23 December 2009

Chuck Norris is an asshole

Many who know me witness a certain reaction when they mention Chuck Norris or make Chuck Norris jokes. I hate Chuck Norris with a fiery passion. There are not words enough to describe my hatred for him. I hate his jokes and I hate his popularity because Chuck Norris is an asshole. A bigoted, crazy asshole. Who thinks that the very existence of atheism causes school shootings. And that atheists are trying to make Christianity illegal. And that presidents need to be as overtly Christian as possible, because that's what the founding fathers did! So, he's also a goddamned moron. But I knew this before he showed the whole country in that patently stupid Mike Huckabee commercial. So it didn't surprise me that he wrote something insane about health care reform.

It is titled, I shit you not, "What if Mother Mary Had Obamacare?" So we know this is going to be precious. And he delivers the drama:
In short, while President Obama was accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, the Democrats in Congress drove a sword through the womb of the unborn.
A sword through the womb of the unborn. Which, by the way, doesn't make any sense. I'm not a scientist, but I don't think fetuses have wombs. And anyway, this sentence just reminds me of this hysterical animation, which makes it even more difficult to take seriously.
But the big question and bottom line, as Hatch asked, is: "Why should people of conscience be forced to participate in any aspect of abortion?"
Obviously, Hatch is talking out of his ass. His amendment basically blocks women who receive any federal funds--whether it's food stamps or welfare--from access to abortion procedures. Because, you know, poor women haven't had their reproductive rights trampled on enough.
Obama and Congress' pro-abortion steps are being taken despite a recent nationwide survey that revealed that 4 in 5 U.S. adults would limit abortion's legality. One in 3 would limit abortion to rape, incest or the saving of a mother's life. One in 3 also would limit abortion to either the first three or first six months. Only 9 percent said abortion should be legal for any reason at any time during pregnancy.
What's interesting about these statistics is that one-third of American women will have an abortion by age 45. So the same people who want to legally limit abortion are those that will either have (or have already had) one or have a loved one who will have (or already has had) one. I honestly think this is why anti-choice groups like to prey on the young; most of them haven't faced the reality and terror of an unplanned pregnancy, so they're more likely to be dickheads to those that have to make that choice. And even when these people grow up and get pregnant and get an abortion, they're sure that they're not like those "other" women who get abortions, who are just whores that got what was coming to them, and who should be punished by being forced to gestate and give birth. But if one in every three women will have an abortion before 45, it's not just those mythical irresponsible whores who are choosing to have the procedure. It's 17% of the population; that we would restrict access to a health care procedure used by 17% of the population is goddamned criminal.

But, the best part of this article is the last:
Lastly, as we near the eve of another Christmas, I wonder: What would have happened if Mother Mary had been covered by Obamacare? What if that young, poor and uninsured teenage woman had been provided the federal funds (via Obamacare) and facilities (via Planned Parenthood, etc.) to avoid the ridicule, ostracizing, persecution and possible stoning because of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Imagine all the great souls who could have been erased from history and the influence of mankind if their parents had been as progressive as Washington's wise men and women! Will Obamacare morph into Herodcare for the unborn?
Even the logically-impaired can recognize what's wrong with this argument, the second cousin of the "What if you had been aborted?" card. First, it's easily countered with the equally-stupid, what if Hitler's mom had had an abortion? Second, it is beyond stupid to base legislation that restricts health care on the assumption that every baby has the potential to turn into fucking Jesus. Or George Washington. Or whatever white guys Norris means when he says "great souls." What if a woman who was going to be the next great statesman, or cure cancer, or be a masterful musician, got pregnant at 16? If she couldn't get an abortion and didn't want to put another baby into the foster care system, she might never have the opportunity (financial and otherwise) to do those things. Now, I know Norris might scoff at the idea that a woman could do important things worth noticing, but people are not born great, they become great through circumstances. And when abortion is legal, those circumstances are bound to be better, because there is less chance that a child will be born to a parent who cannot financially take care of it. So there would probably be more "great souls" if abortion were more accessible. QED, bitch.

Frankly, this argument completely ignores the realities of reproduction. As Amanda points out:
Anti-choicers treat the whole process of reproduction as if getting pregnant is a rare and precious event, like finding a giant lump of gold in your backyard, and as if nature was stingy about attempts to create life. If this was true, they might have more of a reason to get offended at attempts to control when you give birth. But outside of those people who suffer from infertility (in which case, they have every reason to grab onto every chance at childbirth that comes along), the biological fact of the matter is that our reproductive systems are all about waste, all about killing billions in order to have the few that have the best shot.
Duh. If we lived life thinking that every next baby could be Jesus, people would have more frequent less protected sex, no one would have an abortion, and we'd all be starving within a decade.

Anyway, his scenario makes me feel really sorry for Mary, even though I find it unlikely she actually existed. She could have died because of an unplanned pregnancy, and Norris thinks that's an acceptable risk? Well, of course it is, because Mary was incubating the Holy Seed through the Sperm Magic of God. And everyone knows that women are just useless and whiny incubators of the products of mens' magical cock powers.

I hope this stops you from making Chuck Norris jokes. He does not deserve to be a cult icon. He's an asshole.

*There's an argument to be made that I'm not actually forced. Which is true, technically, but unless I can change my desires to be in higher education, which is as close to doing what I want as I've been able to find, I am in practice. Theoretically, I could join the no-work movement and stop buying things, but it's a fairly unrealistic thing for me, or anyone else, to do.

18 December 2009


I had my nose to the grindstone last week, and then I was baking like a crazy person for a few days, but now I'm back! And I came out of it with two delicious essays, one about Peter Pan and the postcolonial and one about Austen in the purity movement.

I don't know if you missed the super-misogyny fun-time in the atheist blogosphere last week. Which is perhaps a misleading moniker, sorry. First, this article came out by Stephen Prothero, and he seems to think that a more feminine face of atheism would improve it. Which would be nice, if he meant that atheist's public face wasn't all white guys, all the time. But that's not really it:
I heard two very different arguments at this event. The first was the old line of the New Atheists: Religious people are stupid and religion is poison, so the only way forward is to educate the idiots and flush away the poison. The second was less controversial and less utopian: From this perspective, atheism is just another point of view, deserving of constitutional protection and a fair hearing. Its goal is not a world without religion but a world in which believers and nonbelievers coexist peaceably, and atheists are respected, or at least tolerated.

These competing approaches could not be further apart. One is an invitation to a duel. The other is a fair-minded appeal for recognition and respect. Or, to put it in terms of the gay rights movement, one is like trying to turn everyone gay and the other is like trying to secure equal rights for gay men and lesbians.
R-igh-t. As Amanda pointed out, there's a big difference between religious people and heterosexuals: one is making a truth claim and the other kind of isn't. Which is kind of true; I would argue that both make truth claims, but they're of a different kind. GLBT and allies are making the claim that homosexuality is not a bad thing, and homophobic bigots are claiming that it is not, and should thus be practically illegal. Obviously, neither of these claims can be true at the same time. But, the nature of them is clearly different from the truth claims of the religious vs. the atheists. When GLBT rights are finally enacted, GLBT can coexist with heterosexuals just fine. They don't need to convert the heteros, because homosexuality and heterosexuality are not mutually exclusive categories on a societal-scale, any more than homosexual and heterosexual behavior are mutually exclusive on an individual-scale. But if atheists' truth claims (or non-truth claims) are correct, then they are necessarily mutually exclusive from religiousity also being correct. Prothero thinks that atheists need to forget this nature of our competing truth claims, and just hold hands and sing Kumbaya instead of arguing it out. After all, what does it matter that atheists are getting their right to serve in public office challenged?

The most infuriating part of this article, though, is the nonsensical sexism of it. Prothero thinks that female leadership would lead to this softer, gentler atheism. The only reason he could think that without stating his reasoning is that he thinks women are just softer and gentler.
But there is a different voice emerging — call it the new New Atheism — and with it a very different agenda from that of Hitchens and his angry acolytes. This friendlier atheism sounds more like a civil rights movement than a crusade. And it is far more likely to issue from the lips of friendly women than from the spittle of angry men.
Fuck you, Stephen Prothero. How's that for lady-like atheism?

Next up is Kathryn Lofton, who wrote a blog post claiming that (presumably, according to New Atheists) "Religion is [...] a lot like a girl." The post has been removed apparently, but it's written about by Myers at Pharyngula and Ruchira at the Accidental Blogger. As Ruchira points out:
Unless the New Atheists have categorically called religion a girlish pursuit or religious males girly men, (Lofton does not say that they have) it is plausible that it is Lofton herself who conflates irrationality and emotionalism with feminine traits and critical thinking and reason with manly characteristics. She may have again confused style with substance. After all, the majority of the high profile and vocal atheists in the public square are all males. Most of them also assume a combative stance while arguing their points of view. Even if Lofton considers the New Atheists arrogant, self absorbed and boorish, based on her opinion of their discursive temperaments, where did she get misogyny? Perhaps in her eagerness to condemn, Lofton uses the red herring of misogyny without any supporting evidence because it fits the rest of her perception of the atheists. Are some atheists women haters? Of course. Could there be a few among the ones she names? Possible. But it has nothing to do with critical thinking which does not bar women from becoming practitioners. And what is the score in the department of misogyny on the religious side? Start your count with the priestly class and the orthodox.
Now, there are plenty of misogynists among high-profile atheists (namely, Christopher Hitchens and Bill Mauer). And yes, those guys are assholes. But the sexism in the atheist "movement" can hardly measure up to the troubling sexism that comes from Christianity. Which isn't to say that sexism is not a problem for atheists, but that Lofton is not getting this "religion is a girl" comment from the atheists. Rather, she is, as Ruchira suggests, likely assuming that women would never be so aggressive and rude. Like Prothero, she thinks that soft and gentle are female characteristics. And she (rather nuttily, from my point of view) assumes that religion is soft and gentle, compared to those rude and obnoxious atheists.

What I like about the atheist reactions to these pieces is that they are not down with the sexism in them. What I don't like is that atheist authors are more likely to see misogyny as a problem of these authors and religious folks, and thus not our problem. But sexism is alive and well among atheists, and while it shouldn't be tackled by people like Lofton, who are clearly hostile towards atheists, it can't just be projected onto religious folks and ignored in our own community.

In a similar vein, Kay Hymowitz wrote an article about the conflicts between feminists and science for City Journal. She conflates evolutionary science with evolutionary psychology, that bastion of sexist thinking:
Evolutionary science has been nearly as vexing a subject for feminists as for rural Texas school boards. Feminists consider sexual identity a “social construct,” a human—or, to be more precise, a male—invention. Evolutionary scientists, on the other hand, believe that we have inborn physical and psychological traits that result from millennia of adaptations to our natural environment. Where feminists see society, evolutionists see nature.

Especially galling to feminists has been the field of evolutionary psychology, which proposes that evolution has fundamentally shaped human sexual and reproductive behavior—behavior that often seems to conform to the worst stereotypes. So New York Times science writer Natalie Angier refers to evolutionary explanations of why older men prefer younger women as “just so stories” told by “evo-psychos.” Recently in Newsweek, Sharon Begley critiqued evolutionary psychology–inspired apologias for poor behavior by the likes of John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer before gladly pronouncing the field dead as a dinosaur.

Begley is right that pop evolutionary psychology often bears about the same relation to science as an episode of The Flintstones does to the Pleistocene era. But she’s wrong about the field’s being on its way out. If anything, recent findings in primatology, neuroscience, and genetics have given evo-psych new life. Scientists in these fields, many of them women, have lent support to some deeply controversial ideas about differences between the sexes.
Stupid feminists, with their lady-brains, are so anti-science! Now, I once knew someone who thought this. Sort of. He didn't want to be accused of sexism, but he basically thought that feminist who argued that genetic sex is a construct (as I have done) are crazy, anti-science, anti-evidence morons. I suggested he read Sexing the Body, and he was fascinated by the fact that a woman who actually studied biology would argue something so nutty. He also said point-blank that we should force animals into categories because "sometimes you just want black-and-white distinctions," even if those distinctions are projected onto bodies instead of already being there. Feminists are not just crazy, folks. I know that we are deeply invested in sex and gender constructs. Like, deeply. But evolutionary psychology is more often than not a sexist guessing game (and when it isn't, then the media will twist it until it is), and the scientific community more often than not ignores the evidence when it comes to intersex conditions and the malleability of "genetic" maleness and femaleness. Jessa Crispin's reaction to this article is telling:
Um. What? We do? Feminists believe in evolution. There have been women who have criticized the science and the conclusions drawn from imbalanced theories, but we do not as a whole believe that evolution is a patriarchal conspiracy..
This is true. Most feminists believe in evolution. Even Anne Fausto-Sterling feminists. I don't know if Crispin is aware of evo psych and how it's used to basically claim that women are inferior money-whores who are just plain dumber than men, but that is exactly what feminists mean when they claim that sexist conclusions are "drawn from imbalanced theories." Science is designed and "done" by human beings who bring their already-formed conclusions and biases into the process. I know that they value "objectivity" and all that, but to act as thought science completely removes bias from the process is naive and a little stupid, especially when it comes to biology as it relates to humans. Do we honestly think that no bias will enter human beings studying the nature of human beings? Of course it will. Science doesn't happen in a vacuum.

04 December 2009

Stop Taser Torture Blogging For Justice Day

Today is the Stop Taser Torture Blogging for Justice day. Pam has a good round-up of the atrocities that have resulted from taser-use by the police. What I find really disturbing about these incidents is how they are often used as humor. The "don't tase me, bro" video went viral when the incident happened, and there are many other videos on YouTube that show officers using tasing not as a last resort and in place of a gun, but as a shortcut to getting compliance from people who are clearly not a danger to them. And these videos are not on the internet to induce horror (as most of Pam's examples are), but to be funny. I really don't understand it; I can't even watch those videos. Since when is torture funny? Is it because most of the people who get tased are people of color? Is it because we assume that criminals deserve whatever they get? Whatever the fascination, we need to get over it. People are people, and they deserve not to be tortured.

Bonfire and Football

Look, I get that Aggies like to pretend they care about "their own." And so the anniversary of the bonfire evokes genuine emotion, even though none of the students on campus today knew the students who actually died ten years ago. However, this is one of those sanctimonious traditions, designed to make Aggies feel holier-than-thou and superior to those "other" universities, where (understandably) the only people who care that students die are, you know, people who knew those students. So, like silver taps, it annoys me a little. I care about people's lives, but I'm not going to pretend to get choked up a military ceremony for someone I don't know, and I'm not going to pretend that the bonfire was such a tragedy that we need to, instead of waiting for litigation to be resolved and agreeing to have the engineering department overlook the planning, have our own damned "unofficial" bonfire every year.

Mostly, though, I'm irritated with the tone of this "tradition." There's a tone to this story about the football players helping with the bonfire rescue effort that makes some sense. The immediacy of a tragic event does make people feel awfully serious about it, and it is likely that these players at least knew of some of the people trapped. It is a tone, however, that has not gone away, and the real problem with it is how all the Aggie traditions are so intertwined that the football players who had just helped dig dead people out of a collapsed bonfire felt so much pressure to win a football game. I want you to reflect a little on the relative importance of those two actions.

From the story:
"It was one of those things where you didn't have to state the obvious," McCown said. "The look in everyone's eyes; everyone knew what had to happen on the field that day."

As the game commenced, the Longhorns quickly took the lead on two drives led by freshman quarterback Chris Simms. The Aggies trailed 16-6 going into halftime.

"The whole time I coached, I've never more felt more pressure to win a football game." Slocum said. "I just felt like we absolutely had to win that game. We just had so much sadness, and that week had been so hard that we didn't need any more hardship."
Seriously? Seriously.
"The fact that they won meant so much to the Aggie family," Groff said. "The team felt like it was just something that they could do for their fallen comrades."

Slocum said the team and the A&M family were closer that week than ever before.

"Everyone was all in one mental state at that time," Slocum said. "We all were feeling the same hurt, we all felt the need to win the game, but we all recognized the relative importance of the game compared to what had taken place that week."

McCown said the win and the support from all sides showed the character and spirit of Texas A&M University.

"It really shows a testament to the fortitude of being an Aggie," McCown said. "That in the hardest of times, we will not be shaken and we will not give up."
They say they realized the relative importance of the game, but it sure doesn't sound like they did. The players winning a football game after helping the rescue effort shows the "fortitude" of the players, not "of being an Aggie." And winning the game didn't make them fucking heroes, helping with the rescue effort did.

Anyway, I wasn't going to write about the bonfire,because I'm swamped with seminar papers and also because I didn't want to be stoned on campus. However, this story just set me off this morning. At the UT game this year on Thanksgiving, after the Longhorns won, their "cheer officer" ran their flag up and down the field. And apparently offended everyone. So he was forced to issue an apology:
Our two universities have utmost respect for each other and our individual traditions. My decision to wave the flag at midfield following the conclusion of a very high-spirited game has been a traditional symbol of a Longhorn victory at a rivalry game. I was acutely aware of the importance of the 10th anniversary of the Bonfire tragedy and the sacredness of the formal memorial and the hallowed Bonfire ground. I was unaware of the sacredness of the 50 yard line logo at Kyle Field at this Thanksgiving Day game, nor had I been advised of any regulations regarding postgame entry onto the field. I should have been more sensitive and let conservative discretion rule my actions and judgment on this special and somber anniversary day for the A&M family.
No offense, A&M, but a football game is not an appropriate place to hold a bonfire memorial, nor is it appropriate to expect other teams to know that if they don't do their duty and lose, they also have to not celebrate. You don't get to be the goddamned Catholic Church and sanctify any damn thing you want (a logo, really?) and call persecution when others don't respect your stupid holy objects.

I guess that's really what bothers me here. The traditions have the sanctity of religious objects. Saying "howdy" is like crossing yourself, the Aggie ring is like wearing a cross (guys, they cost $500!), and Sul Ross a saint to which you can pray. And it irritates me more when these traditions are wrapped up in what are actually serious things, like people dying. Traditions are stupid, and often pointless. People's lives actually matter, and it cheapens them to "remember" them by sanctifying a logo on a football field. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I really hope I never die at A&M, because the thought of being "remembered" at silver taps makes me sick to my stomach.

13 November 2009

In which I get freaked out by random men witnessing to me

I was on campus late tonight, working on a project that's due Thursday. So I walked over to my bus stop and started reading Northanger Abbey by the fountain. I had my headphones in and a young white guy walked up to me, and asked me if he could talk to me. A couple of people were around, so I didn't feel unsafe, so I said okay.

"This is going to sound weird, but I was praying earlier, and I felt led to come over here and talk to you. Is there anything you're struggling with that we can pray about together?"

Oh no! I thought. God told him I'm an atheist.

I've never been this kind of Christian, so I don't know what motivates one to approach strangers at night to pray with them. Maybe I looked miserable, I don't know. He was pretty attractive, so he probably wasn't hitting on me.

I just wanted to get back to my book, not tell him I was an atheist and get dragged into some theological debate, so I just smiled and said, "No, not really. Sorry."

Maybe he had atheist-radar, because his next question was, "I know this is a personal question, and I don't want to pry or anything, but do you believe in God?"

That is a personal question, dude. Also, maybe you forgot. We're strangers.

I said, "I don't really want to answer that question," but, of course, he knew what that meant. I outed myself anyway.

He seemed really nervous this whole conversation. He wouldn't keep eye contact the whole time, and he kept shifting his weight, taking his hands in and out of his pockets. Maybe that's why I didn't want to be rude; it was disarming.

"Well, I just want to let you know, that if you don't have an intimate relationship with God, you should seek him out. It's really...beautiful to have that kind of relationship with him."

"Okay. Thanks."

Then he walked away. It was surreal.

08 November 2009

Austen in Conservative Culture

My computer broke down a few weeks ago, which is why I haven't posted in so long. Also, I've been unbelievably busy. For the first time, I'm starting to wonder if I'm right for grad school. Anyway, as promised, here are some further thoughts on Austen as deployed in the conservative, anti-feminist movement:

Miriam Grossman’s self-proclaimed “college girl’s guide to real protection in a hooked-up world” has all the elements of panicky conservative writing about the so-called “hook up culture;” it focuses solely on women, contains slut-shaming language, suggests that women alone feel an emotional attachment after engaging in sexual activity, and it even suggests that young women put off getting a post-undergraduate degree until after having children. Grossman’s pamphlet, however, also has another common feature of anti-hook up culture literature: it references Jane Austen. Grossman’s title, Sense and Sexuality, evokes Austen without mentioning her, and her name does not appear in the text. On the most jaw-dropping page of the pamphlet (the first page of section six), in pink cursive writing over red paper, Grossman writes, “The rectum is an exit, not an entrance.” The cutesy handwriting and feminine colors are supposed to make the reader forget how judgmental, over-the-top, and homophobic this statement is. The statement is also part of a pattern in pro-abstinence literature, in which writers choose to write about abstinence and women’s bodies because it is in some sense titillating; the proclamation, “The rectum is an exit, not an entrance” falls squarely into the tradition of abstinence advocates who tend to imagine graphically the violations they wish to repress. The use of Austen in this context is the use of her propriety and politeness. The pink and red, the ribbon, the lace, the cursive—these elements, in combination with the Austenian title—are not only intended to make this pamphlet clearly “for girls (not women) only,” but to give Grossman’s “facts” and tips an air of gentility and modesty.

In her review of Grossman’s Sense and Sexuality website, based on her pamphlet, Suzanne Fields claims that it “draws its name from the Jane Austen novel that dramatizes the conflict of reason and feeling in male-female relationships. Jane Austen never wrote a sexually explicit scene, but her insights into the moral shadings of behavior between a man and woman give her books their remarkable staying power.” According to Fields, Austen’s popularity has to do with her ability to teach us about heterosexual romance, a romance which conspicuously does not include anything “sexually explicit.” This is an interesting statement in light of the remainder of Field’s article, most of which attempts to draw a connection between Grossman’s website and the controversy surrounding Roman Polanski. She claims that rape used to be a crime which the public treated seriously, but that it is not anymore, and uses Polanski as a prime example of this “new” moral ambiguity surrounding rape. Interestingly, she compares Polanski to an “upper-class Englishman of a Victorian novel who takes his pleasure with the upstairs maid.” She then claims that the victim’s desire to forgo a trial 37 years later indicates
“generosity impossible to imagine in a victim in a Victorian novel. Her description of the rape, as told to the Los Angeles grand jury three decades earlier, lacks the sentimentality you could find in a Thomas Hardy novel. Her plea for him to stop and take her home was not the plea of a knowing Lolita, but the plaint of a pathetic, frightened child.”

Fields’s references to rape in Victorian novels reflect that same moral ambiguity she sees in modern culture. Calling Nabokov’s Lolita “knowing” is most obvious—accepting the narrative of Humbert Humbert, Fields engages in slut-shaming a young girl who was raped and comes dangerously close to valorizing individuals like Polanski. Her reference to the “sentimentality” of Thomas Hardy novels in the best case, elides the actual rape in his Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and in the worst case, excuses this rape because it is written with sentimental language, unlike the far more ugly narrative of the Polanski rape. Without removing her own complicity, Fields seems to be suggesting that Victorian novels do not, because they include those “knowing” Lolitas and rape scenes, give modern readers a good guide to behavior between men and women. Austen, historically preceding the Victorians and lacking all references to sex, does. Austen represents for Fields a pre-sexual culture, since she sees a culture of sex as the cause for rape.

Another conservative author, Wendy Shalit claims that the popularity of Jane Austen is a sign that women (again, the focus is on women and girls) are craving traditional methods of courtship and romance. She argues that
“women all around the country, women who have already had numerous sexual affairs, are descending on nineteenth-century period dramas—at the cinema, on PBS, anywhere they can catch a glimpse of Jane Austen’s Emma or Elizabeth—with a kind of religious seriousness that would be comical if weren’t so poignant” ( A Return to Modesty 94).

For Shalit, Austen represents a place in which “the facts” of sex are not “shoved in our faces all the time,” and thus women are allowed “to imagine there might be something more to hope for than all [the] dreary crudeness” of comprehensive sex education (Return 25). This, she claims, is why women “are flocking to Jane Austen movies” (25). She argues that the facts which are taught in sex education in schools “conceal the truth” about sex, which is that it creates “obligation” (25). The title of Shalit’s book, A Return to Modesty, makes it explicit that she desires a literal return to attitudes about sex and male-female relationships which the modern world has outgrown. She suggests that the popularity of Jane Austen is popularity of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sexual politics.

This type of conservative writing—pro-abstinence, pro-courtship, and anti-feminist—wields Austen in a particular and interesting way. It is not merely that Austen “has no sex” in her novels, but that the sexual politics of her novels suggest for these authors a model of desirable heterosexual romantic relationships. For these authors, Austen is pure and modest because she exists in a pre-sexual culture, unlike the Victorian era and unlike our contemporary “hook up” culture. The cultural work which Austen does for conservative writers in talking about female sexuality is twofold; she conveys a sense of propriety and modesty in talking about that most immodest and titillating topic—women having sex—as well as offering a model for romance. By evoking Austen, the conservative writer not only makes her (it most often is a woman) subject palatable and proper, but suggests the solution to the problem of the “hook up” culture—more Austen.

Works Cited

Fields, Suzanne. “Sense and Sexuality: Sensibility Has Been Replaced in Hollywood’s America.” Washington Times 8 Oct. 2009: n.p. Washington Times. Web. 22 Oct. 2009.

Grossman, Miriam. Sense and Sexuality: The College Girl’s Guide to Real Protection in a Hooked-Up World. N.p.: Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, 2008. PDF file.

Shalit, Wendy. A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue. Toronto: HarperCollins, 1999. Print.

19 October 2009


So, I saw Obama's motorcade. I'm pretty awesome like that.

The Battalion put up this youtube video interviewing some students about the protest:

You can see in one of those shots, that, like the Washington protest, large numbers were estimated and reported, but only a fraction actually showed up. The early estimates were somewhere from 6,000 to 10,000. And The Eagle reported there were 1,000 and The Batt that there were around 1,500, which makes me wonder if we went to the same protest. No way were there more than 500 people there, and my actual estimate is more like 300. Most of the protesters, like they say in The Eagle article, were clearly not A&M students.

Anyway, pictures! Some of these I took, one is from The Batt's website, one is from The Eagle's website, and some are Jim Harner's from Facebook:

Nothing says "I'm a douche" like a professionally-made Obama=Hitler sign.

I wish I knew this guy.

This is one of my professors, Dr. Jim Harner, and his wife.

Our pictures are less dramatic, because I have the oldest digital camera ever. It's about as awesome as the camera in my phone. You can click the pictures for a larger view, though.

This one is a guy arguing about trans fats with these girls. I only caught the part of the conversation where he was talking about how doctors get sued all the time and how poor insurance companies have to pay money for frivolous lawsuits. Or something. Don't worry, though, those underdog insurance companies live happily ever after on their billion-dollar profits.

We got handed this card while milling around the protest by a loud, old, crazy guy.

My favorite of the signs. This woman would be appalled if I told her what I thought her sign meant.

This one was a joke, by the way.

The Batt had a lot of articles about the protests and the speech, but this one stuck out to me. Cole Allen really wants to be a good person, and not a Republican dickbag. Really, he does. But he can't help but suspect that Obama is using community service to send subliminal messages. All that talk about empathy is just...suspicious, you know?
Through the speech I felt, however, there were possible subliminal messages as the president spoke.

He said, "Through community services creates an experience that makes it a little harder not to care about others." As he said this and began to talk about how we should care about others, I began to think maybe this was a way to try and push his healthcare ideas through a conservative school.

Contradicting to that, he later said, "There's a lot that the government can't or shouldn't do, and that's where citizens come in to help and service those needs."

Which could potentially confuse the conservative party, because he is admitting government involvement should be limited in certain aspects.

Due to his great rhetoric and possible persuasion skills, one might ask, is this a political ploy and tactic from him?

The way I see it, no. While it could be a great way to do so, there was just not that many people there to really worry about changing views. This seemed as a heart-felt topic of which was important to him.
This really makes me wonder why Allen would do community service, if not because he cares about people? And since when was "caring about people" a Democrat-only activity? Is Allen suggesting that Republicans don't care about other human beings? And since you can tell that he is himself a Republican, that suggestion feels even more damning.

15 October 2009

And here I thought this place would be boring.

Yesterday, our student body received no less than three emails, from former President George H.W. Bush, from our student body president, and from the interim president of the university stressing that Obama is coming, so DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE. Worry about how the university is going to present itself is in the air. And it's not just protesting a president as he attempts to honor our school for community protest (although I agree that's stupid, it's not necessarily embarrassing). What everyone's really worried about is outright stupidity and racism. There are supposed to be around 6,000 protesters tomorrow, students, College Station residents, and residents who are commuting from Houston and other places--one of the protests is even called "Texans Against Obama's Socialist Agenda," and Amanda over at Pandagon has talked about how socialist is a code word in the South for white privilege being threatened. Socialism means welfare for all, in many Southern white minds, and welfare means lazy black people living off of your hard-earned money. So when you throw "Socialist" into your protest title (also, do protests need titles?), you are asking for a bunch of racists to come and protest Obama giving black people your money and demanding that you care for your fellow human beings, even if they aren't white. I will be (pleasantly) surprised if this turns out to be polite, non-crazy, and non-racist.

There were three articles about Obama's appearance tomorrow in the Battalion, and even a little video about it on their website.
Nearly a year ago, the YCT sponsored an "Anti-Obama Carnival" where eggs were thrown at a poster of then-Presidential Candidate Obama. Many students said they are concerned for the image of Texas A&M University with national cameras rolling.

"Students need to behave in a way that is befitting of A&M. Having any president visit campus is a prestigious honor and for us it will be the second visit in less than a year," said James Vogelsang, a sophomore animal science major. "The visit will bring great publicity for the University and a chance to show the country and the world what type of people we are."
One of the articles even has pictures of the Young Conservatives of Texas making signs, which are hysterical:

The first one says, "Don't draft me, bro," which is either stupid, because Obama has started no wars, or even dumber, because it means she doesn't wanted to be drafted into community service (OH NOES, helping people!). The second one is even better; it says "It's not community service if it's not mandatory!" Because you should feel good about yourself and better than poor people if you help the disadvantaged, not feel like it's your duty as a human being.

It's going to be a circus tomorrow.

08 October 2009

Sense and Sexuality

I have to write an "Austen manifestation" essay in my Austen and popular culture course, so I've been doing some research lately on how the abstinence-only sex education proponents wield Austen in their rhetoric. I recently came across this train wreck, which I thought I would share with you. It starts with the moral panic and blame-it-on-the-liberals right away:
Not so long ago, rape was a capital offense, right up there with murder. When death was not decreed, convicted rapists could count on a long prison sentence. No one took rape lightly. The crime was an absolute evil, the moral equivalent of neither shoplifting nor stealing a kiss.
As far as I can tell, this isn't actually true. Capital offenses are determined state by state, and not all states ever punished rape with capital punishment. Some did, and that's not true now. From MSN Encarta:
The English common law served as the model for criminal law in the United States, including rape laws. However, U.S. laws added to the protections against false accusations of rape. For example, many states instituted a special corroboration rule for rape prosecutions. This rule provided that in the absence of corroborating physical evidence (such as semen or bruises) or the testimony of a witness, a rape victim’s testimony was insufficient evidence on which to convict a defendant. As was the case with English law, this requirement assumed that the primary objective of the law was to protect men from false accusations rather than to protect women from rape.
Rape law has a history of protecting potential rapists and not their victims. Fortunately, the feminist movement has resulted in an improvement in rape laws, and they do not (for the most part) shield men more than rape victims--we have the media to do that instead. From MSN Encarta again:
Following the English model, some U.S. states punished rape as a capital offense. However, a 1977 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States ruled this practice unconstitutional. Today state statutes typically provide for a substantial number of years of imprisonment, including life imprisonment, for persons convicted of rape. In 1997 Montana adopted a law authorizing the death penalty as punishment for a second conviction of rape involving serious bodily injury. Whether this law is constitutional in light of the Supreme Court’s earlier decision has not yet been addressed.
In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment for rape not resulting in death is unconstitutional--cruel and unusual punishment. And this is particularly interesting when you consider that capital punishment was disproportionately given to black men convicted of raping white women:
As a practical matter, the death penalty had nearly withered away for crimes other than murder and rape. From 1930 to 1967, over 3,300 persons were executed for homicide, 455 for rape, and only 70 (or less than 2% of the total) for all other non-homicidal offenses, including robbery, burglary, attempted murder, kidnaping, assault by a life-term prisoner, carnal knowledge, espionage, assault with intent to rape and accessory to murder.

In this era, executions for rape were carried out exclusively in the Southern states (including the border states of Oklahoma, Missouri and Delaware), and they were carried out predominately on black men convicted of raping white women. Of the 455 rapists executed, 405 (89%) were black.

Professor Marvin Wolfgang's research on the death penalty for rape, reported as "Racial Discrimination in the Death Sentence for Rape" in William Bowers's Executions in America (1974), showed that over one-third of black defendants convicted of raping white victims received death sentences; in all other racial combinations of victim and defendant, only 2% received death sentences. This eighteen-fold heightened likelihood of getting a death sentence had only one possible explanation, Wolfgang concluded after reviewing other possible explanations or linkages: "It is the racial factor of the relationship between the defendant and the victim that results in the penalty of death."
Fields wants us to believe that people punished rape by death because they took rape more seriously than we do now. But, considering that before 1993, marital rape wasn't even illegal in many states and that the first rape crisis center didn't open until the 1970s, this is unconvincing. Capital punishment for rape was a racially motivated cause, and to portray it's departure as a sign of decaying morality is disingenuous. Frankly, the only people "taking rape lightly" these days are conservatives. The anti-rape movement was fought primarily by feminists, and it still is. Conservative reactions to rape are to deny that we live in a rape culture, to deny rape statistics, to defend rapists, and to blame women for their own rapes. Even with the conservative backlash against Roman Polanski, we don't see a concern for the victim or the crime committed, but a new chance to hate Hollywood, which they think represents liberalism. Fields herself uses Polanski as an example of this new-fangled rape apologism (which isn't really new at all):
Men could create sympathy for themselves, as Roman Polanski has done. The forced sex act to which he pleaded guilty was never perceived in the culture of his peers as all that serious. He expected to get a light sentence, counting the 42 days he spent in psychiatric observation. Age, at least in Hollywood, no longer mattered so much; 13 was the new 18. You could hear the oh-so-sophisticated defenders of the distinguished director asking: "What did the aspiring pubescent model expect when she went with him to Jack Nicholson's house for a topless photo shoot?" (Jack Nicholson, for the record, was not at home; Polanski borrowed his house.) Besides, the 13-year-old girl had already done "it" twice. Polanski was only 43; how could he have known 43-year-old men don't fool with 13-year-old girls? Besides, it wasn't really "rape-rape," as the distinguished legal scholar Whoopi Goldberg famously decreed.
Hollywood, according to Fields, is to blame, sexualizing children and apparently creating a rape culture all on its own. Those conservatives who create an environment in which rape is okay in most situations (like, when the woman is doing a topless photo shoot, or has already had sex) have nothing to do with it. Yes, the hyper-sexualization of young girls is a problem, but it isn't made better by blaming young women and scolding them for having sex. But don't worry, Fields identifies the problem: the so-called "hook-up culture," which we all know will fix itself if women like Fields just shame women into not having sex or wearing low-cut tops. And then, rape will magically disappear.
Hollywood's attitude can make life hard for young women. A study at Princeton University finds that young women, in twice the number of young men, nurture hopes that what once was called "a one-night stand" can become "a relationship." Far more often than men, women regret that a "hook-up" even happened. The signs of depression grow with the number of her casual sexual partners; almost half the couples "hooking up" never see one another again.
If you want to read about why the moral panic over "hook-up culture" is ineffective and just plain bad for women, see here. Anti-feminists love this creature they've invented, the hook-up culture, which simply gives them an excuse to blame rape on feminists (and women in general) and scold women for having sex. In reality, both men and women are lacking experience and discussion about discussing boundaries with their sexual partners and identifying and recognizing consent (as well as situations in which consent is not possible), essential communication skills which could reduce confusion that may lead to rape, because of abstinence-only sex education. Rape culture is a consequence of conservative ideas about purity and sex, culminating in abstinence-only education.

Fields wields Jane Austen (and Victorian culture in general, which she equates with Austen) in an interesting way, but that'll have to wait for my next post.

30 September 2009


There seems to be a lot of hostility in the Battalion about people not following Aggie traditions. There are people who complain about people walking on the MSC grass, people who complain about their inability to disturb their fellow diners with loud chants, and people who just plain think A&M students are not following traditions enough. Which is, considering the number and variety of absolutely stupid traditions here, hilarious.

Yesterday's issue of the Battalion had a large article addressing people saying or not saying "Howdy" to each other. No, I'm not kidding. Apparently it was a slow news day. When I walked out of the Blocker building after class today, someone had written "Howdy" and "Say Howdy" all over the sidewalks. I find the tradition quite bizarre because the reasoning behind it is silly:
Technology contributes to the decline of "howdy," but it is not at the heart of the problem. A mentality of suspicion is being imported to Aggieland, whether we want it or not.

Our tradition of "howdy" is under attack by this suspicion, but we can't let it keep us from holding conversations with people we don't know. That's the only way to make new friends in completely new circles.

Aggies may be slowly losing our sense of community and not even know it yet. When we ask why a fellow student would want to talk to us, we forget that we're all members of a family; be we undergrad or graduate students, members of the Corps or transfer students, fraternity brothers or sorority sisters. Suspicion of your fellow Aggies in a simple conversation is not part of the Aggie Spirit.
I think the people on this campus must be deluded; going to a large university is not like being in a family. This is not a small community, and it is only in small communities that people can (and rightly so) feel comfortable with all of its members. I have no doubt that some people at A&M are assholes, simply because if you gather 50,000 people together, some of them will be assholes. Frankly, I don't trust that A&M's admissions board is capable of weeding out douchebags, misogynists, rapists, racists, homophobes, and PUAs. So, I'm not going to be friendly to every person who accosts me on the sidewalk there. And acting as though I should is puzzling to me, because there are ways of making friends in college that do not include striking up a conversation with strangers on the sidewalk.

This is not about friendliness at all, but about politeness and faking a community feeling that (presumably, since not that many people say "Howdy") many people on campus do not feel. The author of this article seems to be attacking people like me, who do not feel as though our campus is at all like a unified community. And instead of trying to figure out why that is, he instead attacks that feeling and demands that we accept the addresses of strangers. This is troubling because, while I place little value in school spirit and being an "Aggie" and thus have no trouble ignoring such a demand, some people may feel obligated to accept this advice because they do value school spirit. And, despite what the author of this article believes, campus is not always a safe space, and Aggies are not always going to be principled and harmless conversationalists. While most of the time I ignore people saying "Howdy" to me because I think they're annoying, and not because I think they're dangerous, it is not as though a campus environment is free from violence. It's safer to trust your instincts when it comes to talking to strangers on campus, rather than trusting Aggie traditions. But I don't think they teach that at freshman orientation.

18 September 2009

Mail Call

The Battalion usually publishes one or two "Mail Calls" a day, which are just opinions written by whoever wants to submit them. Usually, they are inane, like some guy bitching about people standing on the MSC grass, even though it's under construction, and not a memorial for the moment. Or like today, which was some guy also bitching, but about how he wasn't allowed to make a ruckus and be irritating in a campus dining hall.

The two printed yesterday were comically paired. The first was a student complaining about the "race card:"
From Zachary Hockaday, senior mechanical engineering major

I knew it wouldn't be long until the issue of race was brought up. It seems to me that the liberal media, liberal democrats and former president Carter, assume the criticism and protests of the President are race-based. So many people ignore that it is about the president policies. Come on Ags, don't fall for the race card. Protesters at his speech on Oct. 16 will exercise their First Amendment right to peacably assemble and "petition the Government for a redress of grievances" in regard to the president's policies. And just because it is not supposed to be a political speech does not mean that his liberal agenda won't bleed through. It is getting close to mid-term elections and for a politician, every stage is a political stage.
Let's start at the beginning. Race is being brought up because many people who are protesting Obama are racist. Take a look at some of the more aggressive posters from the recent tea parties (click for larger):

Right. These people are just worried about Obama's policies. They aren't just frothing at the mouth because they literally can't handle having a black man in the White House. And it's not just rednecks with "Robbin' for the Hood" signs that are spewing vitriol because of Obama's race; just because you're not stupid enough to say out loud that you hate Obama because he's black doesn't mean that you are criticizing him on morally pure grounds. It's no coincidence, for example, that Joe Wilson yelled "You lie!" when a black man conjured up the image of trampled white Joe Wilson having to share his doctor's office with brown people. And it's no coincidence that Rush Limbaugh blames Obama for race-related crimes against whites and even those who condemn him still think violence is inherently linked to melanin levels. This is no race card; it's just racism.

Obama is coming to speak on our campus with former president George H.W. Bush to honor Bush's and other individuals' community service achievements. He's not going to petition our campus to support healthcare reform or try to eat our babies. In case we haven't forgotten, Bush is a Republican. And, barring some crazies who think community service is a socialist-communist-Democratic plot, most of us would agree that a ceremony to promote and reward service is unlikely to include anything above the banal. This protest will just make A&M look silly. Which brings us to the second Mail Call run yesterday:
From Philip Murtaugh, senior geography major

When I saw that President Obama was going to be speaking here Oct. 16, I cringed. Mind you, I wasn't cringing because I'm a conservative Republican convinced that the Democratic regime will soon destroy the world as we know it and that Barack Obama is the antichrist. I cringed because after we embarrassed Texas A&M in front of the nation during the primary last year, I simply don't trust us. I'd love to think that the whole student body will handle themselves accordingly. I'd love to think that people won't find a way to show up at Obama's speech wearing their "BTHO Obama" shirts.

We've been presented with an amazing opportunity- a chance to host the president of the United States. Texas A&M, I challenge you to prove my cynicism wrong.
By the way, if you're wondering what he means by A&M being embarrassed in front of the nation last year, he means this. (You can see some pictures here.) And frankly, I share this writer's opinion. We can see from the first letter that there will be a protest (and it will likely not be small). And, judging from past events, A&M is not always capable of doing things tastefully. I guess I'll get to see the douchebaggery up close and personal on the 16th.

14 September 2009

Obama comes to Aggieland

One of the great things about going to an enormous university is that exciting people come to our campus. Like Obama. I've also heard through the grapevine that bell hooks is coming at the end of October. I hope I get to see her, especially after hearing about her commencement speech at Southwestern, in which she apparently offended every one.

03 September 2009

First week

I've been to all my classes for the first week and here's how it looks:

Bibliography: This class is required for all incoming master's students. It's dull and boring so far, and I don't think it's going to get any better. However, I have already realized that a lot of things I thought about MLA were totally wrong. So I think it'll be beneficial, if nothing else.

Anti-Colonial Though & Postcolonial Theory: Yay! This class is going to be really great, I think. I've had two undergraduate courses that were about British empire, but both skirted postcolonial theory as much as humanly possible. In one, because it was literature-based and not theory-based, and in the other because it was a history course. This class is going to be pretty intense, though. I have to read Kant and Hegel again, for example, which kind of makes me depressed. But the rest of the course will make up for it.

Jane Austen in Popular Culture: This sounds like a fluffy class, but fortunately it is not. I'm already enamored with the professor, so I'm very excited about it.

As for everything else, I feel like I still haven't settled in yet. There's this table in the Blocker building (where I have class and my office) with a big "Have you heard about Jesus?" banner on it, and it's certainly not the only Bible-thumping sign I've seen around campus. I find it a little off-putting and also baffling. Is that an effective way to evangelize? Do people actually walk up to that table and say, "Gee, no. I've never heard of him. Who's Jesus?"

Besides the Jesus-mania, A&M is just a weird place. I've mentioned the Corps in an earlier post, but it is strange to see people just walking around campus in military uniform like it's normal. And, the ones that wear the beige uniforms sometimes wear these incredibly ugly and huge brown boots. With spurs. It's really quite comical. I wikipedia'd it, and it turns out that only seniors wear them, and they COST A THOUSAND DOLLARS. This place is unreal.

I also have had perfect strangers say "Howdy" (A&M has co-opted this greeting, apparently) to me on the sidewalk. Which is weird. The Battalion had an article today where they interviewed and followed around a freshman for the day and she said this:
"It is such a close environment and full of tradition," Shannon said. "The people are nice; it is extremely close-knit and accepting. It is the only place where I've been when random people on the street start talking to you."
Maybe I'm just a jaded cynic or something, but I find random strangers approaching me on the sidewalk creepy, not friendly.

There has never been anything more annoying about A&M than it's OMG TRADITION tradition. These people have made a religion out of it. It's ridiculous. So much so that a student opinion article in the Battalion actually gives this as advice for dealing with the construction on campus:
My advice to Aggies enduring this exodus from normalcy for the span of these oncoming years is to honor tradition. I can see the frustration already building on campus as students have begun to explore this alien terrain, but I urge you to not let it get the best of you.

The MSC is a time-honored, sacred place. Revere the memories of the men and women who are represented there. I implore every Aggie, especially freshmen, to remain loyal to your school, your dean and your president.
In his defense, the MSC is apparently both an administrative building and a memorial. But, really? His bitching rant about the construction ends in "Be loyal to your administrators no matter what?" It's really rich after the Chancellor ran out the president and the Faculty Senate passed a resolution of no confidence in him this summer. Not that I think the administrators of A&M should be blamed for construction. Construction is a normal part of university life. I've been to three institutions of different sizes in the past five years, and all of them were under construction. But that A&M's religion of tradition can cause students to encourage unquestioning loyalty to the decisions made by school administrators is troubling.

I guess the short version is that I'm experiencing a bit of culture-shock.

31 August 2009


I saw this in the bookstore today and gagged.

27 August 2009


I had orientation today and yesterday. It was, predictably, mostly boring and somewhat useful. We've been asked ten or more times if we're "overwhelmed" yet, which makes me think I'm missing something, like the lecture when they tell us that we have to write ten books to graduate.

During our tour today, one of the older grad students remarked that A&M is great, but it's kind of like a cult. Which, if you're from Texas, you understand. I've always seen A&M as a bit surreal. It is chock-full of "school spirit," a concept I find troubling and unappealing, since it, like "patriotism," encourages people to support every policy of an institution without thought or protest. This school spirit, of course, revolves around the many traditions of the school, most of which are absolutely bizarre. We learned during our tour today that the Corps has this dog, Reveille, who is their mascot. The student leading our tour told us that one of her students showed up in class ten minutes late because he was in the Corps and saw Reveille walking across campus. Apparently, Corps members, because Reveille outranks them, are supposed to take a roundabout way that doesn't interfere with Reveille's path when they see her. Or something. Further, if Reveille comes into your class (what the fuck is a dog doing in the building is what I want to know) and barks, you're supposed to dismiss class. If ever you wanted to make a point about how utterly inane it is to do stupid things solely on the grounds that those stupid things are tradition, you could simply list off some of A&M's traditions and let them speak for themselves.

Another surreal tradition here is that Aggies are not supposed to boo, because it's rude. Instead, they hiss. You can't make this shit up.

21 June 2009

TAMU Presidents and Identity Politics

I've been reading in the Austin-American Statesman about the resignation of A&M's president, Dr. Elsa Murano. Dr. Murano was A&M's Latina president in a string of (predictably) mostly white men. She lasted for a year, when a controversy broke out from a terrible review of her performance by Chancellor McKinney. That article has a link to the actual evaluation and Murano's response. One of the most interesting parts in Murano's letter is this bit:
During the review, Dr. McKinney pointed out that I am very inclusive as a leader, stating this as a fault, which in his opinion causes one to make decisions too slowly.
Chancellor McKinney thinks, apparently, that leaving people out for expedience (in both senses of the word) is a good idea. After all, then you can pick and choose to whom you have to listen, and cite "efficiency" as your reason. Everybody wins!

Frankly, the whole affair just looks like a grudge match. Murano, like many faculty members, was concerned that the affairs of TAMU were overlooked too closely by Rick Perry, who appointed everyone on the board of regents and picked (or was close to) several other "system and campus officials," including Chancellor McKinney, who was Perry's former chief of staff (Austin-American Statesman, June 15). And the Rick Perry appointees most likely thought she was too female, foreign, and liberal; instead of keeping those opinions to himself, McKinney chose to lash out in an unfair and insulting performance review, opening up the ugly politics of A&M to public attention, which forced Murano to resign. Which was exactly what McKinney wanted in the first place.

Anyway, I thought I'd wander off to the website of TAMU's newspaper, The Battalion, to see what people thought there. I found this interesting article, which quoted some Facebook reactions to Murano's resignation, all of which expressed dismay that she was pushed out. One of the comments to the article really stood out for its class:
I welcome Rick Perry to come back to A & M. Murano was too liberal for our great university. I do not wish anything but good for her in the future, but she was not a good choice for our president. People who want to change A & M in that direction, the left, need to go to Austin. WE ARE A CONSERVATIVE UNIVERSITY. Deal with it or go somewhere else.
I felt like this one spoke to me, honestly, and it made me angry. TAMU is a public university. I would never argue that a university can exist without politics. Obviously, it cannot, because it is run by people with individual life experiences which prevent them from being unbiased. And universities, particularly public ones, should recognize this fact and work from there. But, as a public university, TAMU should not make any students, no matter their background, feel unwelcome or unsafe. Their students should not be saying things like "If you aren't conservative, leave." That is entirely inappropriate. And I can't blame A&M entirely for one asshole on the internet. But I wonder how A&M has addressed this issue with their students, whether they have made any concerted efforts to remind their students that not everyone who attends A&M is conservative, and that all political views are welcome on campus. I seriously doubt that this has or will happen in the near future. But A&M should use this controversial resignation to do so, since the general view of the students seems to be that Murano was "too liberal" for A&M anyway, so good riddance. This should be an opportunity to remind their students that the sort of diversity A&M wants is not token diversity, but a space in which everyone can feel welcome, including liberals and non-white students.

Of course, that won't happen. TAMU's regents and school officials seem untroubled by their reputation as a university where liberals should feel unwelcome. In fact, the next article I looked at, announcing some old white guy (R. Bowen Loftin) to replace Murano as interim president, quoted Texas A&M Galveston regents English professor Stephen Curley, who said
"The main campus needs that kind of a leader, especially now. He brings no hidden political agenda to the position of interim president."
And we all know what that means. Hispanic women have "identity politics" and "hidden political agendas" and white men have a monopoly on unbiased reality. Their life experiences, unlike those of minorities, are not only the standard, but don't affect how they interact with the world or make decisions. Nope, not at all.