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Adam Falk’s Legacy, 10

To the extent that historians in 50 years comment on Adam Falk’s tenure, their discussion will focus on his decision to ban John Derbyshire from Williams and the larger debate over free speech on campus. (Key previous threads start here, here and here.) Let’s spend two weeks going through Falk’s two main discussions of this decision: his extended defense last year as published in the Chronicle of Higher Education and his Washington Post swan song. Day 10.

Campuses have to be shut down to deal with the ensuing threats. Learning is being disrupted, tuition money wasted, innocent people terrorized.

Some version of this drama has played out at Texas A&M. At Syracuse University. At the University of Iowa and Evergreen State and Dartmouth and Hampshire College and Trinity College and Drexel University.

Note what Falk leaves out: He fails to mention the time that he shut down the Williams campus! How stupid he must think we are. He, and he alone, was responsible for “tuition money wasted” and learning “being disrupted.” Back-of-the-envelope, there are 120 class days per year, so Falk’s cancellation caused 2,000 Williams students to miss almost 1% of their education that year. Total cost: more than $500,000.[1]

Most annoying is Falk’s concern over “innocent people terrorized.” Falk’s 2011 campus shut down involved racist grafitti (“All Niggers Must Die”) in Prospect House. We now know — and the Williams administration knew very quickly — that this was written by black/Hispanic student Jess Torres ’12. Scores of students were honestly terrified by this event. (I have spoken to some.) They really believed — because the Williams administration led them to believe — that there was a (potentially violent?) Klansman with access to the inside of student dormitories. Falk allowed them, even caused them, to feel terrorized because he was too much of a coward to reveal the truth. And now he seeks to lecture us about the dangers of John Derbyshire speaking on campus?

[1] Note that I don’t think this sort of calculation makes a lot of sense. But Falk is the one arguing in these terms.

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#1 Comment By anonymous On December 8, 2017 @ 10:52 am

I remember this well as an email was sent to every alum. I have also heard that as the college was investigating this hoax, they had intended to file federal hate crime charges against the responsible individual – which would have ruined the individual’s life. When it was determined that a person of color was responsible, why was there no follow-up email to the alumni and to the press? And with regard to hate crime charges – were such charges only intended for a white individual? Where were the trustees on all of this?

For me, this was a turning point as a formerly proud alum. I began to think of Williams as a shell of its former self. With subsequent events involving President Falk, I have decided that Williams is a joke. For the first time in 30 years I did not donate to the alumni fund. I was not even remotely interested in having my children apply to Williams. Again, where are the trustees?

I have read over the past many days of discussion of Falk’s legacy. Why no mention of the real reason he is leaving? Do you honestly think he is leaving because of free speech controversy? Free speech controversy is not the reason he is a social pariah in Williamstown, living down in the mills apartments. In the post-Weinstein era can we really not speak of this? Shouldn’t we BE speaking about this? Where is the leadership from the trustees?

#2 Comment By JCD On December 8, 2017 @ 2:07 pm

In order to maintain the fiction that whites are responsible for the problems of non-whites, Democrat party elites and activists like Jess Torres ’12 must work overtime to manufacture evidence that a broad swath of the population despises minorities.

Fortunately for us – but unfortunately for the Democrat’s anti-white, inner city ideology – actual racists in the U.S. are rare and difficult to find. When leftists discover there are not enough hostile racists out there to cause non-white dysfunction, they are forced to artificially increase the perception of racism.

They do this by creating their own fake hate crimes, as was the case with Jess Torres ’12. They will also attempt to change the definition of racism so greatly that virtually everyone alive (except for their minority allies) is guilty of subconscious racism. When actual human subconscious racists can not be found, the left will pretend that institutional racism is at fault.

One things is always guaranteed, the left is working overtime to blame non-white failure on an overwhelmingly innocent, well-meaning, and mystified white population. Sadly, Adam Falk committed the college to perpetuating this awful, demeaning, socially destructive brainwashing.

#3 Comment By abl On December 8, 2017 @ 2:58 pm

JCD is correct insofar as there is a real problem right now with overstating and overgeneralizing. As his post demonstrates, this is a problem on both sides of the aisle.

It’s obviously the case that not all white people are racist. Likewise, it’s obviously true that the Democratic ideology is not “anti-white.” These are both fairly egregious overstatements that undermine our ability as a country (and our ability on this board) to have real discussions about real issues.

#4 Comment By kt22 On December 8, 2017 @ 4:12 pm


Agree 100% with your post.

As for the trustees, several have bristled at the mention of Falk and his paramour, insistent that there was no “affair” and any such talk is just gossip and innuendo. Overly defensive responses that likely point to trustee complicity (and intent) in trying to sweep it all under the rug.

Ironically, the sleaze-factor involved here works against the likelihood that Falk’s behavior becomes widely known. Which fact the trustees, etal. have, and will continue, to use to their advantage.

#5 Comment By Dick Swart On December 8, 2017 @ 5:26 pm

I agree with anonymous and parts of all the rest … including parts of JCD!!

As an aside, “appropriation” of items, totems, customs from other cultures is what makes the culture of the States stronger.

Pizza, salsa, panetone, Yule logs, bagels, ponchos, fedoras. music, art styles … when does ‘appropriation’ become ‘appreciation’?

#6 Comment By abl On December 8, 2017 @ 6:17 pm

Pizza, salsa, panetone, Yule logs, bagels, ponchos, fedoras. music, art styles … when does ‘appropriation’ become ‘appreciation’?

Good question!

Here’s a list I found online (that seems mostly reasonable to me):

Cultural Appropriation
– The act of a dominant/privileged group adopting cultural elements of another (most likely marginalized/oppressed) culture in an insensitive manner
– Plays on historic themes of oppression, domination, and privilege
– Ignores the value, significance, or meaning of the object/practice
– Does not give credit to the original culture/religion/ethnicity/etc
– Looked down upon/mocked when practiced/worn by the original marginalized culture, but becomes “cool,” “trendy,” or “edgy” when done by the oppressors/appropriators.

Cultural Appreciation
– Understanding the significance of a particular practice/object/tradition and not undermining or destroying its significance or value.
– Understanding histories of oppression and marginalization surrounding the particular object/practice/tradition and gauging the appropriateness of your actions in relation to this history
– Being invited by an individual of that particular culture to participate in/wear their culture’s traditions/clothing for a specific event or occasion (weddings, religious rituals, etc.)

#7 Comment By JCD On December 8, 2017 @ 6:42 pm

Oh, please. I’m not going to stop wearing a fedora now.

#8 Comment By abl On December 8, 2017 @ 6:50 pm

Oh, please. I’m not going to stop wearing a fedora now.

A+ for humor.

#9 Comment By Tom Foolery On December 10, 2017 @ 5:27 pm

I didn’t realize abl had a sense of humor.

#10 Comment By Dick Swart On December 12, 2017 @ 1:24 pm

@ abl above


I appreciate the definitions showing the difference between ‘appropriation’ and ‘appreciation’.

They are easy to understand from the POV of motivation and intent.

Even as a devoted Savoyard, I would have trouble labeling <em.The Mikado as an ‘appreciation’.

But even more trouble labeling it as an ‘appropriation’ if it meant censoring it any way. Except for the restageings and new productions which have kept Tittipoo alive since 1885.

#11 Comment By Dick Swart On December 12, 2017 @ 3:23 pm

#12 Comment By abl On December 12, 2017 @ 3:42 pm

Dick —

You’re right insofar as there are likely some great works of literature and music that are offensive/problematic and, as a consequence, should be performed less regularly and with greater care and consideration.

Another example is the Merchant of Venice — which, although I don’t think it’s as clearly antisemitic as it is often portrayed (Shylock is a complicated character), should be performed in this day and age only with a lot of thoughtfulness.