometimes lies really are lies.

We should not become numb to the impact of false information, whether intentional or not, but the fact that we’re even discussing it indicates that, to some extent, we have.

As for what the students are being taught, Adam Zyglis shows the current syllabus, because, while counter-protesters and hangers-on have been a rich source of vulgarities, anti-Semitism and Islamophobic insults, the major source of violent confrontation appears to come from police who have been called in to disperse the protests.

At least student journalists are getting a good lesson in their craft, and this extensive collaboration between the Columbia Daily Spectator and New York Magazine provides a ground-level view of Columbia’s experience.

It also provides a hint as to why the Pulitzer Board has praised the student press for their overall coverage of the crisis.

One thing made clear in that New York/Spectator piece is that, as Lalo Alcaraz points out, the kids at Columbia are not camped out expecting to force Netanyahu to stop making war or even to persuade Biden to cut off arms shipments, but, rather, want their own college to halt its cooperative programs with the University of Tel Aviv and to divest from investments in Israel.

Bob Englehart declares this goal an example of mob rule, but, if it is, it’s certainly the gentlest mob in recent memory.

Todd Frankel addresses the proposal with a spectacularly illogical opinion piece in the Washington Post, which begins by properly explaining the tangled world of investment, as well as pointing out that the students err in thinking their tuition money is involved in these dealings, which are funded from endowments, not current cash flow.

So far so good, but then, having outlined the millions and billions of dollars involved, he runs his own argument onto the rocks with an asinine, unworkable proposal from, of all people, a professor:

This is not a deliberate lie. It’s much worse.

If both the professor and the financial reporter believe this nonsensical plan, it makes me wonder what on earth either of them knows about investments, stockholder meetings or public policy in general.

Perhaps they were inspired by the 1956 film, The Solid Gold Cadillac, in which Judy Holliday gained control of a corporation by assembling the proxies of small investors. The movie won several major awards, but because it was hilarious, not because it would work.

The idea that a substantial corporation would have enough small investors to outvote its hedge fund and other major stockholders is ridiculous.

I feel sorry for the Class of ’24, not because their Big Moment is ruined, as John Deering draws it, but because if they’re expelled now, they’ll have to go pick up a few credits somewhere else to get their degree.

For the rest? Drop out. Take a gap year and flip some burgers or go work at a national park. Or get involved with a food bank or crisis center and help people who need you.

The school will feel your absence more than they’ve ever appreciated your presence.

6 thoughts on “CSotD: Errors, Misunderstandings and Lies

  1. It’s correct that at a small college, ones that budge “close to the bone,” 50-100 students dropping out would cause financial panic for the college. But not for a larger or well endowed college. They could weather the short term storm easily.

    I wonder what happened to the right-wing belief that George Soros had all these universities in his pocket? Where is Soros when you need him?

  2. I find interesting that the protests, counter-protests, and police actions have been centered in New York and LA, the two media centers of our country, but I’ve seen little such coverage from elsewhere. Perhaps the assertion that outside agitators from both sides (and maybe some non-friendly states) have been stirring things up for political gain has some truth behind it.

  3. Was it George Constanza that said “it’s not a lie if I believe it’s true” or something like that?

    Right wingers have had it in for colleges since the beginning of whenever and I can remember Rush Limbaugh griping about the “young skulls full of mush” on college campuses back when he was still calling Chelsea Clinton the family dog.

    I don’t think Ramirez and his ilk are lying so much as jumping at the chance to prove themselves right about what they already believe to be true.

    1. “People believe the lies they want to believe”

      I’ve shared those quote on here before, and it never stops being relevant

  4. I think Abby Normal above is referring to the ‘alternate facts’ that have become ‘accepted as truth’ in the kingdom of righttwingnutia.

    In answer to Jen Sorensen, the crisis is here and now and ignorance, hate and corruption is spreading and won’t abate!

    Mike, yesterday I understood your comments to mean, if things blow-up in the Nov. election, there is nowhere that would be a refuge from the deadly insanity. Given all that is reported now, I would love to find a place that would be an honest, caring refuge from the deadly chaos being sown by the corrupt elements of our government and the sheople of our society (also, as we experience here in Scarizona). But, I don’t think there is such a place. I’m not wealthy enough to move to New Zealand and I don’t speak the language LOL).

    Here is another perspective on the insanity gripping our society:

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