August 15, 2012

The Daily Caller gets jazzed up about something Michelle Obama wrote in law school in 1988.

Go over there and read the gasping about how racist and left-wing it all was, but to me, having lived through Critical Race Theory, every single thing she wrote looks completely banal by the standards of 1988. She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor. I'd only knock her for a lack of originality and daring. To uncover this dreary student work and declare a-ha is embarrassing and silly.

56 comments:

Skipper said...

Perhaps the "banality" is the story.

shiloh said...

Cons Michelle fetish aside, Reps ooze negativity in trying to get mittens elected.

Hey, it's all they got. Desperate times er train wreck Romney, call for desperate actions!

shoutingthomas said...

Harvard and Harvard law school are still peddling the same bullshit.

The bullshit hasn't been blasted to death yet.

So, what's your problem?

campy said...

It's okay to be a racist if you're black. (And banal.)

exhelodrvr1 said...

"She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor."

You don't see a problem with that, and a similar approach, to an excess, by Pres Obama in his campaigning and governing?

Bob Ellison said...

It's a sufficiently "a-ha" piece of evidence. The law student who wrote that was apparently a flawed critical thinker, and evidently a racist and politically correct silly goose.

It doesn't matter, because she's not the POTUS.

Quaestor said...

She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor.

Do you expect your students to behave this way, to parrot back your opinions and attitudes? If this happens do you say to yourself "Ah, another outstanding student headed for a brilliant and worthwhile career," or is it more like "Oh well, another cookie-cutter sycophant becoming just another prole of the legal profession."

Chef said...

Question for the legally-minded: Why have law schools adopted the Socratic method? Has teaching moved away from that model since this paper was written in the late 1980s?

Pogo said...

Not everyone was steeped in law school bullshit, then or now.

Many people are genuinely surprised to read this kind of racist Marxism, then and now.

And why was it not spoken of in 2008? No vetting, then or now.

AllenS said...

every single thing she wrote looks completely banal by the standards of 1988.

What were the standards of 1988? How about 1978? What are the standards of 2012? How often do standards change in law school?

damikesc said...

Reps ooze negativity in trying to get mittens elected.

As opposed to the "positivity" of claiming your opponent murdered somebody, tortures dogs, is a felon, and wishes to reinstitute slavery?

having lived through Critical Race Theory, every single thing she wrote looks completely banal by the standards of 1988.

Are you aware that this is one of the major critiques of colleges for decades? That mind-numbingly idiotic and racist piffle gets taken seriously by "intellectuals"? You can find professors still subscribing to Communism as a valid economic theory and Marx as an economic theorist worth taking seriously.

Nobody is a dumber than an intellectual who learned something idiotic at a young age. NOTHING will change their minds.

If anybody said anything that asinine in a real job, they'd be turfed so quickly it'd leave skid marks.

The Crack Emcee said...

To uncover this dreary student work and declare a-ha is embarrassing and silly.

Yeah, especially because it's nothing we didn't already know about her,...

bagoh20 said...

The story is that all that time, effort and expense produced that fruit, and it was exactly the fruit she was required to produce.

What a waste of a possibly talented woman, and the same for her husband too, who I assume produced similar work if he did any at all, since we aren't allowed to see it, and the media could care less about the college performance of the candidate for the most important job in the world.

In both cases, banality and lack of vigor or curiosity seems a prerequisite, when such a thing would get your resume tossed in the trash at most merit based jobs.

Our institutions are shells of their former relevance and contribution, and it's almost entirely due to leftist ideology, but remember: all ideologues are equally scary.

TMink said...

Racism is still a problem in the black community. She and her husband are no exception. To be fair, it is difficult to accept that the choices of your mother and your own choices have doomed you and your children to poverty. Blaming whitey is so much easier, so much less painful. Bill Cosby says it is like a drug.

Trey

BarryD said...

"every single thing she wrote looks completely banal by the standards of 1988"

To someone in academia in 1988, sure.

To the average American? Not so much.

Matthew Sablan said...

Policy is a winning argument; leave the wives out of it. Low blow to go after Michelle.

Bob Ellison said...

Quaestor, the sentence you cited ("she said exactly what you'd expect...") keeps ringing. What should we expect HLS students to say?

Would that be a defense for southern racists?

Presumably the Professor was merely saying that she doesn't expect or require Michelle Obama to be a deep thinker, and that is a good point.

Dan in Philly said...

Alas, the same thing can be said for almost every single thing we find offensive in the world. If you only consider the context of those who say it, it's not really offensive at all, is it?

So I guess we give the slaveholders who, in the context of the world in which they lived, were quite shining examples of morality and rationality. While we're at it, can we just be forgiven that our ancestors killed the ancestors of other people, considering they were only acting appropriately for their time and place.

bagoh20 said...

What are some examples of the pervasive social damage present today that is due to conservative (classic liberal) values and influence - something similar to the scope and depth of that cause by modern liberal values.

Where is the conservative values-caused equivalent of all the wasted lives spent on women's, ethnic, or other "studies", and the trillions lost on wasteful government departments and careers in those fruitless bureaucracies. Many of those started out in law school.

It has been an incredibly, if not fatally, expensive experiment and almost entirely one sided. Could we at least try something different? We could start by realizing that the Obamas are exactly the wrong people to look to for hope or change. Their lives are a pretty clear proof of it.

Quaestor said...

She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor.

Either she genuinely believed what she wrote in that BLSA newsletter, which would make her a blatant racist, I grant that she may have modified her views since then, but I've seen no evidence of that. Or she didn't which makes her amoral climber -- one willing to say or do whatever it takes to gain favor, riches and power. Again, I grant her soul may be different now, that somehow between law school and the Eat Wing Michelle Obama managed to acquire a moral compass (Jeremiah Wright's sermons?... Ebay?)

Ann wants to dismiss this controversy as just an example commonplace leftish banality, but I must ask her to imagine those words flowing from Ann Romney's pen with the racial adjectives swapped. Would that be merely banal? And would the discovery be merely embarrassing and silly?

DKWalser said...

I tend to agree that this is too much about nothing. Still, I think Michelle Obama's paper is of mild interest because there's nothing in her adult life that's inconsistent with what she wrote in that paper. She could have believed what she wrote back then and still believe it today and have lived the same life.

For example, she once claimed she was never proud of her country until her husband won the nomination. This claim could have been nothing more than a moment of in-articulation or it could have been a rare glimpse into the heart of someone who loathes many of the things that are commonly understood to make America American. Her paper is just one more grain of sand on the side of the scale that says Michelle Obama really is, at heart, as anti-american as someone who holds the beliefs that were common among critical race theorists. Her paper doesn't answer the question, but it's a mildly interesting piece of evidence.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Silly? It's hardly silly if she still believes this stuff.

Is there any reason to think she does not?

Shanna said...

Reps ooze negativity in trying to get mittens elected. Hey, it's all they got.

Says the guy whose party has been running 'Romney killed a lady with cancer' ads.

Are people just discovering this Michelle stuff? I could swear we discussed it at length 4 years ago.

Quaestor said...

Bob Ellison wrote:
Presumably the Professor was merely saying that she doesn't expect or require Michelle Obama to be a deep thinker, and that is a good point.

True. All the more reason for the East Wing to STFU about what we choose to eat, but that would be too much to ask of any Democrat administration.

However, the moral problem remains. I do not believe moral questions are fully amenable to reason, that the one with the airtight argument is necessarily the good guy.

edutcher said...

After telling us she hadn't been proud of her country until her husband had been nominated, how much of a surprise could this be?

Why else keep all their papers and grades under wraps?

shiloh said...

Cons Michelle fetish aside, Reps ooze negativity in trying to get mittens elected.

Hey, it's all they got. Desperate times er train wreck Romney, call for desperate actions!


Somebody call Bell&Howell, we found their missing projector.

Lyssa said...

I find her assumption that females (and minorities, but the female part is personal) are somehow held back by being expected to meet the same standards as males in the meritocracy extremely insulting. I held my own in the meritocracy of law school just fine, despite having breasts.

Rabel said...

Wasn't it primarily a suck-up to Minow, Wilkins and Ogletree with a heavy dose of minorities=good, white men=bad.

I apologize to all who consider the form of my comment excessively Socratic. I feel much guilt for being an oldish white guy.

Quaestor said...

[She] once claimed she was never proud of her country until her husband won the nomination.

Someone should ask her if she'll be as proud of her country when she's moving out of the Whit House next January as she was while moving in.

Jay said...

She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor.

Boy, it sounds like HLS is quite intellectually stimulating and challenging!

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Quaestor said...

...the Eat Wing Michelle Obama...

I know that was a typo, bit ROFLMAO!

Quaestor said...

I'm struggling with a cheap replacement keyboard while awaiting a new wireless LogiTech. This one is so cramped and oddly proportioned that I can hardly type three words without a typo. I'm catching most of them, but the errors that are themselves genuine words are harder to detect. It's called an ONN keyboard, bought at WalMart for $8.99 and worth every penny

Synova said...

By "student work" I thought you meant this was an assignment for class. I approve of lying to professors, at least by implication or careful avoidance of tromping too hard on their prejudices. I suppose, perhaps, that writing for a campus publication gets you points with the powers that be, too, so it's the same thing. I don't know if I could do it though.

Still, views change and mature as we get older. At least they usually do. Or sometimes do. I favor not holding up youthful folly on the theory that I'd like the same consideration.

I won't even get to entirely gleeful about the horrible, convoluted English. She was even less personally responsible for that than she likely was for the trendy ideas.

Jay Vogt said...

Regardless of Ms. Obama's thoughts on the matter, I ran the first paragraph (and a bit more) through the BlaBlaMeter and this was the return.

Your text: 2285 characters, 358 words
Bullshit Index :0.21
Your text shows some indications of 'bullshit'-English, but is still within an acceptable range.

Synova said...

..too entirely gleeful.

I've been making "to/too" typos lately. I assure the world that I do know the difference, but my fingers don't and I don't always catch it.

chickelit said...

AllenS said: What were the standards of 1988? How about 1978? What are the standards of 2012? How often do standards change in law school?

This is important because Althouse admits that such thinking was the norm in law schools:

Go over there and read the gasping about how racist and left-wing it all was, but to me, having lived through Critical Race Theory, every single thing she wrote looks completely banal by the standards of 1988.

I think any sane tax payer in Wisconsin deserves to know how much of that philosophy still remains at the UW Law School. If it has changed, then put it on display! If it hasn't changed, then expect more people to cheer when the so-called Law School Bubble pops.

mccullough said...

I wonder what the young Michelle Obama would have thought about Harvard's subsequent I'm Cherokee-because-I-have-high-cheekbones hiring of Elizabeth Warren. I have to think this was not what she would have had in mind to expand minority hiring among the faculty.

damikesc said...

I wonder what the young Michelle Obama would have thought about Harvard's subsequent I'm Cherokee-because-I-have-high-cheekbones hiring of Elizabeth Warren. I have to think this was not what she would have had in mind to expand minority hiring among the faculty.

Dude, look at Warren. If that doesn't scream "I'm TOTALLY not a WASP" at you, I don't know what does.

I half expect to hear that she was once a black child.

damikesc said...

Still, views change and mature as we get older. At least they usually do. Or sometimes do. I favor not holding up youthful folly on the theory that I'd like the same consideration.

Can you name a major Progressive now whose views changed?

Neither Clintons views have changed much since college.

Obama's haven't.

Biden still thinks "paste tastes great!"

Evolving views based on experience don't seem to major part of most Progressives' life stories.

Heck, the majority of the student "protestors" of the 60's and 70's were from far Left parents. Rebelling...just like mommy and daddy told them to.

Synova said...

"Evolving views based on experience don't seem to major part of most Progressives' life stories."

The social fabric is generally made up of threads spun from polite fiction.

;)

David said...

AllenS said...
every single thing she wrote looks completely banal by the standards of 1988.

What were the standards of 1988? How about 1978? What are the standards of 2012? How often do standards change in law school?


In history it's called revisionism. Sometimes there is a step to more knowledge and better insight as the views of past historians get challenged and altered. But often it's just someone trying to make a reputation. Gotta have some new twist on the old act.

Another way to view it is serial conformity. Conform to the norm if you want to get along in academia. A few brilliant souls can break that rule, but that vast mediocrity does not dare. As a student at least, Michelle never sought to go beyond the well trod currently acceptable middle path.





paul a'barge said...

How jaded we've become. Affirmative Action and Preferences and Set Asides are now ... boring stuff we used to study.

We're above that now, though. We're cool. We've moved on.

Haven't we? Or have we? I would suggest that Moochelle Obama has not moved on and that she would implement a radical program of Set Asides in a heartbeat; and that Althouse is a poseur.

Victor Erimita said...

OK, so we're not to place any significance in the fact that Michelle is simply an intellectual product of her time, place and self identity, or whether her views have the slightest validity or whether they inform her or her husband;s views or influence the policy of our government?

lemondog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lemondog said...

Is this information new? I thought during the 2008 this was revealed.

======

It was her earlier Princeton thesis somewhat covering some of the same thoughts.

Michelle Obama thesis was on racial divide

Bob Ellison said...

Can you name a major Progressive now whose views changed?

David Horowitz. Thomas Sowell.

These are deep thinkers. Their youthful judgement was impaired.

On the other hand, among righties who turned left, we have Davids Frum and Brooks. Not deep thinkers, and their judgement was and remains impaired.

Ken said...

Ann,

She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor.

Are you really so stupid as to think this is a solid defense of overt racism? Well it's totally okay to be a racist in 1998! That's just what you would expect for that place and time.

Racism is racism.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse: "She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor."

I hate to go all Godwin, but that shit didn't fly for Adolf Eichmann, and it won't fly with Michelle Obama. Right and wrong aren't relative and don't change with the changing times. Putting attitudes into historical context doesn't make much sense when you're talking about a period of just 20 or 30 years.

I've read enough of your writing to have a pretty firm opinion that you're a very principled person, Althouse. I find some of your recent posts to be profoundly confusing.

When I read your post about having a fear of all ideologues, I thought: That's odd. These are just very principled people who are steadfast in their beliefs. Why would you fear them for consistency? Sure, if they're consistently evil Marxist or Nazi bastards, then they're fearsome. But...libertarian ideologues? Not very scary.

And now you're defending a hard-left ideologue: Michelle Obama's attitudes don't appear to have evolved over time. No biggie, that was par for the course at that time, you say.

Very strange, Althouse. Up your game!

bgates said...

Having read the Althouse blog for some time, every single thing she writes in defense of leftist academic anti-white/Asian/Jewish racism looks completely banal by the standards of leftist academic racists. She says exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say. I'd knock her for a lack of originality and daring, but mostly for moral cowardice.

jr565 said...

every single thing she wrote looks completely banal by the standards of 1988.


I thought Althouse was scared off by ideology?

furious_a said...

She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor.

To which I would say "ho-hum", as well, except that now 24 years later a cohort (mayors, school district superintendents, Dep't Chairs, University Presidents, Dep'y Sec'y's of such-and-such)of like mindset are now entrenced in our daily lives. We'll be reaping the whirlwind for years to come.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Prof. AA,

She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor.

And you can't see any negatives in that? Seriously?

Look, I was a liberal arts (not law) grad student for several years starting in 1989, at a university possibly even better known for radicalism than your own. Did some students do the liberal/radical faculty suck-up dance? Yes, of course they did. (It took slightly different forms in my department, but it went on, and certainly you could see the same dynamic playing itself out all over the university.)

The point is: Most did not. The people who shared the then-favored race/gender/SES line of thought honestly embraced it in their coursework. The people who didn't mostly tried to avoid the subject, apart from a combative small minority who fought the whole Zeitgeist. (Max Boot, now long since at the WSJ, was one of those. I must say he's mellowed out quite a lot since his days as the token right-wing attack dog at the Daily Cal.)

My point is that if you write like that, either you're sucking up to The Powers That Be, or you really believe what you're writing. It was perfectly possible (yes, even in 1988) not to do either.

Synova said...

Think about how depressing Althouse's job would be if she didn't believe in her heart that college students would grow out of it.

Nora said...

Regardless of whether "She said exactly what you'd expect someone in her place and position to say at that time to please her superiors and to gain favor" or really thought/think along these lines, neither paint her in good light.

jvermeer51 said...

So why do you assume she's just parroting back what she considers bs. Maybe she swallowed the whole thing hook, line and sinker. Isn't that somewhat predictable from someone who thinks her country downright mean and in which she had never been proud?

JAL said...

Not enough to demand quotas of women and black faculty -- (black female amputees?) -- they had to be tenured or tenure track.

Bully and intellectually dishonest.

Tibore said...

I don't get this. It's all right to expound academically on BS as long as your language isn't as extremist as can be? The fact that it's still BS is not relevant?