Canadian “land acknowledgments” in which all public events and statements must begin with a ritual obeisance to some local Indian tribe that had most likely recently conquered some other Indian tribe shortly before the White Man arrived are slowly spreading south of the border.
Stuart Reges placed a land acknowledgment in his syllabus. Just not the one his university wanted.
EMMA CAMP | 7.15.2022 5:15 PM
When Stuart Reges, a University of Washington computer science professor, was directed to place a land acknowledgment in his syllabus, he wrote one of his own. That land acknowledgment may very well get him fired.
For the fall 2021 semester, the university’s computer science department recommended that professors place a land acknowledgment in their syllabi. On a list of syllabus “best practices,” administrators gave the following language as a template: “The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.”
Reges has been an outspoken advocate—and occasional provocateur—for free speech during his long career in academia. “I’ve said things you’re not supposed to say. I was openly gay in 1979 when it was not popular to be openly gay.” …
Seeing an opportunity, Reges wrote his own land acknowledgment. He wrote, “I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.”
The joke that Reges is presumably making here — one that I haven’t seen before — is that the “labor theory of property” or the labor theory of value (which socialists inherited from classical capitalist economists like Smith) is central to socialist theory. In socialist economics and morality, property should belong to the people who have put the most work into it, which in the case of the current state of Washington are definitely not the Coast Salish.
You can see it in 1930s-1940s Hollywood westerns directed by conservatives and written by Communists in the near-mandatory scene where the captured cowboy or cavalryman explains to his Indian torturers that they may have the upper hand now, but there are lots more palefaces where I came from, so we’re going to win in the end.
In contrast, land acknowledgments tend to be based on a reactionary theory of the sacred and inalienable right to property, no matter how much other people might benefit from it.
Similarly, land acknowledgments are contrary to the much-lauded 1619 theory that America was built by the hard work of blacks.
Of course, few campus socialists who demand land acknowledgments will ever get the joke.
(I see that Steven Hayward of Powerline beat me to the socialist interpretation.)
Administrators quickly retaliated, calling the statement “offensive” and arguing that it would create a “toxic environment.” …
After Reges announced his intention to put the “land acknowledgment” in his syllabus for the spring 2022 semester, administrators opened an investigation against him for alleged violations of university anti-harassment policies. The investigation has gone on for over 130 days and may result in Reges’ termination. …
Reges is a veteran lecturer, not a tenured professor, so he’d be easier to fire than, say, Amy Wax or Charles Negy. Tenure is a form of property rights in which the principal employees of the university, the professors, get a sort of ownership share.
But Reges is really good at lecturing. He teaches the giant undergraduate weed-out CS142-143 course in computer science at the U. of Washington in Seattle, which is tied for #6 in the country in computer science graduate programs according to USNWR. His title is apparently “Principal Lecturer.” He’s won several awards, and he is pretty fearless (probably because lots of his countless ex-students in the Seattle tech industry would like to hire him). For example, he survived writing this 2018 article in Quillette:
19 Jun 2018 17 min read
Ever since Google fired James Damore for “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” those of us working in tech have been trying to figure out what we can and cannot say on the subject of diversity. You might imagine that a university would be more open to discussing his ideas, but my experience suggests otherwise.
For the last ten months I have been discussing this issue at the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering where I work. I have tried to understand why Damore’s opinions generated such anger and have struggled to decide what I want to do in response. As a result of my attempts to discuss this, our mailing list known as ‘diversity-allies’ is now a moderated list to prevent “nuanced, and potentially hurtful, discussion.” Instead, I have been encouraged to participate in face-to-face meetings that have often been tense, but which have helped me to understand where others are coming from.
I embarked on this journey because I worry that tech companies and universities are increasingly embracing an imposed silence, in which one is not permitted to question the prevailing wisdom on how to achieve diversity goals. I intend to fight this imposed silence and I encourage others to do the same. We can’t allow the Damore incident to establish a precedent. Damore’s twitter handle briefly claimed that he had been “fired for truth,” but really he was fired for honesty. Those of us who disagree with current diversity efforts need to speak up and share our honest opinions, even if doing so puts us at risk. …