Remember Pajama Boy with a cup of hot chocolate in hand clad in plaid jammies? He was the bright-eyed twerp whose holiday gift in 2013 was the Gospel of Obamacare around the family fireplace.
Well, Pajama Boy has moved on but his Holy Spirit has not. And where better a place for evangelism and the propagation of faith than on laminated talking-points placemats in the legendary dining halls of Harvard College?
Colorful “Holiday Placemats for Social Justice” now provide a “guide for holiday discussions of race and justice with loved ones.”
Thanks to the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the Freshman Dean’s Office, Harvard students can deliver Good News with ideological precision over winter break — we dare not call it Christmas vacation — to cretins in the family who resist their Glad Tidings.
The placemats provide post-Christian litanies and responses in four verses:
1. “Yale/Student Activism”
“Why are Black students complaining? Shouldn’t they be happy to be in college?” the placemat puts forward as a possible question.
Response: “When I hear students expressing their experiences of racism on campus I don’t hear complaining,” the placemat suggests as a response. “Instead I hear young people uplifting a situation that I may not experience. If non-Black students get the privilege of that safe environment, I believe that same privilege should be given to all students.”
2. “House Master Title”
“Why did they change the name? What does a housemaster have to do with slavery? It’s not related to that at all.”
Response: “For some, the term master, used to describe stewardship of a group of people (such as a house), is reminiscent of slave masters and the legacy of slavery. The title, ‘House Master,’ is no longer actively associated with its historical antecedents nor is it used to address House Masters. Given the name is offensive to groups of people, it doesn’t seem onerous to change it. The mastery of a subject is an understandable use of the word. However, within our cultural and historical context, implying mastery of people feels both inappropriate and ill-founded.”
3. “Islamaphobia [sic]/Refugees”
“We shouldn’t let anyone in the U.S. from Syria. We can’t guarantee that terrorists won’t infiltrate the ranks of refugees. They’ve already done it in France.”
Response: “The U.S. has been accepting refugees from the war-torn areas around the world for decades. Remember the wars in Central America?” the model response reads. “They were extremely violent, and the U.S. accepted refugees from all sides of the wars with very strict vetting and not one incident of violence. Racial justice includes welcoming Syrian refugees.”
4. “Black Murders in the Street”
“Why didn’t they just listen to the officer? If they had just obeyed the law this wouldn’t have happened.”
Response: “Do you think the response would be the same if it was a white person being pulled over? In many incidents that result in the death of a black body in the street, these victims are not breaking the law and are unarmed.”
Rubrics in the circled center of the placemat — “Tips for Talking to Families” — advise students to LISTEN, BREATHE, ASK, AFFIRM, and SPEAK.
And one may intuit, breathe slowly and speak patiently, clearly, and if possible, monosyllabically, since students are dealing with the uninformed, the feeble-minded, and possibly the crypto-fascist.
Who bears responsibility for this mixture of nonsense and propaganda, at which even The Crimson, the Harvard student newspaper, balked?
Well, of course, blame the university’s diversity warriors — and there are many on the Harvard payroll. But final responsibility resides with India-born Rakesh Khurana, the Harvard College dean appointed last year.
Khurana is a very slick item, a former business school professor who follows on dean Evelynn Hammonds, a professor of the history of science and of African and African American studies, whose secret spying on deans’ emails led to her 2013 resignation and a plummy post-dean sinecure.
In an open letter to Harvard students Khurana proclaimed in Dec. 2014:
I have watched and listened in awe of our students, faculty, and staff who have come together to declare with passion, grace, and growing resolve that “Black Lives Matter” and to call for justice, for ally-ship, and for hope.
The diversity of our student body at Harvard College should be on the forefront of this paradigm shift.
No one can be sure what his word ally-ship means. Some Harvard observers wonder what in the world a business school professor is even doing in charge of the College.
But Khurana being the Voice of Harvard, many other high-level academic administrators slavishly imitate his priorities and this paradigm shift, making diversity Job One on campuses nationwide. His well-advertised concerns illustrate that current college turmoil did not appear from nowhere.
Just last month, Khurana led the move to drop the title of Master from the Harvard houses. There is absolutely no relationship between an academic Master and slavery, but for Khurana the name change was all about “the social meaning of words,” in other words, feelings, optics and image, as Nicholas Gallagher observed in the Federalist.
I doubt Khurana has many real convictions or much background in history or the humanities. But I have complete certainty that he has a surplus of ambition and is very bright. He knows which way the wind is blowing.
Khurana’s paradigm shift and name changes along with Harvard’s Social Justice placemats provide leading indicators of current campus eruptions, where ideological purity and the propagation of faith never end. The progressive heavens with trumpets of angels in the ether must sound for students and the rest of us in every possible venue, 24/7.
If the result is the rapidly declining credibility, status, and brand at Harvard and any number of other venerable universities at the Christmas season, the ministers of false gods and bad ideas do not deserve one ounce of our good cheer or sympathy.
UPDATE: Facing intense criticism, Harvard has withdrawn the controversial placemats and in a letter signed by the Deans of Student Life and Freshmen, apologized to its students.