Author: Andy Ngo

“Which Side Are You On?”

“Which side are you on, friends? Which side are you on?” This question was robotically intoned by a dozen or so students led by a young woman in a ‘Stay Woke’ jacket. As she paced back and forth before a stunned audience at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon on March 5, they chanted slogans and their dreary rendition of the 1930s union folk song. By their own account, the students were there to oppose fascism, which that week was represented by the American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar, Christina Hoff Sommers. Prevented from delivering her remarks for the duration of the interruption, Sommers patiently waited for them to finish. The spectacle was meant to disrupt, but it was also a challenge and an ultimatum: “Which side are you on?” the students demanded of their assembled colleagues. I am the freelance journalist who recorded and released the viral video of what happened that day. For doing so, I now find myself accused of being on the ‘wrong side’ — not just by the protesters, but also by some in the media. …

Damore, Diversity, and Disruption at PSU

I held my breath as the protesters stood up and began their walk-out. “Please, let it be peaceful,” I said to myself. In the weeks leading up to the event, we had received threats of violence. One person on social media said he would bring explosives. The university administration found the threats credible enough to send a team of armed campus police to patrol the lecture hall. As the protesters neared the exit, a woman suddenly lunged for the audio equipment, pulled leads out indiscriminately, and knocked some of the equipment to the floor. The microphones stopped working. Another protester shoved a student volunteer into the door. What caused this extreme reaction? Ex-Google engineer James Damore had been invited to speak as part of a panel discussion on diversity, held at Portland State University on February 17. As I had previously written in the Wall Street Journal, we were anticipating controversy. After the incident, however, the disruption and violent misconduct were downplayed. Willamette Week, a left-wing alternative newspaper, was dismissive: “[The Freethinkers] expected controversy. They warned …

Academics Accuse Howard Dean of Repeating Falsehoods About Halloween Costume Scandal

One of the professors at the center of the 2015 Yale Halloween costume controversy, who publicly accused the former governor of Vermont and Democratic leader, Howard Dean of dishonesty for his remarks at a free speech panel held at an Ohio college last year, is finding support among other prominent academics. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and sociology professor at Yale University, slammed the former Democratic National Committee Chair for spreading “off-base and reckless” misinformation about him and his wife at the “Free speech, Civil Discourse” conference at Kenyon College in a series of tweets. “We have maintained a policy of near silence for over two years—but Dean is a former presidential candidate in the U.S.A. and a former governor,” Christakis told Quillette. “The great amount of evidence that is nevertheless in the public record is one of the reasons that I think it is so important to make the effort to get the facts right if people are going to make public statements.” Steven Pinker, who shared the stage with Dean at the conference in September, agreed …

‘Islamophobia’ Hoaxes and the Rush to Judgment

Two weeks ago, Canadians responded in horror to a disturbing news story in Toronto: before a bank of cameras, a tearful 11-year-old girl said that a man had repeatedly cut her headscarf with scissors as she walked to school. Khawlah Noman, a student at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School, told the roomful of reporters that the brazen attack had left her terrified and screaming. She was flanked by a Muslim activist, her mother, and younger brother Mohammad. Mohammad confirmed his sister’s story, stating that he had witnessed the attack while walking with her to school. Soon after, politicians at the upper echelons of the Canadian government rushed to express outrage at the incident, even though details remained scant. “My heart goes out to the young girl who was attacked, seemingly for her religion,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a televised speech. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne promptly called the alleged attack a “cowardly act of hatred.” Passionate reactions to the incident were swift on social media. Echoing a common belief, Twitter user @Sakira_writes said: “A …

When Racism is Disguised as Anti-Racism

When I started my graduate education at Portland State in 2015 after a long hiatus from academe, I attended an event titled, “Students of Color Speak Out.” The university president encouraged all students, staff and faculty to attend the event, organized in reaction to alleged racial tensions on campus. As a student of color and the gay son of refugee immigrants, the event’s premise interested me. As I sat in the front, I listened to students detail their daily trauma of existing on a campus that was majority white. Students representing many ethnicities repeatedly shared feeling unsafe. I was confounded because their anecdotes spoke of an experience that sounded similar to those who lived in apartheid-era South Africa or Jim Crow Mississippi — not something I remotely recognized in ultra-progressive Portland. Still, I was sympathetic and recognized that my personal experiences may not be shared by others. My optimism was challenged once I began to pick up on the theme connecting the speeches. It was the visibility of white students, or more broadly white people …

Education NGO Faces Backlash from Academics After Retracting Essay Citing Intelligence Research

A British education training nonprofit is being accused of censorship after it retracted an opinion essay challenging environmental determinism from its website. The essay, titled “Are there any limits to what schools can achieve?” was published on the website of Teach First last Thursday to foster more dialogue following an education summit in Wembley a day earlier. The essay’s author and summit panelist, Toby Young, says he was blindsided at the sudden retraction two days after its publication. “The first I knew about it [the article’s retraction] was when I heard about it on Twitter,” said Mr. Young, director of the New Schools Network, a charter school advocacy charity based in London. “As it was, I found myself on a Saturday morning having to defend myself from an organisation I have always supported and which I had always thought of as on the same side as me in the education reform movement.” Mr. Young’s opinion piece summarized some of the scientific literature on intelligence to cast doubt on the belief that environments alone can determine …

Academic Article Withdrawn Following “Serious and Credible” Threats of Violence

Editor’s note: the following article has been updated to include details obtained via a police report from Portland State’s Campus Public Safety Office regarding a voicemail threat sent to Associate Professor Gilley on September 14.  An academic journal that published a controversial article making a case for Western colonialism has withdrawn the piece after its editor received “serious and credible threats” of violence. “These threats are linked to the publication of this essay,” Taylor and Francis, the publisher of the Third World Quarterly (TWQ), wrote in a statement in place of where the article was formerly available. “As the publisher, we must take this seriously. Taylor & Francis has a strong and supportive duty of care to all our academic editorial teams, and this is why we are withdrawing this essay.” The article’s formal withdrawal concludes a month-long controversy that saw its author, Portland State associate professor of political science Bruce Gilley, at the center of an international firestorm culminating in threats of violence against both him and the journal’s editor-in-chief, Shahid Qadir. First published …