The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus shared by Dr. Ehtisham

After Donald Trump’s election, some universities echoed with primal howls. Faculty members canceled classes for weeping, terrified students who asked: How could this possibly be happening?

I share apprehensions about President-elect Trump, but I also fear the reaction was evidence of how insular universities have become. When students inhabit liberal bubbles, they’re not learning much about their own country. To be fully educated, students should encounter not only Plato, but also Republicans.

We liberals are adept at pointing out the hypocrisies of Trump, but we should also address our own hypocrisy in terrain we govern, such as most universities: Too often, we embrace diversity of all kinds except for ideological. Repeated studies have found that about 10 percent of professors in the social sciences or the humanities are Republicans.

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“Why American revolutionaries admired the rebels of Mysore, India?” By Blake Smith

If the sultan of Mysore had had a bit more luck, George Washington might be known as the Haider Ali of North America. As the ruler of Mysore, a kingdom in what is now southwestern India, Haider fought a series of wars with Great Britain in the latter half of the 18th century, at the onset of the Age of Revolution. While Haider was fighting his last battles against the British, Washington was leading the forces of the nascent United States from the harsh winter at Valley Forge to the final victory at Yorktown.

The circumstances of Haider’s childhood did not seem to mark the young man out for greatness. Born around 1720, Haider soon lost his father, a mercenary officer who died on campaign. Haider followed his father’s path, becoming an officer for the Wodeyar dynasty that ruled Mysore. After many years of service, he grew indispensable to the ruling family, sidelining it entirely by the 1760s. It was a dangerous time to come to power in South Asia. The British East India Company was expanding its power throughout the Subcontinent, at the expense of rulers from Bengal in the east to Haider’s neighbours in the south. Allied with France, however, Haider held off the British advance for another two decades, dying in 1782, just a year before the US triumphed in its own rebellion against Britain.

Haider and Washington never communicated directly with one another, but they fought against a common enemy, and shared a common ally. Like the Mysoreans, the American rebels were members of a global coalition funded by the French government, which saw both uprisings as a chance to humble Britain. In the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), Britain had ended nearly a century of conflict with its imperial rival in North America by seizing France’s vast territories in Canada and the Mississippi River Valley. Some French observers tried to minimise the extent of the defeat. Voltaire dismissed loss of North America as ‘a few acres of snow’. Yet French policymakers were well aware that Britain had greatly increased its power. Too weak to confront it again on its own, the French government wove a network of alliances, playing on resentments against Britain’s growing control of global trade and rapidly expanding empire. Beginning in the mid-1770s, it sent money and military advisors to both Mysore and the US, aiming to avenge its defeat by stoking colonial rebellions against Britain.

The alliance with France proved critical to the survival of the fledgling US. The memory of French aid, and particularly of the dashing Marquis de Lafayette’s assistance to Washington, has for more than two centuries served as a symbolic origins story of close Franco-American relations. During the Revolutionary War, however, Americans saw themselves not just as allies of France, but as part of a coalition that included Mysore.

Even after the US made peace with Britain in 1783, the American fascination with Haider and his son and successor, Tipu Sultan (1750-1799) lived on. Mysore’s rulers became familiar references in American newspapers, poems and everyday conversation. Yet, within a generation, Americans lost their sense of solidarity with the Indian Subcontinent. Mysore remained under British control, written out of the story of the American Revolution. The US turned its attention to the interior of North America, and to becoming an imperial power in its own right.

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posted by f. sheikh

I Voted for Hillary. And Now I’m Going to Write for Breitbart.

We can’t ignore the voices that put Trump in the White House. But maybe we can persuade them. By GREGORY FERENSTEIN

 November 29, 2016   The 2016 election was a turning point for me as a writer. Like many of my fellow journalists, I felt that Donald Trump’s campaign was such a threat to the civic order that I set aside the norms of objectivity and actively wrote in favor of Hillary Clinton, arguing for instance, in one piece, why the business community should enthusiastically support her. I was in pretty good company; media outlets ranging from the Atlantic to the Arizona Republic made historic endorsements for a Democratic candidate.  Then, as the election results poured in on November 8, I was forced to reflect on a very (very) difficult realization: Much of my work last year was, electorally speaking, worthless. I, evidently, needed to start writing for publications that were trusted by Trump supporters.  So, two weeks ago, I emailed my contacts at Breitbart News to tell them I would be happy to start contributing.  My reasoning is very simple: I believe we are living in a new political order, where populism is a permanent fixture in our democracy. I might vehemently disagree with some of the anti-immigration and militaristic beliefs that Trump used to excite his supporters. But if I want to persuade those supporters—and I do—I have to reach them on the platform where they are getting their ideas. In the meantime, I just might be persuaded a bit myself.

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“Fake News-Before Facebook, There Was Coffee House” By Kenan Malik

Today it’s Facebook. 350 years ago it was the coffee house. In the late seventeenth century, as Markman Ellis tells in his book on the cultural history of the coffee house, there was panic in British royal circles that these newly-established drinking salons had become forums for political dissent, rebellious attitudes and the spreading of untruths. In June 1672, Charles II issued a proclamation ‘to restrain the Spreading of False News, and Licentious Talking of Matters of State and Government.’ ‘Bold and Licentious Discourses’, it continued, had grown to the extent that

Men have assumed to themselves a liberty , not only in Coffee-houses, but in other Places and Meetings, both publick and private, to censure and defame the proceedings of State, by speaking evil of things they understand not, and endeavouyring to create and nourish an universal Jealousie and Dissatisfaction in the minds of all his Majesties good subjects.

I have written an article on the contemporary debate about fake news (it will be published in the New York Times on Monday), but it is worth reminding ourselves that there is nothing new to these fears. Around a century after the coffee house panic, in the early  years of the American republic, Thomas Jefferson worried about press lies and slanders and lamented that ‘a newspaper that stuck to true facts & sound principles only… would find few subscribers’. ‘It is a melancholy truth’, he continued ‘that a suppression of the press could not more compleatly deprive the nation of its

benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood.’ In an echo of today’s debate about the ‘post-truth age’, Jefferson worried that

Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.

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posted by f. sheikh