Monday, November 16, 2015

How I Would Deal With the University of Missouri Protests

By Walter Block

I had a dream the other night, that I was president of Loyola University, and faced with the challenges that confronted Tim Wolfe, the now ex-president of the University of Missouri. But don’t get worried: I have no intention of taking up any such office; it would interfere with my research, writing and publication. In any case, I am not sure Loyola is quite ready for a Jewish atheist as its leader.

In any case, what would I do if I were in Mr. Wolfe’s shoes?  Here are the demands made of him, interspersed with my responses to them.

1. We demand that University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, writes a hand-written apology to Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demonstrators and holds a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center reading the letter. In the letter and at the press conference, Tim Wolfe must acknowledge his white privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exits (sic), and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demands. We want Tim Wolfe to admits his gross negligence, allowing his driver to hit one of the demonstrators, consenting to the physical violence of bystanders, and lastly refusing to intervene when Columbia Police Department used excessive force with demonstrators.

<<Apology be damned. I would readily apologize if I did something wrong, but I did not. First, there is no such thing as “white privilege.” Members of this demographic do well because they work longer, harder and smarter than most. Orientals (I use this word advisedly), do even better than whites, for similar reasons, and there is no such thing as Oriental “privilege” either. Yes, of course “systems of oppression (exist)”: this consists, mainly, of an overweening government which regulates and taxes us greatly. Under laissez faire capitalism, such oppression would end. But I am hardly responsible for the socialism and fascism that now infects our society. Indeed, I have devoted my entire career to promoting freedom. If my driver hit someone, it was purely an accident; I am not responsible. I am president of Mizzou, not Mayor of Columbia. Intervening in such matters as how they deal with protestors is not part of my job description. Further, I don’t buy into the premise that excessive force was used.

2. We demand the immediate removal of Tim Wolfe as UM system president. After his removal, a new amendment to thd (sic) UM system policies must be established to have all future UM system president and Chancellor positions be selected by a collective of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds.

<< I’ll go you one better. The entire UM system should be disbanded and privatized. A public university is an affront to private enterprise. How a privately reconstituted Mizzou would choose its president should be up to its new owners.

3. We demand that the University of Missouri meets the Legion of Black Collegians’ demands that were presented in the 1969 for the betterment of the black community.

<< Please specify these, and I’ll get back to you on them.

4. We demand that the University of Missouri creates and enforces comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff and administration. This curriculum must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff and faculty of color.

<< Au contraire, I am going to do my best to get rid of all of these courses: black studies, feminist studies, queer studies, transgender (?!?) studies. Not a one of them prepares students for anything useful, and their intellectual quality is overwhelmingly insufficient to be deserving of a place in a great university.

5. We demand that by the academic year 2017-18, the University of Missouri increases the percentage of black faculty and staff members campus-wide by 10 percent.

<< What? Why only 10 percent? This is too niggardly (I use this word advisedly)! Have you no principles? African-Americans comprise roughly 14% of the population, and if we want a professoriate that “looks like America” you people (I use this phrase advisedly) should be demanding that proportion of the faculty and staff. But there are problems, grave ones, with this ultimatum at either statistical level. First, it is entirely likely that either of these percentages will already at many schools apply to members of departments in sociology, anthropology, theology, literature, art, but what about mathematics, physics, history, chemistry, economics, engineering, political science, astronomy, philosophy, neuroscience, medicine biology and other such disciplines that take a bit of brain power? There are simply not enough black scholars with PhDs in these subjects to make that demand even remotely possible to fulfill, at least not for all universities in the country. And, while we are on the subject of proportional representation, here are two further responses. One, read a bit of Thomas Sowell to disabuse yourselves of the notion that lack of proportional representation is somehow unfair and/or unusual. Two, why not try this out on the Mizzou football team? If we want it, too, to “look like America” we will have to impose on it a maximum of 14% on people of color. Not on my watch! No, indeed, our football team will continue to attract those who are the very best at the skills needed for this sport, no matter what their color, gender, sexual preference, nationality, etc. And we will do so, perhaps for the first time ever, regarding the professoriate.  If there is any diversity needed on campus it has nothing to do with the usual concerns over race, gender, etc. It concerns intellectual diversity. There are simply too many dirigisme professors; we need critics of left wing “progressive” socialism and also of right wing conservative fascism, although it cannot be denied that the former greatly outnumber the latter. (Should the government impose proportional representation for the NBA and the NFL? These leagues do not “look like America.” Seemingly, they have no room for old, fat, slow, white folk like me who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with a football or basketball, let alone do anything athletic with these implements).

6. We demand that the University of Missouri composes a strategic 10-year plan on May, 1 2016 that will increase retention rates for marginalized students, sustain diversity curriculum and training, and promote a more safe and inclusive campus.

<<Yes, the retention rate for minority students is inadequate; sorely inadequate. I will indeed address this challenge. I will do so by ridding the University of affirmative action. This program does no favor to its recipients, who are competing with other student who far higher SAT and ACT scores than theirs. It is also unfair, mainly to Oriental and white students, who would otherwise be accepted for the college campus slots now unfairly occupied by minority students of lesser intellectual ability.

7. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals, particularly those of color, boosting mental health outreach and programming across campus, increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility of the counseling center, and reducing lengthy wait times for prospective clients.

<<I am the president of a University, not a psychiatric clinic. The purpose of an institution of higher learning is to challenge students intellectually, not to cure them of psychological problems. If pupils need such a service, let them seek it elsewhere. Presumably, our students also require goods and services such as cars, violins, haircuts, massages and shoes. As worthwhile as all of these are, we are not in the business of providing those either.

8. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding, resources and personnel for the social justice centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color, boosting outreach and programming across campus and increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility.

<< If “social justice” means justice applied to social issues, everything I said above is fully compatible with this philosophy. But, if it is equivalent to egalitarianism, as it all too often is, it is a snare and a delusion; it constitutes a veritable rights violation. The reason we do not have equality of anything, whether in sports or intellectual pursuits, is because of unequal abilities. I note that all of the people making these demands are blessed with two eyes. If you people (I use this phrase advisedly) really favored egalitarianism, you would have given up one of them to a blind person. Since even you do not take seriously these misbegotten principles you appear to avow, why should I?

A word to the coaches of the Mizzou football team: You are on record as threatening to refuse to participate in the next scheduled game. If you do so, as The Donald would say, “You’re fired.” You are contract breakers. If you do not uphold your end of our employment agreement, neither will I. A word to the members of the Mizzou football team: You are on record as threatening to refuse to participate in the next scheduled game.  If you do so, you will lose your athletic scholarships. You, too, are contract breakers. If you do not uphold your end of our agreement, neither will I. If you cannot pay your tuition fees without these scholarships, you will not be continued at Mizzou as students. I wish you all the best of luck when you leave Mizzou. Do not let the door hit you on the rear end as you depart.

One would think that I am appalled with the results of the Mizzou situation; after all, cultural Marxism won an important battle in the war over ideas. In the event, I am, rather, ambivalent about the entire episode. Yes, the forces of unreason were indeed triumphant, but this occurred on the campus of a public university. This type of ownership pattern is pure socialism. Lovers of liberty cannot help but be delighted that an illicit institution was brought down a peg or two. All too many libertarians see the Mizzou episode as an unmitigated disaster (an otherwise unqualified black man has just been appointed interim president). This is an error. We also have to place in the asset column the fact that a public university received a kick in its intellectual solar plexus. To not do so is to make the same mistake Ayn Rand made when she reacted negatively to the student rebellion at Berkeley University, many moons ago.

The above originally appeared at

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