Maybe you’ve been following the battle between conservatives and progressives over whether or not Ilya Shapiro should be fired from his new job at Georgetown Law. The battle began over some tweets about Joe Biden’s pick to replace Justice Breyer on the Supreme Court. Here’s the tweet that got Shapiro in trouble and the reaction from Rep. Swalwell which gives you a sense of the responses to the tweet.
I want you to see what the stakes are right now in American politics. Democrats believe in equality and our God given right to be free from discrimination. Conservatives like this guy believe blacks are lesser people. Who are you with? pic.twitter.com/5q5MnMWVbN
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) January 28, 2022
The campaign to get Shapiro fired has also been stoked by an author at Slate who tagged Georgetown Law in his tweets:
Let’s be clear: Shapiro would have accused ANY Black woman nominee of having a “lesser” intellect—even if Biden had not announced his demographic criteria beforehand. That’s how he smeared Sotomayor, even though Obama never promised to nominate a Latina. https://t.co/cf7fNYdTRY pic.twitter.com/fA5t87anYJ
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) January 27, 2022
On the other hand, Shapiro’s supporters have been pointing out that while the tweet was poorly worded, calling it racist seems like a stretch.
If Shapiro was airing his alleged racism in that tweet, he had a funny way of doing it — he was strongly endorsing an Indian-American jurist who is a Hindu. If Srinivasan ever makes it to the Supreme Court, he will make history a couple of different ways. In addition, Shapiro was enunciating a belief that Srinivasan is the best of all candidates — in other words better than all other candidates whatever their race or sex — and a principled opposition to elevating demographic considerations above the individual merits of possible nominees. If Biden had pledged to pick a white man, surely Shapiro would have rued this promise on exactly the same grounds. Moreover, Shapiro has previously cited a black woman (Janice Rogers Brown) as being someone he would nominate for the Court if he had the chance.
Mark Joseph Stern later claimed that he wasn’t trying to get Shapiro fired but if he’s not, other people clearly are including members of the Black Law Student Association who posted a petition to that effect.
Yesterday, Shapiro was put on administrative leave while the school investigates his tweets. Today, students held a sit-in to ask the school to meet their demands (starting with firing Shapiro). The description of this meeting is giving me flashbacks to Evergreen State College when students were similarly demanding a professor be fired.
A chastened-looking Treanor spent more than an hour answering questions from what appeared to be the BLSA leadership team in a closed auditorium. The dean, striking an apologetic tone, echoed the language of the activists in the crowd, assuring the assembled students that he was “appalled” by the “painful” nature of Shapiro’s tweets and promising to “listen,” “learn” and ultimately “do better.” But he also seemed to be attempting to appease the students without committing to any definitive disciplinary action for Shapiro…
At another juncture, a student demanded that the dean cover for the classes that the activists had missed as a result of the sit-in, suggesting that the move should be part of a “reparations” package for black students. She followed up by insisting that students be given a designated place on campus to cry. “Is there an office they can go to?” she asked. “I don’t know what it would look like, but if they want to cry, if they need to break down, where can they go? Because we’re at a point where students are coming out of class to go to the bathroom to cry.”
“And this is not in the future,” she added. “This is today.”…
A dean told them they could call him anytime their crying space needs weren’t being met. Another student asked that the school send out an email reminding fellow students not to criticize the BLSA. “I just would appreciate in whatever message that’s going out [to the student body], that our classmates are explicitly reminded: Do not attack the people who were sold for you to have this opportunity,” she said.
Members of the BLSA also asked for reparations in the form of lunch or maybe some dinners (2nd tweet below):
“Coming back to this reparations thing…I don’t know if it’s a couple dinners or lunches or what, but that would help us,” one activist says.
“We have food on the way,” the dean assures her.
“Oh good, okay,” she says. pic.twitter.com/W8lT3hPfIF
— Nate Hochman (@njhochman) February 1, 2022
So far it doesn’t appear that students are telling the law school dean when and if he can use the bathroom or whether he’s allowed to gesture with his hands while speaking. Those specific demands were made by Evergreen students of the school’s hapless president back in 2017. In fact, the latter was discussed by Bret Weinstein in an interview with Joe Rogan:
Weinstein: Did you see the video in which Dr. Bridges, our president, is being challenged for his hand gestures? The protesters are actually policing his hand gestures.
Rogan: No. What’s wrong with his hand gestures?…
Weinstein: I don’t want to caricature this because I really think it’s very important. As preposterous as what’s going on is, I think it’s very important that we understand it. It’s very easy to dismiss it because it’s so strange but it’s very important that we get it right. I think the complaint about the hand gestures was that they represented microaggressions if you will. I don’t know for sure that that was the complaint but I can’t make heads or tails of it otherwise.
Rogan: What was he doing?
Weinstein: I think he was kind of gesturing like a person…
Rogan: Just trying to talk with emotion.
Weinstein: Right. So I do think there’s a translation which [gestures with his arms], this can be portrayed as a microaggression in some way.
Rogan: How is this a microaggression?
Weinstein: I mean, it isn’t. We should talk about whether or not microaggressions are even a good category. Let’s just say the protesters had enough control over him that he gestured, they didn’t like it, they told him not to and he capitulated, which he has been doing the entire time.
Georgetown may not be at that point yet but demanding a cry space and that fellow students be told not to criticize them along with free meals is reminiscent of the odd combination of fragility and entitlement we saw at Evergreen.