Jordan Peterson — a Real Professor, at Last: Rex Murphy, National Post, Oct. 30, 2016 — By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson…
Professor who Tweeted Against PC Culture is Out at NYU: Melkorka Licea, New York Post, Oct. 30, 2016 — An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned.
Angels of the Battlefield: Bernie M. Farber, National Post, Nov. 11, 2016— As today is Remembrance Day, it behooves us to recall those who served with great courage during the Second World War…
The Extraordinary Israeli Story Behind Leonard Cohen's 'Lover, Lover, Lover': Judy Maltz, Ha’aretz, Nov. 11, 2016— It wasn’t only that his sad and beautiful lyrics resonated so strongly with them.
The Right to be Politically Incorrect: Jordan Peterson, National Post, Nov. 8, 2016
The Forgotten WWI Battle That Helped Define Canada as a Nation: Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail, Nov. 11, 2016
New Leonard Cohen Song is Very Jewish — and Very Dark: Gabe Friedman, Times of Israel, Sept. 22, 2016
The Tangled Jewish Roots of Mile-End’s Music Scene: Mark Slutsky, Red Bull Music Daily, Oct. 26, 2016
National Post, Oct. 30, 2016
By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson, at the University of Toronto, who has expressed strong and vivid dissent over the university’s attempt to force him to use certain words — ersatz pronouns, a batch of neologisms (ze, zim, zer, and a raft of others, in place of he or she) coined by progressive groups, intended to apply to students who “self-identify” as other than the archaic and obsolete designations of man and woman.
Prof. Peterson will not use these new cant words. He will not be ordered by the university, or pressured by activists, to take their words and put them in his mouth. He goes further and insists that it is an abandonment of academic freedom, and freedom of speech more generally, for the university or others to insist or attempt to mandate such a practice. He has made three videos arguing his case. He points out the ideological forces, the “political agenda” behind “language politics,” and correctly argues and identifies that there is far more at stake in this instance than some local gripe about grammatical commonplaces on a single campus.
As a consequence, Peterson received from his university two letters of reprimand and warning, one of which I would like to deal with in some detail, for it is a most miserable document, in content, tone and misdirection. And, coming from a university, it is also simultaneously shameless and utterly shame-worthy. The letters are easily available online for your reference. There is much to object to, but let me concentrate just on the following passage.
As a result of Peterson’s speaking on these matters, “Some students have been the target of specific and violent threats, including threats of assault, injury and death against them individually and as members of the trans community. We trust these that these impacts on students and others were not your intention in making (the controversial remarks). However, in view of these impacts, as well as the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, we urge you to stop making these remarks.”
Is the university seriously claiming, by inference or direct assertion, that because a professor has freely chosen not to speak a set of freshly made-up words that others insist he speak, that others, because of the professor’s intellectual dissent, have really been made targets of “assault, injury, and death threats”?
Has the University of Toronto been moved to Iran now, that such things happen? That such “impacts” fall from the serene academic sky when a professor unfolds a reasonable (if contentious) argument, an argument moreover which, if at all studied, proves to be an actual defence of the idea of a real university, one that respects standards of debate, argument, and illustrates the very academic autonomy university tenure was meant to buttress and consolidate?
Is it really their expectation or experience that Peterson’s defence of the centrality of free speech and intellectual exchange precipitate “assaults, injury or death threats”? I must believe, though it storms my senses of logic and credibility, that the university authorities do so, since they go on to “urge” him to stop making his arguments.
But if there are real threats of death, injury and violence, why “urge” him to stop? Why not, in so serious a matter, order him. Answer: because “urge” is a weasel word, and allows the enlightened authorities at the seat of higher learning to convey their sweet and sanctimonious concern without having the courage to actually command what, if the danger was real, they certainly would.
I simply don’t believe them. But if they present their police reports (for surely threats of injury, violence and death have been reported?), and show evidence of increased security and police patrols, I might change my mind. In the meantime, on the wild chance all this is indeed the case, every student should stay away from University of Toronto campus until the carnage stirred up by The Great Pronoun War subsides.
This is human resources-speak at its demeaning worst. The whole letter is the university’s leaders reaching for the stock phrases and code speak of “social justice” to coat their otherwise absolutely unsupportable efforts to contain their discomfort with an academic who is, actually, true to his calling. It’s a letter of threat, masquerading as an epistle of concern.
And following that logic, are they seriously asserting that the professor should abandon his absolute right to speak the thoughts and words he chooses to speak in the academy, because if he does not, then somehow should these “death threats” materialize, he will bear the burden of being their cause? This is an implicit accusation straight out of the nightmare pages of real world dystopias, all the menace of Animal Farm without Orwell’s drear wit.
Just who is “unsafe” here? Peterson himself, of course. When bravely and openly he went public to argue his case, a mob surrounded him, threatened him, drowned out his words with a “white noise” machine, and subjected him to a barrage of insults, slanders and pure insolence.
Were I a president of a university, and it sent out a letter of this intellectual fragility and insidious threat under the university’s imprimatur, I would see it expunged instantly, or resign for fear of disgrace by association. And were I a president, and a mob of hostile, anti-intellectual bullies harassed and threatened a professor on my campus, either the members of the mob would go, or I would. It should be as clear as that.
The older, raw, honest tyrannies told people what not to speak. But the new, wilier versions, midwifed by our famous human rights overseers, are proposing to insist on what we must speak. Here be the new axioms of our day: we own your pronouns, use no others. “He” and “she” are assault words. Freedom of speech is the life-raft flotsam of gurgling obscurantists and bigots going down for the last time. Prof. Jordan Peterson is a brave man. Better, he is an actual, a real, university professor. May his stamina and courage hold. Parents, send your children to his classes.
New York Post, Oct. 30, 2016
An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned. Liberal studies prof Michael Rectenwald, 57, said he was forced Wednesday to go on paid leave for the rest of the semester. “They are actually pushing me out the door for having a different perspective,” the academic told The Post.
Rectenwald launched an undercover Twitter account called Deplorable NYU Prof on Sept. 12 to argue against campus trends like “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings” policing Halloween costumes and other aspects of academia’s growing PC culture.
He chose to be anonymous, he explained in one of his first tweets, because he was afraid “the PC Gestapo would ruin me” if he put his name behind his conservative ideas on the famously liberal campus. “I remember once on my Facebook I posted a story about a kid who changed his pronoun to ‘His Majesty’ because I thought it was funny,” he told The Post. “Then I got viciously attacked by 400 people. This whole milieu is nauseating. I grew tired of it, so I made the account.”
On Oct. 11, Rectenwald used his internet alter ego to criticize “safe spaces” — the recent campus trend of “protecting” students from uncomfortable speech — as “at once a hall of mirrors and a rubber room.” Two weeks ago he posted on his “anti-PC” feed a photo of a flyer put out by NYU resident advisers telling students how to avoid wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes. His caption read: “The scariest thing about Halloween today is . . . the liberal totalitarian costume surveillance. NYU RAs gone mad,” he wrote. “It’s an alarming curtailment of free expression to the point where you can’t even pretend to be something without authorities coming down on you in the universities,” Rectenwald told The Post.
But the Twitter feed soon sparked a “witch hunt” by the growing army of “social justice warriors,” he said. In an interview published Monday in the Washington Square News, NYU’s Independent Student Newspaper, the eight-year instructor admitted he was the Deplorable NYU Prof. “My contention is that trigger warning, safe spaces and bias hot-line reporting is not politically correct. It is insane,” he told the student paper. “The crazier and crazier that this left gets . . . the more the alt-right is going to be laughing their asses off [and] getting more pissed.”, he was quoted as saying. The divorced father of three came forward because “I thought there was nothing objectionable about what I had said.”
But Rectenwald says he began getting “dirty looks” in his department and on Wednesday figured out why: A 12-person committee calling itself the Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group, including two deans, published a letter to the editor in the same paper. “As long as he airs his views with so little appeal to evidence and civility, we must find him guilty of illogic and incivility in a community that predicates its work in great part on rational thought and the civil exchange of ideas,” they wrote of the untenured assistant professor.
“We seek to create a dynamic community that values full participation. Such efforts are not the ‘destruction of academic integrity’ Professor Rectenwald suggests, but rather what make possible our program’s approach to global studies,” they argued. Rectenwald likened the attack to “a Salem witch trial. They took my views personally. I never even mentioned them and I never even said NYU liberal studies program. I was talking about academia at large,” said the professor, a popular instructor who was graded 4.4 out of 5 on ratemyprofessors.com.
The same day the letter was published, Rectenwald was summoned to a meeting with his department dean and an HR representative, he says. “They claimed they were worried about me and a couple people had expressed concern about my mental health. They suggested my voicing these opinions was a cry for help,” Rectenwald told The Post. “Then they said I should leave and get help.” He said, “They had no reason to believe that my mental health was in question, unless to have a different opinion makes one insane.” Students told him that professors openly discussed with students how he may be fired.
The leave has “absolutely zero to do with his Twitter account or his opinions on issues of the day,” said NYU spokesman Matt Nagel. But Rectenwald is disheartened. “I’m afraid my academic career is over,” he said Rectenwald. “Academic freedom: It’s great, as long as you don’t use it.”
Bernie M. Farber
National Post, Nov. 11, 2016
As today is Remembrance Day, it behooves us to recall those who served with great courage during the Second World War, and to remember that heroes come in all shapes and sizes — not all of them carried guns or flew Spitfires. Those who were part of the Canadian Field Ambulance Service are a fine example. Very often these angels of the battlefield undertook to administer to the medical needs of those who were wounded in action, dressing injuries and evacuating soldiers, very often risking their own lives to do it.
Pte. Harold “Red” Fromstein served with the Black Watch, Canada’s oldest Highland Regiment. Established in 1862, the Black Watch — based in Montreal, where it still has its headquarters — fought gallantly in battles from the time of the Fenian raids in 1866, through two world wars and even in modern Afghanistan.
Born in Toronto, Fromstein moved with his family to Montreal as a teenager. He and his brothers were well known for their athletic abilities and were active with the Young Men’s Hebrew Association there. When war broke out in 1939, the three brothers, like more than 17,000 other young Canadian Jews (fully 20 per cent of the entire Canadian male Jewish population of the time), enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Fromstein was only 17 years old when he joined up in August 1940, but he was so anxious to see action that he used his older brother’s name and papers. He saw much action as a stretcher-bearer with his rifle company. While serving in France in July 1944, he was shot and treated in a French medical unit in Nazi-held territory, forcing him to remain in hiding until American troops captured the area.
A few months later, in February 1945, he found himself in the Hochwald Gap in Germany. Though by that time the Germans knew the war was lost, they were determined to make the Allies fight for every inch of the Fatherland. At one point during this ferocious clash, several Canadian tanks and a large part of a rifle company were pinned down under heavy fire. There were many casualties and moving forward was almost impossible.
Pte. Fromstein understood what he had to do. Oblivious to the gun and mortar fire, he scurried over to the wounded and tended to their injuries. Many had to be evacuated and it was up to him to make that happen. Disregarding his own safety, he organized the effort to move the gravely wounded. The tortuous path to safety extended over a mile of gun-infested trails and mortar fire. The heroic actions of Pte. Fromstein undoubtedly saved many lives.
As a result of his extreme courage under unspeakable battle conditions, he was awarded the Military Medal on June 5, 1945. The citation read, in part, “This soldier’s exceptionally courageous acts, which were far in excess of his normal duty, definitely saved the lives of several of his comrades and not only earned him the admiration and respect of all ranks of his company but assisted greatly in maintaining the morale of his comrades at fighting pitch.” Fromstein was among the 1,971 Canadian Jewish soldiers to receive military honours, more than 10 per cent of the entire Canadian Jewish fighting force.
Ha’aretz, Nov. 11, 2016
It wasn’t only that his sad and beautiful lyrics resonated so strongly with them. And it wasn’t only because he was a fellow member of the tribe. Leonard Cohen, who died on Friday at the age of 82, has long held a special place in the hearts of Israelis, thanks in large parts to his extraordinary act of solidarity during one of their darkest moments.
In October 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Cohen was living on the Greek island of Hydra with his partner Suzanne and their son Adam. Wanting to lend his assistance to the Jewish people but not knowing exactly how, he boarded a flight to Tel Aviv, hoping to volunteer on a kibbutz. Israel’s collective farms were facing a severe manpower shortage at the time because most able-bodied men had been called up to combat.
He was sitting at a cafe on Tel Aviv’s famed Dizengoff Street, engaged in conversation with a well-known Israel actor, when the Canadian songwriter and poet was recognized by one of his local admirers, the singer Oshik Levi. Levi approached Cohen and asked what he was doing in Israel. When Cohen relayed his plans to volunteer on a kibbutz, Levi immediately dissuaded him, saying he could put his talents to much better use elsewhere. Why don’t you come join me and some friends who’ll be performing for the troops in the Sinai? Levi suggested.
Cohen was initially reluctant. He didn’t think his sad songs were the best way to boost the morale of the troops, he said. “I told him that everything will be alright,” Levi later recounted in an interview with i24News.
Levi was part of a band known at the time as “The Geneva Conference,” which included one of Israel’s most talented musicians, Matti Caspi. For the next few months, Cohen joined them as a singer, with Caspi accompanying him on guitar as they made the rounds performing for Israeli troops during the Yom Kippur War. A recently unearthed photo taken near the Suez Canal at the time shows Cohen standing between Caspi and the controversial general who would many years later become Israel’s prime minister – Ariel Sharon.
It was after his first performance in the Sinai that Cohen, according to various accounts, found himself a relatively quiet corner and scribbled down the words to what would later become one of his popular songs. He emerged with a piece of paper on which were written to words to “Lover Come Back To Me” and which was performed there in the Sinai Desert during the Yom Kippur War for the very first time. Also known as “Lover, Lover, Lover,” It ends with the following words:
And may the spirit of this song,
may it rise up pure and free.
May it be a shield for you,
a shield against the enemy.
Cohen would later say he wrote “Lover Come Back to Me” for soldiers on both sides of the battle lines – Israeli and Egyptian. But at a performance in Tel Aviv in 1980, he said it was inspired “by the grace and the bravery of many Israeli soldiers at the front” and described his experiences with the troops during the Yom Kippur War as “invigorating and depressing.”
The song was eventually included in his 1974 album “New Skin for the Old Ceremony.” That album also included another well-known song believed to have been influenced by Cohen’s Yom Kippur War experiences: “Who By Fire?” That song is based on the words of the Hebrew prayer, “U’netanneh Tokef” – recited on the Jewish High Holy Days.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
The Right to be Politically Incorrect: Jordan Peterson, National Post, Nov. 8, 2016—A month ago, I posted three videos to my YouTube channel, as a means of speaking out against our culture’s politically correct insanity. I specifically objected to Bill C-16, a bill that has now passed second reading in the House of Commons, which adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of attributes protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, and to similar legislation already in place in Ontario and other provinces.
The Forgotten WWI Battle That Helped Define Canada as a Nation: Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail, Nov. 11, 2016—The Baker Boys had a grand plan. To celebrate Greg Baker’s 65th birthday, his brothers Randy and Bruce would join him on a trek they had dreamed about most of their lives. They would leave their Ottawa homes and fly first to England to see the small coastal town in Suffolk that their grandfather and two older brothers left in 1908 to settle in Canada.
New Leonard Cohen Song is Very Jewish — and Very Dark: Gabe Friedman, Times of Israel, Sept. 22, 2016—Leonard Cohen released a new song on Wednesday, which happens to be his 82nd birthday — but it isn’t quite a celebratory tune. Dense with Jewish language and themes, “You Want it Darker” will appear on the songwriter’s upcoming album of the same name (his 14th studio album) on Oct. 21. The song delivers on the promise of its title — it’s really, really dark. The song is an eerie, minimalist rumination with strong religious elements in the lyrics. At the end of the chorus Cohen sings “Hineni, hineni; I’m ready, my lord.” Hineni is Hebrew for “here I am,” and is the response Abraham gives when God calls on him to sacrifice his son Isaac.
The Tangled Jewish Roots of Mile-End’s Music Scene: Mark Slutsky, Red Bull Music Daily, Oct. 26, 2016—Picture this: Montréal is a regional epicenter of a thriving music scene. It’s largely based around the Plateau and Mile-End neighborhoods, in venues on Fairmount, St-Laurent, Duluth and St-Urbain streets. Its practitioners have flocked to the city from around the world, attracted by the music community’s vitality and international reputation. The best of them, some surprisingly young, are considered stars in the musical firmament, though many still toil away in poverty. The community is supported by an appreciative local press and attracts impresarios, audiences and money.