She Said a Word I Didn't Like in 2017, So I Can Ignore Her Now

Our favorite physics professor at the University Near Here tweets on Zadie Smith ("ZS"):

CPW restricts replies to those she follows or mentions, but that's why I have a blog.

Quadroons? Sounds bad. Let's take a look. This outrage happened in the July 2017 issue of Harper's, in Smith's article Getting In and Out. There are two occurrences. First, about her kids:

Their beloved father is white, I am biracial, so, by the old racial classifications of America, they are “quadroons.”

And second:

Often I look at my children and remember that quadroons—green-eyed, yellow-haired people like my children—must have been standing on those auction blocks with their café au lait mothers and dark-skinned grandmothers.

The context: Smith is discussing the reaction to a painting by Dana Schutz titled Open Casket, an abstract depiction of Emmett Till in his coffin, which was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

Dana Schutz is white. That mere fact caused the excrement to impact the air circulation device. Smith quotes a "widely circulated letter to the curators of the Whitney Biennial" from artist/writer Hannah Black:

I am writing to ask you to remove Dana Schutz’s painting Open Casket and with the urgent recommendation that the painting be destroyed and not entered into any market or museum … because it is not acceptable for a white person to transmute Black suffering into profit and fun, though the practice has been normalized for a long time.

Others piled on with criticism which clearly would not have been made had the hand holding the paintbrush had been of a darker hue.

So Smith wonders how people might react if her "sort of yellowy" kids decided to make art. Would it be acceptable for them to "take black suffering as a subject"?

I admit, I don't find Smith's use of an archaic term to describe her kids to be offensive, especially since she obviously doesn't use it in a derogatory way. (You don't need my permission, but I'll give it anyway: make your own call on that issue.)

But in 2024, CPW is dissing Zadie Smith simply as an ad hominem against her New Yorker essay. And maybe CPW is pissed at Smith's bottom line:

And now here we are, almost at the end of this little stream of words. We’ve arrived at the point at which I must state clearly “where I stand on the issue,” that is, which particular political settlement should, in my own, personal view, occur on the other side of a ceasefire. This is the point wherein—by my stating of a position—you are at once liberated into the simple pleasure of placing me firmly on one side or the other, putting me over there with those who lisp or those who don’t, with the Ephraimites, or with the people of Gilead. Yes, this is the point at which I stake my rhetorical flag in that fantastical, linguistical, conceptual, unreal place—built with words—where rapes are minimized as needs be, and the definition of genocide quibbled over, where the killing of babies is denied, and the precision of drones glorified, where histories are reconsidered or rewritten or analogized or simply ignored, and “Jew” and “colonialist” are synonymous, and “Palestinian” and “terrorist” are synonymous, and language is your accomplice and alibi in all of it. Language euphemized, instrumentalized, and abused, put to work for your cause and only for your cause, so that it does exactly and only what you want it to do. Let me make it easy for you. Put me wherever you want: misguided socialist, toothless humanist, naïve novelist, useful idiot, apologist, denier, ally, contrarian, collaborator, traitor, inexcusable coward. It is my view that my personal views have no more weight than an ear of corn in this particular essay. The only thing that has any weight in this particular essay is the dead.

I don't agree with everything she says (Zadie obviously despises Netanyahu, I kind of like him), but that's pretty good.

Also of note:

  • Meanwhile at the University Near Here… NHJournal summarizes UNH President James ("Don't Call Me Jimmy") Dean's point in a recent radio interview with Drew Cline: We Did the Right Thing Shutting Down the Encampment.

    University of New Hampshire President James Dean said Monday morning his decision to clear encampment-building protesters from campus last week was the right one, and his administration was ready for another round of anti-Israel protests.

    Protest organizers like the Palestine Solidarity Coalition (PSC) don’t agree, accusing UNH of silencing dissent and demanding Dean’s resignation.

    “I think our response was appropriate,” Dean told WFEA radio’s Drew Cline, noting that anti-Israel activists had held seven previous protests at UNH without a problem. Not this time, he said.

    “We worked with people who had the permit for the protest over the weeks and hours before the protest started. They told us over and over again that there would be no encampment, that it would just be the same kind of protest that we’ve had seven times before.Q

    “It wasn’t true,” Dean said.

    NHJournal reproduces this lovely advertisement for a "walkout" for (as I type) yesterday:

    Okay, so what happened there? NHJournal reporter Evan Lips was at the scene: UNH Protesters Denounce Police Crackdown, Chant 'Piggy, Piggy' at Monday Protest.

    Days after University of New Hampshire police cleared out an unauthorized overnight encampment staged by anti-Israel student groups, the same demonstrators returned on Monday afternoon to the scene of the mayhem — but with a different message.

    Previous rallies have urged “Free Palestine,” while much of the rhetoric at Monday’s midday walkout was about “freeing” students and activists who were arrested last week on charges ranging from trespass to assaulting a police officer.

    “Maybe we should be cutting [police budgets] because they don’t keep us safe,” said UNH women’s and gender studies professor Siobhan Senier said Monday.

    Monday’s rally against Israel and the UNH administration was peaceful and arrest free. The 100 or so anti-Israel protesters chanted “Long Live the Intifada,” a celebration of the deadly terror campaign waged by Palestinians against Israelis between 1987 and 2005.

    "Maybe we should be cutting the budget of UNH's Women's and Gender Studies department," a random blogger suggested. "As I reported a few months ago, Professor Senier is reported to be pulling down a cool $103,560.00 yearly."

    In only slightly-unrelated news, the College Fix reports that school for kids that couldn't get into Caltech is giving up a woke requirement: MIT bans mandatory DEI statements in faculty hiring.

    Leaders of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have told faculty to discontinue the practice of requiring mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion statements in faculty hiring.

    “On Saturday, an MIT spokesperson confirmed in an email to me that ‘requests for a statement on diversity will no longer be part of applications for any faculty positions at MIT,’ adding that the decision was made by embattled MIT President Sally Kornbluth ‘with the support of the Provost, Chancellor, and all six academic deans,'” John Sailer reported for Unherd.

    Can the University System Near Here hold onto its wokeness? A simple Google search for "diversity statement" at USNH's "jobs" site still gives… well, I'm not counting them, but a lot of hits.

  • This is the business we've chosen. The NR editors note Trump’s Overdue Embrace of Early and Mail Voting.

    On April 16, 2024, once and future Republican nominee for president Donald Trump wrote a curious post on his social-media website, Truth Social: “ABSENTEE VOTING, EARLY VOTING, AND ELECTION DAY VOTING ARE ALL GOOD OPTIONS. REPUBLICANS MUST MAKE A PLAN, REGISTER, AND VOTE!” Only a year and a half ago, he was writing on the same platform: “REMEMBER, YOU CAN NEVER HAVE FAIR & FREE ELECTIONS WITH MAIL-IN BALLOTS – NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. WON’T AND CAN’T HAPPEN!!!”

    Yeah, that's Trump: hitting the keyboard with the Caps Lock key taped down.