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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Jan 03, 2024 11:03 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay which was discussed in two of the most active threads, evangelization vs. proselytization, and covid exposures during holiday gatherings.

Yesterday the top two most active threads were both on the same topic, the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay. The first was titled, "Claudine Gay resigns as Harvard University’s president" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. There was some debate about whether this topic belonged in the college or political forum (it was posted in both), but I ultimately decided that it was a political topic. The controversy surrounding Gay began with a Congressional hearing and the opposition to her was led by overtly political figures. Therefore, I locked this thread and well as several similar threads also started in the college forum. By the time I locked the thread, it had grown to 10 pages in just 3 hours. On the surface, opposition to Gay was based on concerns that she was not sufficiently combating antisemitism and had engaged in plagiarism. But, beyond that, opponents made clear that they saw Gay as a symbol of the "woke" environments that they believe are dominating elite universities. Gay, who is Black, was attacked by many who saw her as unqualified and chosen more for her skin color than her abilities, much as they allege that unqualified minority students are admitted to elite universities in place of more deserving White and Asian applicants. Gay has been the target of a campaign led by Christopher Ruffo, the same person who turned Critical Race Theory into a political weapon to be used against school boards. Right-wingers were ecstatic at the news of Gay's resignation. But, they were quick to declare that they were not stopping here. "Two down, one to go", wrote one poster referring to the previous resignation of University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and the apparently hoped for resignation of Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth. Magill, Gay, and Kornbluth all had appeared at a Congressional hearing in which they came under agressive questioning about antisemitism on their campuses from Representative Elise Stefanik. Other posters signaled their desire to see the entire Board of Harvard replaced. Rufo has broadened his CRT attacks into a campaign against the entire framework of "diversity, equity, and inclusion" and gained traction among many who view DEI practices as unfairly benefitting minorities. One poster expressed his criticism of DEI by accusing it of "[e]levating highly unqualified and mediocre talent into senior roles and fast tracking people simply because of the need to fill an identity gap." This entire effort is aimed at reclaiming elite academia for those who rise based purely on merit, as if such a world ever really existed.

The second most active thread yesterday and also the second thread about the resignation of Claudine Gay was posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. Titled, "Harvard President resigns", the original poster simply posted a tweet from The Harvard Crimson breaking news of Gay's resignation. Responses in the thread are almost identical to those in the college forum. Right-wingers are thrilled, centrists grudgingly express satisfaction, and those on the left are either upset or indifferent. One difference that I noticed in this thread was more attention being paid to the topic of Israel, or more precisely, pro or anti-Israel sentiment. This ties back to protests that occurred at Harvard and other campuses after the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and Israel's brutal retaliation. Critics contend that the protests were antisemitic while defenders argue that they were opposed to policies of the Israeli government rather than Jews. This debate was the basis of questioning by Representative Elise Stefanik at a Congressional hearing and the failure of the Ivy League Presidents testifying — including Gay — to provide a coherent response ignited calls for their resignations. Much of the opposition to the presidents was led by prominent wealthy Jewish Americans, most notably Bill Ackman. Critics of these individuals alleged that they were attempting to stifle all pro-Palestinian speech on campus. As one poster wrote, "this is all about Israel and punishing anyone who are not sufficiently supporting Israel." However, posters who made such arguments in this thread were immediately labeled as antisemitic. In response to claims that "diversity, equity, and inclusion" had led to the promotion of unqualified individuals — with Gay being used as an example — some posters argued that plenty of mediocre White men had been promoted in the past. One poster warned that this is just the beginning of an ongoing effort by the right-wing to use software to comb through past research looking for errors and plagiarism, with partisans such as Christopher Ruffo seeking to remove all leftist influence from campuses. Far from denying this, as I pointed out in the other thread, right-leaning posters are loudly agreeing that these are their plans.

The next most active thread was the Gaza war thread which I will skip because I have already discussed it. After that was a thread titled, "Evangelization Vs. Proselytization" and posted in the "Religion" forum. The original poster wrote over 1,200 words differentiating between "proselytize" and "evangelize". The poster claims that DCUM posters consistently misuse the word "proselytize" when they should more accurately say "evangelize". The religion forum is, in my opinion, probably the most unreadable of all DCUM forums. That should be obvious from the simple fact that it is a forum in which posters post 1,200 word screeds about the differences between "proselytize" and "evangelize". But, beyond that, I am convinced that the vast majority of the forum's participants simply want to be offended. In fact, I think that they can't wait to be offended. The very first response in this thread says, "are you trying to make me take time out of my day to listen to you talk about your religion? If so, stop it." Why exactly would someone willingly read a forum devoted to religion if they were not interested in hearing someone talk about their religion? Almost immediately the discussion moved beyond the original topic and simply focused on Christians spreading their religion and whether or not atheists overreact to the practice. Atheists were also accused of wanting to make "proselytizing" and "evangelizing" — whatever you want to call it — illegal. Atheists protested that nobody had made such an argument. Another debate broke out about whether "proselytizing" or "evangelizing" are effective or, instead, actually turn off others and make them less likely to accept religion. The thread, like most threads in the religion forum, is rife with what certainly appears to be bad faith posting (sorry for the pun). Atheists complain about Christians spreading their religion, Christians claim that it is their constitutional right and describe atheist criticism as attempts to prohibit their freedoms of religion and speech. Atheists respond saying that if religious people don't want to be criticized for their religious practices, religious people should keep their religion to themselves. That perspective, in turn, is also condemned as an attack on religion. On and on it goes. Just to really put this thread into the realm of the absurd, the most recent page of the thread is full of posts about abortion including pictures of fetuses. Whether this is an attempt to "proselytize" or "evangelize" will be left as an exercise to the readers.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Health and Medicine" forum. Titled, "Did you gather in large groups for the holidays? A virus may be your post-holiday present", the original poster quotes CNN medical expert Dr. Leana Wen saying that those who were part of large gatherings over the holidays could be infected and asymptomatic and could be contagious without knowing it. Therefore, such individuals should avoid close contact with the medically vulnerable for a week or so. The original poster concludes by asking how many will self-isolate. While the original poster did not explicitly mention covid, most posters assumed that was the topic of the post. Therefore, responses reflected posters' knee-jerk reactions to covid warnings. Almost all of those responding are way past being worried about either catching or spreading covid. Many posters say that they are living their lives normally and not taking any precautions. A few posters express concern for those who are vulnerable, but others say that the onus is on the vulnerable individuals to protect themselves rather than for others to look out for them. Those who are not willing to isolate are criticized as "selfish". While at 7 pages this thread is not exceedingly long, I still don't have the wherewithal to read the entire thing. There seem to be a couple of realities: 1) most people who catch covid don't get seriously ill and even those who have a couple of bad days get over it without issue; and 2) a not insignificant number of individuals get seriously ill or even die and others struggle with long covid which may result from even an otherwise mild case of covid or multiple infections. As attention on the second group has almost completely disappeared, individuals tend to believe that almost everyone falls in the first group. As a result, aided by what is likely a certain amount of wishful thinking, many have given up all concern about covid. Whether this will turn out to be a mistake remains to be seen. But, there is a vocal group of posters who are determined to warn about the dangers of covid. As this thread shows, there are equally determined posters who have no interest in hearing anything about the virus, even going so far as saying that they do not want to be told if they are exposed to an infected person. One thing that is clear is that very few people are taking even the barest of precautions and, therefore, covid exposure is likely to be widespread in coming weeks. The impact of that will likely soon be apparent.

Stefanik’s axe says:
Jan 03, 2024 09:35 PM
It is important context to know Stefanik is grinding a personal axe, seeing as how she was kicked off a Harvard advisory committee after her seditious conduct carrying water for Trump’s election denial claims. She isn’t a credible person and belongs in prison, not on the dais. Harvard should revoke her degree if she isn’t charged with the felonies she should be charged with.
Avalon says:
Jan 05, 2024 03:17 AM
Once again, Jeff you've encapsulated the essence of "Evangelization Vs. Proselytization" perfectly.
That thread truly epitomizes the relentless, exhaustive nonsense that's constantly being harangued by their quintessentially intolerant, myopic & sanctimonious followers -- not simply within the religion forum but within religion in its entirety.
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